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President Mugabe's mobs target opposition families

The Times
June 19, 2008

Jan Raath in Harare
The families of Zimbabwe's opposition leaders are being targeted for brutal
execution in the latest twist to the brutal electoral violence gripping the
country.

With Robert Mugabe seeking to stifle the challenge to his power before a
presidential run-off vote on June 27 the most recent victim of the his
supporters was the wife of the unofficial mayor of Harare.

Abigail Chitoro was so badly beaten by the mob that dragged her and her
four-year-old son from their home that even her brother-in-law struggled to
identify the body.

The clothes she was wearing, her distinctive haircut and the blindfold that
Zanu (PF) supporters forced her to wear as they firebombed her home gave the
only clue to her identity.

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In the past week the wives of at least three opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) officials have been murdered. The tactic, as
President Mugabe and his generals try to avert electoral defeat, has had the
desired effect: the husbands have been rendered useless with terror and
grief.

The latest case came a day after Emmanuel Chitoro, 46, was chosen by
colleagues from the MDC as the new Mayor of Harare. The party, which won 45
out of 46 of seats on the Harare city council in elections on March 29, was
banned from taking office but decided to form its own council on Sunday.

On Tuesday the body of his 27-year-old wife was finally identified in the
mortuary of the Parirenyatwa hospital, Harare's largest state health
institution, with her head battered beyond recognition.

Two pick-up trucks drove up to the Chitoro home in Hatcliffe Extension, a
squatter camp on Harare's eastern outskirts on Monday night, and took away
Abigail and Ashley, her son. Mr Chitoro rushed back when neighbours called
him to find the house in flames. Neighbours said that they heard three
explosions, thought to be petrol bombs.

Mr Chitoro had brought with him Thanke Mothae, the director of the observer
mission of the Southern African Development Community, to witness the
attack.

He found Ashley at a police station on Tuesday. Later that day he was told
that the body of a woman had been found on a farm adjoining Hatcliffe. "I
knew then that she had been murdered," he said.

He sent his brother, Kumbulani, to collect her but he could not identify it.
"He had difficulty identifying her. He wanted to know what clothes she was
putting on, and what hairstyle she had," Mr Chitoro said.

"The body was butchered. They had used heavy objects to crush the head. She
still had the blindfold that my kid said they put on her head when they took
them away." Mr Chitoro described what she had been wearing, and Kumbulani
positively identified her.

"I cannot go and see her. I cannot come out in the open. As we speak,
Hatcliffe is covered in smoke. They are burning houses of people perceived
to be MDC supporters. I don't know who will protect us."

In the last week there have been three reports of local MDC officials who
fled their homes from marauding Zanu (PF) mobs and who had their homes burnt
down. In each case their wives were put to death, two burnt alive, the other
battered to death.

In Epworth, a squatter area east of Harare, rampaging Zanu (PF) mobs burnt
down the home of a third MDC councillor in as many nights. It was the same
in Chitungwiza, the sprawling township south of the capital.

Zanu (PF) struck again in Jerera, a small administrative town in
southeastern Zimbabwe, not two weeks after it opened fire on six MDC
supporters in the local party office, poured petrol on to them and set fire
to them, killing two instantly. On Tuesday night, said a Catholic nun who
asked not to be named, they burnt down the home of the Catholic priest at St
Anthony's mission there.

At another Catholic mission farther north, she said, nuns had been ordered
to purchase T-shirts bearing Mr Mugabe's face, and wear them over their
habits. They were forced to buy Zanu (PF) party cards for Z$20 billion each,
worth about 50p in Zimbabwe's worthless currency.

In Harare in the past three days mobs of hundreds of Zanu (PF) supporters
have been raiding township markets, smashing vendors' stalls, stealing their
goods and forcing them to buy Zanu (PF) party cards as licences. Police have
occasionally ventured out to restore order, but arrested none of the
perpetrators, said residents.

In the well-off suburb of Chisipite, Zanu (PF) youths abducted the private
security guard of the home of a senior British diplomat and assaulted him
because he "works for the British", officials said.


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Gukurahundi Gukurahundi x 10

http://zimbabwemetro.com

The abducted wife of a Harare Mayor was found murdered.

The body of Abigail Chiroto abducted Monday with her four-year-old son from her home in the Hatcliffe surburb of Harare, was found on Wednesday at a Borrowdale farm which is reportedly owned by ZANU PF’s Didymus Mutasa. Her abductors had dropped the child off earlier at a police station in Borrowdale.

Her husband, Emmanuel Chiroto is a Harare city councilor and was informally elected mayor Sunday by his fellow MDC councilors-elect. They are in a majority but have not been sworn in due to the political turmoil that has followed March 29 national elections.

The assailants who abducted Mrs. Chiroto also firebombed the family’s home.

An election observer in Hurungwe where the first MDC election agent Tapiwa Mubhwanda was killed was beaten to death.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said Elliott Machipisa was beaten to death on Tuesday, and his wife was in critical condition in a local hospital.

In Gutu South, Masvingo, a school teacher Kenneth Mwalimu Singende of Nerupiri was killed on Tuesday by soldiers who abducted him from his home.Soldiers issued instructions to villagers that he should be buried on Wednesday.

Additional Reporting from Voice of America’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe


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Zimbabwe: 'A Brother-Kill-Brother Situation'

ABCnews

Mugabe's Zimbabwe: Citizens Tell of Mass Beatings, Torched Homes
By DANA HUGHES
NAIROBI, Kenya, June 18, 2008

Horrifying tales of mass beatings, torched homes and systematic murder are
trickling out of Zimbabwe in the days before the presidential election
runoff, scheduled for June 27, despite the government's continuing crackdown
on journalists and civil society.

Silas Gweshe, a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) parliamentary candidate
in one of Zimbabwe's rural areas, told ABC News that even after he lost the
election, he and his family were targeted by President Robert Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party.

"They came in the night, put petrol to my house, and they destroyed
everything," he said. "It wasn't only my house which was burnt down, but my
councilor's as well."

Gweshe also said he witnessed a 78-year-old man being beaten to death.

He added that he knew of an educator who was kidnapped, accused of being
subversive to the state for his support of MDC, and was later found dead.

Tales like Gweshe's are beginning to become more and more common throughout
Zimbabwe.
One researcher who works with the National Constitutional Assembly, a civil
society group, has been documenting the reports of incidents of violence in
the country.

During an interview, a rural opposition supporter said he doesn't sleep in
his home anymore for fear of being attacked. Both the researcher and the
supporter asked to remain anonymous out of fear of the Mugabe regime.

"At 6 or 7 [p.m.] I go to a different district for the night and then come
back in the day," the supporter said.

"One time they caught me as I was about to leave for the night," he said.
"They said, 'Here comes the white servant.' They attacked me and I tried to
retaliate with a screwdriver. I carry a screwdriver as a weapon. There were
five of them. They had sticks. I didn't recognize them. They were brought in
from another district. They are always brought in from the outside."

