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Police watch as war veterans loot shops

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/

June 21, 2008

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO- A group of war veterans and Zanu-PF youth militia yesterday went
on the rampage in Masvingo, looting goods from shops and flea markets while
accusing the owners of selling goods on the black market.

The war veterans, who were escorted by the police force, raided several
shops in central Masvingo before venting their anger on informal traders
whom they harassed before looting goods worth trillions of dollars.

Masvingo war veterans' provincial chairman Isaiah Muzenda led the operation.
Several shops and flea markets were abandoned as owners took to their heels
in terror.

Shop and flea market owners were also forced to reduce the prices of goods
or risk losing them through looting. Some of the youth militia carried away
bags of maize, cabbages and other vegetables, as well as items of clothing.

The police watched but did not intervene.

"We have discovered that these are the people increasing prices every day ",
said Muzenda."They are also involved in illegal deals such as changing
foreign currency on the black market

"We want to clean this whole town before the elections and we are going to
take over some of these shops and allocate them to honest ruling party
supporters".

By late Friday afternoon many of the affected shops remained closed.

"This is the best way to de-campaign their party," said one shop owner who
requested anonymity "The war veterans want us to vote for President Robert
Mugabe and yet they come out to harass us as well as loot our goods.

"How can we vote for Mugabe when his supporters are giving us a tough time?
I have lost goods worth $4 trillion and no one is going to compensate me".

The officer commanding Masvingo province assistant commissioner Mekia
Tanyanyiwa yesterday said war veterans had asked for permission from the
police to rid the town of illegal foreign currency dealers. He did not
explain why the police were not themselves ridding Masvingo of the illegal
activities.

He said the police were not actually involved in the exercise but were
monitoring the situation to prevent violence.

Tanyanyiwa said: "If there is anyone who lost his goods he should come and
report to us. We are going to deal with anyone found to have looted people's
goods during the clean-up exercise initiated by the war veterans."


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Zanu-PF intensifies terror in urban areas

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/

June 21, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Marauding Zanu-PF youth militia have evicted scores of families suspected of being MDC supporters from council flats in the poor suburb of Mbare, forcing them to endure winter nights in the open as the current political violence takes new dimensions.

Gangs of Zanu-PF youth have drawn up demarcations along the streets of Harare suburbs, along constituency lines and are assaulting residents for “straying into their territories”.

The belligerent Chipangano group, comprising of unemployed youths notorious for harassing perceived political opponents is forcing residents to attend nocturnal re-education meetings which last up to midnight.

Mbare residents told The Zimbabwe Times that they were being forced to attend ruling party meetings at night where they were coerced to chant Zanu-PF slogans and to pledge to vote for President Mugabe in next week’s presidential run-off election.

Mugabe was out-polled by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on March 29.† Incidents of political violence have increased in the capital city over the past few weeks and Zanu-PF has increased its visibility with banners draped on buildings, while its youths prowl city streets in party regalia.

Commuter omnibus operators are being forced to paste Zanu-PF campaign posters on their vehicles if they are to continue to ply the City-Mbare route. To avoid harassment, many residents have taken to wearing Zanu-PF T-shirts, even when they are supporters of the MDC.

To outmanouvre such crafty residents the Chipangano youths have a password which they change continuous. On Friday it was: “June 27 Mugabe muOffice” (Mugabe back in office on June 27.).

In the sprawling informal settlement of Epworth inter-party violence flares unabated, triggered by forced attendance of nightly Zanu-PF meetings to ‘re-educate” residents on how to vote properly in next Friday’s presidential election.

On Wednesday, The Zimbabwe Times witnessed a group of soldiers rounding up residents and commandeering them to attend a Zanu-PF party rally.

Starting on Sunday ruling party youths set up a base at the council’s offices in Kuwadzana 2 while the losing parliamentary candidate Noah Mangondo and his losing council counterpart for Borrowdale, †Mavis Gumbo set up a base near Lewisam School in Chisipite.

Mangondo and Gumbo could not be contacted to answer accusations by† residents that they forced a church congregation to attend a campaign meeting in the suburb.

The ID number of each of them was recorded. They each received a Zanu-PF T-shirt, a party head scarf. They were promised Zanu-PF cards in due course. Many say they are happy to accept Zanu-PF paraphernalia if that buys them freedom.

A driver arriving in Harare from Nyamapanda said he was stopped at a roadblock manned by Zanu-PF youths and war veterans along the highway on Thursday. He says they foisted more than 50 new Zanu-PF T-shirts on him†to distribute among the 15 passengers in his vehicle.

“I took the T-shirts and dropped them by the dozen along the way. If the number of T-shirts being worn around town translated into votes for Mugabe, then he has won the election before it is even held,” the driver quipped.

A caller from Bindura yesterday described the situation there as tense ahead of a Zanu- PF rally scheduled in the provincial capital that is scheduled to be addressed by Vice President Joseph Msika.


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Let's finish it! Tsvangirai in call to bring down Mugabe

Independent, UK

By Basildon Peta in Johannesburg and Daniel Howden
Saturday, 21 June 2008

Zimbabwe's main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
will decide tomorrow whether to boycott what is seen as the country's most
important election since independence. The run-off next week between the
MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe has been thrown into disarray by a
state-sponsored campaign of terror designed to overturn the regime's
first-round defeat and prolong the President's 28-year rule.

At least 85 people have been killed already in a campaign of political
terrorism, according to independent sources, and many more are feared dead
with fresh reports of violence flooding in from rural areas across the
country every day.

In an open letter released yesterday, Mr Tsvangirai appeared to lend his
backing to participation in the poll calling for "hope and courage". He
signs off by saying: "On 27 June, let's finish it."

But intense pressure for a boycott has built up in recent days and many in
the MDC have lost faith in the run-off. An emergency meeting in Harare
tomorrow will make the final call, party sources told The Independent.

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC's spokesman, said the party's politburo and national
executive committee comprising all of the party's representatives from the
provinces would convene in the capital, Harare.

