By Angus Shaw , THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HARARE, Zimbabwe - As leading members of Zimbabwe's opposition were on the run or under attack Tuesday, President Robert Mugabe spent the day campaigning, determined to hold a presidential run-off in which he will be the only candidate.
Mugabe has been defiant in the face of international condemnation.
His plan to go ahead with Friday's vote appeared to stem less from a desire to validate his rule than to humiliate opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been holed up in the Dutch Embassy in Harare since announcing Sunday that he would not compete in the election.
Mugabe, a vigorous 84, launched a rally Tuesday by kicking a soccer ball before thousands of cheering supporters.
Tsvangirai "saw this wave, gigantic wave, a political hurricane coming his way and he's frightened of the people," Mugabe told the crowd. "He ran and sought refuge in the Dutch Embassy. ... Seeking refuge from what? Nobody wants to harm him."
Tsvangirai's party said Tuesday that the chair of one of its provincial organizations was seriously injured by alleged Mugabe loyalists who also looted her home in a northern region that independent human rights groups say has seen some of the worst violence.
The party also said the rural home of its national organizing secretary was attacked early Tuesday by Mugabe loyalists in military uniform. The party said the official's 80-year-old father was beaten and two other relatives were shot in the legs.
Tsvangirai said the onslaught of state-sponsored violence against his party made the balloting impossible.
George Sibotshiwe, a spokesman for Tsvangirai, said the politician had received a tip that soldiers were on the way to his home Sunday, after he had announced he was pulling out of the runoff. Sibotshiwe would not disclose the source of the tip, and said the soldiers' intentions were unclear.
But "the moment you have soldiers coming your way, you just run for your life," Sibotshiwe said. "The only way he can protect himself is to go to an embassy."
Sibotshiwe was speaking from Angola after fleeing Zimbabwe earlier this week. He said he saw armed men approaching a safe house where he had been staying in Zimbabwe, and fears arrest.
"I had a bit of a disaster," he said, adding other opposition officials also were in hiding, among them Tsvangirai's campaign manager. Officials were no longer working out of the party's headquarters in Harare for fear of arrest, Sibotshiwe said.
Tsvangirai's second in command, Tendai Biti, is jailed in Zimbabwe on treason charges, which can carry the death penalty.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said Monday that police had taken 39 people from the opposition headquarters as part of an investigation into political violence. Opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa had said most of the people taken away were women and children seeking refuge after fleeing state-sponsored political violence.
Tsvangirai told the Dutch national broadcaster NOS radio Tuesday that the Dutch ambassador had spoken to the Zimbabwean government and received assurances there was no threat. Tsvangirai said he might leave the embassy Tuesday or Wednesday.
But the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, said Tsvangirai should be wary of government assurances.
"Right now, I don't have a lot of faith in anything this government says," McGee told reporters in a conference call. The diplomat said violence against the opposition was escalating as election day approached.
"There's really nothing that we can do in the international community to stop these elections," McGee said.
He said the embassy expected Mugabe militants to force voters to go to the polls Friday, and to attack anyone who does not vote.
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who had made the first public comments about why Tsvangirai fled to the Dutch Embassy, said in a statement late Monday he had hoped to persuade Mugabe and Tsvangirai to share power.
"I can say that this objective has been almost completely snuffed out since I have learned that soldiers went after Morgan Tsvangirai at his residence on Sunday," Wade said. "Today, (Tsvangirai) is a refugee at the Netherlands Embassy, and there's no guarantee that soldiers won't attack that embassy to take him."
Zimbabwean Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga refused to comment on reports Tsvangirai had fled soldiers, saying "this is becoming a circus."
Foreign ministers of the Southern African Development Community, the main regional political and economic bloc, called for talks among Zimbabwean leaders.
Sibotshiwe, Tsvangirai's spokesman, said the opposition was prepared to negotiate with the aim of forming a coalition transitional government. He said Tsvangirai should be president of the proposed transitional authority, and that Mugabe would have no role.
Alternatively, Sibotshiwe said, Tsvangirai was calling for the run-off to be postponed until a free and fair environment had been created.
Tsvangirai's party on Tuesday released a copy of the letter sent to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission formally withdrawing from the race. In it, Tsvangirai cites Mugabe's threats on the campaign trail to go to war to stop Tsvangirai from ever gaining power.
McGee said the SADC - and South Africa as a leading member of that bloc - should speak out with words as "firm and as hard-hitting" as a United Nations Security Council statement issued Monday.