At a press conference in Nairobi, civil society groups alleged that Mugabe
has set up "structures of violence" all around the country in preparation
for mass violence should he not win the runoff.

Maureen Kademaunga, an advocacy officer for the Media Monitoring Project
Zimbabwe, was just released from prison after being jailed for two weeks for
her work. She said the Mugabe regime is arming Zanu-PF supporters and
placing them in villages known to be opposition strongholds.

"Militias are being set up using young people to turn against even their
families," Kademaunga said.

In a country where unemployment is said to be nearly 80 percent and
inflation is estimated at more than 1 million percent, bribing youths and
low-level soldiers to commit violent acts on behalf of the government is not
difficult, human rights advocates say.

Gordon Moyo, the executive director of the Zimbabwean NGO Bulawayo Agenda,
told ABC News, "They get food, money. They are promised they will become
part of the team, and will be rewarded as such."
Local journalists who are deemed unfriendly to the government are being
targeted as well.

Frank Chikowore, who reports primarily for Zimbabwe's Independent newspaper,
spent 17 days in prison after being arrested for attempting to interview MDC
officials after the March election. MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai won the
most votes in that election, though he did not receive enough to avoid a
runoff with Mugabe, who finished second.

"I was deprived [of] food for the first seven days of my captivity and put
in isolation for the remaining days," he told ABC News.
He's now facing a charge of public violence. If convicted, he says he could
serve five to six years in prison.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since the country received independence from
Britain in 1980, has denied reports of any violence and has accused civil
society groups as well as presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai and his
party, MDC, of being puppets of the West.

He has vowed that Zimbabwe will not return to "imperialist rule," and warns
that there will be war if MDC wins.

Chikowore told ABC News that the irony of Mugabe's rhetoric is that his
actions have turned the former freedom fighter into the oppressor of his own
people.

Pointing to the history of repression under former president Ian Smith's
white-rule regime, Chikowore said that now, "it's a brother-kill-brother
situation."


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Tsvangirai Tells UN Envoy Zimbabwe Needs Peacekeepers

By Carole Gombakomba

VOA

Washington
18 June 2008

Zimbabwean opposition leader and presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai
met Wednesday with United Nations envoy Haile Menkerios, sent to Harare by
UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon to assess conditions and help achieve a
free and fair election June 27.

Tsvangirai will face President Robert Mugabe in a presidential run-off
ballot that day, but the election has been seriously marred by widespread
and deadly political violence.

A senior Tsvangirai aide said the opposition leader told Menkerios, the U.N.
deputy secretary general for political affairs, that a peace-keeping force
is needed to put down the violence.

Tsvangirai conveyed the same message to members of the Pan-African
Parliament observer mission with whom he also met Wednesday.
International Relations Secretary Eliphas Mukonoweshuro of Tsvangirai's
dominant formation of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, told
VOA that Menkerios made no response to Tsvangirai's request that
peacekeepers be sent to the country.

Menkerios, who is scheduled to leave the country on Friday, met with
President Mugabe Tuesday but has not briefed the media on any of his
discussions.
A Pan-African parliament source said the observers also met with Emmerson
Mnangangwa of ZANU-PF. The source said 60 PAP observers will start deploying
in the field Thursday.

PAP head of mission Marwick Khumalo said late Tuesday that his mission is
disturbed by political figures who are "uttering" statements that may incite
violence. President Mugabe has warned that his supporters may declare "war"
if Tsvangirai wins the run-off.
Mukonoweshuro told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that he does not expect the meetings with Menkerios or the African
parliamentarians to bring major changes in the electoral environment with
only nine days left until the ballot.


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Mugabe's "Do or Die" Campaign to Stay in Power

pbs.org

burned homes

Farm workers survey the charred remains of their homes on Muniya Farm. Evictions and destruction of property began on April 15, 2008, after the area had voted overwhelmingly for the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

Mrs. Plaxeded Mutariswa Ndira was getting her children ready for school a few weeks ago when she heard a scuffle in the bedroom where her husband was still sleeping.

"Some men ordered him out of bed," she says. "He refused, saying he wanted their IDs. He was grabbed naked and shoved into a vehicle that speeded off. My husband was screaming and wrestling."

Mrs. Ndira heard nothing for weeks. She tried to report her husband's kidnapping to the police, but they turned her away. Two weeks later she received a call that her husband's body had been found.
"His tongue was cut off, his left eye gouged out, his body was severely bruised," she says between sobs. "Who will look after his children?"

Two weeks later she received a call that her husband's body had been found. "His tongue was cut off, his left eye gouged out, his body was severely bruised," she says between sobs.

Mrs. Ndira's husband, Tonderai, was an activist with the anti-Mugabe opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC. He had been organizing party meetings and working as a driver for the national chapter's vice president. Before his abduction, Tonderai had been arrested 35 times for various charges ranging from "disturbing the peace"and "causing hatred to the president" to "organizing meetings without police clearance." He was in and out of jail but had never been convicted.

The Ndiras' story was just the first in a wave of accounts I heard on a recent investigative trip around the country.

I decided to embark on this journey after hearing numerous reports of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party targeting opposition members in retribution for voting against him in the March 29 election.
A violent campaign has been unleashed on the public since Mugabe lost majority control of Parliament in the first round of voting. Rural areas have been especially hard hit. The army, police and armed youth militias have been on the warpath, punishing rural voters for their loss. They call it Operation Mavhotera papi. Simply translated, "Operation Where Did You Put Your X?"

Mugabe now faces his greatest threat after 28 years in power. He garnered only 43.2 percent of the vote against Morgan Tsvangirai's 47.9 percent. However, Zimbabwe law states that to be declared the president, a candidate must have at least 50 percent of the vote. Since neither candidate received more than 50 percent, a run-off between the two candidates will be held June 27.

The 84-year-old Mugabe has vowed to use any means necessary to stay in power. His party has embarked on a "re-education" campaign targeted especially at the remote areas of the country. These rural provinces are the most crucial areas in the election since 65 percent of Zimbabwe's total population lives in rural areas. Their vote will determine the winner.

Road Blocks and War Veterans?

I set off for Murehwa in the East. The town was once known for its rich red soil and abundant produce. But ever since Mugabe seized white farms and handed them out to his cronies, not much grows here. Murehwa is a no-go area for journalists and opposition members. A Mugabe party stronghold, this area is synonymous with beatings and torture. I cannot take any notes and must rely solely on memory.

Dressed in a traditional headscarf, I board a crowded bus. It's filled mostly with women and exhausted crying babies. Many of the adults wear manyatera -- open sandals made from old tires for those who cannot afford anything else. A few have no shoes at all.

This man told our reporter that Zanu-PF youth put burning plastic on his back and arms. His home was burned and his animals were doused in diesel and set alight.

I watch the scenery roll by and think of the children on the bus. Schools across swaths of the country are deserted. The teachers and headmasters have fled. They have been targeted by soldiers and militia for supposedly educating rural people about opposition politics and mobilizing them to vote against Mugabe. The Progressive Teachers Union tells me that at least 50 schools in rural areas have no teachers at all since everyone has fled to escape the violence.