"We need a proper election that will give birth to a new dispensation of
stability and democracy. The election that Robert Mugabe is shepherding us
into next week is a farce. It's a charade and there is a strong body of
opinion within the party that we should not be part of it at all," he said.

Mr Chamisa - who has in the past been badly beaten himself by Mr Mugabe's
thugs - said that there were very strong arguments on both sides between
those who wanted a boycott and those who did not want it. "We will on Sunday
resolve the dispute between these two contending arguments," he said.

Extensive canvassing of opposition officials conducted by The Independent
yesterday appeared to show a slim majority in favour of contesting the
run-off, despite the mounting death toll. "We are angered by all that has
happened and the brutality of it all but I am for participation," said one
top MDC official. "We cannot give Mugabe the pleasure of getting declared
president without an election. That's exactly what he [Mugabe] wants and
let's not afford him that pleasure."

Mr Tsvangirai is said to have agreed with an appeal by the South African
President, Thabo Mbeki, on Wednesday to scrap the run-off in favour of a
negotiated settlement. Mr Mugabe rejected that proposal.

Mr Chamisa emphasised yesterday that decisions in the MDC were taken
collectively. The spokesman said there were those who were worried that
participation would dignify a fraudulent election and others who felt that a
boycott would be a missed opportunity to prove that this election is not
free and fair.

The MDC's secretary for legal affairs, Innocent Gonese, said he was in
favour of participation.

There is now effective consensus in the international community that the
run-off will not be free and fair, with increasingly strong criticism of the
regime's actions being voiced by neighbouring countries through the Southern
African Development Community (SADC).

Roy Bennett, a leading MDC member, told South African television news
yesterday that the onslaught of violence will not stop Mr Tsvangirai from
participating. Zimbabweans have been "brutalised", he said. "Beaten up. On
the backdrop of that we have to compete in these elections to show the total
illegitimacy of them." Mr Bennett said events so far should give the
international community "reason to intervene, or reason to speak out", but
he criticised regional efforts led by South Africa, adding that Mr Mbeki
should step down as mediator "and start speaking out". David Coltart, an
opposition senator, said that while he would not be taking part in the MDC
decision, as he is part of a separate faction, he hoped to avoid a boycott.
"We have no choice but to participate. It's like a war zone but if one pulls
out one hands it to Mugabe and to that extent we have to make him go through
the process and force him to steal it."

Observers from Western countries have been barred. The 14-nation SADC is
sending 380 monitors for the vote. The independent Zimbabwe Election Support
Network, which played a key role in recording the first round of voting,
said that only 500 of its 8,800 local monitors had been accredited. And
reports emerged last night that entire rural districts were barring
opposition polling agents. At the same time polling stations are being
positioned on land given to the same so-called war veterans who are
responsible for some of the worst violence.

Meanwhile, a magistrate rejected a bid yesterday to release the MDC's
secretary general. Tendai Biti is being held on treason charges that could
carry the death penalty. He was ordered to remain behind bars until 7 July,
although the High Court is due to hear an application for bail on Tuesday.

Excerpts from opposition leader's letter

My Fellow Zimbabweans in Civil Society,

Once again our democratic movement is under attack. Together now we must
decide how best to deal with a regime that has lost its way and now relies
solely on oppression and brutality to hang on to power.

We must continue to fight for the will of our people to prevail, without
losing sight of the democratic principles that drive us, inspire us and
unite us. We must continue together to stay true to our ideals and together
chart a way forward out of this disaster.

As the regime tries to crush all of us, we must stand together as one. If we
fall into despair or disarray, my friends, the regime will have succeeded in
its evil machinations to divide and discourage us. The democratic movement
as a whole was victorious on 29 March and that resulted directly from our
unity of purpose.

The crisis engulfing us now is the most serious since our liberation from
the minority regime of Ian Smith. Indeed, the wave of brutality being
inflicted upon our people is reminiscent of the worst days of that evil
regime ...

My friends, many of us carry the scars inflicted by the regime during the
course of its slide into brutality and oppression. Many of us have dark
nights thinking about the suffering we have seen and thus far not been able
to halt. I do not fear more scars. The only thing I fear is not doing
everything in my power to stop the suffering.

Please continue to join us in our peaceful struggle for a new Zimbabwe ...

Let us all be bold and of good courage together in the days ahead. Rather
than descend into utter despair, let us instead remember the victory of the
people on 29 March.

We need your help. Help us to remind our people that they are the winners.
That their courageous decision on 29 March was not in vain. Help us
encourage them to vote again for change on 27 June. Help us protect them
from the regime's attempt to destroy their hope.

My friends, the regime is weak, but we are strong. The regime is lost, but
we are guided by the principles of truth and freedom. The regime is
illegitimate but we have the support of the people. And indeed one day the
evil forces within the regime will fail, while we, together, will triumph.

On 27 June, let's finish it!


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Military intervention needed in Zimbabwe

Letter

The Guardian,
Saturday June 21, 2008

I fear the Mugabe-inspired barbarism sweeping Zimbabwe is about more than
merely engineering a preferred election result (Zimbabwe's voters told:
choose Mugabe or you face a bullet, 18 June). Zanu-PF now exerts sufficient
control over Zimbabwe's electoral machinery simply to rig the count in the
forthcoming election run-off, a strategy for victory rather more humane than
the gross horrors reported by Chris McGreal. Instead Mugabe seems intent on
sending a blood-soaked message to the world outside that democracy (along
with truth and prosperity) is now dead in Zimbabwe. Even in the unlikely
event of an MDC victory, there seems little prospect that the apparatus of
state terror could ever be dismantled without outside assistance.

