The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Zimbabwe Elections 2008 : Red Alert!

Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY

Red alert!
Sokwanele : 26 June 2008

Reddy for freedom, and reddy for peace!

Late this afternoon, residents of Bulawayo's inner city population were treated to a glorious red show. Those who start their days very early - vendors, people walking long distances to work, those who get up early to have more time to find food - caught a glimpse of what was to come later in the day when red alert flyers carpeted some areas of the city.

This afternoon, thousands of 'red alert flyers' rained down on the inner city streets; people were speculating that they had been thrown from a plane. One person was overheard to say that maybe it was God himself, throwing them down as a reminder to Robert Mugabe that he still existed in Zimbabwe and was ready stand by the downtrodden and the oppressed and to remove him from power and deliver as all to freedom and peace.

A small group of singing supporters of the MDC also marched through the city while the flyers clouded the horizon.

As soon as they hit the ground the flyer were scooped up by excited pedestrians. People were seen in supermarkets afterwards discretely showing each other the flyers and laughing. This show of defiance after a time of terror has delighted those who were lucky enough to see them.

However, nobody is complacent in Zimbabwe. Everyone has had been touched by the regime's terror tactics and no one believes that they regime will back down without a fight. While they use terror and fear and violent weapons, democratic forces are determined to spread words, and hope and bright colours in a dark period.

This City of Kings, renowned for its resistance to the Zanu PF regime despite gross terror tactics during the 1980s, wore its pink fingers like a badge of pride on the 29th March 2008 when we voted for change and brighter future. That resilience hasn't diminished. One Bulawayo gentleman who was beaten and stabbed recently has said he has recovered enough to get ready to boycott.

We stand by everyone in our nation and especially those in the terrible areas where we know the regime will come out in their numbers and attempt to force citizens to vote for the geriatric dictator through a mixture of threat, intimidation, lies and violent force.

We pray for all of you.

Sokwanele - Zvakwana - Enough is Enough

Check out our Red Alert set on Flickr for lots more high resolution pictures.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sokwanele/sets/72157605828445492/


Subscribe to receive mailings by sending an email to elections2008@sokwanele.com.
You can also subscribe yourselves automatically via our website at the following address: www.sokwanele.com/join.html
.


Visit our website at www.sokwanele.com
Visit our blog: This is Zimbabwe (Sokwanele blog)
Send an e-card! www.sokwanele.com/sendcard/

We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!

Sokwanele does not endorse the editorial policy of any source or website except its own. It retains full copyright on its own articles, which may be reproduced or distributed but may not be materially altered in any way. Reproduced articles must clearly show the source and owner of copyright, together with any other notices originally contained therein, as well as the original date of publication. Sokwanele does not accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising in any way from receipt of this email or use thereof. This document, or any part thereof, may not be distributed for profit.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Spoil your ballot

The Zimbabwean

Thursday, 26 June 2008 11:12
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the
sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their
country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and
woman." -- Thomas Paine
The MDC are asking people NOT to participate in tomorrows voting
excercise. If you are somehow forced into the polling station please spoil
your ballot. If you are forced to vote for r.g. - don't panic NO ONE of any
importance in this world will recognize this election anyway.

Please refrain from believing any of the multitude of rumours that are
floating around..... When are we going to learn to stand up for our rights?


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Online Vote for Zimbabwe

MEDIA RELEASE
26th June 2008



On May 9th www.helpsavezimbabwe.org was launched in Perth, Western Australia with the sole purpose of petitioning the UN to take action in order to resolve the current situation in Zimbabwe. Collectively, we demand that the violent campaign and blatant human rights abuses being carried out against the Zimbabwean people has to stop.

To date no action has been taken to assist these people, either by the UN, SADC, neighbouring countries or the international community.

Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai has withdrawn from the Presidential Run-off Election, which was scheduled to be held on Friday 27th June 2008, in an attempt to end the campaign of violence towards the MDC and their Supporters. The Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission ruled last Sunday's withdrawal from the election by Tsvangirai had no legal force and that the poll would go ahead.

Whilst World Leaders are now saying the poll has no credibility, Mugabe has declared the voting will continue and "only God will remove him from office".

As no Free and Fair Election can presently be held in Zimbabwe, www.helpsavezimbabwe.org is offering both the Global Community and Zimbabweans from all over the world to have their vote on the website. Please go to the website and click on the "VOTE here" banner below the top Menu bar, or the one above.

Voting will commence at 12.00am Zimbabwe time on June 27th 2008 and will close at 11.59pm on June 30th 2008.

Results for both the Global Community and the Zimbabweans will be published separately on July 1st 2008.

Media Contact:†† Lisa Barnett Taylor
Email:†† lisa@helpsavezimbabwe.org
Mobile: †† ††Australia 0438 661 001


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe on election eve

http://www.hararetribune.com

By Staff | Thursday, June 26, 2008 9:57
news@hararetribune.com

Zimbabwe, Harare -- Robert Mugabe's information minister on Thursday
dismissed criticism of Zimbabwe's leadership from anti-apartheid icon Nelson
Mandela, a day before an internationally condemned runoff election was
scheduled to take place. Mugabe's main rival, who is boycotting the vote,
welcomed Mandela's remarks as a sign of solidarity.

