International Herald Tribune
By Barry Bearak Published: June 13, 2008
JOHANNESBURG: A high court judge in Zimbabwe on Friday ordered police to
produce Tendai Biti, the opposition party's secretary general and chief
strategist, who was arrested Thursday the moment he reentered the country
and whose whereabouts have since remained a mystery.
"We have sent teams of lawyers to every police station in Harare but have
failed to find where they have him," said Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for
the Movement for Democratic Change. "We are concerned now for his security,
his safekeeping, his life; he has fallen into the jaws of danger."
The police have said Biti would be charged with treason, a capital offense.
But the opposition leader has not been seen by associates since he was
swiftly handcuffed at Harare's airport and hustled away.
Now, according to Chamisa, a judge has told the police to bring Biti to
court on Saturday, "though knowing this regime they could easily just ignore
the order and nothing else can be done."
On June 27, Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold a runoff election between
President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, who officially won the most
votes in earlier balloting on March 29 while narrowly failing to get a
The opposition is being thwarted in most of its efforts to campaign.
Tsvangirai has been denied permits to hold rallies and has been detained
several times as he attempted to meet with voters. On Friday, his
brightly-decorated campaign buses were impounded by police in the city of
Gweru. He continued in other vehicles, though according to his spokesmen, he
was followed everywhere by police in riot gear who dispersed the crowds.
Biti, number two in the party and one of its most familiar faces, returned
to Zimbabwe after a two-month self-imposed absence. In doing that, he bucked
a trend. Dozens of members of the opposition have fled the country in recent
weeks after several of their colleagues were abducted and murdered.
Attorney Andrew Makoni, who has represented the opposition since 2002, is
among those escaping into exile. "When you are told by a credible source
that armed men have instructions to eliminate you and they are about to
strike, what do you do, go on like normal or lie low? I chose to lie low."
The killings have been ordered by Mugabe and forces loyal to him, according
to human rights groups. On Friday, in an open letter, 40 of the continent's
leading dignitaries called for an end to the "violence and intimidation" in
Zimbabwe. Among those signing the plea were 14 former African presidents,
past UN secretary generals Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and iconic
musicians Youssou N'Dour and Angelique Kidjo.
The letter also asked for "the restoration of full access for humanitarian
and aid agencies." Last week, the government ordered all aid groups in the
deeply impoverished nation to suspend their operations, accusing some of the
charitable organizations of siding with the opposition.
More than 80 percent of Zimbabweans are unemployed; millions depend on
handouts to forestall hunger. The charity World Vision on Friday called upon
the government to reverse its decision.
"We hold grave concerns for the 1.6 million orphans and vulnerable children
across the country who will now not receive critical assistance from
humanitarian agencies operating in the country," Wilfred Mlay, the
organization's vice president for Africa, said in a statement.
UNICEF also expressed concern. "Zimbabwe's children cannot endure a winter
without support," said regional director Per Engebak.
Issuing its own statement, UNICEF lamented the political violence that "has
resulted in the destruction of thousands of people's homes, thousands of
children not returning to school after the April 29 restart of classes, and
scores of children beaten, some as young as 2-years-old."
Despite the growing chorus of criticism, Mugabe, the 84-year-old hero of the
nation's liberation struggle, seems steeled to continue his current election
strategy. He accuses the Movement for Democratic Change of being lackeys for
the nation's former colonial overlords, the British.
The state-run Herald newspaper quoted him telling supporters at a rally on
Thursday that he would not allow the opposition to take power: "It will
never happen that this land that we fought for should be taken by the MDC so
that they can give it back to our former oppressors, the whites."
MDC Update, Friday 13 June 2008 - 13:30hrs
Its now more than 24 hours since the arrest of the Movement for Democratic
Change Secretary General, Tendai Biti, and the MDC, despite all frantic
efforts, still cannot locate him. The MDC has depatched a team of lawyers
and human rights defenders to every possible police station in Harare in an
effort to secure his whereabouts.
The MDC is deeply worried about the welfare of the Secretary General. Given
the gravity of the otherwise ludicrous charges that have been preferred
againt Mr Biti, it is critical that Mr Biti be able to have access to legal
The Mugabe regime has been threatening to arrest Mr Biti for a long time,
which means they have had ample time to prepare for the charges which they
have preferred against him. It must then follow that they should bring Mr
Biti before an impartial court forthwith, failing which they must release
Since Mr Biti is in police custody, the state must take full responsibility
for whatever may be happening to him.
For more information please call MDC South Africa Nqobizitha Mlilo 083
5274650 or George Sibotshiwe 076 633 0314 or Zimbabwe Nelson Chamisa 0912
June 13, 2008
Robert Mugabe warned that former fighters loyal to him would take up arms to
prevent opponents taking power
Robert Mugabe has issued a thinly-veiled threat to unleash war on his
opponents to prevent them taking power in Zimbabwe's forthcoming election
The disputed president warned his country that veterans of the liberation
war were preparing to take up arms should the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change win the vote on June 27. Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF already
stands accused of waging a campaign of arrests and intimidation against
opponents ahead of the poll, with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai arrested four
times in the last week and secretary-general Tendai Biti facing a treason
The state-owned Herald newspaper quoted Mr Mugabe, a leader in the guerrilla
war, as telling a rally that the veterans had asked him if they should be
ready to fight.
"They came to my office after the (disputed March 29) elections and asked
me: 'Can we take up arms?'," Mr Mugabe said.
The Herald said Mr Mugabe told the veterans that he did not want the country
to go back to war but insisted Zimbabwe would never be ruled by the MDC.
"It will never happen that this land which we fought for should be taken by
the MDC so that they can give it back to our former oppressors, the whites,"
the paper quoted him as saying.
Zanu-PF activists have been accused of murdering 66 MDC supporters in an
attempt to steal the June vote, while human rights groups have been forced
to close or leave the country. Earlier this week The Times reported that Mr
Mugabe's militia had burned alive family members of MDC officials, including
the six-year-old son of an elected councillor.
Earlier, the MDC said Zimbabwean police had impounded two campaign buses
used by Mr Tsvangirai after detaining his entire convoy yesterday while he
campaigned outside the capital.
Police claimed the vehicles were not properly registered but the MDC denied
this, insisting the move was pure harassment.
Mr Tsvangirai would continue the campaign in an alternative vehicle, MDC
spokesman George Sibotshiwe said.
Yesterday, Tendai Biti, the party's third most senior leader, was arrested
at Harare airport as he flew in from South Africa. Police said he was to be
charged with treason, for which he could face the death penalty.
Today, his lawyers said they had still not been given access to him. An
urgent application asking the High Court to intervene had been made, lawyer
Lewis Uriri said.
Meanwhile the South African Litigation Centre, a regional human rights
group, said Zimbabwean police had ordered domestic non-governmental aid
groups and other NGOs to cease operations.
The move followed a ban last week on international humanitarian groups
working in Zimbabwe, which faces a chronic food and economic crisis with
inflation spiralling and many citizens facing starvation.
US humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes said yesterday that the situation
was deteriorating rapidly. He called it "very worrying and very serious ...
with up to four million people in need of humanitarian assistance".
Yesterday the United States called for urgent United Nations Security
Council talks on Zimbabwe because it said Mr Mugabe, who has ruled the
country since independence in 1980, had ignored international calls to end
But diplomats said South Africa, supported by China and Russia, opposed
Security Council involvement.
There will be no war. Mugabe is only trying to frighten people into not
voting for MDC. It worked in 1980, but it won't work this time. Tsvangirai
will ask for UN peacekeeping forces, and a new nonpolitical army will be
trained. These Mugabe gangsters will be arrested and brought to justice.
Charan Muzaya, London, UK
Getting rid of Mugabe wouldn't solve the problem. As we've plainly seen in
the last few weeks, the whole mindset of the ruling Zanu-PF party, including
the militia and the police, is "we're in charge and something as small as a
vote isn't going to change anything". Power in this case has corrupted
Angela Barratt, London, UK
It is Robert Mugabes great fortune that Zimbabwe has no oil.
M Dieter, London, England
The worst thing would be if MDC accept a so-called "government of national
unity" with these gangsters. In the event of an MDC win I hope the
international community will help stabilise Zimbabwe by sending peace
keeping troops, and offering military training. The army and police have to
Charan Muzaya, London, UK
I don't understand how people can just watch as Zimbabwe suffers as it has
been doing for years now. Something should have been done years ago, but
with nothing economically profitable for anyone who can afford to help, they
have been ignored. This is absolutely appalling. Who's going to be next?
Samantha, Chantilly, VA, USA
Mugabe is disgusting & his indifference to the suffering in the country he
rules is obvious.He needs to be removed from power immediately.
John Lawson, Cambridge ON,
Surely this is now a failed state. Have we learnt nothing from Afghanistan.
Surely it must be better to do something about this country now before it
descends further into chaos.
Paul , Gibraltar,
The kindest way out for Mugabe would be a well-placed bullet or missile.
However this would not let Zimbabwe and other African nations learn not to
accept this type of leader in the future and to be more prepared to fight
for political and personal freedoms. Sending aid does not fix this.
JohnM, Perth, Scotland
To Cliff in Nottingham: There is zero to be 'ashamed' of - Britain took her
genius to a backwater country such as Zim currently is - and turned the
country into the breadbasket of Africa. Zim was given world class schools,
hospitals, etc and look what it is now: a barren wasteland run by a despot.
Tom, Newmarket, Canada
Mr. Mugabe is a despot.
EDWARD B RYDER IV, greenlawn, ny usa
Mugabe never believed in democracy. His heroes are Fidel Castro and Mao Zhe
Tung. He used to give out the little Red Book, of which I got a copy, not by
choice. In the early 1980s he tried to force a One Party State in Zimbabwe.