The council condemned "the campaign of violence against the political opposition ahead of the second round of presidential elections," and said the violence and restrictions on opposition activists "have made it impossible for a free and fair election to take place."
24 June 2008
to Zimbabwe James McGee says government-inspired violence against
opposition supporters continues unabated despite U.N. Security Council
condemnation of the Robert Mugabe government. McGee, who spoke to U.S. reporters
in a conference call, is urging Southern African countries to take a stronger
stand against political repression there. VOA's David Gollust reports from the
|James McGee, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe|
"Leaders in the SADC region need to come out with a
clear statement, just like we've had from the United Nations, that this is an
illegitimate regime that's conducting an illegitimate election. Mr. Tsvangirai
has asked to make this election null and void and we agree that that's probably
the best course," he said.
The U.S. envoy said despite the call from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for an election postponement, the ruling ZANU-PF party remains in what he termed "full campaign mode" and apparently intends to force people to the polls Friday despite Mr. Tsvangirai's withdrawal.
"They're saying we want an election at all costs. We want to validate Mr. Mugabe's victory here. So the MDC's withdrawal was regrettable but it's very understandable. The people of the MDC were being massacred. And unfortunately as I said right at the beginning, the violence has not abated," added McGee.
McGee said he was told by the Dutch ambassador to Harare, who has provided Mr. Tsvangirai safe-haven, that a senior government official has given an assurance that the Dutch embassy will not be raided, and that the opposition leader will not be harmed.
The U.S. envoy said the Zimbabwean Foreign Ministry advised the Dutch ambassador that the opposition leader could leave the country at any time, though McGee questioned how that would be possible given that Tsvangirai's passport was confiscated last month.
In a talk with reporters here, State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said the United States is looking to meetings of SADC and African Union officials planned for the next few days to underscore that it cannot be "business as usual" with the Harare government if the runoff vote goes forward.
"If the election takes place and Mugabe stands up there and declares himself president again, on the basis of that, I think it's going to be uniformly rejected by the international community and I think there will be consequences for Zimbabwe as a whole, if it in effect has a government that no one views as having any credibility," said Casey.
Bush administration officials have spoken of the possibility of toughening the targeted U.S. sanctions already in place against Mr. Mugabe and close associates.
But they say no consideration is being given to withdrawing Ambassador McGee, because of his vital monitoring role.
McGee said in the conference call he is not afraid of being expelled, and that he and other U.S. diplomats will continue to try to circulate around the country and report on any abuses they observe.
Monsters and Critics
Jun 24, 2008, 17:27 GMT
Washington - The US ambassador to Zimbabwe Tuesday called for the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) to take 'firm and hard-hitting' moves
against the government of Zimbabwe to curtail pre-election violence against
the opposition, and warned opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to use
caution before leaving his refuge at the Dutch embassy in Harare.
In a telephone conference from Harare with reporters, Ambassador James McGee
suggested that SADC sanctions, including border closings against the
landlocked country, could be the only effective move remaining for the
international community before Friday's run-off vote between Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai, who withdrew from the election on
'SADC needs to make a clear statement that this is an illegitimate regime
and it is conducting an illegitimate election,' McGee said.
Mugabe has vowed to stay in power at all costs amidst the most serious
challenge to his position in nearly three decades.
McGee said that Mugabe's government had given assurances that Tsvangirai
'could leave the country if he so desired' and that it would not raid the
Dutch embassy in the capital, where the leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change has been holed up since Sunday.
The assurances came from a Zimbabwe permanent secretary to the Dutch
ambassador, McGee said, but the US official warned that one can no longer
'take the Zimbabwe government at its word.'
'Right now, I don't have a lot of faith in anything this government says,'
McGee said. 'I would urge Mr Tsvangirai to take a careful look at the
analysis taken by his security people.'
McGee pointed out that the government had confiscated the opposition
leader's passport when he returned from self-exile in South Africa. It was
not clear if Tsvangirai would be allowed to leave the Dutch embassy and
remain inside the country, McGee said.
The call to SADC is the latest in ongoing efforts to get the regional
economic consortium to put pressure on Mugabe through weeks of political
violence that have seen at least 85 MDC supporters killed and thousands
wounded and dispossessed. Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans have sought
refuge in South Africa.
But South African President Thabo Mbeki, the lead power broker in SADC, has
refused to criticize Mugabe despite pressure even from within his own party,
and most other SADC members have followed suit.
The frustration in the international community over SADC's failure to act
came through in comments by McGee, who was speaking a day after the United
Nations condemned the Zimbabwe government for the violence and said the
abuse would make it impossible for Friday's vote to be free and fair.