Our journey is constantly interrupted by one roadblock after another. We pass through three in a single 30-mile stretch. The roadblocks have been set up to stop any opposition members who might try to campaign or any media who might try to report what's going on here. Mugabe has also banned all NGOs from this area until after the election. The police who stop us say they are looking for weapons. I giggle to myself wondering which one of the old and poor people could possibly have arms.

The third roadblock isn't so funny. We are stopped by the so-called "war veterans," young men in their 20s and 30s who claim to have fought in Zimbabwe's war for independence -- a war that took place largely before they were born.

We are ordered off the bus and stand in the morning cold being "interviewed" about where we are going. When my turn comes, I say I am attending a cousin's funeral in a nearby village. In the end, we are lucky. We are only made to chant slogans and dance to a wartime song Mugabe ndibaba (Mugabe is our father). Two young men refuse to sing. They are dragged into the bushes while the rest of us are ordered back onto the bus. I am uneasy for the rest of the journey, wondering what has become of them.

I get off at the last stop. A local man agrees to speak to me but only in the safety of the mountains more than 18 miles from the station. This man says that his friend Better Chokururama, a well-known MDC activist was murdered the last week. He was abducted while going shopping. His body was discovered days later in some bushes. Police have refused to investigate. To add insult, after Choururama died, his grandmother's livestock were burned by youths chanting Zanu-PF slogans.

Two young men refuse to sing [a war song tribute to Mugabe]. They are dragged into the bushes while the rest of us are ordered back onto the bus.

My informant worries about other MDC members who are still unaccounted for. The local MDC Treasurer Shepard Jani, was abducted last weekend and is still missing.

A chill runs through me. I have a bad feeling. Maybe it is just fear that I could be discovered. I decide to move on.

"Not What We Fought For"

The Howard Mission Hospital is a rare sanctuary in the Chiweshe area northwest of the capital, Harare. This Salvation Army hospital is one of the few clinics in the country that will treat victims of political violence. Government hospitals refuse to treat any such cases.

I decide to take a risk. I explain to the sister-in-charge, Mercy Ruonga*, that I am a journalist and I need to speak to some patients. She lets me into the hospital dorms but does not allow me to take any pictures.

The hospital is overflowing with the injured and tortured. Most patients say they were attacked by youth militias aligned with Zanu PF. The police refuse to record statements and bodies are buried with no postmortems.

In the hospital, Mhike Mhike* lays on his back. His buttocks are a gruesome sight. Beaten and charred, there is hardly any flesh left. He cannot sit upright.

Mhike is a primary school teacher. He tells me war veterans aligned with Zanu-PF visited his school. All the school children and parents were assembled at an open space. His name was called out. He rushed to the makeshift stage thinking he was going to receive some honor for his work in the community. But his expectation soon turned into a nightmare when he was thrown on the ground and accused of being a traitor. He had organized his ward to vote for the opposition.

As he was dragged off to a bush, the self-proclaimed war veterans shouted that he would be an example for others who would try to organize opposition meetings for the election. Mhike says he was beaten with logs and a fire was lit for him. They made him sit on the burning red ashes until he passed out. Then he was left for dead. He regained consciousness in the hospital. Some good Samaritan had picked him up and carried him to safety.

Woman and wounded child.

Ambuya Shorai with her 3-year-old grandson, Gilbert, who was injured when Zanu-PF youths set fire to her home at night.

Even children are not spared in the crossfire. In the children's ward, Ambuya Shorai cradles her 3-year-old grandson, Gilbert. She tells me that a petrol bomb was thrown into their house while they slept. She is a well-known MDC activist and party organizer. Her grandson escaped with an injured eye and she suffered minor burns as the grass thatch on their hut caved in from the flames. "All my life's belongings were lost in the fire," she says. "At least my muzukuru (grandchild) did not die. I will still vote next month. This is not what we fought for during the war."

The war she refers to was Zimbabwe's liberation struggle from colonial Britain. After achieving majority black rule, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe in 1980. Robert Mugabe was the first and only president of this new country. He has refused to relinquish power ever since.

Recently, the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, visited a similar clinic in the capital of Harare to meet with alleged torture victims. Mugabe castigated the ambassador and threatened to "kick him out" of the country for meddling in internal politics.

By the time I reach the Midlands province, in the heart of Zimbabwe, the accounts from local villagers begin to really affect me. I start to get angry. How could neighbors turn on each other like this?

By the time I reach the Midlands province, in the heart of Zimbabwe, the accounts from local villagers begin to really affect me. How could neighbors turn on each other like this?

I pose as a member of a Roman Catholic church from Harare in order to visit the local hospital. There I meet Thabita Chingaya*, a 42-year-old widow and leader of the local MDC women's league. Thabita is being treated for massive injuries to her vagina, uterus and womb. A discharge constantly oozes from between her legs. Tabitha says that she was coming home from drawing water from the river the week before when she came upon seven young men she knew who happened to be Zanu-PF party members. They blocked her path saying she would learn a lesson for being "Morgan Tsvangirai's prostitute."

She was knocked down by blows to her face and kicked with booted feet. But then suddenly the beatings stopped, she says. One man called "Max," who seemed to be the gang leader, ordered the others to stop. He removed his trousers and raped her. All the others followed suit, taking turns to hold her down. When they were done, Max took a log and began poking her vagina until she bled. She says the other six laughed and left her for dead.

My stomach turns. I feel disgusted. I ask the doctor to excuse me to go to the bathroom. Afterward, I just head to the bus stop. I can't take it anymore.

In Opposition Territory

Days later when I had gathered myself again, I travel to Buhera, the home village of opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai in eastern Zimbabwe. Here people speak openly. They accuse Zanu PF of setting up torture bases in the next village. But they are defiant.

"Even if they kill us and hold 20 more run-offs, we will still vote for Morgan," says one resident, Sekuru Nylon. "What does Mugabe want to do that he has not had the chance to do in 28 years? We are suffering and need change."

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai returned home a few weeks ago after living in self-exile in neighboring Botswana since the violence began. He claimed there was an assassination plot on his life. Police here have banned him from holding rallies -- they say he is free to hold them after the election.

But Tsvangirai seems unbowed. Speaking at the burial of a victim of violence, Tsvangirai said: "They can kill us. They can maim us. But we are going on the 27th of June, our hearts dripping with blood, to vote him out of office."

list of names.

Obtained by our correspondent, this leaked hand-written document contains names of MDC opposition party activists to be targeted. It was allegedly drawn up in Zimbabwe's Centenary area at a Zanu-PF meeting.

Twice in the past week, Tsvangirai was arrested for trying to hold a political rally. The Independent newspaper reported that he was only released after South African president Thabo Mbeki made a call to Mugabe to secure Tsvangirai's freedom so that the election looks as credible as possible.