Violence, intimidation and patronage have always been his main weapons.
Charan Muzaya, London, UK
..............and the European Union fiddles while Zimbabwe burns.
J Galbraith, Geneva, Switzerland
PM Brown & President Bush only seem happy to discuss and enforce freedom in
Iraq and Middle East... when it comes to Africa they choose thier words in
guarded fashios to avoid commitment. Shame on both of you. There is no
business for Halliburton, AMEC, Blackwater et al in Zimbabwe. Coincidence?
duncan, New York, USA
If he wasn't president of a country he would be sectioned as he is clearly
suffering severe psychiatric delusions and requires treatment.
That he is a president means we have to watch him ruin a country.
Richard, London, England
I blame the SAS for not sorting out Ian Smith when they had the chance. Had
they done so, the government of Rhodesia could have been chosen, rather than
leaving succession undecided, until an armed insurrection occured.
gmac, Kassel, Germany
Perhaps Mugabe is right that I should have some reason to feel shame at what
was perpetrated by colonialists on his countrymen. But surely now we should
feel even greater shame at the apparent unwillingness of our governments to
deal with the inhumanity he now visits on those same people.
Cliff, Nottingham , UK
Theodore Mbeki could have helped avoid this had he taken a harder line years
ago, and other African leaders are almost as culpable. I hope that they are
proud of themselves.
A sign of things to come for South Africa ? By his silence Mr Mbeki is
making it absolutely clear that ruling parties in Africa don't leave
quietly. So, what does this say about the day South Africans turn on of
their rulers' failure to deliver on all the promises and decide its time for
a change ?
Gareth, Durban, South Africa
Is he MAD? Clearly he is!!! Mugabe that is. We in South Africa have so many
Zimbabweans living here but please believe me they will go home in a
heartbeat if they are assured of a better future.I pity the opposition party
but mostly I pity the citizens of Zimbabwe, those not interested in politics
thesna, Sandton, Republic of South Africa
Zimbabwe's war veterans are preparing to violently overthrow the Movement for Democratic Change if the opposition party triumphs in elections later this month, Robert Mugabe said today.
The country's ageing president, who faces a run-off election for the presidency on June 27, told young members of his ruling Zanu-PF party in Harare that the veterans had told him they would launch a new bush war if the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, wins.
"They said if this country goes back into white hands just because we have used a pen [voted], we will return to the bush to fight," Mugabe said, according to Reuters.
The war veterans, who usually act alongside Zimbabwe's youth militia, have regularly been used as shock troops to intimidate government opponents.
The threats emerged as 14 of Africa's most high-profile dignitaries, including the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, called for free and fair elections overseen by independent observers.
In full-page advertisements in the Financial Times and the South African daily Business Day, African academics, former heads of state and religious leaders said they were deeply troubled by reports of intimidation and violence.
"As Africans we consider the forthcoming elections to be critical. We are aware of the attention of the world," said the appeal, signed by some of Africa's most well-known figures, from the Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu and the Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour to the former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano.
"We call for an end to the violence and intimidation, and restoration of full access for humanitarian and aid agencies."
The current UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, who was in London for talks with Gordon Brown, repeated the plea.
"The June 27 run-off should be held in a most transparent and objective way so Zimbabweans can be given a free choice of leader," he said.
Brown called for an end to violence and oppression and demanded the immediate restoration of food aid. British officials say around 400 election observers could be needed to ensure the poll is fair.
Tsvangirai was released overnight after being detained by police – the fourth time he has been held in the last fortnight.
However, an MDC spokesman said there was still no word on Tendai Biti, the party's third-in-command, who was arrested yesterday at Harare airport after arriving from South Africa.
Police said he would be charged with treason on
allegations of "communicating statements prejudicial to the state". They would
not say where he was being held.
Biti had left Zimbabwe shortly after the March 29 vote for security reasons, and travelled around Africa helping Tsvangirai seek support from other countries.
Last month, police authorities were quoted in the state-run press saying that Biti had broken the law by declaring that Tsvangirai had won the presidential election before official results were released.
Before leaving Johannesburg yesterday Biti learned he would be arrested. He said going home was a "stupid decision", but an unavoidable one.
The MDC said 10 plainclothes policemen had taken Biti from Harare airport to an undisclosed location. Senior MDC officials made frantic efforts to contact the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, to secure Biti's release, Business Day reported. Last week, Mbeki helped secure Tsvangirai's release from police detention.
The escalation of repression — and Biti's arrest — came one day after Mugabe's Zanu-PF negotiators had agreed during talks with the MDC in Pretoria that the crackdown would stop.
The negotiators told South African mediators and MDC representatives Biti would be allowed to return home safely after nearly two months in South Africa.
Tsvangirai was twice stopped by police as he tried to campaign yesterday. His party said he was first held for about two hours, then detained again late into the night before being released.
The detentions are the latest examples of harassment and intimidation ahead of the elections, human rights groups claim.
Tsvangirai won the first round with 47.9% of the vote, compared with 43.2% for Mugabe. Recent statements by the military leadership and Mugabe's wife, Grace, suggest he has no intention of leaving office after the vote.
US diplomats said 20 tonnes of American food aid heading to Zimbabwean children had been seized by authorities last week and given to Mugabe supporters at a rally.
"This is a government that is taking tremendous and, frankly, awful strides to maintain its power, that is increasingly abusing its own citizens and has raised, or should I say lowered, the bar to a level that we rarely see," the US state department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said in Washington yesterday.
The White House press secretary, Dana Perino, urged the UN security council "to prevent further deterioration of the region's humanitarian and security situation".
The council is divided over what to do and whether to hold an open debate, said the US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who holds the council's rotating presidency this month.
The UN is sending Haile Menkerios, a diplomat and former Eritrean ambassador, to Zimbabwe next week to discuss the political situation and elections.
Fri Jun 13, 11:36 AM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The arrests of opposition leaders in Zimbabwe and the
government's use of violence and fear have made a "travesty" of the run-off
presidential poll, the US ambassador to Harare said Friday.
In a telephone conference call with journalists in Washington, Ambassador
James McGee said the arrests of Tendai Biti and "other MDC leaders... and
the ongoing campaign of violence and intimidation have made a travesty of
the upcoming runoff election."
Biti, the number-two figure in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was
facing a treason charge after his arrest Thursday within minutes of arriving
back home to campaign in the June 27 presidential run-off election.
The White House said Thursday it was "deeply troubled" by the development.
Police also detained MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai twice Thursday in central
Zimbabwe, holding him for some two hours the first time, and about four
hours the next, before releasing him.
McGee was also alarmed when Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe raised the
specter of war by warning his staunchest supporters are ready to take up
arms rather than let the opposition triumph in the election.
"The democratic process cannot move forward in a country where you have a
sitting president and a sitting vice president making statements like that,"
"It's not going to (encourage) anyone to even think that we can have a free
and fair election with these types of statements, with the violence and the
intimidation that continues to be perpetrated the innocents here in
Zimbabwe, and frankly the suspension of all NGO humanitarian assistance," he
"In my long diplomatic career, I have never seen anything even comparable to
this," McGee said when talking about the violence and intimidation in the
SW Radio Africa (London)
13 June 2008
Posted to the web 13 June 2008
The MDC has claimed election observers have been instructed to return to
their hotels by 5pm each day during their stay in the country or else
authorities would not be able to guarantee their safety.
Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro said the idea behind restricting the
observers' freedom to move around at any time was unacceptable and a serious
contravention of SADC guidelines on elections.
'We have information the observers have been told to clear their areas of
observation by 5pm. They've also been told they must start their work after
8am,' Mukonoweshuro said.
SADC guidelines do not restrict the movement of observers and more
importantly they detail quite clearly they should have unfettered access to
any place, at any time of the day.
'As a party we don't have the mandate to tell them where to go but we expect
that by now they're well apprised of the situation in the country. What they
need to do is draw up a map, pinpoint the flashpoints of violence, and at
least make an effort to visit the areas,' the MDC MP elect for Gutu South
SADC began deploying more 100 observers across the country on Thursday ahead
of the June 27th run-off presidential election between Morgan Tsvangirai and
Robert Mugabe. Thanki Mothae, director of SADC's Secretariat on Politics,
Defence and Security said 120 observers were fanned out across the country
in the first wave of deployments and that more than 400 should be in place
by polling day.
But Mukonoweshuro deplored the slow reaction of SADC in sending observers,
especially in the rural areas where state sponsored violence has displaced
over 50 000 people from their homes. The MDC says 66 of their activists have
been murdered and another 3000 are hospitalised countrywide since Mugabe let
loose his war dogs to terrorise those they say voted for MDC.
'We need the observers out there now. It's a serious situation and we are
shocked SADC are not taking this seriously. We don't need more of this
madness from Zanu-PF,' Mukonoweshuro added.
Afrol News, Norway
afrol News, 13 June - Southern African Development Community (SADC)
observers are flooding into Zimbabwe ahead of 27 June presidential run-off.
Delayed arrival of observers has been cause for concern among stakeholders
and run-off competitors given wave of political violence Zimbabwe has gone
through since 29 March presidential elections.
Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
expressed concern on Zanu PF supporter's crackdown on MDC members which
received international attention.
MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai told The Zimbabwean that Zanu PF has embarked
on a violent campaign against masses because President Mugabe failed to win
Director of SADC Organ on Politics, Defence, Peace, and Security, Tanki
Mothae, said over 120 observers had been deployed and taking round in the
"We had earlier anticipated that we would have 300 observers or so but based
on responses from member countries we will have more than 400 by polling
day," said Mr Mothae.
He said SADC has to come up with one voice on issue of elections, saying
differing views on the same situation is worrying to say the least. "African
leaders need to be united in condemning these acts of violence," he said.