He mentioned several times the need for SADC to take firm steps.
'I think Mr Mugabe would listen much more ... to a statement from SADC,'
McGee said. 'Zimbabwe is landlocked, surrounded by (SADC) members.'
'Very simple pressure can be brought to bear on Zimbabwe' that would have a
'tremendous and immediate impact,' he said.
McGee also noted that another 2,000 MDC supporters had sought refuge by
Monday at MDC's Harvest House headquarters from physical attacks by Mugabe's
The diplomatic community was able to warn them of a police raid headed their
way, and 'most left and dispersed.' But police had arrested about 30 people
who were 'too old or infirm to get out in a hurry,' McGee said.
The refugees were filtering back and have been promised shelter and food by
the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as
internally displaced people, McGee said. The conditions were 'horrible',
with one toilet and 'so many people living in the stairwells' that it was
impossible to move up and down, he added.
He said the diplomatic community was working with local church groups to
find placements, but Mugabe supporters had started threatening them with
consequences if they continued to do so.
McGee, who has been out viewing some of the violence, said there was little
indication that there were moderate factions of the Zimbabwe military or
Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF, who might try to stop the violence.
Many such moderates were already on Mugabe's 'sanctions list,' the
McGee said there were reports that Zanu-PF will 'force people to vote on
Friday and also take action against those who refuse to vote.' He said
Tsvangirai's decision to withdraw was 'understandable' because his people
'were being massacred.'
'We still see large amounts of violence. We just hope the situation will
calm down in the next coming days,' McGee said.
SADC and the African Union had a total of 500 election observers around the
country, McGee said, and many had started to report on intimidation and
'We're hoping these people will stay in the country,' he said.
McGee noted that African diplomats had also started observing first hand
what was going on, and that the Tanzanian ambassador had been stopped
several times on a trip to Mutare, east of Harare near the border with
SW Radio Africa (London)
24 June 2008
Posted to the web 24 June 2008
African National Congress President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday described the
situation in Zimbabwe as 'out of control' and called for urgent intervention
by the United Nations and the regional SADC grouping.
Zuma's damning description of the crisis in Zimbabwe came a few hours after
an unprecedented condemnation of Robert Mugabe's violent crackdown on MDC
supporters, by the U.N. Security Council.
U.N. Security Council members unanimously condemned Mugabe's regime, saying
it has waged a 'campaign of violence' that has made it impossible to hold a
fair presidential election. The 15-nation council said it 'condemns the
campaign of violence against the political opposition ahead of the second
round of presidential elections.'
But it is Zuma's brutal assessment and condemnation of Mugabe that is set to
reverberate across the African continent and whose aftershocks might force
many leaders to follow suit. The ruling ANC leader said the presidential
run-off must be postponed, after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
withdrew from the vote.
Zuma, heavily tipped to succeed Mbeki as South Africa's leader next year,
said his party strongly believed the run-off was no longer a solution. He
said there was now need for a political arrangement first, followed by
elections further down the line.
The regional SADC bloc also discussed the crisis, in the Angolan capital
Luanda on Monday. The bloc's Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao told
journalists after the meeting that the group agreed with Tsvangirai that a
'climate of extreme violence' existed in Zimbabwe and that the government
must protect its citizens. Political analyst Glen Mpani told Newsreel from
Cape Town that the crisis in the country was becoming very embarrassing for
Mugabe's chief political protector, Thabo Mbeki.
Mpani said the international world, through its representatives at the
United Nations in New York, on Monday served notice to Mbeki that they have
lost patience with his repeated assertions that there remains 'no serious
crisis' Zimbabwe. Mbeki is reportedly flying into Harare on Wednesday and is
expected to hold talks with Tsvangirai and Mugabe, although no one expects
this failed mediator to have any success at this stage.
Meanwhile condemnation from around Africa also increased, with the Chairman
of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, noting that the increasing acts
of violence were a matter of grave concern to the Commission. Zambian
President Levy Mwanawasa, who also currently heads SADC where Zimbabwe is
member, said; 'Elections held in such an environment will not only be
undemocratic but will also bring embarrassment to the region and the entire
continent of Africa.'
On Monday Mwanawasa went even further, saying that it was 'scandalous for
SADC to remain silent on Zimbabwe.' Amnesty International has called on SADC
to hold an emergency summit but it's increasingly likely the regional body
will only convene after Friday, and when most observer missions have
submitted their reports.
The head of the Pan African Parliament observer mission, Marwick Khumalo,
said he was not taken aback by the MDC's decision to withdraw from the
run-off, considering the fact that violence was not decreasing.