But the violence by Zanu-PF continues and is well-coordinated. Minutes from an April 4th politburo meeting chaired by Mugabe were recently leaked to the media and they indict him as the author of the attacks here. Mugabe is quoted as saying that the bloody campaign is a "do or die encounter" and that his party must adopt "warlike, military... strategy" to win "at whatever costs."

Perhaps the current violence will have the intended effect. People may be intimidated and frightened and stay away from the polls altogether. It might also spur people to throw all caution to the wind and vote for change. However, I wonder if the final tally will even matter -- Mugabe has already vowed that Zimbabwe will never be ruled by Tsvangirai.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.


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World churches urge UN act on Zimbabwe "atrocities"

Reuters

Wed 18 Jun 2008, 18:47 GMT

By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Council of Churches (WCC) on Wednesday called
for United Nations action to put an end to "atrocities" committed by the
Zimbabwe authorities in advance of June 27 run-off presidential elections.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, WCC General Secretary
Samuel Kobia of Kenya said his organisation was "dismayed at news of the
brutality meted out by police and other government forces" in Zimbabwe.

Kobia said the WCC, which groups Protestant and Orthodox churches
representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, "calls
for an end to atrocities in Zimbabwe".

"Harassment, beatings, arrests and ransacking of property have already
extended into the churches as well as agencies of civil society," the WCC
letter declared.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai emerged
ahead of President Robert Mugabe in the first round of the poll and says the
government is conducting a campaign of violence and intimidation before the
run-off vote.

Mugabe blames his opponents for the violence.

"Where the Mugabe government fails in its responsibility to protect the
Zimbabwean people, the international community must assume that burden; in
this endeavour, the United Nations should assume a leading role," Kobia
said.

With the letter, the WCC sent Ban what it described as an alarming dossier
on violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe compiled by South Africa's Dutch
Reformed Church and Allan Boesak of the Uniting Reform Church in Southern
Africa.

Although labour unions, women's organisations and business groups across
Africa have also condemned Mugabe for the violence, the continent's
governments -- including that of South Africa -- have preferred what they
call a diplomatic approach.

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki held talks with the Zimbabwean leader
in Bulawayo on Wednesday.

Earlier, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said an
official from her office sent to Zimbabwe on Sunday was expelled on Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, the Zimbabwe government ordered all foreign aid agencies to
stop work, accusing them of helping the opposition in the pre-election
campaign. Harare has ignored U.N. protests and appeals for the decision to
be rescinded.


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Zimbabwe now dangerously lawless

Zim Daily

By Kenneth Nyoka

Published: Thursday 19 June 2008

HARARE - The daily reports emanating from Zimbabwe indicate that the country
has now descended into alarming lawlessness.

Despite these incidents being confined to areas where ZANU PF lost in the
last elections the nature of the violence and the depth of depravity
exhibited by those committing it is barbaric.

It has all the hallmarks of being state sanctioned and sponsored. Opposition
activists are dragged from their beds in the middle of the night and their
mutilated and decomposing cadavers are discovered several† days later in
some decrepit hospital mortuary.

The descriptions proffered by those who witness their† abductions have been
quite consistent.

Men armed with AK 47 rifles and driving twin cab utility vehicles. It is an
open secret that these are members of the dreaded Central Intelligence
Organisation, Mugabe's secretive but brutal intelligence organisation who
seem to operate above the laws of the country.

What has become more and more apparent as Zimbabwe nears the date of the
run-off in the Presidential election is that the ruling regime is now
engaged in gross human rights violations to keep Mugabe in power at all
costs.

Whatever collateral damage they are going to cause in their quest to retain
power is inconsequential to them.

To this end ZANU PF has adopted a scorched earth policy.Their attitude is
now one of relentless violence against their perceived enemies.

These may be simple starving Zimbabwean villagers or American diplomats on a
fact finding mission. Desperate and unemployed youths have been roped in to
commit heinous atrocities against their kith and kin.

As a result we now have a severely traumatised populace who do not only need
to contend with debilitating hunger but have to run the gauntlet of a
lawless state sponsored militia.

This week the useless Zimbabwean dollar has crashed to unprecedented levels
on the back of uninhibited and indisciplined money printing by the reserve
Bank.

This has led to quadrupling of prices of scarce commodities and scant
services. The suffering has reached gargantuan proportions yet the peabrains
running the country have banned Aid agencies from distributing food aid to
sick and starving Zimbabweans† because they are afraid the latter are
propounding a"regime change"agenda.

Such a callous and reckless disregard for human life is symptomatic of the
sycophants who are in charge of the country.

This has nothing to do with imperialism,protecting our sovereignty or
safeguarding the gains of independence. It is tyranny and despotism.

It is gross violation of basic fundamental human rights.The country is now
in free fall. Without sounding alarmist, despondent or defeatist, the
situation in Zimbabwe is now dire and as a result† it is arguable that it is
not proper to hold elections at this juncture.

ZANU PF is to all extents and purposes not prepared to relinquish power even
if their leader looses the run-off. There are too many in that party with
rotting skeletons in their cupboards who have everything to loose if Mugabe
goes.

The sad fact however is that it is the generality of the citizenry who are
being sacrificed at the altar of political expediency. We must banish the
thought that this geriatric is going to go that easily. It is an
exasperating and frustrating truism. This grotesque oddity of a deluded
African revolutionary continues to linger like a very pungent smell.

Kenneth† K Nyoka is a former magistrate and prosecutor in Zimbabwe


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US House of Representatives Criticizes Mugabe Government

VOA

By Dan Robinson
Capitol Hill
18 June 2008

In two resolutions, the U.S. House of Representatives criticizes Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe for ongoing political violence.†† VOA's Dan Robison
has more in this report from Capitol Hill.

One of the resolutions condemns post-election violence in Zimbabwe earlier
this year and calls for an immediate and peaceful resolution of the current
political crisis and an end to violence.

The other commends dock workers and union members in South Africa and
elsewhere who moved to block an arms shipment that was destined for
Zimbabwe.

New Jersey Democrat Donald Payne, who chairs the House Africa Subcommittee
sponsores the first measure:

"While many African countries move to embrace democracy and rule of law, the
dictatorship in Zimbabwe has taken the once-promising country to a state of
anarchy and haplessness," said Congressman Payne.

Payne's resolution urges a cessation of attacks on and abuse of civilians,
and condemns what it calls an orchestrated campaign of violence, torture and
harassment against the opposition by the ruling party and supporters and
sympathizers in Zimbabwe's police and military.

The measure also encourages the government and opposition to begin a
dialogue aimed at establishing a government of national unity and eventual
peaceful transition of power through free and fair elections, along with
creation of a South Africa-style truth and reconciliation commission.

Republican Chris Smith:

"With a runoff election scheduled for June 27th, we need to send a message,
a good strong bipartisan message, that we in the U.S. and the world expect
fair, peaceful, balloting," said Congressman Smith. "The will of the people
must be heard."