Apart from SADC observers, Pan African Parliament (PAP) observer mission is
already in Zimbabwe doing rounds in Harare while other organisations
friendly to Zimbabwe government are expected in the country next week.
United Nations had showed interest in Zimbabwe elections saying it would
send a mission upon invitation by government.
Despite all international pressure, President Thabo Mbeki has opted for
silent diplomacy, favouring Mr Mugabe. His silence has left both national
and international observers wondering about Mr Mbeki's impartiality.
United States pledged US$7 million into observation process of presidential
run-off due next week.
US State Department spokesman Mr Sean McCormack said US government would
avail money through its channels to enable observer teams to carry out their
work as effectively as possible.
"We are going to contribute US$7 million to the election observer effort.
The money is not only to ensure that there are proper, sufficient numbers
from countries that are going to supply observers, but that they have
resources to do their job on the ground," Mr McCormack said.
Since March polls, Zimbabwe has recorded severe human rights violations with
more than 60 people reported dead while tens of thousands are displaced in
the violence perpetuated by Mr Mugabe's regime in a bid to intimidate
Zimbabweans to back him in June 27 run-off election.
By staff writer
SW Radio Africa (London)
13 June 2008
Posted to the web 13 June 2008
With the presidential run off elections almost two weeks away, it appears
the United Nations Security Council has again managed to side step
discussing the growing crisis in Zimbabwe during meetings this week.
South Africa, with Russia's help, blocked the debate about the country's
political situation when it was raised for discussion on Tuesday. As a
result, the Security Council stated it would discuss only the "humanitarian
situation" in Zimbabwe without deliberating on the political causes.
The stance was defended by South Africa's foreign affairs chief director for
UN Issues, Xolisa Mabhongo, who said in an interview on Tuesday that
"Zimbabwe does not pose, in our view, at the moment, a threat to
international peace and security, which is the mandate of the Security
It is now the second time in 3 months that South Africa has blocked
discussion on Zimbabwe in the Security Council. In April South Africa and
China combined to block the placing of Zimbabwe on the agenda of the
Council, despite unprecedented levels of violence engulfing the country.
But despite the resolution to include the country's worsening humanitarian
situation on the Council agenda, as well as a growing number of reports of
violent attacks, the subject of the Zimbabwean situation as a whole has been
avoided in meetings this week.
Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies Chris Maroleng said
he believes the power to take action to prevent further atrocities does not
lie in the hands of the United Nations but rather in the hands of SADC
leaders. He said SADC "must be supported in their attempts to find a lasting
solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe".
Maroleng also criticised the UN Security Council's decision to separate
discussions about the humanitarian crisis and political causes, and said: "I
think to try and address the humanitarian situation in that country without
really talking, analysing, assessing and discussing the state of the
politics in that country is really not a useful process, which is bound to
lead to a lot of other problems".
By David Gollust
13 June 2008
U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee said Friday international monitoring
may provide the only hope for a fair election in Zimbabwe, where voters go
to the polls for a presidential runoff June 27. McGee says President Robert
Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party colleagues will do anything they feel they have
to in order to stay in power. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State
Ambassador McGee, who has assumed a high public profile against electoral
abuses, is hardly optimistic about chances for a free election, saying
government-inspired violence and fear have already made a "travesty" of the
But he says outside monitoring could deter ballot box stuffing and other
extreme tactics that could extinguish any hope for political change in
In a telephone conference call with Washington reporters, McGee said as many
as 500 monitors are expected from the southern African regional grouping
SADC and up to 80 from the African Union, and that U.S. and other diplomats
are continuing to press for more.
He said outside observers need to arrive as soon as possible and fan out
into countryside to demonstrate to voters that they can safely cast ballots.
"The larger number of election observers that we can get out into the field,
the better chance of this happening, the better chance of us having free and
fair elections in this country," he explained. "Additionally, I think the
United States government is continuing to look at all its options on how to
deal with this situation here. But as I mentioned earlier, this government
absolutely does not care. They could care less what we or anyone else thinks
of them and they will continue to do everything they can to win this
election and continue in power."
The runoff pits Mr. Mugabe against Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change. The MDC leader finished first in the initial
round of voting March 29 though election officials said he did not get the
outright majority needed to avoid the runoff.
U.S. envoy McGee called for the immediate release of the MDC's
second-ranking official, Tendai Biti, who was arrested Thursday on his
return to Harare after several weeks abroad, and reportedly will face
treason charges, which could carry the possibility of a death penalty.
A veteran diplomat who has served in other world trouble spots, McGee
nonetheless said he had never seen anything like the degree of government
violence and intimidation that has accompanied Zimbabwe's runoff campaign,
during which he said as many as 3,000 people may have been injured severely
enough to require hospitalization.
He nonetheless said he expected a sizeable election turnout from Zimbabweans
who feel they have nothing further to lose by going to the polls.
"What I would say to the people of Zimbabwe is that you need to make a
stand," he added. "I think there are a lot of good-willed people here in
Zimbabwe. There are a lot of people that are eager to see change. We have a
lot of brave people who are actually putting their lives on the line, trying
to help this country towards a democratic future. But I think more people
here in Zimbabwe need to step up."
McGee said it is unfortunate that as many as four million Zimbabweans have
as he put it, "voted with their feet" by fleeing the country amid the
turmoil of recent months.
He said a similar number of people still in the country could be adversely
affected by the ban the government announced last week on activities of
international aid groups.
Fri 13 Jun 2008, 11:42 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's presidential vote is unlikely to end the
country's accelerating political and economic crisis, with neither side
willing to enter a unity government to end the bloodshed.
There are growing calls for a coalition government instead of an election
because of mounting violence. U.S. based Human Rights Watch and ruling
ZANU-PF party defector Simba Makoni have both said a fair poll is impossible
in the current climate.
But opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who says 66 of his supporters have
been murdered in a brutal government campaign, has rejected the call.
ZANU-PF hardliners, who blame the violence on the MDC, despise Tsvangirai
and are also unlikely to agree.
However a win by either President Robert Mugabe or Tsvangirai in the June 27
run-off poll would likely not be accepted by opposing supporters and could
plunge the once prosperous country deeper into crisis and violence.
"What is clear is that the election (run-off) is not going to end the crisis
because Mugabe has declared war to stay," said John Makumbe, a veteran
political commentator and Mugabe critic.
Makumbe said Mugabe's personal dislike of Tsvangirai -- whom he calls a
"pathetic Western puppet" -- would hinder any efforts to unite and be viewed
by hardliners as political defeat.
"At best, I think ZANU-PF would try to work with other MDC officials but not
Tsvangirai. In the short-term I think this political stalemate is going to
continue, the economy is going to continue crumbling and people are going to
suffer," he said.
Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of political pressure group National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) agreed.
"For the MDC, the political violence that is going on is also hardening
feelings in its ranks...and if we are going to get talks on a government of
national unity, these talks are going to be long and hard," he said.
"What I see is a long drawn crisis, and more hard days ahead."
The MDC blames Mugabe for Zimbabwe's economic collapse. Inflation is at
least 165,000 percent, unemployment 80 percent and there are chronic food
and fuel shortages. The U.N. says almost a quarter of the population need
Mugabe and ZANU-PF lost both presidential and parliamentary elections on
March 29 but Tsvangirai did not win enough votes for an outright victory,
forcing a second round.
The MDC, human rights groups and Western powers say ZANU-PF has deployed
security forces, war veterans and youth militia in a campaign of violence
and dirty tricks to cripple Tsvangirai's chances this time.
In the last month, police have detained Tsvangirai four times, arrested half
a dozen opposition legislators and officials, hundreds of activists, union
leaders and journalists.
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence in 1980, has vowed never to
allow the MDC to rule, saying it is a front for former colonial power
Rights groups and the MDC say independence war veterans and youth militia
are driving villagers to nightly meetings and telling them: "Vote Mugabe or
prepare for war".
Analysts fear the country is slowly sliding into a circle of violence that
may be difficult to control, and say angry MDC activists have started
Mugabe's government says "MDC thugs" have killed a number of ZANU-PF
activists, including independence war veterans.
A senior Western diplomat said the international community was more or less
agreed that Mugabe was going to hang on, with disastrous consequences for
"It's an absolute disaster. The election has been turned into a farce and
everyone feels let down by the regional leaders," the diplomat said.
The MDC says it will still win despite a crippled campaign, but Madhuku
believes Mugabe's supporters may have done enough to turn the tide.
"The campaign has been particularly brutal and I think ZANU-PF has struck
the fear chord which will force many people to vote against their wishes
simply to have some peace," he said.
"They have thrown away the rule book, and I think they will get the
electoral result they want."
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, one of the officials running Mugabe's
campaign, dismissed MDC protests. "They are staring defeat in the face and
are making wild accusations."
He said ZANU-PF was merely working hard to get out the vote from supporters
who did not cast ballots in March. "We are going to win fair and square with
a large majority," he said.
Knox Chitiyo of the Africa programme at London's United Services Institute
said the violence would spur the population to vote for Tsvangirai despite
his difficulty in campaigning.
"Most votes will go to him, but the state will do it's best to declare
Mugabe the winner," he said.
June 13 2008 at 03:29PM
By Natasha Prince and Mandla Mnyakama
"It was a big mistake to go back."
These were the rueful words of a Zimbabwean woman, who returned to her
Khayelitsha home to fetch blankets and was attacked and forced to leave for
a second time.
The 38-year-old woman did not want to be identified because she feared
her attackers would find her.
Further allegations of attacks, which the victims believe are
xenophobia-related, have come from two other Zimbabweans, while a Somali has
repeated allegations of more threats of xenophobic attacks on Youth Day,
The latest allegations come amid government's call for, and refugees'
rejection of, reintegration into communities from which refugees were
The Zimbabwean woman had been living in the area for almost two
She recalled the first attack on a Friday afternoon three weeks ago
when she was warned to leave.