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said Mandela was only bowing to
Western pressure when he referred to a "tragic failure of leadership" in
Zimbabwe.

Mandela made his comments Wednesday in London before an audience at a
fundraiser that included Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former President
Clinton.

But Ndlovu nonetheless called Mandela a statesman, and said he
condemned the West for pressuring African leaders, not Mandela.

Although out of office for nearly a decade, Mandela remains a
commanding and respected figure. He uses his influence sparingly, and it is
particularly rare for him to publicly differ with South Africa's current
president, Thabo Mbeki. South Africans and other Africans have been
increasingly questioning Mbeki's unwillingness to publicly criticize Mugabe,
so Mandela's brief but sharp comments will have particular resonance.

"We appreciate the solidarity from Nelson Mandela," opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai said, adding "it is something we cherish."

Tsvangirai was speaking by phone to Britain's Sky News Thursday from
the Dutch Embassy in Zimbabwe's capital, where he has sought shelter amid
mounting political violence blamed primarily on Mugabe's government.

Meanwhile, scores of Zimbabwean opposition supporters were seeking
refuge from political violence at South Africa's embassy in Harare for a
second day Thursday.

At midmorning, people could be seen sitting in the sun or sleeping in
the embassy parking lot. At least one road block obstructed the street
leading up to the embassy's main entrance, and riot police were on a highway
nearby.

Ronnie Mamoepa, a spokesman for the South African Foreign Ministry,
put the number of people at the embassy Thursday at about 180. He says the
ambassador was working with aid groups and Zimbabwean officials to find
sanctuary for the group, among them women and children. Mamoepa says
officials are also working on finding blankets, food and other supplies.

Also Thursday, Zimbabwe's opposition leader was quoted as saying
negotiations won't be possible if Mugabe goes ahead with a runoff election
the world has denounced as a sham.

"Negotiations will be over if Mr. Mugabe declares himself the winner
and considers himself the president. How can we negotiate?" Tsvangirai said
in an interview with the British newspaper The Times. The Times said he
spoke by telephone from the Dutch Embassy in Harare, where he fled over the
weekend, saying he had received a tip soldiers were headed to his home.

On Wednesday, Tsvangirai emerged briefly from the embassy to hold a
news conference during which he urged African leaders to guide negotiations
aimed at forming a coalition transitional authority in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean officials scoffed at Tsvangirai's call for talks and said
they were focused on Friday's presidential runoff.

Tsvangirai, who had been the only candidate facing Mugabe in the
runoff, announced Sunday he was withdrawing because state-sponsored violence
against his Movement for Democratic Change had made it impossible to run.
Electoral officials say the election will go ahead with Tsvangirai's name on
the ballot.

Tsvangirai late Wednesday issued a statement saying he did not write a
commentary that appeared under his name calling for United Nations
peacekeepers in his country. The essay appeared in Wednesday's edition of
the British newspaper The Guardian. Tsvangirai said The Guardian was assured
by "credible sources" that he had approved the article, but that he had not.

A Tsvangirai aide, George Sibotshiwe, said Thursday his party was
trying to determine how the commentary was given to The Guardian under
Tsvangirai's name.

The Guardian, which published Tsvangirai's statement that the essay
was not his on Thursday, said it had had no reason to doubt the authenticity
of the initial piece, which it said was supplied by a contact who had
represented Tsvangirai in the past.

Tsvangirai had been asked about the essay several times earlier
Wednesday and did not disavow it then, though he did stress that a call for
peacekeepers was not a call for military intervention, a sensitive issue.

The Herald, a Zimbabwean government mouthpiece, on Thursday accused
Tsvangirai of calling "for military intervention in Zimbabwe disguised as
peacekeepers."

Sibotshiwe, the spokesman, said Tsvangirai did not equate peacekeepers
with military intervention.

"We still need peacekeepers," Sibotshiwe said.

Also Thursday, The Herald reported that Mugabe had urged crowds north
of Harare to "vote for the ruling party to show the world their resolve to
defend the country's sovereignty and independence."

Mugabe has become increasing defiant in the face of international
condemnation he dismisses as Western attempts to meddle in Africa. But
Africans themselves are increasingly speaking out against Mugabe.

On Wednesday, the leaders of Swaziland and Tanzania - meeting as a
committee of the main regional bloc, the South African Development
Community - urged Zimbabwe to postpone the runoff, saying violence and
restrictions on the opposition had not created the conditions for a free and
fair vote Friday.

The Herald, the Zimbabwean government mouthpiece, quoted officials
here Thursday as saying the call for postponement was illegitimate.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's opposition said its No. 2 leader was granted
bail Thursday.

Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change,
had been jailed since flying back to Zimbabwe from South Africa June 12. He
was charged with treason, which carries the death penalty, as well as with
publishing false statements, insulting the president and another charge
related to interfering with the military.

Biti's lawyer Lewis Uriri said in addition to bail set at 1 trillion
Zimbabwean dollars, or about $100, Biti was required to surrender his
passport and the title to his home and report to police twice a week. Uriri
said Biti paid his bail shortly after Thursday's hearing, and was awaiting
the completion of paperwork required for his release--Harare Tribune News.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe says he is open to talks with MDC

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/

June 26, 2008

HARARE (Associated Press) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says he is
open to talks with the opposition.