'If anything, it was escalating. Here is a situation whereby one party is
not free to campaign; one party has no access to public or state media; one
party is not allowed to travel the length and breadth of this country as it
pleases. So it became clear to some of us that it's becoming more and more a
one-sided election,' Khumalo was quoted saying.
While the Zanu PF regime remains defiant, vowing the election will go ahead
on Friday, analysts believe Mugabe's day of reckoning is coming closer. The
whole world is now waiting to see if he declares himself president again.
June 24 2008 at 07:39PM
Dar Es Salaam - Southern African leaders will on Wednesday meet for an
emergency summit concerning the political crisis in Zimbabwe, the Tanzanian
The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) summit in the
Swaziland capital Mbanane will discuss "the political crisis in Zimbabwe,"
it said in a statement.
"It will be attended by some SADC members as well as members of the
bloc's security organ namely Swaziland, Angola and Tanzania." - Sapa-AFP
Tom Baldwin in Washington
Barack Obama added his voice today to the international condemnation of
Robert Mugabe, declaring that the regime in Zimbabwe "is illegitimate and
lacks any credibility".
The Democratic presidential nominee said that Mr Mugabe's "campaign of
repression and brutality" made it impossible for Friday's elections to be
free and fair.
"Indeed, it is the result of the abrogated March 2008 elections that
represents the genuine will of the Zimbabwean people," he said.
"I have spoken with MDC Leader Morgan Tsvangirai to share my deep concern
for the way his supporters are being targeted by the regime and to express
my admiration for his efforts."
Mr Obama's intervention represented his first remarks on the developing
crisis in Zimbabwe since June 13.
John McCain, his Republican rival, has repeatedly emphasised what he claims
are his superior foreign policy credentials. But he last commented on
Zimbabwe on April 7, describing Mr Mugabe as an "autocrat" and his
government a "pariah".
Britain's colonial past in Zimbabwe, as well as the family ties of many UK
citizens, probably ensures the issue receives more attention there than
elsewhere in the West.
But Darfur is one of the few African crises that has risen high on an often
insular US political agenda, mainly because of a campaign run by the
Evangelical leaders who are heavily courted by Republicans and -
increasingly - Democrats.
Mr Obama, by contrast, has made much of his African heritage as the son of a
Kenyan goat herder and his capacity to reach out to the rest of the world.
Last year he sponsored a Bill in the Senate calling on the international
community to apply "appropriate pressures" against Mr Mugabe.
Today, he suggested the solution to a crisis which is affecting the entire
region lay in Africa's own hands. "I am heartened by the growing chorus of
African leaders supporting the civil and political rights of the Zimbabwean
people," he said.
"But they must do much more to help prevent the crisis in Zimbabwe from
spiralling out of control. In particular, the South African Government and
the ANC must recognise the need - and must call for - the kind of diplomatic
action that is necessary to pressure the Zimbabwean government to stop its
If fresh elections prove impossible, added Mr Obama, the US and other
countries should tighten "targeted sanctions" and "pursue an enforceable,
negotiated political transition in Zimbabwe that would end repressive rule".
Tue 24 Jun 2008, 16:32 GMT
UNITED NATIONS, June 24 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council will consider
further steps on Zimbabwe if Harare ignores a council statement declaring a
free and fair election run-off impossible, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad
said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after a council session, Khalilzad, who is currently
president of the council, declined to be drawn on what steps the 15-nation
body might take.
(Reporting by Patrick Worsnip, Editing by Sandra Maler)
Article By: Fran Blandy
Tue, 24 Jun 2008 17:27
The Zimbabwe government's insistence on holding a presidential run-off this
week despite the opposition leader's withdrawal may be a bid to provide
Robert Mugabe with a sheen of legitimacy, analysts said on Tuesday.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is refusing to take part in the second
round presidential vote set for Friday which he says has been tarnished by
rising violence against his supporters and major restrictions on his
But Zimbabwe's government has pushed ahead with plans for the vote, defying
international calls for a postponement.
Harare-based constitutional expert Lovemore Madhuku said the ruling party
would "force people" in rural and urban areas to go and vote.
"The idea is to legitimise Mugabe. He still needs some endorsement by
people. He still wants to show there were people who went out to vote for
The result may be Tsvangirai's name being kept on the ballot to legitimise a
win for the 84-year-old Mugabe, said Dirk Kotze of the University of South
Kotze told AFP the electoral commission could claim it was too late for the
opposition leader to withdraw.