"They told us to leave everything behind. "Leave it! It's not yours
because you came here with nothing," they told us."
She fled with her 20-month-old baby on her back and stayed for three
days at the municipal hall before moving to a shelter in Salt River. There
were not enough blankets for all occupants so the woman returned to the area
on Saturday to see if she could salvage any blankets.
"It was a big mistake. I shouldn't have gone back."
As she stood in front of a vacant plot she became confused as to
whether it was where her home used to be.
"Then they saw me," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"They recognised me and started pushing me around. They asked me: "Do
you want to die today?" It was worse than the first time."
The woman fell with her baby on her back.
"At least the first time the police were there. This time I was alone.
I was powerless."
She escaped with an injured back and hand and she had bruises on her
body. She ran along the road.
"They were jeering at me: "Makwerekwere go home!"."
The woman said a "coloured man driving a car" dropped her off at a
taxi rank in Site C and she fled Khayelitsha for the second time this month.
"I'm sure if I didn't have my baby with me they would have killed me."
She said she would not return because she was too scared.
"I never thought they would destroy everything. I thought they were my
"I am especially scared of the younger ones, they don't know what they
She said reintegration was not an option.
"You can't go back there, the old people might be willing to let you
come back, but not the young ones, especially those that are not working."
Meanwhile, David Kufa who arrived in Cape Town six months ago from
Zimbabwe, said his friend, Simabrashe Nduku, 23, was stabbed in the left arm
and robbed on Monday night by "skollies".
"To me that is a good indication to show that the same is still going
to happen all over the township," he said.
Kelvin Khumalo, still suffering a bruised face after being assaulted
and robbed by youths in Khayelitsha last week, said he was told that he and
other refugees should be out of the township by June 25 or they would be
Referring to a meeting earlier this week to promote safe
reintegration, Khumalo said refugees were getting mixed messages.
"It is very difficult to understand because the elderly (people) in
this meeting tell us that everything is safe, but the youths always think
differently and are still attacking us."
The 30-year-old man has been in Cape Town for three years and makes a
living selling DVDs.
He alleged that youths tripped him and kicked him repeatedly in the
face. He said they took his bag.
"They shouted, 'Nank'omunye , nal'ikwirikwiri (here is another one,
here is a foreigner)'," Khumalo said.
Mahad Omar of Somalia repeated allegations of more threats of
xenophobic attacks on Youth Day, June 16.
At the meeting, Safety and Security MEC Leonard Ramatlakane assured
refugees that those who threatened them did not represent the views of
Khayelitsha's 500 000 residents.
This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Argus on June
Reporters without borders
13 June 2008
Reporters Without Borders wrote today to United Nations Assistant
Secretary-General Haile Menkerios asking him to take account of the current
climate of fear for the independent media in Zimbabwe when he arrives in
Harare for talks with the government next week. Here is the text of the
Mr. Haile Menkerios
Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs
Department of Political Affairs
New York NY 10017
Paris, 13 June 2008
Dear Mr. Menkerios
In view of your intention to visit Harare from 16 to 20 June, ahead of the
27 June presidential election run-off, Reporters Without Borders would like
to brief you about the government's serious press freedom violations and the
climate of fear reigning among journalists and human rights activists.
The election campaign and first round of the presidential election on 29
March were disastrous for press freedom. Eighteen journalists and media
assistants were arrested. The climate has worsened since then, especially in
recent weeks, with the authorities now using independence war veterans as a
supplementary force for the security services. Our organisation is very
concerned that the decisive second round will be the occasion for a further
escalation in the repression.
The campaign of intimidation and harassment of journalists has been stepped
up in the approach to the second round. Each week, our organisation and
local press freedom NGOs have registered cases of journalists being arrested
arbitrarily or placed in custody for no reason, which is reinforcing the
climate of fear and self-censorship. There have also been police raids on
news media and independent organisations, and journalists have been unfairly
dismissed from state-owned media.
Journalists have not been the only victims of this campaign. The Zimbabwean
authorities have violated their commitments by stepping up physical attacks
and arrests involving the opposition, including its leaders, preventing the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which was ahead in the first round,
from campaigning freely.
Human rights activists have also been targeted. Abel Chikomo, for example,
the head of Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (ZHF) and a member of the Media
Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ), was arrested during a police swoop on
the MMPZ office in the western town of Binga on 7 June. Thirteen other
people were arrested at the same time for holding an unauthorised public
meeting. They were released without charge four days later.
Christian Alliance news director Pius Wakatama and nine other members of
religious organisations were arrested in a raid carried out on an ecumenical
centre in Harare on 9 June by members of a military security unit and the
Criminal Investigation Department. Wakatama, a journalist who used to work
for The Standard, an independent weekly, and the Daily News, was finally
released on the evening of the same day without being charged.
The authorities carried out a radical screening of journalists authorised to
cover the elections, in violation of international conventions signed by
Zimbabwe, while the foreign media and their local employees are kept under
constant surveillance, resulting in arrests and heavy sentences. Bernet
Hasani Sono, Resemate Boy Chauke and Simon Maodi were stopped by police on
23 May as they were transporting equipment belonging to the British TV
station Sky News and were given six-month prison sentences on 2 June for
"unauthorised possession of TV broadcast equipment."
The government has also stepped up its restrictions on news entering the
country from abroad. A tax of 40 per cent of the total cost per kilogram was
imposed on imported print media a week ago with the aim limiting the
circulation of foreign newspapers and magazines, and publications produced
by Zimbabwean journalists in exile.
Zimbabwe's privately-owned press has been stifled and reduced to a handful
of closely-watched publications, while journalists employed by the state
media are punished if they do not contribute to government propaganda. The
state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) fired seven reporters
and news editors without explanation on 3 June. Internal sources said ZBC's
new editor in chief, an independence war veteran, accused them of giving too
much air time to the main opposition party, the MDC.
The behaviour of the government and its allies is making it very likely that
the election results will be completely fraudulent. We think it is important
that you should remind President Robert Mugabe that his government is guilty
of repeated violations of the treaties and conventions that it signed.
In 2004, for example, Zimbabwe agreed to comply with the Southern African
Development Community's "Principles and Rules Governing Democratic
Elections," which require member states to guarantee "total access to
national and international media" during elections. Zimbabwe's legislation,
which is among the most repressive in the world towards the media, has
flagrantly violated this principle for years.
We hope that our information and proposal will be of use to your in your
June 13, 2008, 17:45
Zimbabwean journalists face a difficult operating environment, a
fact-finding mission of African media organisations said in Johannesburg
today. The mission had interviewed Zimbabwean journalists who had been
arrested on flimsy charges, been beaten up, had their property confiscated
and, in some cases, destroyed.
The mission recommended that the regional and international community
monitor the working conditions of journalists and independent media and
ensure the matter stayed on the regional and international public agenda.
It also recommended that regional and international organisations make
preparations to assist Zimbabwean journalists and media who might be forced
to either leave the country or seek medical or legal help.
The mission was made up of the International Federation of Journalists, the
Southern African Editors Forum, the Southern Africa Journalists Association,
the Media Institute of Southern Africa regional office and the Network of
African Freedom of Expression Organisations.
Their representatives went to Zimbabwe on June 8 to ascertain the media's
working conditions and the level of freedom of expression in that country. -
SW Radio Africa (London)
13 June 2008
Posted to the web 13 June 2008
After being kept in detention for about 2 weeks while the government delayed
a bail appeal hearing, 12 of the 14 WOZA activists who were being detained
at Chikurubi Maximum Prison finally faced the prospect of being released on
A male MOZA activist that was at Harare Remand Prison was also due for
release on Friday after lawyers paid bail. Lawyer Gift Mpisi, who is
representing the WOZA detainees, said he had posted Z$ 5 billion each for
their release. A car was on the way to Chikurubi to pick them up late
Mpisi said 10 of the 13 activists at Chikurubi were due to be released
Friday. Coordinators Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were denied bail
Wednesday after the state claimed that they were likely to mobilise people
to demonstrate on the streets and cause violence ahead of the runoff
election. A WOZA activist who was using documents that had her maiden name
instead of married name will also spend the weekend in detention awaiting
clarification on Monday.
Mpisi said he had intended to file an urgent application in the Supreme
Court for the release of the 2 WOZA coordinators. But he received a letter
from the court clerk advising that he could not apply to the Supreme Court
because the case had started in a magistrate's court. The lawyer immediately
sensed these were further delay tactics by the state. He said that many
cases that ended up in the Supreme Court had started in the magistrate's
Mahlangu is being charged with conducting activities that are likely to
cause public disorder. Williams is facing charges of causing disaffection
among the police and with distributing false information. The government
crackdown on suspected opposition supporters has been brutal and it has
claimed 66 lives so far. New tougher measures meant to keep activists in
detention for longer periods were announced by government last weekend.
Now the concern is for the safety and welfare coordinators Williams and
Mahlangu while they re in detention.
Release on bail of WOZA and MOZA activists / Ongoing detention of Ms.
Jennifer Williams and Ms. Magodonga Mahlangu - ZWE 003 / 0608 / OBS 094.1
The Observatory has been informed by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) about
the release on bail on June 11, 2008 of all WOZA members and one member of
Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) who had been arrested on May 28, 2008, except
for Ms. Jennifer Williams and Ms. Magodonga Mahlangu, leaders of WOZA.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint
programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new
information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation
According to the information received, on June 11, 2008, 12 of the 14 WOZA
activists as well as a member of MOZA, who were arrested on May 28, 2008
while participating in a demonstration calling on the Government of Zimbabwe
to stop the orchestrated violence in the run-up to the presidential run-off
election were released on bail. However, Ms. Jennifer Williams and Ms.