The time for military intervention and humanitarian relief by neighbouring
countries is surely long overdue. Seen beside the "vision" posted on the
SADC's website of "a future ... that will ensure economic wellbeing,
improvement of the standards of living and quality of life, freedom and
social justice and peace and security for the peoples of Southern Africa",
their recent inactivity is little short of obscene.
Robin Gill
Oxford


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Divided Security Council to discuss Zimbabwe Monday

Yahoo News

1 hour, 12 minutes ago

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - A divided UN Security Council will resume talks
Monday on the deadly political violence in Zimbabwe ahead of the upcoming
presidential runoff election, diplomats said Friday.

The 15-member body was to meet early Monday to discuss modalities of a
formal meeting planned for later that day on the outcome of UN
troubleshooter Haile Menkerios' mediation mission to Harare, they added.
One diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the council was
divided on whether to hold an open or closed-door debate on the issue.

UN officials said Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe
was to brief the council Monday on Menkerios' five-day visit to Harare.

Menkerios, an UN assistant secretary general for political affairs, met with
South African President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria Friday following his visit
to Zimbabwe.

"It appears that he (Menkerios) will remain in the area for some additional
days," UN spokeswoman Michele Montas told reporters Friday.

In late March, Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat President
Robert Mugabe in the first round of the presidential election, but election
officials said he fell short of an outright majority and must face Mugabe in
the June 27 run-off.

During his Harare visit, Menkerios met with a broad section of Zimbabwean
society, including Mugabe and Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).

Menkerios was sent to Zimbabwe by UN chief Ban Ki-moon in a bid to ease
political tensions ahead of next week's balloting amid a wave of deadly
violence targeting the opposition.

According to media reports, Mbeki was reported to be trying to arrange a
first-ever meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai that would allow for talks
on canceling the June 27 balloting with a view to forming a national unity
government.

On Friday, Mugabe said that "only God" could remove him from office, as his
opposition considered pulling out of next week's election.

"The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country -- never ever," Mugabe
told local business people in Zimbabwe's second city Bulawayo.

Mugabe -- in power since independence from Britain in 1980 -- has frequently
accused Tsvangirai of being a stooge of the former colonial power.

The MDC plans to meet Sunday to consider whether to contest the runoff, with
the party claiming that around 70 of its supporters have been killed since
the first round of voting on March 29.

At an informal meeting Thursday with Security Council members, US Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice called for "broader and stronger international
action" to stop the violence and ensure a free and fair election in
Zimbabwe.

Rice's spokesman Sean McCormack on Friday said the United States supported
Mbeki's efforts to negotiate a political solution in Zimbabwe, and did not
rule out a national unity government as a possible outcome.


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Electoral terrorism sweeps Zimbabwe

Financial Times

Editorial Comment

Published: June 20 2008 18:30 | Last updated: June 20 2008 18:30

Will Zimbabwe be rescued from the living hell to which Robert Mugabe has
consigned it? This weekend, the question dominates international attention
as never before. Next ≠Friday, Mr Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, will contest the second
round of a presidential election that the Zimbabwean president has done
everything in his power to steal. It would shame Zimbabwe - and the entire
continent of Africa - if he were allowed to succeed.

Mr Mugabe clings to power at any price. He has launched a terror campaign
aimed at destroying the opposition. Mr Tsvangirai says at least 70 of his
supporters have been killed. His number two has been jailed. Across the
country, pro- Mugabe forces are conducting a merciless campaign of violence
against their opponents.

As election day approaches, this terrorism will intensify. Three things are
therefore critical now. First, the MDC must maintain the courage to contest
this election. Given the dangers they face, it is fully understandable why
MDC leaders are contemplating withdrawal. But if they do this, they will
hand Mr Mugabe a chance to declare some sort of pseudo-victory.

Second, African nations must press home their condemnation of Mr Mugabe's
electoral terrorism. For years, Mr Mugabe's peers in southern Africa have
acquiesced in the rape of his country. Thankfully, the mood is changing. A
string of states - Tanzania, Kenya, even Angola - have rightly spelt out
that this "election" is an affront to democracy. Thabo Mbeki, the South
African president, may stick to his abhorrent appeasement of his old crony.
But other African leaders - including Jacob Zuma, Mr Mbeki's likely
successor - are turning decisively against the Zanu-PF leader.

Third, Zimbabwe's nightmare must not end in the creation of a spurious
government of national unity that allows Mr Mugabe to cling to power. This
may be the sham, Kenyan-style stitch-up that Mr Mbeki is battling for. But
such an outcome must be rejected by the international community.

Mr Mugabe has lost every conceivable right to stay in power. It is vital he
is evicted because international donors cannot back any government that
retains him in any capacity. Zimbabwe is in the throes of an economic
catastrophe that has not yet run its course. This is a country that urgently
needs a significant international aid programme. But the world must not -
and will not - give succour of any kind to any government linked to this
monstrous figure.


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The Victims of Post Election Political Violence

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/

June 20, 2008

The following is a documented list of all confirmed victims of Zimbabwe’s post-election (March 29, 2008) pre run-off election (June 27, 2008). Please click the document image to view the complete list.




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Dos Santos tells Mugabe to stop violence

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/

June 21, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - One of President Robert Mugabe's closest allies in the southern
African region, Angolan leader Eduardo Dos Santos, yesterday joined the
growing list of African leaders who have expressed serious concern over the
escalating violence in Zimbabwe.

Angolan State radio reported yesterday that the Angolan leader, one of
Mugabe's few friends in the region, has asked a member of the Angolan
election observer team to deliver the letter to the Zimbabwean leader. Dos
Santos's emissary is said to be Angola's representative in the observer
mission from the 14-nation SADC, the radio station reported.

Dos Santos is reported to have urged his Zimbabwean counterpart to stop the
violence and intimidation ahead of next week's run-off presidential
election.

The Angolan leader, whose country is the current chair of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) organ on Politics and Security, is said
to have advised Mugabe to observe the dictates of tolerance and diversity of
views, and halt violence in the country.

"Observe the spirit of tolerance, respect for difference and cease all forms
of intimidation and political violence", Dos Santos is quoted as saying in
the letter.