"The agenda with that is Mugabe can say he participated, that (Tsvangirai)
lost the election - as he would not get the votes he would have if he
participated officially," he said.
Mugabe could also argue that Tsvangirai withdrew because he knew he was
going to lose, said Kotze.
"That would rescue the election from a Zanu-PF point of view. Then it is not
as farcical as it is now."
Mugabe's regime has come under intense pressure internationally, with UN
chief Ban Ki-moon saying the run-off would not be credible and Western
powers labeling his rule illegitimate.
"The options before him are either to do the right thing by listening to the
voices of the international community and majority of his people or ignore
them and damn the consequences," said Ross Herbert of the Johannesburg-based
South African Institute of International Affairs.
"It is a matter of time for his regime to collapse. There is a real prospect
for a civil war in Zimbabwe. I foresee an uprising against his regime."
Some analysts say rising impatience from his usually supportive neighbours
could have the most effect on the proud former liberation hero.
"He can dismiss the UN and the Commonwealth, but he never so far dismissed
Sadc," said Kotze, referring to the 14-nation Southern African Development
Herbert said "part of Mugabe's way is to defy international/outside
"Zimbabwe is already suffering from international isolation and sanctions.
But it is going to get more isolation if he defies the UN."
According to Kotze, Mugabe could also accept Tsvangirai's withdrawal and
claim the presidency for himself, but he would then be left without an
election result to point to.
"In terms of political legitimacy and moral legitimacy, he cannot claim that
he won the election based on a free and fair contest."
This could put pressure on him to begin working towards a government of
national unity, he said.
However, convincing the defiant Mugabe, who has claimed "only God who
appointed me can remove me", to share power with an opponent he has labelled
a stooge of former colonial power Britain would be a "hard nut to crack".
"That is very much going against his grain," said Kotze. "He will do his
utmost to claim he won the election on his own."
Should Mugabe simply announce he will remain president, MDC supporters could
turn to violence, the analyst said.
"Up to now supporters were relatively peaceful mainly because they were very
close to an electoral victory," said Kotze.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 7:36PM BST 24/06/2008
Supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition still believe they will one day overcome
President Robert Mugabe.
But for now, they are weeping in gratitude for Morgan Tsvangirai's decision
to pull out of Friday's run-off election.
Scores of supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change have been killed
by mobs loyal to Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, and thousands savagely beaten.
Among the victims being treated in hospital in Harare was Dadirayi Mafudza,
46, a peasant farmer from Murewa in Mashonaland East.
Dragged from her home, she was taken to a Zanu-PF youth militia base, and
beaten by around 30 thugs wielding police batons, while others burned down
her house and granary.
"You're a sellout, you're giving Zimbabwe to the whites," they screamed at
"One man put a knife to my throat and pushed it in. They pushed me to the
ground and made me eat the soil. I was eating soil," Mrs Mafudza said, who
drifted into unconsciousness after the beating, convinced she was going to
She regained consciousness the following day, but has severe injuries to her
buttocks that will need skin grafts and is unable to walk or lie on her
back. She remained untreated in a local hospital - where no drugs were
available - for four days until she was taken to the capital on Tuesday.
When told that Mr Tsvangirai had withdrawn from the election, her eyes
filled with tears of relief. Life has become too hard and the violence too
much, she said, before quietly beginning to sing in Shona, her native
"Thank the Lord, thank the Lord," she chanted slowly. "Praise the Lord. At
least let them carry on with their evil until things come right, thank you,
thank you Morgan."
The words spread through the room at the private clinic as two more
similarly injured women joined in: "Thank you, thank you," they echoed.
Standing beside them, the eyes of a nurse administering injections of
powerful painkillers gleamed with carefully controlled tears.
Afrique en ligne
Lusaka, Zambia - Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan says the situation
in Zimbabwe imposes a grave responsibility on the African Union (AU) and the
U N Security Council, which they should assume.
Annan said that the AU and the Security Council should work with the
Zimbabwean government, the opposition MDC, and people of Zimbabwe, to find a
viable solutio n to the crisis in order to ensure stability, peace and
reconciliation, and there by enable all Zimbabweans to rebuild their
shattered lives and the country.
"The crisis in Zimbabwe calls for concerted and more effective action by the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union, and the
internati o nal community. The statement on Sunday by the Chairman of SADC,
President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia , is an important step towards this
objective," Annan said in a statement, obtained here by PANA.
He said any run-off or announcement of a winner under the current
circumstances in Zimbabwe would neither be credible nor acceptable to
Zimbabweans, Africa and t he international community.