Mugabe spoke at a campaign rally Thursday and said he is "open to
†discussion" with the opposition, which is boycotting Friday's runoff vote.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai called Wednesday for talks on forming a
transitional authority. Mugabe had until Thursday shown little interest in
talks, instead focusing on the election.

World leaders have condemned Friday's presidential runoff.

Tsvangirai, who had been the only candidate facing Mugabe, announced Sunday
he was withdrawing because of state-sponsored violence.

Meanwhile, Mugabe's information minister on Thursday dismissed criticism of
Zimbabwe's leadership from anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, a day before
an internationally condemned runoff election was scheduled to take place.

Mugabe's main rival, who is boycotting the vote, welcomed Mandela's remarks
as a sign of solidarity.

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said Mandela was only bowing to
Western pressure when he referred to a "tragic failure of leadership" in
Zimbabwe.

Mandela made his comments Wednesday in London before an audience at a
fundraiser that included Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former President
Clinton.

But Ndlovu nonetheless called Mandela a statesman, and said he condemned the
West for pressuring African leaders, not Mandela.

Although out of office for nearly a decade, Mandela remains a commanding and
respected figure. He uses his influence sparingly, and it is particularly
rare for him to publicly differ with South Africa's current president, Thabo
Mbeki. South Africans and other Africans have been increasingly questioning
Mbeki's unwillingness to publicly criticize Mugabe, so Mandela's brief but
sharp comments will have particular resonance.

"We appreciate the solidarity from Nelson Mandela," opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai said, adding "it is something we cherish."

Tsvangirai was speaking by phone to Britain's Sky News Thursday from the
Dutch Embassy in Zimbabwe's capital, where he has sought shelter amid
mounting political violence blamed primarily on Mugabe's government.

Meanwhile, scores of Zimbabwean opposition supporters were seeking refuge
from political violence at South Africa's embassy in Harare for a second day
Thursday.

At midmorning, people could be seen sitting in the sun or sleeping in the
embassy parking lot. At least one road block obstructed the street leading
up to the embassy's main entrance, and riot police were on a highway nearby.

Ronnie Mamoepa, a spokesman for the South African Foreign Ministry, put the
number of people at the embassy Thursday at about 180. He says the
ambassador was working with aid groups and Zimbabwean officials to find
sanctuary for the group, among them women and children. Mamoepa says
officials are also working on finding blankets, food and other supplies.

Also Thursday, Zimbabwe's opposition leader was quoted as saying
negotiations won't be possible if Mugabe goes ahead with a runoff election
the world has denounced as a sham.

"Negotiations will be over if Mr. Mugabe declares himself the winner and
considers himself the president. How can we negotiate?" Tsvangirai said in
an interview with the British newspaper The Times. The Times said he spoke
by telephone from the Dutch Embassy in Harare, where he fled over the
weekend, saying he had received a tip soldiers were headed to his home.

On Wednesday, Tsvangirai emerged briefly from the embassy to hold a news
conference during which he urged African leaders to guide negotiations aimed
at forming a coalition transitional authority in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean officials scoffed at Tsvangirai's call for talks and said they
were focused on Friday's presidential runoff.

Tsvangirai, who had been the only candidate facing Mugabe in the runoff,
announced Sunday he was withdrawing because state-sponsored violence against
his Movement for Democratic Change had made it impossible to run. Electoral
officials say the election will go ahead with Tsvangirai's name on the
ballot.

Tsvangirai late Wednesday issued a statement saying he did not write a
commentary that appeared under his name calling for United Nations
peacekeepers in his country. The essay appeared in Wednesday's edition of
the British newspaper The Guardian. Tsvangirai said The Guardian was assured
by "credible sources" that he had approved the article, but that he had not.

A Tsvangirai aide, George Sibotshiwe, said Thursday his party was trying to
determine how the commentary was given to The Guardian under Tsvangirai's
name.

The Guardian, which published Tsvangirai's statement that the essay was not
his on Thursday, said it had had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the
initial piece, which it said was supplied by a contact who had represented
Tsvangirai in the past.

Tsvangirai had been asked about the essay several times earlier Wednesday
and did not disavow it then, though he did stress that a call for
peacekeepers was not a call for military intervention, a sensitive issue.

The Herald, a Zimbabwean government mouthpiece, on Thursday accused
Tsvangirai of calling "for military intervention in Zimbabwe disguised as
peacekeepers."

Sibotshiwe, the spokesman, said Tsvangirai did not equate peacekeepers with
military intervention.

"We still need peacekeepers," Sibotshiwe said.

Also Thursday, The Herald reported that Mugabe had urged crowds north of
Harare to "vote for the ruling party to show the world their resolve to
defend the country's sovereignty and independence."

Mugabe has become increasing defiant in the face of international
condemnation he dismisses as Western attempts to meddle in Africa. But
Africans themselves are increasingly speaking out against Mugabe.

On Wednesday, the leaders of Swaziland and Tanzania - meeting as a committee
of the main regional bloc, the South African Development Community - urged
Zimbabwe to postpone the runoff, saying violence and restrictions on the
opposition had not created the conditions for a free and fair vote Friday.