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday expressed profound
alarm over the situation in Zimbabwe, ahead of the presidential election
runoff vote.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice urged the U.N. Security Council and
African leaders to put pressure on President Mugabe to ensure that voting is
free and fair. The Security Council has scheduled a formal meeting next week
on Zimbabwe.

In a separate resolution, House lawmakers commend South Africa's Transport
and Allied Workers Union and its members for their refusal to unload a
shipment of arms that arrived on a Chinese vessel in the South African port
of Durban this past March.

This resolution states that the arms were likely to be used by the Mugabe
government against the political opposition and other civilians, and praises
the Congress of Southern African Trade Unions which joined a call by the
International Transport Federation for an international boycott of the
vessel.

California Republican Ed Royce says the actions of dock workers and union
leaders likely prevented a new outbreak of bloodshed in Zimbabwe.

"The ship of shame, as South Africans began to call it, as African civil
society dubbed it, went on to Mozambique where it was turned away, when on
to other ports in other countries where it was turned away, and it steamed
back to China," said Congressman Royce. "Africans stood up for other
Africans, an inspiring event indeed."

House lawmakers also urge U.S. support at the United Nations for an
international moratorium on all arms, weapons and related shipments to
Zimbabwe until the country's political crisis is resolved and democracy,
human rights and the rule of law are respected by the Zimbabwe government.

In April, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution containing a call for a
peaceful resolution of Zimbabwe's political crisis, and urging a United
Nations arms embargo.

In two resolutions, the U.S. House of Representatives criticizes Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe for ongoing political violence.†† VOA's Dan Robison
has more in this report from Capitol Hill.

One of the resolutions condemns post-election violence in Zimbabwe earlier
this year and calls for an immediate and peaceful resolution of the current
political crisis and an end to violence.

The other commends dock workers and union members in South Africa and
elsewhere who moved to block an arms shipment that was destined for
Zimbabwe.

Both measures were sponsored by New Jersey Democrat Donald Payne, who chairs
the House Africa Subcommittee.

"While many African countries move to embrace democracy and rule of law, the
dictatorship in Zimbabwe has taken the once-promising country to a state of
anarchy and haplessness," said Congressman Payne.

Payne's resolution urges a cessation of attacks on and abuse of civilians,
and condemns what it calls an orchestrated campaign of violence, torture and
harassment against the opposition by the ruling party and supporters and
sympathizers in Zimbabwe's police.

The measure also encourages the government and opposition to begin a
dialogue aimed at establishing a government of national unity and eventual
peaceful transition of power through free and fair elections, along with
creation of a South Africa-style truth and reconciliation commission.

Republican Chris Smith:

"With a runoff election scheduled for June 27th, we need to send a message,
a good strong bipartisan message, that we in the U.S. and the world expect
fair, peaceful, balloting," said Congressman Smith. "The will of the people
must be heard."

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday expressed profound
alarm over the situation in Zimbabwe, ahead of the presidential election
runoff vote.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice urged the U.N. Security Council and
African leaders to put pressure on President Mugabe to ensure that voting is
free and fair. The Security Council has scheduled a formal meeting next week
on Zimbabwe.

In a separate resolution, House lawmakers commend South Africa's Transport
and Allied Workers Union and its members for their refusal to unload a
shipment of arms that arrived on a Chinese vessel in the South African port
of Durban this past March.

This resolution states that the arms were likely to be used by the Mugabe
government against the political opposition and other civilians, and praises
the Congress of Southern African Trade Unions which joined a call by the
International Transport Federation for an international boycott of the
vessel.

California Republican Ed Royce says the actions of dock workers and union
leaders likely prevented a new outbreak of bloodshed in Zimbabwe.

"The ship of shame, as South Africans began to call it, as African civil
society dubbed it, went on to Mozambique where it was turned away, when on
to other ports in other countries where it was turned away, and it steamed
back to China," said Congressman Royce. Africans stood up for fellow
Africans, an inspiring event indeed."

House lawmakers also urge U.S. support at the United Nations for an
international moratorium on all arms, weapons and related shipments to
Zimbabwe until the country's political crisis is resolved and democracy,
human rights and the rule of law are respected by the Zimbabwe government.

In April, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution containing a call for a
peaceful resolution of Zimbabwe's political crisis, and urging a United
Nations arms embargo.


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Mugabe's violence paying off

The Scotsman

Published Date: 19 June 2008
By JANE FIELDS
in Zimbabwe
"Where are you going?" the officer asks. It's 8:30am. Riot police and
soldiers already dot the road. "Just shopping," I say.
"What is your name?" He's wearing earphones and is having a simultaneous
conversation with someone else. "Where do you live? What's your telephone
number?" I tell him I'm a housewife. "I'm Assistant Inspector G -," he says.
"In charge of riot police"

Riot police don't have a great reputation in Zimbabwe just now, not with
President Robert Mugabe's bloody election campaign, which has left at least
66 opposition supporters dead. "And how are things, inspector? They say
there's going to be a war after the election. Is that true?"

He steers me round the corner. "Yes, there is violence," he whispers. "It is
just to make people submit, so that they vote for the Old Man." He says it's
not safe to talk anymore. Zimbabwe's crucial run-off poll is just days away
on 27 June and even a senior police officer is scared.

Happy got a call at her house last night. "Who did you vote for?" asked a
voice she didn't recognise. Happy said she didn't vote in the first round of
presidential polls on 29 March. "So who must you vote for this time?" the
voice persisted.

Last week a blue bus from the state-owned Zupco company idled outside a
vegetable shop in Mutare.

Passers-by watched warily as the youths inside chanted "maguerrillas",
referring to the fighters in the 1970s' war for independence. They were
wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "Vote Zanu-PF". Mr Mugabe and his wife
Grace have vowed to go to war if Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader,
wins this second-round vote, as he did the first.

Mr Mugabe is also stoking anti-white feeling, blaming the British for
Zimbabwe's economic mess. A white businessman was reportedly pulled out of
his car near Rusape. He was told to sing the Zimbabwe national anthem in
Shona. When he couldn't, he was made to do Mr Mugabe's salute - a fist held
high in the air - and shout "Pamberi Zanu-PF" (Forward, Zanu-PF).

One woman was fined at a roadblock just outside Mutare for carrying an empty
petrol can and a broomstick. She was told she had the makings of a bomb,
while the last few white farmers are being harassed and their workers
terrorised.

Zanu-PF command centres have been set up on some farms seized from whites.
Youths demand sugar, meat and mealie-meal for the pungwes, the all-night
re-education sessions where workers are lectured on the wrongs of
colonialism "right back to Vasco da Gama", the Portuguese explorer, a farmer
says.

Terrified, some Zimbabweans are falling into line. The Herald daily carries
stories of MDC "defections" to Zanu-PF: 247 have been reported this week.

Takura Bango, 42, a United Methodist Church minister, was beaten with sticks
and logs last weekend for attending an MDC meeting with members of his
flock. He lost an eye. "We have had so many horrendous stories," said
Marwick Khumalo, the head of the Pan African Parliament observer mission
yesterday.