"The victor emerging from such a flawed process will have no legitimacy to
govern Zimbabwe. Besides, such a process will lead to more violence and
unnecessary l o ss of life. Zimbabwe cannot do it alone. As I said a week
ago, we all have a responsibility to assist in finding a solution. The need
is even greater now. A mediation team s hould be appointed to work with the
parties and the people of Zimbabwe to ensure effective transition and
governance arrangements that will result in stability, p eace and national
reconciliation," Annan, who is also a member of the Elders and chair of the
Africa Progress Panel, said.
He also called on the international community to prepare an emergency
programme of economic support to help Zimbabwe end the economic meltdown and
staggering hy p er-inflation, to be implemented as part of a political
Lusaka - 24/06/2008
Commonwealth News and Information Service (London)
24 June 2008
Posted to the web 24 June 2008
The Commonwealth is deeply disturbed at the latest developments and
continuing violence in Zimbabwe. As a former member country, Zimbabwe and
its people remain very much in the Commonwealth's thoughts. The situation in
the country also has a direct impact on neighbouring Commonwealth members.
The Commonwealth is extremely concerned that the scheduled run-off elections
cannot now take place as envisaged, with the participation of both
Presidential candidates in conditions that assure Zimbabweans of the
opportunity to express their will freely and without fear, through credible
The inalienable right to participate in free and democratic political
processes is enshrined in the Commonwealth Principles agreed by Heads of
Government in Harare in 1991. It is a core value of the Commonwealth, and of
neighbouring countries, and is also the right of the people of Zimbabwe. The
Commonwealth urges the Government of Zimbabwe to respect these Principles,
adopted in its own capital.
The Commonwealth remains committed to supporting regional efforts to address
the situation in Zimbabwe, and stands ready to assist in ways that regional
leaders consider helpful.
June 24 2008 at 05:15PM
'Hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue," said the 19th-century
French aristocrat le Duc de la Rochefoucauld.
His observation may be relevant to a significant new phenomenon; the
growing criticism of President Robert Mugabe by other African governments.
They, and particularly the governments of the 14-member Southern
African Development Community (SADC) which has the primary responsibility
for Zimbabwe, have been strongly criticised for either supporting Mugabe or
at best turning a blind eye to his depravities.
But that is changing, as the following events show:
1. In April, southern African and other nearby governments refused to
offload a shipment of Chinese arms for Zimbabwe.
2. At the SADC summit in Lusaka that month, leaders such as Zambian
President Levy Mwanawasa were sharply critical of Mugabe.
3. In June, the new Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga declared that
Mugabe was "an embarrassment to Africa".
4. This month the new President of Botswana, Ian Khama, called in the
Zimbabwean ambassador to protest against Mugabe's violent and repressive
5. Last week, Tanzania's foreign minister Bernard Member, speaking on
behalf of the SADC, said: "There is every sign that these elections will
never be free nor fair. We have told the government of Zimbabwe to stop the
6. Kenya's foreign minister Moses Wetang'ula suggested that Mugabe's
actions were "an affront to the evolving democratic culture in Africa and
unacceptable to all people in Africa".
6. Rwandan President Paul Kagame accused Mugabe of turning the
election into a farce and demanded that the SADC do something about it.
7. Swazi government spokesman Percy Simelane was quoted as saying free
and fair elections were unlikely "if even the president himself is inciting
8. And, perhaps most significantly, even Mugabe's old ally, Angolan
President José Eduardo dos Santos, urged him to "observe the spirit of
tolerance and respect for difference and cease all forms of intimidation and
Why is Africa at last turning on Mugabe? About three years ago I asked
then Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa why he continued to support Mugabe
when he himself was striving for democracy and good governance.
"Because we have completed the process of decolonisation while
Zimbabwe has not," he replied, referring to Mugabe's continuing seizure of
Whatever one may think of that answer, the fact is that the white
farmers are virtually all gone and now it is plain for all to see that
Mugabe has turned on his black compatriots.
Africa's change of heart can also be ascribed to the rise of a new
generation of regional and continental leaders, with little if any nostalgia
for the liberation struggle which Mugabe still brandishes as his raison
Mkapa himself has given way to the unsympathetic Jakaya Kikwete, the
reticent Festus Mogae to the more aggressive Khama, in Kenya, Odinga,
himself a victim of election rigging and a close ally of the MDC, has become
prime minister, and so on.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai deserves some of the credit for
traversing the region after the first round of elections to drum up support
(though he was criticised for abandoning his supporters) .