The Herald, the Zimbabwean government mouthpiece, quoted officials here
Thursday as saying the call for postponement was illegitimate.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's opposition said its No. 2 leader was granted bail
Thursday.

Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change, had
been jailed since flying back to Zimbabwe from South Africa June 12. He was
charged with treason, which carries the death penalty, as well as with
publishing false statements, insulting the president and another charge
related to interfering with the military.

Biti's lawyer Lewis Uriri said in addition to bail set at 1 trillion
Zimbabwean dollars, or about $100, Biti was required to surrender his
passport and the title to his home and report to police twice a week. Uriri
said Biti paid his bail shortly after Thursday's hearing, and was awaiting
the completion of paperwork required for his release.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Court grants bail to Biti

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/

June 26, 2008

HARARE - Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), was released Thursday after the High Court granted him bail
after following two weeks in remand prison on charges of treason.

"He has just been granted Z$1 trillion ($90) bail by the judge," his lawyer
Lewis Uriri said. Biti was arrested on June 12 at Harare International
Airport as he arrived after two months of exile outside Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, Morgan Tsavangirai says South African President Thabo Mbeki must
act urgently to help end the Zimbabwe crisis.

Asked about Mbeki, who is the designated regional mediator in Zimbabwe,
Tsvangirai told Sky News: "I hope that given . the degeneration of the
crisis we are facing, he will also act in terms of it being urgent to
fulfill his mandate."

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told al Jazeera television:
"People are going to vote tomorrow. There is no going back." He said
Tsvangirai should be out campaigning instead of trying to set conditions for
Mugabe. - Reuters/Own Correspondent


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF plots to deploy fake MDC polling agents

http://zimbabwemetro.com

By Staff ⋅ © zimbabwemetro.com ⋅ June 26, 2008 ⋅
Zanu PF is plotting to plant fake MDC polling agents in polling stations
nationwide to give the impression that the MDC is participating in this sham
in a desperate bid to secure some semblance of legitimacy in the run-off
poll.

The MDC, we have since made it clear that they will not be participating in
tomorrow’s election. The conditions on the ground are not conducive to the
conduct of free and fair elections. The region, the United Nations and the
international community, have also made it clear that what is going to
happen tomorrow is a sham. The SADC Extra-ordinary summit held in Swaziland
on Wednesday made it clear that the conditions in Zimbabwe are not conducive
for a free and fair election. The summit resolved that tomorrow’s farce
lacks credibility to be termed a free and fair election.

The MDC said it has it on good authority that Zanu PF has started paying its
own people amounts ranging from $50 billion to $100 billion to masquerade as
MDC polling agents who will then sign the V11 forms and validate the
charade. The fake MDC polling agents will give the impression that the party
is participating in tomorrow’s election.

At least 2 000 MDC polling agents are in prison on trumped-up charges, some
are hiding in the mountains in the rural areas, some are injured and are
receiving treatment in hospital while others have sought refuge in urban
areas and neighbouring countries.

On October 16, 2002, after a well-publicized show election, Iraqi officials
declared that Saddam Hussein had been re-elected to another seven-year term
as President by a 100% unanimous vote of all 11,445,638 eligible Iraqis,
eclipsing the 99.96% received in 1995. The United States and others outside
Iraq said the vote lacked any credibility.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tsvangirai says Zimbabweans will be forced to vote

Reuters

Thu 26 Jun 2008, 17:13 GMT

LISBON, June 26 (Reuters) - Zimbabweans will be forced to vote in a
presidential election on Friday because of the presence of troops and
militias close to President Robert Mugabe's government, opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai said.

"What will happen tomorrow is that people will be forced to vote ... because
the military were mobilised to acompany this process," Tsvangirai said on
Thursday in an interview with Portuguese radio station Renascenca, which
gave Reuters a transcript.

"The militias were put outside the cities to oblige traditional leaders to
go to the urns," Tsvangirai said. (Reporting by Axel Bugge)


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'Mugabe is self-destructing'

news.com.au

From correspondents in London

June 26, 2008 11:51pm

Article from: Agence France-Presse

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe is "self-destructing" and will ultimately
fail even though he will claim an election victory, opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has told BBC radio.

"It's now very clear that this man is self-destructing," he said.

Mr Tsvangirai said whatever happens after the elections "I will be here and
I'll be watching Mugabe destroy himself".

"He has run a one-man show; he wants to run a one-man race. All things that
are flying in the face of internationality and logic," Mr Tsvangirai said,
referring to the planned run-off poll Friday from which he has withdrawn,
saying violence against his supporters made a fair vote impossible.

He predicted voters would be forced to the polls in the one-man presidential
election second round.

"There will be massive frogmarching of the people to the polling stations by
force," he said.

"There could be a massive turnout, not because of the will of the people but
because of the role of the military and the traditional leaders to force
people to these polls.

"They (Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party) lost the election in March and what
they're going to do is to say to the world that we were voted in on Saturday
by the people.

"Mugabe will be sworn in as president and go around saying, 'I am the
legitimate leader' and yet of course the whole world has condemned it."

"Even if he gets 90 per cent it's not different from Saddam Hussein, 99.9
per cent of forced voting. What difference will that make?"

Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), topped
the first round presidential poll in March.