Dos Santos' comments are the latest of a deluge of statements by African
leaders speaking out in condemnation of the wave of political violence in
Zimbabwe.

This week alone, several African leaders including Paul Kagame of Rwanda,
Raila Odinga of Kenya and a group of SADC foreign ministers voiced concerns
over the continuing violence in Zimbabwe .

Violence has been spreading throughout Zimbabwe with just a week to go
before the country goes to the polls to elect the country's next President
on June 27.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lays the blame on the
ruling Zanu- PF party but the latter has, in turn, accused the opposition
party for the mayhem.

The MDC says close to 70 of its supporters have been killed in politically
motivated violence since the March 29 election.

Meanwhile the Zimbabwean police yesterday accused the MDC of fanning
violence ahead of the crucial presidential election next week.

The Zimbabwe Republic police chief, Augustine Chihuri told reporters in
Harare that the MDC was the main culprit behind political violence. He said
the police would use the necessary force to quell any incidents of violence
in next week's election.

"The MDC is the main culprit in the political violence that we are currently
witnessing in the country," said Chihuri. "As the country prepares for a
presidential election run-off next week, all necessary force will be applied
on malcontents and perpetrators of violence."

Chihuri, a member of the Joint Operations Command now running the affairs of
Zimbabwe, has gone on record as saying he will accept only Mugabe as
President of Zimbabwe.


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Exiled Zimbabweans offered help to return for run-off vote

Independent, UK

By Daniel Howden, Deputy Foreign Editor
Saturday, 21 June 2008

One week before Zimbabwe is due to go back to the polls for the presidential
run-off, a major effort is under way to encourage the millions of immigrants
in neighbouring South Africa to go home and vote.

A coalition of South African businesses and Zimbabwean exiles said yesterday
that it is willing to sponsor registered voters to take time out from their
jobs to participate in the election north of the border.

As many as three million Zimbabweans have fled the economic and political
crisis in their home country and moved to South Africa, although a series of
brutal xenophobic attacks have rocked the immigrant community there since
the first round of voting in March.

The "Come Home to Vote" campaign launched yesterday by the Peace and
Democracy Project, which mobilised voters for the 29 March poll, and the
Southern African Women's Institute for Migration Affairs (Sawima) claims to
have the funds in place to help thousands of would-be voters.

"It's about getting people back in to vote as long as the opposition is
going ahead with contesting the poll," said the project leader, Mathula
Lusinga, in Johannesburg. "A lot of people are willing to go back after the
xenophobic attacks. They're asking themselves 'why don't we go home and
solve our problems'."

However, a state-orchestrated campaign of terror against opposition
supporters following the March vote has left many in the Zimbabwean diaspora
facing a choice between an increasingly hostile host country and a return to
a homeland increasingly resembling a war zone.

Despite this Mr Lusinga said that thousands were already signing up for
assistance to return and vote. "There's a lot of bravery, a lot of people
saying 'let's go and finish this'," he said. No one knows exactly how many
Zimbabweans are living in South Africa, or how many returned for the first
round. The campaign was offering South African businesses the chance to
sponsor employees to make the 600 rand (£38) round trip and calling on them
to grant five days of leave to those wishing to travel.

"By returning home, Zimbabweans living in South Africa will be able to
provide moral and numerical support to their communities," said Mrs Joyce
Dube, director of Sawima. "They will also be in a position to encourage
people who were too afraid or too disillusioned in the 29 March elections to
to vote."

More than 62 people have been killed in South Africa after xenophobic
violence swept across the country. Thousands of immigrants remain in
makeshift camps around the country after being driven out of their homes by
mob violence.


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Even amid the horror, an election is still the best way to oust this tyrant

Independent, UK

Leading article:
Saturday, 21 June 2008

The benighted country of Zimbabwe has entered the last days of campaigning
before next Friday's poll. As recently as a week ago it was hard to imagine
how the circumstances of this presidential run-off could possibly
deteriorate any further. Yet deteriorate they have, with practically every
day bringing new evidence of the depths to which Robert Mugabe is prepared
to stoop to hang on to the dismal remnants of his power.

The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is spending the weekend closeted
with senior members of the Movement for Democratic Change, considering - not
for the first time - whether to go on. While the prospects were always slim
that the poll would be anything like free or fair, the deviousness of the
stratagems employed by the Mugabe government and the ruthlessness with which
his henchmen have pursued members of the opposition have exceeded the most
pessimistic predictions.

The campaign has been marked by escalating physical cruelty. The government
clearly calculated that the relative calm in which the first round was
conducted acted against its interests. The notorious veterans' militias have
been mobilised in rural areas, where the opposition did unexpectedly well in
March. Individuals suspected of sympathies with the MDC have been kidnapped
and beaten. The wife of Harare's mayor became the fourth mayor's wife to be
abducted and killed. Many thousands have been forced to leave their homes,
thereby forfeiting their registration, and their vote.

Campaigning, for the opposition, has been so hedged about with restrictions
as to be almost meaningless. MDC rallies are banned for spurious reasons of
security; its campaign adverts are rejected by the monopoly state
broadcaster, ZBC. The party's secretary general has been arrested and
charged with treason. And while the authorities have - so far - stopped
short of charging Mr Tsvangirai himself, he has been arrested several times
while out campaigning.

Even international food aid has become a weapon in the government's hands.
Regions that vote for the MDC have been threatened with having their aid
withheld. In a country where up to half the population could run short of
food in the coming year, this is a particularly base - and effective - form
of blackmail.

All this - designed to deter, if not actually destroy, the opposition - is
before any voting has actually begun. If and when it does, the old tricks of
siting polling stations in the middle of nowhere, manipulating the electoral
lists, and stuffing and mislaying ballot boxes will doubtless come into
play. That such techniques failed to prevent the MDC's win in March was
largely thanks to assiduous monitoring by local party activists and
observers, who meticulously recorded the actual vote tallies, station by
station, as they were posted up.