A couple of weeks ahead of the first round of voting, many Zimbabweans were
amazed by the sudden opening-up of state media. This time round, there are
no MDC radio adverts. There are new banners across Zimbabwe's towns showing
a rejuvenated Mr Mugabe - but hardly any posters for the opposition leader.
A few brave campaigners resort to graffiti: "People want change," is
splattered across the wall at the bottom of our road.

Analysts have estimated that Mr Mugabe may need to get as few as 100,000
more votes than Mr Tsvangirai to win. Humanitarian groups say that at least
25,000 people have been displaced by the violence, most of them opposition
supporters. Many more may be simply too frightened to cast their ballots.

"I'm voting and then I'm getting out of the country," said a provincial MDC
official. "He (Mr Mugabe] is going to raise hell."

BACKGROUND

SOUTH Africa's ruling party leader and Rwanda's president yesterday said
they doubted that Zimbabwe's presidential run-off poll would be free, in a
sign of growing African impatience with Robert Mugabe's government.

In his bluntest language yet on the crisis, Jacob Zuma, the African National
Congress leader, criticised the violence that has engulfed Zimbabwe. "I
think we'll be lucky if we have a free election," Mr Zuma said

And Paul Kagame, Rwanda's president, heaped scorn on Mr Mugabe and the
Zanu-PF for vowing not to surrender power if beaten.


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Journalist Acquitted of Publishing Falsehoods, His Two Colleagues Still Face Charges



Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

PRESS RELEASE
18 June 2008
Posted to the web 18 June 2008

On 11 June 2008, Kwekwe journalist Blessed Mhlanga was acquitted on charges
of contravening Section 80 (1)(a)(2) of the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which prohibits the publication of
falsehoods. However, his colleagues Wycliff Nyarota and James Muonwa are
facing trial.

The state alleges that on 26 March 2006, the three journalists, or one of
them, unlawfully and intentionally published a false story in the "Network
Guardian" newspaper, alleging that George Muvhimi and Tatenda Munhanga were
caught in a compromising position in a vehicle at Mbizo Shopping Centre in
the city of Kwekwe.

Kwekwe Magistrate Oliver Mudzongachiso ruled that none of the state
witnesses implicated Mhlanga in the commission of the alleged offence of
abuse of journalistic privileges. He therefore found him not guilty of the
offence and acquitted him at the closure of the hearing.

The magistrate said, however, that he was convinced that the state had
established a prima facie case against Nyarota and Muonwa and ordered that
they be put to trial.

Lawyers representing the two journalists, Prayers Chitsa and James Magodora,
who are being assisted by MISA-Zimbabwe legal officer Wilbert Mandinde, are
considering appealing against the court's going forwards with the charges
against Nyarota and Muonwa.

Nyarota and Muonwa are expected back in court on 2 July for the continuation
of the trial.


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Gordon Brown answers questions on Zimbabwe

http://www.zimbabwejournalists.com
19th Jun 2008 01:22 GMT
By a Correspondent

House of Commons

Wednesday 18 June 2008

The Prime Minister was asked—

Mr. Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): With opposition voters in Zimbabwe being murdered, beaten and starved, with independent monitors being abducted and terrorised, with the head of the pan-African observers saying that there is no way that next week’s election will be free and fair, with Mugabe declaring war on anyone who dares to vote against him, is it not time that the international community—including my old anti-apartheid friends in Pretoria—demanded that this election be called off, that the results of the first free and fair round be recognised, that the winner, Morgan Tsvangirai, be declared President of a Government of national unity, and that Mugabe be forced to recognise at last that the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe want him to go and want him to go now?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): I have great respect for the views of my right hon. Friend, who has been involved in the politics of southern Africa for many years and has done great things.

There have been 53 confirmed deaths, some 2,000 people have been injured and 30,000 people displaced during this campaign. Four million people are in need of food aid, but are being denied it by the regime. The deputy leader of the MDC, Tendai Biti, is in police custody. Those are not circumstances in which a free and fair election can take place.

We have asked the regime to allow in observers for the 9,400 polling stations. Hundreds of observers have gone in, and more are to go in. We demand that those observers come from not just Africa, but different parts of the world. We also demand that the UN human rights envoy be admitted into Zimbabwe and that proper monitoring of the elections takes place. If that does not happen, it will be difficult to justify the elections as free and fair.

Mr. Hugo Swire (East Devon) (Con): While the situation in Zimbabwe is tragically worsening by the hour, the United Nations Security Council remains paralysed by China and by Russia. Will the Prime Minister now show some leadership by summoning the Chinese ambassador, reminding her that the eyes of the world are on China and Beijing in the run-up to the Olympics, and that the Chinese Government should cease immediately financially shoring up what the Prime Minister has rightly described as Mugabe’s “criminal regime”?

The Prime Minister: It is right that it is a criminal regime run by a criminal cabal, and we must make that clear to the rest of the world, but the hon. Gentleman is wrong to say that the UN Secretary-General has not been taking action. He has met President Mugabe and made it clear that he wants a human rights envoy into the country. Arrangements are being made for that human rights envoy to go into the country, and the United Nations Secretary-General has made it clear that his eyes are on a free and fair election. He is supporting the number of monitors who will come from outside Africa for that election, and that is what we support, as well.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): On the same point, and bearing in mind the views expressed by our right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Hain) and the fact that so many of us in the ’60s constantly denounced the Smith regime, is the Prime Minister aware that there is great disappointment that South Africa has not taken a stronger stand against the murderous violence that goes on day after day in Zimbabwe, and which makes a total mockery of the election that is taking place? Would it be possible for my right hon. Friend to make it clear to our good friends in South Africa that we expect a much different response?

The Prime Minister: I have not only kept in touch with the President, Thabo Mbeki. I was also in touch on Sunday with the president-elect—that is, the president of the African National Congress, Jacob Zuma. I made it clear to him, and he supported the idea, that there would be 1,000 monitors from the ANC party offered to Zimbabwe, so that they, too, can play their part in the election. So it is not strictly the case that South Africa is not making available election observers or monitors; that is exactly what they are doing.

I have also talked in the last week with President Kikwete, the chairman of the African Union, and with President Museveni of Uganda. They, too, and all the surrounding African states, are acknowledging the problems that are being created by Mugabe, the need to have free and fair elections, the need to put pressure on the regime for that to happen, and the need for international monitors to be in Zimbabwe, as I said in reply to the first question only a few minutes ago. These are the conditions under which, and the only conditions under which, a free and fair election can take place.


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Zimbabwe's election: a battle for democracy and a test for Africa

tri-cityherald.com

Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2008
ANDREW MELDRUM:
Christian Science Monitor

Christian Science Monitor
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Bullets or ballots? That's the stark question now facing
Zimbabwe ahead of its runoff presidential election on June 27. The vote is
more than a contest between President Robert Mugabe and opposition
challenger Morgan Tsvangirai. It is a battle for the country's faltering
democracy.