The MDC leader meanwhile denied that he had called for a military
intervention, distancing himself from a comment piece in his name published
by British newspaper The Guardian this week.

"I've never called for military intervention. I find violence abhorrent and
I don't believe it is a solution," he said. "That would take us back to the
15 years of anti-colonial struggle."

Mr Tsvangirai said that after President Mugabe's departure he would agree to
an amnesty for the leadership of his ZANU-PF party and share power on the
basis of the first-round polls which gave him 47.9 per cent against Mugabe's
43.2 per cent.

"The question of how to treat President Mugabe and his cohorts is to say
'look if you agree to a negotiated solution, then you may buy your security
in an amnesty within that process'," he said.

Asked what inspired him to carry on, he said it was the spirit of ordinary
Zimbabweans.

"That spirit cannot be extinguished by Mugabe's dictatorship," he said.

"It will prevail over this evil and that is what inspires me to continue."


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe: 'Our elections have been free'

Mail and Guardian

NELSON BANYA | HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Jun 26 2008 18:42

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Thursday rejected African calls to
postpone a presidential election on Friday, saying there could be no
interference in his country even from the African Union.

Mugabe (84) who is bound to extend his 28-year-rule in the one candidate
election, said he was open to discussions with the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). Its leader Morgan Tsvangirai has withdrawn from the
election after a wave of deadly attacks on his supporters.

Addressing a campaign rally in Chitungwiza, south of Harare, Mugabe said:
"We have some of our brothers in Africa making that call [to postpone the
vote], pushing us to violate our own law and we have refused to do so, we
are sticking to our law."

Mugabe said he would attend an African Union summit in Egypt next weekend
but no solutions could be imposed on Zimbabwe from outside. He said he was
ready to answer any challenge from within the AU to the elections.

"I know some people are gearing themselves for an attack on Zimbabwe. I want
to see any country which will raise its finger in the AU, our elections have
been free."

A security committee of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on
Wednesday called for the vote to be postponed, saying Mugabe's re-election
as the only candidate could lack legitimacy because of chronic political
violence.

The committee includes AU chairperson Tanzania.

Tsvangirai last Sunday pulled out of the vote because of violence that he
says has killed almost 90 of his supporters. He has taken refuge in the
Dutch embassy ever since.

Tsvangirai said earlier there could be no negotiations with Mugabe if he
went ahead with Friday's election.

He said that if Mugabe declared himself president he would be shunned as an
illegitimate leader who killed his own people.

Mandela joins condemnation
World icon Nelson Mandela added his voice to a storm of African and
international condemnation of the violence and chaos in Zimbabwe, in a rare
political statement that showed the level of concern.

Mugabe, president since independence from Britain, has presided over
Zimbabwe's slide from one of the region's most prosperous nations to a
basket case with inflation estimated to have hit at least 2 000 000%.

A loaf of bread now costs Z$6-billion, or 150 times more than at the time of
the first round of elections on March 29 when Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe but
fell short of the absolute majority needed for an outright victory.

Mugabe blames the crisis on sanctions by former colonial ruler Britain and
other Western countries.

Zimbabwean police said Britain and the United States were backing plans by
Tsvangirai's MDC and some NGOs to disrupt Friday's vote with violence,
including burning down voting tents.

Assistant commissioner Faustino Mazango told a news conference: "It is
evident that the opposition MDC has plans to disrupt the election. These
counter-productive criminal activities will be met head-on and with the full
force of the law."

Tsvangirai tried to step up the pressure by telling Mugabe that his chances
of negotiating an end to Zimbabwe's catastrophic collapse would end on
Friday.

"Negotiations will be over if Mr Mugabe declares himself the winner and
considers himself the president. How can we negotiate?" Tsvangirai told
London's Times newspaper.

In a later interview with Sky News, Tsvangirai challenged South African
President Thabo Mbeki, the designated regional mediator in Zimbabwe, to take
urgent action to end the crisis.

Mbeki has been widely criticised for being soft on Mugabe despite a crisis
that has flooded his country with millions of refugees.

Tsvangirai's lieutenant Tendai Biti was released on bail on Thursday after
being held for two weeks on treason charges. Bail was set at one trillion
Zimbabwean dollars -- between $90 and $100, his lawyer said.

Mugabe is facing a concerted international campaign to push him into calling
off the vote by threatening he will be shunned by the world, including
African allies once over-awed by his liberation hero status.

Mandela said in a speech at a dinner for his 90th birthday in London that
there had been a "tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring
Zimbabwe".

The African National Congress, which has been severely critical of Mugabe,
in contrast to Mbeki, said it was not too late to call off the vote.

"The ANC is convinced that it is not too late for President Mugabe to cancel
the election, the run-off, and lead the country in a dialogue that will be
for the good of all Zimbabweans," spokesperson Jesse Duarte told the BBC. -
Reuters


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SADC Meeting a Shambles As Troika Calls for Election Postponement



SW Radio Africa (London)

26 June 2008
Posted to the web 26 June 2008

Alex Bell

The efforts by SADC leaders to intervene in the Zimbabwe crisis have again
gone unsupported after key members failed to attend a troika summit in
Swaziland, convened to discuss the worsening crisis in Zimbabwe.