It is not at all certain that there will be such effective monitoring this
time. The level of intimidation is much higher, and the number of observers
has been slashed. It seems that there will be only 500 domestic monitors -
almost 20 times fewer than in March - along with 500 from other African
countries.

With so much stacked against him, and physical danger ever present, it would
be understandable if Mr Tsvangirai withdrew. Why should he give Mr Mugabe
the satisfaction of an electoral "victory"? Having come so far and braved so
much, however, he has no reason to accept defeat. Beset by inflation and
food shortages, Zimbabweans voted for change once; they might be courageous
enough to do so again. Nor, with a handful of African leaders starting to
question Mr Mugabe's rule, is the MDC quite as friendless as it was. Even at
this late stage, it would be wrong to abandon hope.


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A letter from the diaspora

http://www.cathybuckle.com

†20th June 2008

Dear Friends.
The headline on the front page of today's Guardian ( 18.06.08) declares
'Zimbabwe's voters told: Vote Mugabe or you face a bullet.' The question
everyone is asking is WHY, why is Mugabe doing it? Does he really think
sheer terror will persuade the electorate to vote for him? Does he truly
believe that such vicious punishment for 'voting the wrong way' is justified
because, as he claims, he and Zanu PF won the country's freedom? Or, as some
people think, has the old man completely 'lost it' and is living in the
past: Zimbabwe is at war again but this time the enemy is the Zimbabwean
people who dared to vote against him. The gun is mightier than the pen
declares Mugabe; no mere cross on a ballot paper is going to stop him
retaining power. Could any words better demonstrate his total contempt for
the democratic process?

There may be another explanation for Mugabe's behaviour since his defeat at
the ballot box. Despite the fact that the people have clearly shown him that
they want change, an unprecedented orgy of government-sponsored violence has
spread from the rural to the urban areas. It is, I believe, all part of a
calculated campaign. Mugabe knows that he will lose the forthcoming vote so
he creates a situation whereby the observers declare that there is no
possibility of a free and fair election. And, according to this scenario,
ever the democrat (!) Mugabe bows to world opinion and cancels the election
'for the good of his people' thereby ensuring that he remains in power. He
waits for the furore to die down and then slowly the country reverts to its
former comatose condition. Mugabe's kingdom is secure and HE can dictate the
time of his departure - unless of course the Almighty intervenes - and
nominate his chosen heir. The AU and the west will fret and fume, the UN may
even condemn him in the Security Council - though not if Thabo Mbeki has
anything to do with it - but Mugabe will still be in power with the
opposition rendered totally powerless, either imprisoned or dead. And
waiting in the wings will be Mnangagwa, 'the crocodile' ready to snap up the
presidency and the military will be right there with him. Such a scenario is
not totally impossible given what we know of Mugabe's political cunning.

The western media has preferred to describe what has happened in Zimbabwe as
a military coup but Wilf Mbanga is right when he says there has been no coup
in Zimbabwe; Mugabe needs the military as much as they need him, his is the
recognisable face, the brand name of Zanu PF. The reality is that Zimbabwe
has had military men in key positions for several years. There was no need
for a coup, the generals and brigadiers were already in place: in
government, in the judiciary, in business where they have become fabulously
wealthy, on the farms and in mining. Mugabe is, however, still firmly in
control, he is the one giving the orders. What has been so striking about
his rhetoric and actions in recent weeks is that he has clearly abandoned
all pretence of being a democrat. Those early images of Mugabe exchanging
laughter and good-humoured banter with the likes of Lord Soames or Lord
Carrington have gone forever. Instead, nearly thirty years later we have an
old man whose power is crumbling around him. Having successfully created an
enemy for the masses to hate, he can pin all the blame for his
self-inflicted troubles on the former colonial power. Almost daily he warns
the credulous Zanu faithful that Britain will come back again via the MDC
and re-colonise the country. There is never a shred of evidence for these
wild allegations but his followers swallow the lie. Similarly Mugabe's claim
that the MDC is funded by the UK and the US and that the NGO's are no better
than channels for regime change is entirely unsubstantiated. This last week
his rhetoric has become even wilder. According to Mugabe, there's a white
under every bush just waiting for him to leave the stage so that they can
reclaim their stolen farms. Where are they all, I wonder? I remember before
I left in 2004 taking a bet with a friend as we drove into Harare. $500
(!!!) for the first one to see a white person; I lost when a very old white
man tottered down First Street. Perhaps all these pernicious whites are
hiding in Old People's Homes or Bowling Clubs, both of which have been the
subject of war vets' manic attentions this week.

The rhetoric and the accompanying violence are unprecedented in their
ferocity. At a funeral last weekend Mugabe threatened the entire population
with war if he was rejected at the polls. This is nothing less than another
liberation struggle. He forgets that Africa is a very different place in
2008. All of Africa is free of colonial rule now, there are no frontline
states any more to provide him or any perceived enemy with bases from which
to operate. As to weapons, it appears that even the Chinese are unwilling to
help him openly, sensitive as they are to world opinion in the run up to the
Olympic Games. President Mbeki too has 2010 and the football World Cup to
consider, an outright civil war in Zimbabwe could scupper any chance of
that. Various news items over the last couple of weeks have suggested that
perhaps al Quaida has been approached for weapons. Even the somnolent AU
might be inclined to condemn outright open warfare on the African continent
using weaponry supplied by Bin Laden. Mugabe would not find many or any
supporters if he declared war on his own people but so desperate is his
battle for survival that not even the shouts and cheers of the rented crowds
at his rallies can convince him of victory. Instead, despite all the
evidence from impartial observers that it is his government committing the
violence, Mugabe threatens to arrest MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai as the
perpetrator. And in blatant contravention of Zimbabwe's own laws, he holds
the MDC Secretary General Tendayi Biti in gaol for six days without charging
him. The plan of course is to disable the MDC from top to bottom and having
arrested Morgan Tsvangirai too, the violence will miraculously cease and
Mugabe will emerge - forgive the expression- whiter than white.