Overall one senses that the region and Africa are evolving politically
and economically and feel that this octogenarian, who does not know his time
has passed, is dragging them down.
Mugabe is no doubt fuming "hypocrites" at some of his critics - like
Dos Santos and Swazi's King Mswati 3 - who do not seem much more democratic
Even they, though, are justified in feeling disgusted at the blatant
violence being orchestrated by Mugabe himself.
If they are being hypocritical, it may be because they themselves are
holding elections later this year, and probably want to start looking as
democratic as possible. That's not a bad thing. They will be reminded of
And, as Rochefoucauld implied, when the democratic laggards feel they
have to make democratic noises, it suggests that democracy is becoming
fashionable in the region. - Independent Foreign Service
This article was originally published on page 16 of Daily News on June
Posted, June 23, 2008 @ 16:00
Geoffrey Van Orden, the Conservative MEP who has been banned from Zimbabwe
for spearheading the European Parliament's opposition to the Mugabe regime,
has called on the EU to intensify its sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Van Orden, who has initiated all six resolutions of the European Parliament
on Zimbabwe, said:
"Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from this vicious pantomime of an election with
an urgent appeal to the international community to halt the systematic
genocide by Robert Mugabe of his own people.
"The EU's response must be to intensify its sanctions and implement them
with total rigour. The record of the EU on this is scandalous, and real
co-operation must ensue with other sanction making bodies to prevent the
kind of evasions we have thus far seen.
"African leaders, especially from South Africa, must urgently condemn the
crimes against humanity being perpetrated in Zimbabwe, and recognise the MDC
victory in the Presidential election of March 29. Nelson Mandela should use
his enormous moral authority to call on Mugabe to step down.
"The Ambassadors of all European states represented in Africa should be
demanding action from the African Governments to which they are accredited.
Only a global coalition of political will is now enough to lift the night
from the darkest days in the history of Zimbabwe."
"Additionally, states such as China and Libya that have so far been content
to turn a blind eye to Mugabe's tyranny, and even to prop up his brutal
regime, must recognise the gravity of the crisis and participate in the
efforts of the UN Security Council to act against the despot.
Geoffrey Van Orden MEP
Sydney Morning Herald
June 25, 2008 - 6:01AM
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has become a Frankenstein for his people,
Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu says.
But, the Anglican archbishop says, the violence in Zimbabwe may eventually
escalate to the extent where the international community needs to consider
intervention to protect the nation's people.
Mr Tutu has been at the forefront of African leaders who have spoken out
about the brutal regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, whose
leadership is increasingly being denounced as illegitimate.
Mr Tutu suggested Mr Mugabe, once a liberation hero in his homeland, had
morphed into a sort of Frankenstein.
"He has mutated into something that is quite unbelievable, he has really
turned into a kind of Frankenstein for his people," Mr Tutu told ABC TV.
The United Nations has condemned the violence in Zimbabwe which forced the
country's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to withdraw from a
presidential run-off poll this Friday because of the continuing threat to
Mr Tutu indicated the time may come when the world had to consider invoking
the UN principle of a "responsibility to protect".
The UN recognised in 2005 the "responsibility to protect" civilians when
their governments could or would not do it, even if this meant violating
"Many of the leaders of the world have shown a very admirable sensitivity
but ultimately we may get to the point where we have to invoke this new
doctrine of responsibility to protect," Mr Tutu said.
"That is, if a government of a country is unable to provide protection for
its people then the international community may step in even when people
have tended to use the old doctrine of sovereignty of the state."
Mr Tutu said it was crucial the international community didn't leave any
intervention too long.
"Rwanda happened despite all the warnings that the international community
was given, they kept holding back and today we are regretting that we did
not, in fact, act expeditiously," he said.
"I hope in this case we are not going to wait until several more people have
"We are seeing a situation which is deteriorating rapidly, where people are
being held to ransom, a country is being held to ransom and in many ways a
continent and even a world is being held to ransom by one person who is
thumbing his nose at the international community."
But Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has doubts the UN would be able to reach
agreement on such intervention.
"Certainly we think the United Nations and the Security Council should be
increasing its interest and its activity," he told ABC TV.
The Rudd government wants the UN to have a fully fledged debate on Zimbabwe
and has asked its UN mission in New York to promote that view to UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
"(But) whether in the first instance you can get any international support
for if you like an enforcement action is frankly very problematic," Mr Smith
"One of the problems we've had before the Security Council is the use of the
veto, but certainly we want the UN to be playing a more active role, just as
we've said for some time we want the Southern African Development Community
states and the African Union states to be taking the primary regional
responsibility for bringing the brutal Mugabe regime under control."