Wednesday's meeting turned into a shambles after Angola, the chair, and
South Africa, the mediator, boycotted the summit. According to a Tanzanian
government statement released early Wednesday, South African president Mbeki
and the current Southern African Development Community chairman, Levy
Mwanawasa of Zambia, had been invited to the meeting.

The leaders of Tanzania, Angola and Swaziland were also scheduled to attend
in their capacity as the SADC's troika organ on politics, defence and
security.

However Mbeki's spokesman, in an effort to explain the president's critical
absence, said no invitation had been sent, while Mwanawasa was a no show. At
the same time Zimbabwe's state run Herald newspaper reported on Thursday
that Mbeki's Angolan counterpart, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, also
boycotted the meeting, leaving only President Jakaya kikwete of Tanzania and
King Mswati of Swaziland in attendance.

The Herald quoted an unnamed government official as saying: "It was a
bilateral meeting between two countries, it can never be a troika meeting.
Troika means three and the deputy chair cannot call a meeting when the chair
is there. Their resolution has no force in respect to SADC, let alone
Zimbabwe. The two countries (Tanzania and Swaziland) are only expressing an
obligation to the Western world".

The attending members echoed calls for Friday's poll to be postponed, but
the call is just the latest in a string of impassioned pleas for a
postponement - calls that have had little effect on Mugabe's plans for the
poll to go ahead.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Moeletsi Mbeki Sees Potential for UN Sanctions On Country



SW Radio Africa (London)

26 June 2008
Posted to the web 26 June 2008

Violet Gonda

Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of South Africa's President and deputy chairman of
the South African Institute for International Affairs, believes there is now
a potential for sanctions to be imposed against the Mugabe regime by the
United Nations Security Council.

Mbeki said he doesn't expect anything coming out of SADC, but if the African
Union and/or the United Nations Security Council passed a sanctions
regulation, such as oil sanctions, then all the SADC countries would be
obliged to comply whether they liked it or not.

He said the world doesn't care for Mugabe anymore and he will not be able to
continue to mislead people about the happenings in Zimbabwe.

He said Mugabe's plan backfired, when he thought the MDC would participate
in the presidential run-off in spite of the terror campaign against the
electorate. "Secondly he never understood the importance of the MDC to world
opinion. He sees the MDC as a small party, he is very condescending towards
it, he never understood that the rest of the world takes the MDC very, very
seriously," Mbeki said.

The analyst said Mugabe never appreciated or thought there would be this
massive reaction, especially from the United Nations Security Council and
the African Union.

But the defiant ZANU PF regime has said it will go ahead with the run-off
election although the United Nations Security Council and the SADC troika on
Defence and Security issued statements calling for the postponement of
Friday's poll. Meanwhile election observers sent by the Pan African
parliament have already started pulling out as they say there is no credible
election to observe.

Legal opinion in South Africa says by not holding the run-off election 21
days after the first round of elections, Mugabe is no longer the legal
President of Zimbabwe and Morgan Tsvangirai should be sworn in as head of
state, as he had the most vote in the March 29th poll.

Moeletsi said; "This puts a new factor in front of the African Union which
is that we now have an illegally constituted government in Zimbabwe."

He added: "If the UN passed a resolution on oil sanctions against Zimbabwe
South Africa would have to stop shipping oil to Zimbabwe which means
Mugabe's oppressive machine, the army and the police would grind to a halt."

When asked if his brother Thabo is likely to change his soft stance on
Zimbabwe, the analyst said the South African government would have to comply
if there is a United Nations sanctions resolution on Zimbabwe. He said:
"Otherwise it will attract the same sanctions against itself, so there is no
chance that the South African government can defy the United Nations
Security Council."


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Boycotting International Business With Country a 'Justifiable Cause'



SW Radio Africa (London)

26 June 2008
Posted to the web 26 June 2008

Alex Bell

The pressure on international companies doing business with Zimbabwe, to
withdraw their agreements, is growing as critics condemn global trading that
is effectively funding the Mugabe regime.

On Wednesday British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the business world
should question its involvement in Zimbabwe. He said: "We do not want to do
further damage to the Zimbabwean people, but when businesses are helping the
Mugabe regime, they should reconsider their positions."

Economic analyst Bekithemba Mhlanga told Newsreel that putting pressure on
companies to withdraw their interest is "a justifiable cause" and that
history shows that economic pressure can force change in a country in
crisis.

A string of UK companies on Wednesday defended their interests in Zimbabwe,
many of which they said were historical, and stressed that the safety of
their staff was their top priority.

Mining giant Anglo American defended its £200m project to mine platinum in
Zimbabwe. Anglo said in a statement it is "monitoring the situation in
Zimbabwe very closely and is reviewing all options surrounding the
development of the project".

The company added: "It has been made clear to Anglo American that, if it
ceases to develop this project, the government of Zimbabwe will assume
control." It also said the livelihoods of hundreds of people would be
threatened if it pulled out of Zimbabwe.

Barclays, which has a 67pc stake in Barclays Bank Zimbabwe, and has to buy
government bonds there under its banking licence, said it was "compliant
with EU sanctions regarding Zimbabwe".

It said that its services are "critically relied upon" by many of its
"135,000 customers for their day-to-day operations to maintain access to
banking and employment, with a wider benefit to connected businesses and the
economy. This continued presence brings the benefit of avoiding additional
hardship than is already being experienced within the country".