Magodonga Mahlangu were denied bail after the State claimed that they were
likely to mobilise people to demonstrate on the streets and cause violence
ahead of the runoff election.
The women were being held at Chikurubi Prison, in the women's remand
section, while the man was held at the Harare Remand Prison.
On May 30, 2008, they were admitted to bail in the Magistrate's Court, but
the State immediately indicated that they would appeal, and were given seven
court days to file. The State's appeal was due to be heard on June 10, 2008.
However, the State only filed their arguments late afternoon of June 9,
which meant the ZLHR lawyer representing WOZA could only submit their
arguments on June 10. Judge Hlatshwayo then said that he needed time to read
them and postponed the hearing until June 11, 2008.
Meanwhile, all the accused appeared in the Magistrate's Court on June 6,
2008 and were routinely remanded until June 20.
The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the ongoing arbitrary
detention of the above-mentioned human rights defenders, in a context of
increasing repression against all persons who have been involved in the
human rights monitoring of the March 2008 election process. The Observatory
will also immediately alert the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the
situation of human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur of the
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) on Human Rights
Defenders in Africa.
The Observatory further recalls that according to Article 1 of the UN
Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of
the United Nations on December 9, 1998, "everyone has the right,
individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for
the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at
the national and international levels".
On May 28, 2008, Ms. Jennifer Williams, 12 other WOZA members and one member
of MOZA were arrested in Harare while demonstrating against the current wave
of political violence. They were detained well beyond the legally
permissible 48 hours and only appeared in court after 4 pm on May 30, 2008.
On May 31, 2008, the court ordered their release on bail, but the State
appealed against the findings of the court. Therefore, the group remained in
All of the arrested face charges of participating in a public gathering with
the intent to provoke public violence. Ms. Jennifer Williams faces two
additional counts of "causing disaffection among the police" and "publishing
false statements prejudicial to the State". The charges are based on
legislation clearly in breach of the Zimbabwean Constitution, which
guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity
of Ms. Jennifer Williams and all above-mentioned defenders, as well as of
all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;
ii. Release Ms. Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu as their detention
is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning their human rights
iii. Put an end to all kinds of harassment, including at the judicial level,
against all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;
iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights
Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December
9, 1998, especially its above-mentioned Article 1 and article 12.2, which
provides that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the
protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in
association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de
facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary
action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights
referred to in the [...] Declaration";
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and
international instruments ratified by Zimbabwe.
a.. President of Zimbabwe, Mr. Robert G. Mugabe, Office of the President,
Private Bag 7700, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 708 211 / +
b.. Mr. Khembo Mohadi, Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs,
11th Floor Mukwati Building, Private Bag 7703, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe,
Fax : +263 4 726 716
c.. Mr. Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fax: + 263 4
77 29 99 / +263 4 252 155
d.. Mr. Augustine Chihuri, Commissioner General, Police Headquarters, P.O.
Box 8807, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 253 212 / 728 768 / 726
e.. Mr. Justice Bharat Patel, Attorney-General, Office of the Attorney, PO
Box 7714, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax: + 263 4 77 32 47
f.. Mrs. Chanetsa, Office of the Ombudsman Fax: + 263 4 70 41 19
g.. Ambassador Mr. Chitsaka Chipaziwa, Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to
the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin William Barbey 27, 1292 Chambésy,
Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 758 30 44, Email: email@example.com
h.. Ambassador Mr. Pununjwe, Embassy of Zimbabwe in Brussels, 11 SQ
Josephine Charlotte, 1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 96
05 / + 32 2 775 65 10, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please also write to the embassies of Zimbabwe in your respective country.
Geneva - Paris, June 13, 2008
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of
Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
HARARE, Zimbabwe, June 13, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ - From
June 8 to13 a Mission made up of the International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ Africa Office based in Senegal), Southern Africa Editors' Forum (SAEF),
Southern Africa Journalists Association (SAJA), the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA) Regional Office and the Network of African Freedom of
Expression Organisations (NAFEO) visited Zimbabwe on a fact finding mission
to ascertain the conditions of media and freedom of expression in Zimbabwe
in the light of the arrests of journalists, both local and foreign and the
deteriorating freedom of expression environment. This mission also comes in
the context of the forthcoming Presidential election run off slated for 27
The mission notes that Zimbabwe is going through serious political violence
perpetrated by the party in power, ZANU PF. This violence is also taking
place in a context of major economic challenges that the country faces where
inflation is estimated to be greater than 1 million percent. There have also
been food shortages, which are further exacerbated through the banning of
humanitarian food distribution by NGOs by the government.
The mission met a number of Zimbabwean journalists, editors and media owners
working in urban, peri-urban and rural areas and a cross section of
representative's of local civic organisations working countrywide. The
mission expresses its shock at the level of fear pervading the Zimbabwe
media and society at large. The mission talked to journalists who had been
arrested on flimsy charges, beaten and had their property confiscated and in
some cases destroyed. Journalists operate under the constant fear of being
abducted, arrested, detained or beaten up for doing their work. At the time
of this fact finding visit, the mission notes that there are three foreign
media workers in state prison on charges of breaching broadcasting and
telecommunication laws. At the same time, workers of a media monitoring and
advocacy organisation were arrested and released after four days for
allegedly organising an "illegal meeting". Some of these organisations were
also being raided and threatened with closure for allegedly working with the
media against the government.
In interviews with various players in the media as well as civic
organisations, it is clear that Zimbabwe's media is operating under
tremendous pressure from the state and security agents, as well as non-state
actors such as youth militia, ZANU PF supporters and war veterans. Almost
all those interviewed, especially freelance journalists tell of harrowing
and saddening stories of arrests, beatings and intimidation. Zimbabwean
journalists face a difficult operating environment in which they are not
only expected to be licensed by a government appointed Media and Information
Commission (MIC) but have to brave political violence and the challenges of
a failing economy. Those journalists working for the state media live in
fear of being fired or suspended for not showing sufficient enthusiasm for
the reporting and coverage of the party in power.
Laws that include the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) are being used with
impunity to narrow the operating space for journalists. The mission was told
that unlicensed journalists face a daily task of avoiding arrest. More so,
the licensed journalists cannot travel outside the city centres to cover
rural areas because of fear of security agents and militia who have set up
base in rural areas. The combined effect is that Zimbabweans in general lack
access to election related information to empower them to make informed
In the past five years, four newspapers were banned. A few weeks ago 60,000
copies and a truck belonging to The Zimbabwean newspaper printed outside the
country were petrol-bombed by unknown assailants. This situation is worsened
by the imposition of a punitive duty on all foreign publications. This
situation is worsened by the harassment, arrests and threats on human rights
defenders including media and human rights lawyers. Media lawyers have been
arrested and others have fled the country fearing for their lives.
The few remaining independent newspapers in Zimbabwe face the challenge of
surviving a harsh economic environment in which almost all inputs are
imported. Apart from the shortages of equipment, print consumables and
newsprint, the government imposes price restrictions on newspapers and other
publications through the National Incomes and Pricing Commission.
Independent newspapers in Zimbabwe, which do not have government subsidies,
are therefore struggling to break even. The economic challenges that the
independent media are facing, combined with the arrests, threats and
harassment has meant that this media is barely surviving and their impact as
alternative sources of information severely curtailed.
The mission noted that the accreditation of foreign journalists and media
organisations is at the discretion of the MIC and in this election the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). Consequently a number of local and
foreign journalists have been denied accreditation to cover elections.
The mission observed that the state media is under severe control by the
party in power as an exclusive campaign tool. A simple media monitoring of
the content of the state owned newspapers and broadcast news bulletins over
the period of the visit show a biased reporting embedded in hate language.
The state media is thus contributing to the heightening of political
tensions in Zimbabwe through its reportage, especially making allegations of
political violence allegedly being perpetrated by the opposition without
conclusive police investigations. The mission also noted that harassment of
journalists at the state media is meant to inculcate fear and an
unquestioning loyalty within the journalists. At the time of our visit
seven journalists were under suspension and the Zimbabwean Broadcast
Corporation (ZBC) CEO had recently been fired. The purge of the state media
is meant to remove any form of professionalism and create a compliant and
This takes place in a situation where no non-state radio and television
channels have license to operate in Zimbabwe, and only short and media-wave
radios produced outside the country provide an alternative to the state
radio and television under ZBC. These signals of these external broadcasts
are frequently being jammed.
The mission came to the conclusion that the media and freedom of expression
environment is severely constrained. The mission further notes that no
proper and professional media work can take place in Zimbabwe under the
circumstances to allow for free and fair elections. The mission takes note
and congratulates brave Zimbabwean journalists and independent newspapers
who still express interest of continuing with their work despite all these
In light of the media and freedom of expression environment in Zimbabwe, the
mission recommends that:
- Regional and International Community monitor the situation of
journalists and independent media and ensure that this issue is maintained
on the regional and international public agenda.
- Regional and international organisations make preparations to assist
Zimbabwean journalists and media who might be forced into either leaving the
country or seeking medical or legal assistance.
- Pressure be maintained on the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) by the regional and international community to resolve the deepening
political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe that affects the ability of the
media to perform their duties in informing the Zimbabwe people.
- The SADC and AU observer missions prevail upon the government of
Zimbabwe to allow greater observance and monitoring of the election process
by the international community and ensure the security and freedoms of
journalists and the media in Zimbabwe.
SOURCE : International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
13th Jun 2008 15:31 GMT
By David Baxter
CHIMANIMANI, Manicaland Province - About 500 people have fled from their
homes in Cashel Valley and Mutambara here after armed militants and Zanu PF
supporters attacked their homes.