Mr Smith intends to raise the issue of Zimbabwe when he heads to Japan
tomorrow for the Group of Eight (G8) foreign ministers meeting.
"On Zimbabwe I'll be making a range of points, that Australia has been at
the forefront as far as sanctions are concerned ... we want to make sure
those international sanctions are coordinated," he said.
"We'll be urging a range of countries to contemplate sanctions and also
urging further action before the Security Council and making the point that
we do have an emerging principle ... of international law which is about the
responsibility to protect."
merchandise much in demand
"Which sell-out has done this?" Mponda snarled. Members of the opposition are commonly called "sell-outs" by ZANU-PF, the previous ruling party, a derogatory term meaning that the opposition are prepared to "sell" the country to its former colonial power, Great Britain.
"I need to go and campaign for [President Robert] Mugabe in the countryside," he bellowed to ensure that the municipal police officers busy clamping other vehicles nearby could hear him. "Someone will have to pay for this."
It worked. The officers rushed to his car, removed the clamp and apologised profusely for their "oversight". Mponda smiled and winked at other traders hanging around; they responded with winks and knowing smiles.
In the face of increasing political violence at the hands of ZANU-PF militia, most Zimbabweans have suddenly become enthusiastic Mugabe supporters.
A ZANU-PF booklet or bandana is kept handy in
almost every car and handbag so that it can be flourished whenever it becomes
necessary to convince any quizzers that the quizee's loyalty lies with "the old
The reasons for his confusion are understandable, because everyone appears to be a ZANU-PF supporter.
All in the cause of the "revolution"
Over the last two weeks, the ZANU-PF militia has unleashed violence on the urban population, where opposition support has traditionally been strong. The physical intimidation is backed up by attempts to indoctrinate them, and ZANU-PF has set up "reorientation bases" in schools or clinics in every neighbourhood.
Residents are ordered to attend all-night vigils in these bases every night, when they are forced to praise Mugabe and denigrate Tsvangirai. There have been several allegations that the bases are also used to torture and rape supporters of the opposition.
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu dismissed these allegations, saying: "These are not torture bases, but public workshops at which seasoned politicians explain the history of the country to the people."
Demand up for ZANU-PF campaign material
Many residents make a point of attending to keep up the appearance of being a ZANU-PF revolutionary while making good use of an opportunity to get hold of the party T-shirts, booklets, bandanas and posters generously doled out by Mugabe's campaign team.
The demand for ZANU-PF party merchandise is high on the must-have lists of urban residents. IRIN saw several people being injured in the city centre in a rush for ZANU-PF campaign freebies - anybody would have thought the melee was caused by the arrival of scarce maize-meal, the staple food, or bread.
A ZANU-PF booklet or bandana is kept handy in almost every car and handbag so that it can be flourished whenever it becomes necessary to convince any quizzers that the quizee's loyalty lies with "the old man" [Mugabe].
It also helps to know a few choice slogans, the most popular being: "WW - Win or War" [in support of the revolution]. A ZANU-PF slogan, said with gusto while thrusting a fist into the air, can help negotiate your way out of a potentially sticky situation at a road block.
Almost all private cars and public transport buses are adorned with posters of Mugabe as a sure way of avoiding attacks by the militia. A public transport driver told IRIN that he had found his bus plastered with Mugabe's campaign posters.
"Initially, I wanted to remove them but we realised that those who removed the posters or did not have them were having problems with militia and the army."
Some people even pose as ZANU-PF activists. An editor of a local private newspaper told IRIN that he was surprised to come across a young man pasting a Mugabe campaign poster on his vehicle.
"The young man said he knew me and that I should not worry about the poster as it would protect me. He then confided that he was an MDC supporter but had decided to blend in to avoid unnecessary attacks from ZANU-PF militia."
Make money out of it
While many ordinary residents have learnt to work the system to survive, others have learnt to abuse it. Young men and women clad in Mugabe T-shirts have set up roadblocks in townships and demanded money from passersby.
Petrol vendors and foreign currency traders in the parallel market, who until recently were routinely arrested, now often find that if they are wearing ZANU-PF T-shirts, the representatives of the law turn a welcome blind eye in their direction.
Wearing an MDC shirt has become a risky business and the party's paraphernalia has virtually gone out of circulation, yet the opposition party says that sporting ZANU-PF merchandise does not mean a loss of supporters.
"Our members have realised that they are dealing with a brutal dictatorship and have to wear his campaign material for self-preservation," said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa. "The T-shirts make very good pyjamas."
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]