But Mhlanga said the companies are using the livelihoods of Zimbabweans as
an excuse, and said: "Any pressure for companies to pull out is unlikely to
have any negative degradation on the living standards there." He said the
current situation, with the economy in free fall, is already intolerable and
companies should stop their involvement with a dictatorship that has caused
the crisis.

Mhlanga said companies would be able to find other ways to protect their
employees. He said Anglo American, for example, should put their wage bills
up for scrutiny and see "what percentage of its economic return the wages
actually constitute".

Mhlanga added that since all political actions have not yielded a result,
consumer should consider "blockading the entire financial system that is
keeping Zimbabwe going".


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

South African President Mbeki refuses to criticize Zimbabwe leader; still

International Herald Tribune


hopes for solution

The Associated PressPublished: June 26, 2008

CAPE TOWN, South Africa: South African President Thabo Mbeki refused
Thursday to join international condemnation of Zimbabwe's leader, Robert
Mugabe, and insisted there must be negotiations even if there was "war."

Mbeki is the chief mediator on Zimbabwe but even in Africa he is
increasingly isolated because of his gentle treatment of Mugabe. His African
National Congress has called for tougher action, and there are reported
splits in his cabinet because of the effects of Zimbabwe's collapsing
economy and the flood of migrants into neighboring countries.

In Parliament, Mbeki refused say whether he agreed that Friday's runoff
should be postponed because of state-sponsored violence against the
opposition.

"We remain convinced that there can be no solution to the problems of
Zimbabwe without the agreement of the political leaders of Zimbabwe. Nobody
is going to impose any solution on them," he said, to heckling from
opposition parties.

He insisted that negotiations - and not sanctions or outside pressure - were
the only solution, citing South Africa's own experience in ending apartheid.

"In South Africa, we sat and negotiated for a number of years and we reached
an agreement," he said.
"You see the reason people negotiate is because they are at war," he said.

But he also said recently that there was no crisis in Zimbabwe. "If they
were not at war they would not need to negotiate."

Mbeki brushed off questions about whether he would recognize Mugabe if he
won the election, and expressed exasperation at foreign criticism of his
mediation. "We continue to pose the question, can you please give us some
suggestions what else we can do that might produce a solution? ... And we
don't get an answer to that question," he said.

There is growing frustration in the West that Mbeki refuses pressure Mugabe,
given that South Africa may be the country with the most economic clout over
its impoverished neighbor. South Africa supplies electricity to Zimbabwe and
offers port access to the landlocked country.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has called for Mbeki to
be replaced as mediator, saying he is biased toward the ruling party.

Mbeki said a team of South African mediators remained in Zimbabwe in the
hope of prodding the parties toward an agreement.

Mbeki's links with Mugabe date to the apartheid era, when Zimbabwe offered
shelter to exiled African National Congress leaders.

A new generation of African leaders such as Rwandan President Paul Kagame,
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Botswana's President Seretse Ian
Khama are not bound by any allegiances to the 84-year-old autocrat and so
have spoken out against him.

In a sign of the unease about Mugabe's violent bid to cling to power, even
longtime allies like Angola's leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Swaziland's
absolute monarch King Mswati III have voiced concern about the holding of
the runoff election.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Crimes against humanity

The United Nations and Zimbabwe

Jun 26th 2008
From The Economist print edition

What international bodies can, and cannot, do about Zimbabwe

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, Zimbabwe's opposition leader, has called for the United
Nations to send peacekeepers to his ravaged country. Others, including Jacob
Zuma, leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, have begun
calling on the "international community" to intervene. At the same time, the
International Criminal Court (ICC) is being urged to investigate Zimbabwe's
president, Robert Mugabe, for crimes against humanity. What is the legal
basis for such moves, and how likely are they to take place?

Under the new concept of an international "responsibility to protect",
adopted unanimously by world leaders (including Mr Mugabe) at a UN world
summit in New York in 2005, intervention in a state's internal affairs is
permitted in the event of genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic
cleansing and other mass atrocities, if that state is unwilling or unable to
protect its own people. Indeed, R2P, as it has become known in diplomatic
jargon, places an actual obligation on governments, usually acting through
international bodies such as the UN, to intervene in such cases.

Natural disasters and human-rights violations on a less gross scale do not
qualify, which is why such an intervention was not possible in Myanmar after
May's cyclone. But it is arguable that Zimbabwe could qualify. Under the
ICC's Rome statute, crimes against humanity are defined as inhumane acts,
such as torture or murder, that are "widespread or systematic .intentionally
causing great suffering and serious injury to the body or to mental and
physical health". That seems to fit the pattern of systematic rape, torture,
murder and other atrocities being perpetrated against Mr Tsvangirai's
supporters.

But qualifying for R2P is only the first (and easiest) step. Any
intervention involving sanctions or armed force requires authorisation by
the UN Security Council, meaning no opposition from any of the council's
five permanent veto-wielding members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the
United States. For the council to have issued a statement for the first time
condemning Zimbabwe's government for the violence and intimidation
surrounding its presidential elections is regarded as a tour de force. The
idea that it may actually agree to send in UN peacekeepers is considered by
many to be ludicrous.