The continuing attacks began on Saturday. War veterans, soldiers and Zanu PF
youths who are camped at Cashel Valley moved from house to house beating up
villagers accusing them of not supporting Robert Mugabe's bid to retain the
On Monday they descended on Mutambara Mission school and hospital where they
indiscriminately attacked residents at the mission. One man from Cashel
Valley was shot dead and three were seriously injured and taken to Mutambara
Another man identified as Musere, an elderly farm labourer at the mission,
is missing amid fears the Zanu PF militants abducted him.
"People are sleeping in the mountains," said one victim who fled to Mutare.
"Those of us who are lucky have managed to come all this way to Mutare."
The victim refused to be identified.
There were fears authorities at the mission could close down both the school
and the hospital because of the intensifying violence. Another victim who
fled in the dead of the night on Monday said gunfire sound was heard
throughout the previous night.
War veterans and soldiers camped at a Zanu PF base in Cashel Valley are
armed with AK rifles an assortment of light arms, sources say.
"It is very frightening," he said, "But the biggest worry is that all this
is happening while the police are just watching and not doing anything."
Cashel Valley and Mutambara are in Chimanimani West. The constituency was
won by the MDC's Lynette Karinye who beat Cabinet Minister Munacho Mutezo.
Mutezo was not immediately available for comment as his mobile phone was
continuously not reachable.
Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC spokesman in Manicaland, said the violence has
also spread to Nedziwa and other surrounding areas.
"It's frightening," Muchauraya said, "The level of violence against our
supporters is now very alarming. It is not only in Chimanimani but
throughout the province."
The violence in Chimanimani West is calculated at cowing voters not to cast
their ballots in favour of Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader who squares it
off with the Zanu PF's ageing and veteran leader, Robert Mugabe, who lost
the March 29 vote.
Tsvangirai won the poll but not with enough votes to form a government.
Political analysts believe Tsvangirai can win the June 27 run-off if it is
conducted in a free and fair environment. But if the violence against
perceived opposition supporters and sympathizers continues as is the case at
the moment, a Zanu PF victory is beckoning.
Victims of the Chimanimani violence said the Zanu PF militants are
threatening an all out war should Mugabe lose the run off. Senior Zanu PF
officials have issued threats that war will break out if Mugabe loses.
Officials from the army's top brass have also made similar threats. But the
opposition and other pro-democracy groups have condemned the threats saying
they were meant to stifle democracy and perpetuate Mugabe's ruinous rule.
13th Jun 2008 15:23 GMT
By Ian Nhuka
BULAWAYO - Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman, Nelson Chamisa
yesterday said the government has directed the public media not to publish
political advertisements from his party.
While Zanu PF has started a campaign blitz on national radio and television
and newspapers, MDC political material is conspicuously absent from the
State media sources confirmed Chamisa's accusations saying the Permanent
Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity, George Charamba,
pronounced the order to not only reject MDC advertisements, but also to
report the opposition party in bad light.
"That one is clear because we are publishing Zanu PF advertisements every
day but there has been no MDC advertisements," said an advertising executive
at Bulawayo-based Chronicle. "We were told that MDC adverts are banned. We
have been in touch with their (MDC) advertising agency, but we told them we
cannot do anything as the matter is beyond our control."
MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who beat Zanu PF candidate, President Robert
Mugabe by more than 100 000 votes in the first round election in March goes
into a re-match with the octogenarian leader late this month.
The former trade unionist garnered 47 percent of the valid vote while Mugabe
got 43 percent.
But he has been having a tough campaign period because police, apparently
working on orders from Zanu PF have systematically refused to sanction his
rallies and have also arrested scores of MDC officials.
While Tsvangirai's rallies remain banned, Mugabe and his party officials are
holding rallies and political meetings all over the country.
Chamisa said the MDC has had problems with Zimpapers and Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
"We are having big problems with The Herald and ZBC," he said. "It is purely
because of the dictatorship that is leading this country. The ZBC and
Zimpapers are refusing to publish our campaign material and you can see
clearly that there is an instruction from somewhere. We know the order came
The cash-strapped public media, said our Zimpapers source, is also losing
tens of trillions of dollars in potential revenue by rejecting MDC political
A full-page advertisement in The Herald costs at least $1 trillion while in
the Chronicle costs around $800 billion. Zanu PF is taking an average of two
full-page advertisements in each of the newspapers
Chamisa said his party is crafting a measured response to the ban. He
refused to disclose the response.
"What Zanu -PF is doing is illegal," he said. "It is also against the
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) principles and guidelines
governing democratic elections, which Zanu PF endorsed in 2004."
Leaders in the 14-member regional bloc committed themselves to
upholding the principles and guidelines during their summit held in
Mauritius in August 2004.
Broadly, the guidelines seek to even out the electoral playing field in SADC
through guaranteeing political tolerance, freedom of association, full
participation of all citizens in elections and free access to the media.
Articles 2.1.5 and 7.4 specifically call for unhindered access to the media
for all political parties contesting in elections. Article 2.1.5 says
member states must provide, "Equal opportunity for all political parties to
access the state media. Article 7.4 states that a country holding an
election must, "Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens
including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression, and
campaigning as well as access to the media on the part of all stakeholders,
during electoral processes as provided for under 2.1.5."
As if to confirm the ban, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa told state media last weekend that Zanu PF would
not entertain MDC arguments regarding the leveling of the electoral playing
Chinamasa, who is also the chairman of the Zanu PF information and publicity
sub-committee, said the ruling party would only consider doing so if the MDC
calls for the lifting of what he described as western sanctions on Zimbabwe.
He was referring to the targeted sanctions imposed by the European Union and
America on senior ruling party and government officials. Chinamasa claimed
that the so-called sanctions tilted the playing field against Zanu PF.
Christopher Hitchens | June 14, 2008
THE scale of state-sponsored crime and terror in Zimbabwe has escalated to
the point where we are compelled to watch not just the systematic demolition
of democracy and human rights in that country but also something not very
far removed from slow-motion mass murder a la Burma.
The order from the Mugabe regime that closes down all international aid
groups and humanitarian non-governmental organisations is significant in two
It expresses the ambition for total control by the state and it represents a
direct threat - "vote for us or starve" - to the already desperate civilian
The organisation CARE (www.care.org), for example, which reaches 500,000
impoverished Zimbabweans, has been ordered to suspend operations. And here's
a little paragraph, almost buried in a larger report of more comprehensive
atrocities but somehow speaking volumes: "The UN Children's Fund said Monday
that 10,000 children had been displaced by the violence, scores had been
beaten and some schools had been taken over by pro-government forces and
turned into centres of torture."
While this politicisation of the food situation in his country was being
completed, President Robert Mugabe benefited from two things: the indulgence
of the South African Government and the lenience of the authorities in Rome,
who allowed him to attend a UN conference on the world food crisis - of all
things - despite a five-year-old ban on his travel to any member of the
This, in turn, seems to me to implicate two of the supposed sources of moral
authority on the planet: Nelson Mandela and the Vatican.
By his silence about what is happening in Zimbabwe, Mandela is making
himself complicit in the pillage and murder of an entire nation, as well as
the strangulation of an important African democracy.
I recently had the chance to speak to George Bizos, the heroic South African
lawyer who was Mandela's lawyer in the bad old days and who more recently
has also represented Morgan Tsvangirai, the much-persecuted leader of the
Why, I asked him, was his old comrade apparently toeing the scandalous line
taken by President Thabo Mbeki and the African National Congress? Bizos gave
me one answer that made me wince, that Mandela is now a very old man, and
another that made me wince again, that his doctors have advised him to avoid
One has a bit more respect for the old lion than to imagine that he doesn't
know what's happening in next-door Zimbabwe or to believe that he doesn't
understand what a huge difference the smallest word from him would make. It
will be something of a tragedy if he ends his career on a note of such
As for the revolting spectacle of Mugabe flying to a Food and Agricultural
Organisation conference in Rome last week, there were quibbling FAO
officials who claimed that the ban on his travel to the EU did not cover
meeting places of UN organisations. This would not cover the luxury hotel on
the Via Veneto where Mugabe and his wife stayed.
And it seems he bears a charmed life in Rome. He was there only recently as
a guest at the funeral of pope John Paul II and was able to claim that he
was on Vatican soil rather than Italian territory. Which in turn raises an
interesting question. What is it going to take before the Catholic Church
has anything to say about the conduct of this member of its flock? Mugabe
has been a devout Catholic since his days in a mission school in what was
then colonial Rhodesia and one is forced to wonder what he tells his priest
when he is asked if he has anything he'd like to confess.
By way of contrast, look what happened to archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo.
This Catholic churchman in Zimbabwe's second city was a pillar of opposition
to the regime and a great defender of its numberless victims. After a long
campaign of defiance and after surviving many threats to his life, the
archbishop was caught on video last year having some fairly vigorous sex
with a woman not his wife. Indeed, she was someone else's wife, which made
it adultery as well as fornication.
You might think the church would have been glad of a bit of heterosexual
transgression for a change, but a dim view was taken of the whole thing,
although it bore all the marks of a set-up and was immediately given wide
publicity by the police agencies of the Mugabe state. Ncube is no longer the
Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo.
Very well, I do understand that he broke his vows and that the rules are the
rules. But he didn't starve or torture any children, he didn't send death
squads to silence his critics, he didn't force millions of his fellow
countrymen into penury or exile and he didn't openly try to steal an
Mugabe has done and is doing all these things, and I haven't heard a squeak
from the papacy. A man of his age is perhaps unlikely to be caught using a
condom but one still has to hope that Mugabe will be found red-handed in
this way because it seems that nothing less is going to bring the
condemnation of the church down on his sinful head.
It is the silence of Mandela, much more than anything else, that bruises the
soul. It appears to make a mockery of all the brave talk about international
standards for human rights, about the need for internationalist solidarity
and the brotherhood of man, and all that.