"We are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war for it," Mugabe
warned this week. "We are not going to give up our country for a mere X on a
ballot. How can a ballpoint pen fight with a gun?"

Amid such threatening talk - and reports of intensified violence - the only
hope that the people's choice will prevail is if election observers step up
to create a safe climate for voting.

As a reporter who covered Zimbabwe for more than 20 years, I witnessed the
country's hopeful rise and tragic deterioration. In 1980, it emerged from a
bloody race war that ended the white minority rule of then-Rhodesia to
become a stable democracy and one of Africa's most stable and prosperous
economies.

But in the past 10 years, its economy has shrunk in half and hyperinflation
tops 1 million percent. Life expectancy, meanwhile, has dropped to 36 years,
one of the world's lowest. Once known as Africa's breadbasket, Zimbabwe has
depended on food aid for the past seven years. Now it's reeling from state
terror as Mugabe, in office for 28 years, clings to power.

The people of Zimbabwe badly want to restore their democracy but, as things
stand, the crucial poll on June 27 cannot possibly be free and fair.

Mugabe has unleashed sweeping state violence that the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party says has killed more than 65 of its
supporters, with hundreds more tortured and thousands displaced. Tsvangirai,
the MDC candidate, has been repeatedly detained and harassed, while top
officials of his party have been jailed and numerous rallies banned.
Tsvangirai has not been able to campaign on local radio, television or in
daily newspapers, all of which are controlled by the state.

The roll of registered voters is a mess, with partial audits showing 20
percent of the voters are either deceased or listed more than once. This
allows ample opportunity for vote-rigging, as the elections are administered
by military officers who firmly support Mugabe. Tsvangirai could boycott the
runoff on grounds that conditions are grossly skewed against him. But that
would only allow Mugabe to claim an unopposed victory. Tsvangirai has said
that speaking to supporters - many with broken limbs and fractured skulls -
convinced him to stand strong.

Yet the situation is not completely hopeless. Zimbabweans are so fed up with
Mugabe's ruinous rule that they may vote overwhelmingly against him and even
the most blatant rigging will not be able to mask his loss. That is what
happened in the March 29 elections when the conditions were almost as
unfair, yet the MDC succeeded in winning control of parliament. Tsvangirai
won more votes than Mugabe, but he did not reach the 50 percent majority
needed to avoid a runoff.

International observers can play a vital role in helping Zimbabweans to vote
their choice. Mugabe has tightly restricted these observers, allowing
missions only from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community, the
African Union, and a few other friendly nations.

While the African observers have in the past indulged Mugabe by endorsing
flawed elections, they are becoming more critical. Reports of the recent
violence have spurred the Africans to double the size of their delegations
to this election.

This week, the United Nations sent a high-powered African envoy, Haile
Menkerios, to assess the situation. Although special observer missions from
the United States, Britain, and other European countries have been barred,
their diplomats in Harare can view the polls. The presence of serious
observers should force Mugabe's thugs to curtail their violence. This will
create a climate of safety and encourage people to vote.

The observers can also see if Mugabe sticks to the transparency of the March
29 elections. All votes were counted in front of observers at the polling
stations where they were cast, and the results were publicly posted on the
spot. This prevented state agents from fiddling with the votes.

Pressure from fellow Africans and the UN, as well as from the US and
Britain, may convince Mugabe that patience with his oppression is wearing
thin. He may accede to abide by enough standards of electoral fairness to
allow the will of the Zimbabwean people to be registered.

If Tsvangirai wins this election, despite all the unfair advantages Mugabe
enjoys, it will be a historic victory for democracy in Zimbabwe and, indeed,
for all of Africa.

* Andrew Meldrum, a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, reported from
Zimbabwe for The Economist and The Guardian between 1980 and 2003.


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Under the nose of southern Africa

Arab News

Editorial:
19 June 2008
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has spilled more blood to ensure that he stays in
charge, said Britain's Guardian in an editorial on Wednesday. Excerpts:

Mugabe said on Sunday that much blood had been shed for Zimbabwe's
independence, and that he would not surrender control of it for a mere cross
on the ballot paper. True to his word, he has spilled more blood to ensure
that he stays in charge. All dictators are familiar with the calculation he
is making. Will the terror he has unleashed overcome the hatred of his rule,
or the desperation of his people? A campaign that began seven weeks ago with
beatings has turned into a pogrom in which opposition activists have been
abducted, tortured, murdered and raped.

The MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) has paid dearly for its victory in
the first round of elections on March 29. More than 100 of their party have
been killed, and 200 have disappeared. Its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has
been repeatedly arrested. His No. 2, Tendai Biti, the MDC's general
secretary, is locked up in one the country's worst prisons. He faces a
charge of treason, which carries the death penalty, on the basis of a
document that is a crude forgery. Either violence wins the second round or,
if Mr. Mugabe is still not sure a few days before the election, it allows
him to cancel it. There is not a scintilla of doubt that the violence is
planned by the state and enacted by police, soldiers and party militants.
But Mr. Mugabe still claims, as he did yesterday, that if it does not stop,
Morgan Tsvangirai will be held responsible.

There are 150 election observers from the South African Development
Community already in the country. The UN special envoy Haile Menkerios is
also in Harare and 350 other monitors paid for by the UN are expected. The
obscenity of events in Zimbabwe does not simply lie in their brutality or
scale. It lies in the fact they are taking place under the noses of southern
Africa, whose governments behave as if they are powerless to stop them. The
MDC has little option but to endure Zanu-PF's blows, and the opposition
think that whatever the result, it will be a transformational moment. But
there are at least 11 more days of this terror to go.


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Zimbabwean farmers will revolutionise farming in Nigeria - Commissioner

Punch on the web, Nigeria

By MUDUAGA AFFE
Published: Thursday, 19 Jun 2008
The Commissioner for Finance in Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, in
this interview with journalists in Lagos, speaks on why the Zimbabwean
farmers in the state have come to occupy a crucial place in the scheme of
things. MUDUAGA AFFE was there. Excerpts:

The Zimbabwean farmers seem to have become a selling point of the Bukola
Saraki administration; how has this impacted on the ordinary people in the
state?

The impact is overwhelming and as a matter of fact, it is already held by
many as a revolutionary intervention to save Nigerian agriculture from an
impending doldrums.

At the inception of this administration in 2003, a major part of what was
put forward immediately as basis for economic development in the state was
agriculture, taking cognizance of two facets - commercial farming and
subsistence farming.

You would agree with me that based on agro-developmental standards
worldwide, subsistence farming had become derisory hence adequate
consideration was focused on large scale commercial and integrated farming,
which led to the invitation of the Zimbabwean farmers.

This is not to say that farmers at the subsistence level were ignored, as
the direct intention was to uplift them from their poor conditions.

To say the least, the presence of the Zimbabwe farmers has produced
excellent results. A broad-based integrated farming system including large
scale dairy production and processing, mixed farming, cattle rearing and
poultry is already in place at their destination in Songha, Kwara State.