There are still ten days to go before the vote. Under SADC observers' very
noses Mugabe's thugs continue to terrorise the country believing that no
African leader will criticise their master. Dare we hope that perhaps this
time Mugabe has seriously over-estimated his 'heroic' standing and African
leaders will finally find the moral courage to stand together and roundly
condemn his actions? More than that, they will tell him bluntly that neither
he nor his government will be recognised if he steals another election; is
that too much for the long-suffering and courageous Zimbabwean people to
hope for as they stagger towards another election? Perhaps Africa and the
world will hear the voice of the people this time and clearly tell the old
man that he must accept defeat. It is time for him to go.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle. PH


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Banks to lose foreign currency licenses

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/

June 21, 2008

By Business Correspondent

HARARE -The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe says it will cancel foreign currency
dealing licences for some banks it accuses of abusing the interbank system
through inflating rates.

The central bank, however, could not reveal the identity of the banks but
warned that the riot act would start as early as next week.

In a statement released last night, Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono
indicated that the Reserve bank would crack the whip on banks suspected of
breaching exchange control statutes.

"As monetary authorities, we wish to set the record straight and underscore
that the Reserve Bank has not reversed the willing-buyer, willing-seller
arrangement nor is it contemplating to do so," he said.

"Authorised dealers are, however, forewarned that dealing outside the laid
out Exchange Control Regulations will result in severe corrective measures
being instituted, including the cancellation of the concerned institution's
trading license.

"Noted cases of abuse of the system by some authorised dealers are being
addressed on individual institution basis, informed by the on-going
surveillance audits the central bank is carrying out."
Yesterday's speculation that the interbank market had been stopped saw the
Zimbabwean dollar momentarily stabilise due to the uncertainty that
prevailed in the market.

On Thursday the dollar closed at about $6,8 billion. The Zimbabwean dollar
has been losing value at a rate of about 30 percent every week.

The Zimbabwe Times understands that the Reserve Bank three weeks ago
launched an investigation into financial institutions that have been
allegedly abusing the interbank foreign exchange market with a view to
cancelling their operating licenses.

The investigation was targeting banks and dealers that the bank suspected of
abusing the interbank market through improper allocation of foreign currency
and tinkering with the exchange rate.

President Robert Mugabe and his advisers recently said the interbank market
was the main reason why prices were galloping. There is also frustration in
government circles that the interbank market had failed to achieve the
currency stabilisation that was anticipated.

University of Zimbabwe business professor Tony Hawkins said ballooning money
supply growth was weakening the local currency.

"You cannot have an effective foreign exchange system or stabilise the
currency when you are printing local currency at breakneck speed," Hawkins
said.

"The inter-bank rates are becoming more of a reflection of the parallel
market rates and this could force the central bank to revert to fixing the
dollar or introduce a managed auction system. It's a case of more Zimbabwe
dollars chasing little foreign currency."

Gono relaxed foreign exchange regulations early May to allow the market to
determine the rate. Prior to that, the rate was fixed at $30 000 for each US
dollar.

It is believed that the interaction between demand and supply was no longer
under the influence of market forces, but other external factors that had
underpinned the aggression in the rate of exchange lately.
Prices of goods and services had shot to astronomical levels in response to
the increase in both the interbank rate and the parallel market rate.


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Mugabe's men bring rape and torture to Harare suburbs


Chris McGreal in Epworth
The Guardian,
Saturday June 21, 2008

Yvonne Chipowera doesn't know the names of those who raped her, whipped her
with sjamboks and urinated on her face while making her call Zimbabwe's
opposition leader a dog. Her ordeal lasted 16 hours.

Her attackers were young men drawn from Robert Mugabe's militia, armed with
knives and slingshots, who rule the streets of Epworth, a sprawling poor
township on the edge of Harare.

But Chipowera, a 24-year-old opposition activist, knows who she blames.
There is the ruling Zanu-PF party's district chairman, Teddy Garakara, in
whose house she was held and tortured along with other opposition activists,
some in a hole in the ground. Then there is Amos Midzi, a former cabinet
minister and parliamentary candidate for the Epworth seat who lost to the
opposition. He appeared at the house to encourage the militiamen as
Chipowera was beaten. The victims say he is orchestrating the campaign of
home burnings and demolitions engulfing Epworth. And there is Joana Mawira,
a Zanu-PF local councillor, who other women say was giving the orders as
they were assaulted.

"Some people are afraid to tell the truth that they have been raped. There
was a girl raped seven times but she won't tell," said Chipowera. "But
people should know. I just wish God could take those who did this and kill
them."

Epworth, a crowded township of about 130,000 people is the new frontline in
Mugabe's assault on democracy before next week's run-off presidential
election, as Zanu-PF shifts its campaign of violence from rural areas to
Harare, where support for the opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, is
strongest.

Zanu-PF militia have moved into all the big townships around the capital,
burning Mugabe's opponents out of their homes, beating and raping those they
capture, and sometimes torturing them to death.

The numbers remain murky, but at least 100 people have been killed, more
than 200 abducted or are missing, and thousands more have been tortured.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change swept the board in Epworth in
March's elections. But you wouldn't know it on the streets of the township
today.

The main roads through Epworth are controlled by young men armed with
rudimentary but effective weapons. People who refuse to stop and explain
themselves get a knife to the throat.

Mobs of Zanu-PF supporters, usually hundreds strong, dance through the
township each day grabbing anyone they can to join the demonstration or face
the consequences.

All over Epworth, people are herded into the ruling party's daily mass
meetings, forced into Zanu-PF T-shirts, and warned that they will pay a very
bloody price if Mugabe loses the election. There is not an opposition poster
to be seen while pictures of Mugabe are everywhere.

Increasingly, the mobs look out of control. Epworth is not Liberia or Sierra
Leone but the hostile and sometimes drunk young men have taken to wearing
the bandanas favoured by rebels across Africa and clearly feel they are the
law. The police stay away. But it is not anarchy.