There is perhaps only one person in the world who symbolises that spirit and
he has chosen to betray it. Or is it possible, before the grisly travesty of
the run-off of June 27, that the old lion will summon one last powerful
Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and Slate
(www.slate.com), where this column originally appeared. His latest book is
God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Fri Jun 13, 7:59 AM ET
GENEVA (AFP) - Some 500,000 Zimbabwean children are no longer getting the
treatment and food they urgently need since the government suspended the
work of humanitarian aid organisations, UNICEF said on Friday.
"Hundreds of thousand of children among the most vulnerable in Zimbabwe are
today denied access to the aid they desperately need," said UNICEF
spokeswoman Veronique Taveau.
Zimbabwe's government provoked international outrage earlier this month by
suspending all aid work after accusing NGOs of siding with the opposition.
This made an already dire situation even worse with "500,000 children no
longer receiving health care, treatment for HIV/AIDS, aid towards education
and the food that they need", said Taveau.
"Many of these children are orphans," she added.
Per Engebak, UNICEF's Regional Director for east and southern Africa said
the "level of suffering for these children is rising daily".
UNICEF called on the government to instigate a "complete and immediate
resumption of programmes that are crucial for the country's children".
President Robert Mugabe's government said aid groups would only be allowed
to resume operations if they pledged not to interfere in politics, accusing
them of openly siding with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
party (MDC) in the build-up to the June 27 voting.
Mugabe lost the first round presidential vote on March 29 to opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The pair are to contest a run-off on June 27.
13 Jun 2008 20:21:52
HARARE, 13 June 2008 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwe government has exempted AIDS
organisations from a ban on NGOs operating in the country, but advocacy
groups have reacted cautiously to the news.
Nicholas Goche, the social welfare minister who regulates NGO activity, said
on 13 June that more than 400 organisations working in the HIV/AIDS sector
would be allowed to resume operations - an about-turn on a blanket ban
announced on 4 June.
In the original circular to civil society, Goche wrote: "It has come to my
attention that a number of NGOs involved in humanitarian operations are
breaching the terms and conditions [by engaging in political activities]. I
hereby instruct all NGOs to suspend all field operations until further
Church-linked organisations were also affected by the ban, which drew
"This is a deplorable decision that comes at a critical humanitarian
juncture for the people of Zimbabwe," the UN's Under-Secretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said on 6 June. "I therefore strongly urge
the government to reconsider and rescind this decision as soon as possible."
Holmes pointed out that much of the UN's humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe
was channeled through NGOs, and that aid for two million Zimbabweans would
be affected. Among the organisations suspended were those "engaged in vital
humanitarian work, fully respecting the principles of impartiality and
neutrality," and he called for them to be allowed to work and for their
safety and security to be guaranteed.
In Goche's new circular on Friday he explained: "The suspension does not
prohibit those on ARV [antiretroviral] therapy and those benefiting from
home-based care programmes to continue accessing drugs and therapeutic
feeding from clinics and hospitals."
He also exempted organisations that provide supplementary feeding for
children. "Supplementary feeding is a community-based programme which does
not entail community mobilisation by NGOs, hence it falls outside those
affected by the suspension."
Zimbabwe has an adult HIV prevalence rate of 15.6 percent. According to the
World Health Organisation, only about 91,000 out of the estimated 321,000 in
need of ARVs - which helps prolong life - receive it. An acute shortage of
foreign currency has made it difficult for the government and even private
pharmacies to import enough ARVs to meet demand.
More than promises needed
In green lighting the operations of the AIDS service NGOs, Goche assured
them that they had only been suspended while investigations were pending,
and had not been banned or deregistered.
But the organisations IRIN spoke to on Friday said that they had halted all
their programmes and were unlikely to resume, despite the assurance from the
"A lot of inflammatory statements have been made against NGOs and in this
environment of political violence, no matter the political assurances, we
have suspended operations. Unfortunately it is the ordinary people who will
be hardest hit by the consequences," said a senior NGO official whose agency
distributed ARVs, food and home-based care.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says 66 of its
supporters have been killed by ruling party militants since March. MDC
leaders have been repeatedly arrested, with the party's secretary general
currently facing treason and electoral law infringement charges. On Friday
President Robert Mugabe reportedly told a rally that the country's war
veterans would not accept an MDC victory in the second round runoff of the
presidential ballot due on 27 June.
"They said if this country goes back into white hands just because we have
used a pen [voted], we will return to the bush to fight," Reuters quoted
Mugabe as saying. He has consistently labeled the MDC as a front for Britain
and the United States.
More than ARVs needed
Fambai Ngirande, advocacy and communications manager for the National
Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, an umbrella body for civil
society groups, told IRIN that while they welcomed the partial lifting of
the ban by the government, the suspension needed to be removed completely.
"There are other organisations working in the humanitarian and human rights
sector whose operations should be allowed to resume. None of our members
engage in political activity."
Ngirande said that while HIV/AIDS organisations had been cleared to resume
operations, HIV-positive people did not just need ARVs in isolation.
"People living with HIV need much more than just ARVs. They need nutrition
and a lot of other things which were being provided by other organisations
who have stopped operating."
Zimbabwe has been in economic meltdown for the past eight years, with
inflation estimated to have reached 1 million percent, only two in 10 people
in formal employment, and consumers surviving without basic commodities such
as water and fuel.
Harare city council last year said more than a third of the capital's
population, officially estimated at around 1.3 million, were living on one
meal a day and cases of malnutrition were on the rise.
© IRIN. All rights reserved. More humanitarian news and analysis:
East African Standard
Published on June 14, 2008, 12:00 am
By Columbus Mavhunga in Harare
Despite presiding over a collapsed economy - probably the worst in the
world - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe can be declared the winner of the
June 27 presidential run-off.
While this might turn to be shocking or unrealistic, events on the grounds
and history of Zimbabwe prove that Mugabe might claim victory of the
elections. This is despite having lost to Morgan Tsvangirai in the March
In that election, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s Tsvangirai rode
on the back of a dejected electorate that wanted to end Mugabe's 28-year
rule. The electorate was not happy with the manner in which Mugabe was
managing the once-prosperous country.
Zimbabweans went into the March elections with inflation - the highest in
the world - officially at 165,000 per cent, now it is well over 200,000 per
cent while other estimates put it at more than one million per cent. The
county then was facing severe shortages of most basic essentials ranging
from fuel, electricity, foreign currency, bread and maize meal among other
items. The situation has since deteriorated. The Zimbabwean dollar has
become virtually worthless. It is now trading above $500 million (after
removing three zeroes) against the US dollar.
The country has a $50 billion note, but that note will not buy much since a
loaf of bread costs about a billion dollars!
With all that background Mugabe has made it clear that he will reverse his
defeat in March in which MDC leader got 47.3 per cent of the vote.
Mugabe is a veteran in politics; he has been in the game longer than
Tsvangirai. That experience is likely to work to his advantage.
Mugabe, shaken by the rebuke he suffered at the hands of voters on March 29,
was widely rumoured to be considering resigning. He was out of the public
domain for more than two weeks, only to reappear on the country's
Independence Day, on April 18, with venom directed at the West, the whites
and its 'stooge' - Tsvangirai and the MDC.
Since then Mugabe has not looked back. He has summoned all the resources and
experience at his disposal to make sure that the campaign terrain is bumpy
There has been intensified violence taking place mostly in the Mashonaland
provinces. This, the opposition says, is targeted at its supporters while
Zanu PF makes a counter accusation. Victims, however, say the perpetrators
are members of the army and Zanu PF militia.
"We won the March polls, so the violence is being perpetrated by the loser,
who has a score to settle with the electorate," said Tsvangirai at a press
briefing this week.
Whoever is responsible for violence, it has become apparent that MDC members
are on the receiving end and that this is likely to make it difficult for
them to go and express their wish on June 27.
The violence has not touched much on the Ndebele-speaking areas in the
southern part of Zimbabwe, despite them having voted overwhelmingly against
Mugabe. The violence is confined to rural areas in the Shona-speaking areas
that used to be Zanu PF stronghold.
"This shows that Mugabe has failed to reign in on the Ndebeles," says Alphas
Mukonoweshuro, a political analyst and a strong critic of Mugabe.
Said he: "There was a massacre of the Ndebeles in the 1980s and that did not
work. As to whether that will apply after this wave of violence, the jury
will only give verdict after the June poll. But generally, violence is a
tactic that does not work."
But Mukonoweshuro must have forgotten that the 'fear factor' worked before.
In February 2000, Zimbabweans voted awesomely against Zanu PF in a
constitutional referendum. Immediately after, war veterans unleashed a spate
of violence targeted at MDC supporters. In the June 2000 elections, Zanu PF
won the elections despite the fact that the situation had not changed for
That tactic, which was later named the 'margin of terror' by the late
political analyst and nationalist Masipula Sithole, might leave Mugabe a
victor in the run-off.
Zanu PF has argued that it stopped food aid programmes by non-governmental
organisations, last week, because they had been campaigning for the
It is now using food as a weapon to punish Zimbabweans for voting against
Mugabe in the March elections.
"We discovered that some NGOs were campaigning for the MDC hence taking this
bold decision to suspend their operations," said Bright Matonga, the
Zimbabwe's deputy minister of Information.
"We want to make the playground level by stopping their operations until the
election is over. Those that are not biased can resume operations as soon as
we finish vetting them."
Zanu PF is now distributing food at its campaign rallies to bait voters,
some of which the US says was food seized from its aid. US says the food
consignment was meant for children.
On Tuesday, Tsvangirai said Mugabe had allowed the military to take charge
of the country.