How easy was it to integrate the Zimbabwe farmers into Nigeria's farming
culture?

It was initially very difficult. But we must acknowledge the genuine
determination of the farmers to achieve good results. Thirteen of the
farmers were invited who initially lived in tents. The state government
provided land, access roads and water through irrigation and boreholes as
most of the land fell at the bank of the River Niger. They were given 1,000
hectares each but most of them initially cultivated about 100 - 200
hectares. The first two years was a test - run on the major crops for
cultivation.

How was the initial dilemma of the farmers, that is, the issue of funding
resolved?

Based on the premise - public/private partnership framework -and with the
setting up of a 'Special Purpose Vehicle' named Songha Farm Holdings Nigeria
Limited, commercial banks were approached for private placements to the tune
of N3bn. This was the first time in Nigerian history that a consortium of
banks would come out to support agriculture on such a large scale through
debt - equity mix. The total for equity and the loans was put together at
N3bn.

The participating banks are shareholders as they are part - owners of the 13
farms. The levels of input into the farms are monitored by all stakeholders
through land cultivation, planting, harvesting and sales of produce. By and
large, it was initially uneasy as only short term funds were available from
banks prior to the convention of the consortium.

Apart from the 13 farms owned by the Zimbabweans, there is a 14th. Is this a
pilot farm?

You may assume it is a training farm. It is owned by government and managed
by another Zimbabwean farmer hired by government to teach student farmers
new and modern techniques of farming. The first batch of students just
graduated with support, from government, of N800,000 each for initial
cultivation, free cleared land and other inputs. The participants were drawn
from the different local government councils to act as 'change agents' to
disseminate to their communities improved practices they learnt from the
Zimbabwean farmers. With this level of activity, Kwara would, in the very
near future, become the nation's largest food basket thereby contributing
immensely to gross national agricultural economy.

Through well organised commercial farming, and within a few years, Kwara
will transform into a major agricultural hub.


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Mark Thatcher should be on trial too, says Mann

Independent, UK

Equatorial Guinea to seek further extraditions

By Kim Sengupta
Thursday, 19 June 2008

The former SAS officer Simon Mann has told a court that Sir Mark Thatcher
was heavily involved in planning a coup in Equatorial Guinea and not simply
the "unwitting" participant in the plot that he claimed to be.

Mr Mann, giving evidence in his own defence at the trial in the country's
capital, Malabo, insisted that Baroness Thatcher's son certainly was "not
just an investor. He came on board completely and became part of the
management team." The London-based businessman Ely Calil, he added, was "the
overall boss" of the mission. Mr Calil has always denied any involvement.

The scheme in 2004 to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema and replace
him with Severo Moto Nsa, an opposition leader living in exile in Spain,
also had the acquiescence of both Spain and South Africa, said Mr Mann. "It
became like a military operation because the Spanish and South African
governments were both giving the green light. Their involvement was
clandestine and they will never admit it."

A spokesman for Spain's Foreign Ministry denied the claims.

Mr Mann, 55, an Old Etonian heir to a brewery fortune, spoke from the
witness box in his prison-issue grey and blue uniform, in a calm and
measured voice with his hands clasped behind his back. He had got to know
Sir Mark Thatcher, he said, because they were neighbours in the Cape Town
suburb of Constantia. He found out that Sir Mark knew Mr Calil and had also
been in contact with Mr Moto.

The court heard that Sir Mark paid $300,000 (£150,000) for the purchase of a
helicopter to transport Mr Moto from Spain to Equatorial Guinea once Mr
Obiang was overthrown. The opposition leader, Mr Mann told the court, would
have been transported at first to the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa
and then on to Mali. He would have been flown to Malabo when it became clear
that the coup had succeeded. The plotters, it is alleged, expected to get
highly lucrative contracts once Mr Moto was in power in a country with
massive oil reserves.

Mr Mann was arrested in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, with 70 mercenaries
on the way to Equatorial Guinea. An advance party already in Malabo, led by
Nick Du Toit, one of Mr Mann's chief lieutenants, was also seized.

Sir Mark was arrested at his home in Cape Town and, in January 2005, fined
the equivalent of £266,000 and given a four-year suspended jail sentence. He
admitted paying the money to Mr Mann, but maintained that he was under the
impression it was going to be spent on an air ambulance service to help the
impoverished of Africa. He now lives in San Pedro de Alcantara, in Spain and
has refused to comment on the trial in Malabo.

Mr Calil, of Lebanese descent, who made his money out of Nigerian oil deals,
had put up $2m for the coup, said Mr Mann. The businessman denies any
involvement in the coup and his associates claim Mr Mann has been forced to
make the incriminating accusations by the Equatorial Guinea authorities. Mr
Mann says Mr Calil misled him into believing that the people of Equatorial
Guinea were deeply dissatisfied with Mr Obiang and the country was ripe for
a revolution.

He said yesterday: "I am very, very sorry for what I have done, I am also
happy that we failed ... I think that the people that were seriously
involved in this and have not faced justice, well they should do so now."

In his testimony, Mr Mann presented a scenario of feverish activity and
international intrigue as the final touches were applied to the plot. The
coup had to be carried out before the Spanish general election on 14 March
2004, said Mr Mann, because there was apprehension among the plotters that
the centre-right government of Jose Maria Aznar would fall and the incoming
administration might not fulfil the promises of diplomatic and military
support which had been made.

"Everything was in a big hurry, because we had this date of 14 March, the
Spanish election, which was coming closer and closer," said Mr Mann. "I had
been told by Calil that the Aznar government had promised immediate
diplomatic recognition if Severo Moto took over." He added that the Spanish
government had promised to send a contingent of Guardia Civil and also
provide logistical support.

Mr Mann claimed that an intelligence contact had asked him to provide Mr
Moto's telephone number so that the South African President, Thabo Mbeki,
could call the future president of Equatorial Guinea.

The Foreign Ministry in Madrid rejected the allegations. A spokesman said: "
We totally deny what Mr Mann says. We did not give the green light to any of
this." South African officials also stated that they had not authorised the
enterprise.

Jose Olo Obono, the Equatorial Guinea attorney general, said the next step
was for his government to seek the extradition of Sir Mark Thatcher and Mr
Calil.

At the start of the trial on Tuesday the prosecution asked for a sentence of
32 years for Mr Mann on charges of crimes against the head of state, crimes
against the government and crimes against the peace and independence of the
state. The charges carry the death penalty, but Mr Obono explained that
waiving capital punishment had been a pre-condition of Mr Mann's extradition
from Zimbabwe earlier this year.

Mr Obiang has been in power in Equatorial Guinea since he overthrew his
uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, in 1979. Under his iron rule the country
became one of sub-Saharan Africa's biggest oil producers but few have
benefited from the petrol boom. Oil revenues are a state secret. Human
rights groups say Mr Obiang is one of the worst abusers of rights in Africa.

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