The assault on Epworth began in the township's Ward Seven where William
Mapfumo is the MDC's local councillor. Twelve days ago he was preparing for
an election rally when familiar faces arrived at his home and confronted his
wife, Doreen. "There was Joana Mawira and Teddy Garakara. They approached my
wife saying they were looking for me," he said. "They said: 'Your husband is
very stubborn. Why is he carrying on supporting the British-sponsored party?
This area is no way MDC because the houses were built by Zanu-PF'."

Young men in the group began beating Doreen Mapfumo who is eight months
pregnant. "They held my wife while they beat her with iron bars," said
Mapfumo. "It was four people. They beat her stomach and buttocks. The doctor
says the beating moved the baby from the right position. My wife fled. They
started to destroy my house, and they looted the whole household."

The Mapfumos' house was only one of scores destroyed that day. In Ward Seven
the homes of about 140 MDC activists have been looted and razed.

"Amos Midzi gave the order to destroy the houses. Witnesses at a meeting the
weekend before the violence told me," said Mapfumo.

As the mobs moved through the area they snatched MDC activists. Chipowera
was one of them. She was at home with her two-year-old son when the militia
arrived. "They were taking me to Garakara's place. On the way a certain guy
dragged my baby away from me. Another guy held down my arms, and one held
down my legs, and one of them raped me. The didn't use protection," she
said.

The men hauled Chipowera to her feet and continued the march to the Zanu-PF
base in Garakara's house for what the ruling party calls "re-orientation",
but her son was nowhere to be seen.

"We reached Garakara's place and they put me in a room. They started pouring
cold water on me and men were urinating on my head. They made me say
Tsvangirai was an arsehole, a dog, all dirty names. I said it of course
because they were beating me," she said. Chipowera was not alone. Seven men
and another woman were subjected to the same ordeal.

At one point she said she saw Midzi come into the house. "Garakara was there
too. He was there when we were beaten," she said.

"They were keeping some MDC members in a hole in the ground where they were
beating them."

Still not knowing the fate of her son, Chipowera was hauled out the room.
"They raped me again and then put me back in. I spent the whole night until
5am being beaten, them urinating on us," she said, showing the lacerations
on her body. She was released the following morning. At that point her son
was handed back to her.

This is not what you will read in the state-run press. It sees a country
that few Zimbabweans would recognise where the population throws itself
behind Mugabe's struggle against imperialism, the economy has imploded
because of British-led sanctions and the opposition is waging war against
the peace-loving Zanu-PF. The Chronicle newspaper in Bulawayo would have its
readers believe that the MDC "unleashed a reign of terror" in Epworth,
"attacking Zanu-PF supporters and destroying houses, vehicles and other
property worth trillions of dollars".

The paper said more than 100 suspected MDC activists "dragged" Mawira "out
of her house, beat her up and damaged her house and household property".

Chipowera knows better. She said her revenge would be her vote: "I'm
registered so I'm going to vote. For MDC."


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Images show Zimbabwe 'thugs'

BBC

GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 23:37 UK

To see the video, go to http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7466893.stm

US Embassy pictures have shown thugs on the rampage causing terror
during the Zimbabwe election campaign.


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C'bean gov'ts urged to speak up on violence in Zimbabwe

Radio Jamaica

Friday, 20 June 2008
††Former Prime Minister of St. Lucia Dr. Kenny Anthony on Friday
criticised what he called a conspiracy of silence among governments in the
region on the tense political situation in Zimbabwe.

Dr. Anthony, the Opposition leader in the St. Lucian Parliament, urged
Caribbean governments to denounce Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

"The recent events in Zimbabwe have, in my view, compromised the
legacy of Robert Mugabe. What is taking place in Zimbabwe right now is a
travesty ... an unprecedented abuse of state power.

The elections in Zimbabwe could not conceivably be free and is
certainly not free from fear and the evidence indicates that it's
extraordinary violence being meted out against the opposition," said Dr.
Anthony.

The Former Prime Minister said in his view Caribbean governments
cannot continue to justify their silence especially given the fact that what
is taking place in Zimbabwe destroys the democratic principles that they
have stood for over the year.


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It's Time for Gordon to Dial the Despot

ukwatch.net

June 21st, 2008
By Andy Rowell

The Ambasciotori Palace Hotel ranks amongst Rome's finest, being housed on
the via Veneto, one of the most famous avenues in the world. It is used to
hosting international dignitaries such as film stars Liza Minnelli, Sean
Connery and Sofia Loren.

But earlier this month a more notorious guest stayed in a $900 a night,
fifth-floor suite complete with king-sized beds, pink marble bathrooms and a
luxurious jacuzzi. The guest brought with him his own uniformed butler and
two chefs, who commandeered their own kitchen within the hotel to prepare
succulent and delicious food for their master. No expense was spared by
Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe who wined and dinned whilst back
home his people slowly starve to death.

Mugabe was attending a UN food Summit in Rome. Why anyone had allowed the
Southern African despot to attend the summit is beyond my imagination for
here is a man whose deliberate policies on food and land have decimated his
people and country. It was a fundamental mistake to allow Mugabe the
prestige of rubbing shoulders with other politicians on the world stage.

Whereas other world leaders may have degrees in politics or economics,
Mugabe once famously boasted that he had a "degree in violence". And how
true that is. Just days after the Summit, Mugabe's contempt for his own
people was savagely exposed yet again when his government suspended food aid
in the country, on which millions of hungry people are dependent. Desperate
to do anything to cling to power, food has become the latest weapon that
Mugabe is using to force his people to vote for a man and his political
party: ZANU-PF.

The respected Children's charity, Save the Children, rightly said the "the
suspension of aid will have appalling consequences for the country's poorest
and most vulnerable children". They pointed out that without this lifeline
children would start dying.