"This country is now effectively run by a military junta," Tsvangirai told
reporters in Harare. "As a people, we have been exposed to state-sponsored
On Monday, the Human Rights Watch released a report that blames a secretive
body of military and police commanders in the Joint Operations Command for
orchestrating the political violence that has rocked the country since the
MDC claims that 66 of its supporters have been killed and thousands more
beaten, tortured, wrongfully arrested and forced to flee their homes.
While it has distanced itself from the violence or campaigning for Zanu PF,
the army, that the MDC alleges, is now in charge has made clear that it will
not accept the MDC in government.
After the March election, Army Chief of Staff, General Constantine Chiwenga,
told the media that "the army would not support or salute sell-outs and
agents of the West", an apparent reference to the MDC.
Zimbabwe police have made sure that Tsvangirai and his leadership spend more
time in detention than campaigning. Since his return home, after spending
more than a month outside the country, Tsvangirai has been arrested more
than four times - at one time being held for more than nine hours and on
Thursday he was detained twice. On all occasions he was released without
About 10 MDC MPs are either in police custody, are wanted or have a case to
answer. The latest being the party's Secretary-General Tendai Biti, who was
arrested upon return at the airport. He faces charges of treason, an offence
that carries the death penalty in Zimbabwe.
"These are all trumped up charges just to ensure that our campaigning is
reduced to nothing and we concentrate on fighting for our liberty instead of
meeting the people," says Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson.
However, his Zanu PF counterpart, Mr Patrick Chinamasa has a different view:
"That (arrests) have nothing to do with the elections, it has everything to
do with the law. Let the law take its course. We want a peaceful country.
That can only be achieved if the police arrest suspects."
Chinamasa, who is Mugabe's Justice minister, dismissed the Human Rights
Watch that says the chance of a fair and democratic run-off election in
Zimbabwe had been "extinguished".
"I am not surprised by such fiction in the report as it is meant to ensure
there is something to say after president (Mugabe) is declared the victor.
The report is full of patent lies," said Chinamasa. The Human Rights Watch
report says, with thousands of opposition supporters found to have been
tortured and intimidated by Harare, while others are living in fear, the
run-off will not be fair.
The report claims it has evidence that Zanu-PF was responsible for
abductions, beatings, torture and killings of supporters of the opposition
"Zanu PF supporters are actually the victims and the report conveniently
left out that to save its purpose. Despite that, our party will win this
second round," said Chinamasa.
Mugabe's victory must not be a surprise, he and his party has done a lot of
June 13, 2008, 20:15
Zimbabwe's government has given the assurance that they won't arrest
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai
has been detained four times since returning to Harare last month to
campaign for the presidential run-off election on June 17.
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga says they will not arrest
Tsvangirai as long as he campaigns peacefully.
Matonga has confirmed that MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti has been
charged with treason and for the publication of false statements in the wake
of elections in March. Biti was arrested yesterday at Harare Airport on his
return from South Africa.
GABORONE, Botswana (AFP)--The Botswana government summoned Zimbabwe's
ambassador to Gaborone Friday to express alarm over the detention of
opposition leaders in the buildup to a June 27 election, the foreign
Foreign Minister Phandu Sekelemani told Ambassador Thomas Mandigora he was
concerned about Thursday's detention of Movement for Democratic Change
leader Morgan Tsvangirai while he was campaigning and the arrest of MDC
number two Tendai Biti on a treason charge.
"Botswana is alarmed by these arrests and detentions as they disrupt
electoral activities of key players and intimidate the electorate, thus
undermining the process of holding a free, fair and democratic election,"
Sekelemani said in a statement.
"We are deeply disturbed by this unfolding situation of politically
motivated arrests and intolerance which pose a serious threat to an outcome
that reflects the will of the people of Zimbabwe," the minister added.
Botswana, which borders western Zimbabwe, is one of the richest countries in
Africa. It has been one the few governments in the region to speak out over
Robert Mugabe regime's treatment of the MDC.
Botswana President Ian Khama played host to Tsvangirai for several weeks
after the first round of elections in March, much to the annoyance of
Sekelemani said the detentions of the MDC leaders ahead of the June 27
run-off poll was "unacceptable and deserve condemnation.
"We therefore call upon the government of Zimbabwe to fully assume its
responsibilities by putting an end to these acts of political harassment and
intimidation to avoid a further deterioration of the situation in that
country," he said.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
DAKAR, Senegal (AFP)--The Senegalese government said Friday it was concerned
at political developments in Zimbabwe and called on President Robert Mugabe
and his regime to show restraint.
"The government invites the Zimbabwe authorities to show restraint and
guarantee - as it promised - democratic freedoms to create the conditions
needed for the electoral process," said a Foreign Ministry statement.
President Abdoulaye Wade's government stressed the keen interest of Africa
and the wider world in the "worrying developments in the political situation
in Zimbabwe" two weeks ahead of a second round of voting in the presidential
Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party lost the first round vote on March 29 to
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change
but Tsvangirai did not get the overall majority needed for outright victory.
The pair are to contest a run-off on June 27.
Political violence has escalated in the country over recent weeks with each
side accusing the other of being responsible.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
13th June 2008
With just two weeks to the runoff election, Zimbabwe has experienced one of
its worst weeks of violence and repression as Mugabe clings ever more
desperately to power. Morgan Tsvangisri is detained three - or was it four -
times as he attempts to campaign; Tendai Biti is arrested on his return from
South Africa and will be charged with treason; the brave Woza women are
still in custody three weeks after their arrest; it is announced that no
bail will be allowed for anyone charged with committing or inciting
violence; there's a massive crackdown on civic groups with offices invaded
and workers harassed; twenty tons of food donated by USAID and destined for
school children is highjacked and, we are told, handed out to Mugabe
supporters and violence around the country escalates to unprecedented
levels. The nature of the violence is frighteningly reminiscent of the
Ruandan genocide with victims' hands and feet hacked off and people being
The violence must stop says Thabo Mbeki but he is careful not to lay the
blame for it at his friend Mugabe's door. Instead he calls for a Government
of National Unity and, together with Kenneth Kaunda, former Zambian head of
state and Simba Makoni the failed candidate in the March 29th elections,
they attempt to pressure Morgan Tsvangirai to adopt an 'African solution'
like the one in Kenya after the outbreak of violence following suspect
elections. To outsiders, ignorant of Zimbabwe's recent history it must sound
like a very persuasive argument, do not all wars have to end at the
negotiating table? The implication is that non-acceptance proves to the
world that you are only interested in power for its own sake. So Morgan
Tsavangirai ends up as the villain of the piece if he doesn't accept! Both
sides would sit down round the table and work out a power-sharing
arrangement. Robert Mugabe would remain as President and, like Raila Odinga
in Kenya, Morgan Tsvangirai would become the Prime Minister. Peace would be
restored and together the two sides would rebuild the nation's desperately
fractured population and set the economy on the road to recovery. That is
the false vision of the future that the proponents of a Government of
National Unity offer. It is a beguiling vision, a chimera that will fade as
soon as the ink is dry on the agreement. Zimbabwe is not Kenya where Kofi
Annan brokered a genuine power-sharing deal with each side having a 50-50
division of ministerial posts, each ministerial post being shadowed by a
minister from the other side. In Kenya the two parties knew that they could
not do without the other. That is not the case in Zimbabwe where Mugabe and
Zanu PF claim categorically that only they are entitled to govern the
country which they 'liberated' MDC they claim is a puppet, an invention of
the British. To give point to that propaganda myth we have the Deputy
President Joseph Msika stating this week that a vote for the opposition
would be ' voting for war.like voting for Rhodesia and the British.trouble
will definitely start if whites take advantage of that if they try and
reverse the land reform programme' And Robert Mugabe, not his wife, said
this week that he won't surrender power even if the MDC won... ' it will be
a trigger for war.' The blatant intimidation and racism of these threats is
clear and it is hard to understand how any intelligent person could believe
that Mugabe and Zanu PF would ever negotiate in good faith with the MDC. The
fact is that the opposition won the election; even the rigging and ZEC's
pathetic submission to Zanu bullying could do no more than reduce the margin
of the MDC's victory and force a runoff. Zimbabweans remember only too well
how the Unity Accord between Zapu and Zanu PF back in the eighties swallowed
up Johua Nkomo's Zapu and reduced the old man to nothing more than a
figurehead as Mugabe's Deputy. A Government of National Unity would do
exactly the same to Morgan Tsvangirai, leaving Mugabe and Zanu PF in sole
control of the country which they believe is theirs alone. And that of
course is why Mbeki, Makoni and Kaunda are calling for a latterday unity
accord. It will leave their 'liberation hero' in power, free to go on
ruining the country and silencing all dissenting voices.
The one crucial factor that Mbeki and co have overlooked is the Zimbabwean
people; they have already voted and they have rejected Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Were Morgan Tsvangirai to agree to this so-called unity government he would
betray the suffering of the hundreds of victims of Zanu PF violence over the
years. From the massacre of thousands of Ndebele people in the eighties, to
the violent and bloody land invasions of 2000, to the hideous cruelty and
inhumanity of Murambatsvina in 2005 and on to this post-election violence in
2008 the Zimbabwean people, the same vanhu vehfu who were the real fighters
for freedom have known nothing but Zanu PF brutality. 'How did we win the
war' I once heard a rabid Zanu headmaster demand of primary school children
at morning assembly, 'Nderopa - through blood,' came the answer. Question
and answer repeated over and over again. It is all the ruling party has to
offer, blood and endless suffering.
I for one do not believe that Morgan Tsvangirai and his party will ever
succumb to the blandishments of Thabo Mbeki and the self-serving Simba
Makoni. The people demand nothing less than total change; that is what they
will vote for again if they are allowed to do so. Sadly, it seems the
presence of Mugabe-friendly SADC monitors will do little to ensure a free
vote. They are as always too busy looking the other way.
The struggle does indeed continue. PH.