The food aid suspension is the latest attempt by Mugabe to beat, starve,
maim and murder his people into voting for him in the next run-off election
that will be held on June 27th. That election should be postponed if not
cancelled. There is absolutely no chance of a free or fair election.
Millions cannot vote with empty stomachs. Millions cannot vote under the
threat of systematic violence and abuse. Every day we hear more evidence of
systematic beating and terrorizing of people from the opposition Movement
for Democractic Change (MDC).

Last week, Human Rights Watch released a devastating report on the state of
human rights abuses in the country. "The campaign of violence and repression
in Zimbabwe, aimed at destroying opposition and ensuring that Robert Mugabe
is returned as president in runoff elections on June 27, 2008 is claiming
thousands of victims as the government at national and local levels
actively, systematically and methodically targets Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) activists and perceived MDC supporters."

Human Rights Watch noted that the scope and scale of the violence since
Zimbabwe's first election this year in March, and far exceeds anything that
they witnessed during past election years of 2000, 2002 and 2005.

Senior members of Mugabe's army and security forces are behind the campaign
of orchestrated violence and terror. At the end of last month, Mugabe's
Chief-of-Staff Major General Martin Chedondo said, "Soldiers are not
apolitical; only mercenaries are apolitical. We should therefore stand
behind our commander-in-chief."

And with Mugabe as Commander in Chief, the army, its militias and supporters
have set out to destroy the MDC. The Human Rights Watch report catagorized
Mugabe's campaign of terror against political opponents. At least 36 people
have been killed, including many who have been abducted and tortured first.
Given the movement restrictions in place and limited flow of information,
Human Rights Watch believes that the number of people attacked far exceeds
these figures.

In scenes reminiscent of Nazi-Germany, ZANU-PF officials and their
supporters "are beating, torturing and mutilating suspected MDC activists
and supporters in hundreds of base camps, many of them army bases",
according to Human Rights Watch. "Abusive "re-education" meetings are being
held to compel MDC supporters into voting for Mugabe." In one of these
meetings, six men were beaten to death, seventy were tortured, including a
76-year-old woman who was publicly thrashed.

It is a campaign designed to terrorize. In nearly all the areas affected by
violence, victims and eyewitnesses told Human Rights Watch that the violence
was usually conducted at night and the abductions and beatings was
systematically followed by looting and burning of huts, property and
livestock. MDC supporters are routinely told that their "crime" was that
they voted for the MDC in the recent election.

On one occasion soldiers addressing villagers at meetings in the village of
Karoi, Mashonaland West, put a bullet in each person's hands. They were then
told: "If you vote for MDC in the presidential runoff election, you have
seen the bullets, we have enough for each one of you, so beware."

MDC members have been abducted and brutally murdered. Often victims have
their eyes gouged out, and their tongues and lips cut off. Women too have
been stripped naked and beaten. In other incidents men had barbed wire tied
around their genitals with the other end tied around logs. The men were then
forced to use their genitals to pull the logs. One man who received this
kind of treatment, Joseph Madzuramhende was tortured and murdered for owning
a radio. His attackers said to him: "Your particular crime is that you have
a radio at your place and other villagers were coming to your home to listen
to Studio 7 (Voice of America program which airs in Zimbabwe) and to listen
to election results and this is your crime."

Another person killed was Tonderai Ndira: a lifelong campaigner for
political change and a man compared by some to South Africa's murdered civil
rights activist, Steve Biko. When his beaten and brutalized body was found
his eyes too had been gouged out, his tongue cut off and his skull crushed.
The 30-year-old was so badly beaten his father had trouble identifying him.
It was only a distinctive ring that finally confirmed his identity.

Last week came the news that the wife of a prominent opposition supporter,
Dadirai Chipiro had been brutally murdered by Mugabe's mob. Dadirai, a
former pre-school teacher, had had one of her hands chopped off, then both
of her feet. She was then thrown into her hut, which was then locked, with a
petrol bomb thrown inside. She was burnt alive.

Even those beaten or tortured cannot escape the brutal intimidation.
Hospital staff have been warned not to treat victims of political violence
or they face retaliation. Election observers have been beaten or arrested
too. In total, tens have been killed, 1,500 have been treated in hospital,
25,000 have been driven from their homes and countless more have lost their
livelihoods.

So how do we get out of this mess? On 10th May, when the opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai announced that he believed he had won an absolute majority
in the first election in March, but he would contest the run-off to
"knock-out the dictator for good". He spelled out his key conditions for MDC
participation, including: an immediate end to the violence; deployment of
international election observers, including a peacekeeping force from
neighbouring Southern African countries and full access to the media.

But none of the above has happened. There is no point in holding the
election. Even if Tsvangirai wins against the odds, Mugabe would not give up
power. All the indications are that there would be a military coup by Mugabe's
supporters, or that Mugabe will unleash a full scale war.

Whilst the most logical solution has to come from Zimbabwe's neighbours,
President Mbeki from South Africa, who was brought in to mediate the crisis,
has been totally inept. He should have stopped this charade long ago. If he
won't act who will?

When in Rome, Mugabe predictably blamed Britain for the crisis. He accused
Britain of trying to orchestrate an "illegal regime change" in his country
by crippling it economically.

Whilst such arguments are so absurd they are laughable, ironically it may be
Britain that could negotiate some kind of peace deal. Heidi Holland is a
writer who has spent years studying the psychology of Mugabe. She also
interviewed him for her book "Dinner with Mugabe: The untold story of a
freedom fighter who became a tyrant".

She argues: "I think that there is an opportunity for the British to
actually get re-engaged there, in the interests of Zimbabwe, Africa having
failed. Because underneath Mugabe's apparent hatred for Britain, is his love
for Britain. It has the intensity of a family quarrel and I think that's all
it is."

She says that although the British don't want to re-engage with Mugabe, now
that other leaders have failed "let's not waste any more time on that
because people are dying. I really think there is an opportunity for the
British to be big and to get involved."

Come on Gordon Brown, pick up the phone and dial the dictator. It's worth a
try because what is happening in Zimbabwe today is a crime against humanity
that should not be allowed to continue for one more day.

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