But it was once regarded as ludicrous that the council would ever agree to
refer Darfur to the ICC for investigation-yet it did. Almost everyone said
that China, with its close ties to Sudan, would never agree to send UN
peacekeepers to Darfur-yet it did. More recently, it was assumed that the
Security Council, on which South Africa holds a two-year seat, would never
say boo to Zimbabwe over the conduct of its elections, surely an internal
matter if there ever was one. Yet it has.

So the "presidential statement" issued by the Security Council on June 23rd
was something of a triumph, given South Africa's presence and China's and
Russia's traditional reluctance ever to intervene in a state's internal
affairs. For, unlike council resolutions, such non-binding presidential
statements can be adopted only unanimously. And, though it was a
watered-down version of a British draft reportedly calling for Mr Tsvangirai
to be regarded as Zimbabwe's legitimate president, it contained some tough
language, squarely blaming Zimbabwe's government for the humanitarian and
political crisis at a time when Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president, was
still refusing to do so.

True to form, the UN's recently revamped Human Rights Council, based in
Geneva, which might have been expected to be taking a keen interest in what
is going on in Zimbabwe, has not even raised the issue. Unlike its
discredited predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, it has the power to
call for an emergency session to address a particularly egregious violation
of human rights, for example in Zimbabwe. All that is required is for
one-third of the council's members to back the move. But not a single
country, not even Britain, has even suggested putting forward such a motion;
the United States is not a member.

In theory, calling an emergency session on Zimbabwe should not be so
difficult. Of the council's present 47 members (elected for three-year terms
on a rotating basis by the UN General Assembly), 23-just one shy of an
absolute majority-are deemed "free" by Freedom House, an American
think-tank, on the basis of their civil-liberties and political-rights
records; ten (including China, Pakistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia) are judged
"not free", with the rest considered "partially free". But with its 16
members, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, supported by 13 African
members, has a stranglehold over the council. Together, they repeatedly fend
off moves to look into the human-rights records of Muslim or African
countries.

As for an eventual indictment at The Hague by the ICC-which is backed by the
UN but independent of it-this, too, is tricky. Though the atrocities being
perpetrated by Mr Mugabe and his army, police and party militias could well
be considered crimes against humanity and may therefore fall within the
court's jurisdiction, Zimbabwe is not a party to the court. So the UN
Security Council would have to refer Zimbabwe to the ICC, a step that China
or Russia may be expected to veto. But as the Beijing Olympics draw near,
China just may be willing to abstain on such a resolution, as it did over
Darfur. And Russia, not wanting to be left out on a limb, may agree to do
the same. So Mr Mugabe is not out of the court's sights yet.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabweans are not alone



Pittsburgh, a major city in the United States, has declared Friday June 27,
the day of the scheduled Presidential election run-off in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
Freedom Day.

The proclamation, presented this week by Councilman Patrick Dowd in
Pittsburgh's City Council Chambers, expressed solidarity with those in
Zimbabwe "who have continued to speak out against the violence, to demand
that their voices be heard, and to push for a free and fair run-off
election."

It began by noting "Zimbabwe's security forces, known as the 'Joint
Operations Command' under command responsibility of Robert Mugabe, (have
been) orchestrating and carrying out a campaign of murder, torture and
political violence since the March 29 elections.."

Referring to a Human Rights Watch report released this month, it stated that
"opposition leaders, human rights advocates, election monitors and others
advocating peacefully for a free Zimbabwe continue to be abducted,
imprisoned or detained."

"The use of violence and intimidation is abhorrent to the values of the
residents of the City of Pittsburgh .. freedom from fear, torture and
inhumane treatment is an inherent right of all human beings," the
proclamation stressed.

Concern was also expressed that the government of Zimbabwe had "maliciously
limited the ability of humanitarian groups and non-governmental
organisations to deliver critical aid to populations already suffering from
escalating hyper-inflation, massive food shortages and high rates of
HIV/AIDS."

The proclamation concluded that international leaders and regional
organizations such as the African Union and the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) should "condemn the violence occurring in Zimbabwe and take
all the necessary action to ensure that the will of the Zimbabwean people is
honored on June 27."

Other cities around the United States and the world were invited to join in
the proclamation of solidarity and to declare this Friday "Zimbabwe Freedom
Day".

Zimbabwe's neighbours close ranks against Mugabe

Although the SADC region has until recently been criticised for not taking a
stronger stand on the Zimbabwean crisis, the country's neighbours are now
closing ranks against Mugabe.

Botswana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation
released a strong statement on June 12.

It noted that President Ian Khama's government was "alarmed by the arrests
and detentions as they disrupt electoral activities of key layers and
intimidate the electorate, thus undermining the process of holding a free,
fair and democratic election."

A week later, Rwandan President Paul Kagame told journalists in Kigale:
"There is a failure by African countries to support the process in
†Zimbabwe."

"It does not take a genius to understand that free and fair elections can be
hard to contemplate in the current situation," he said.† "For me, the
question it raises is why do you even call elections?"

On 19 June, Tanzania's Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, told a news
conference:† "There is every sign that these elections will never be free
nor fair..."

He said that he and his fellow foreign ministers would ask their respective
presidents to "do something urgently so that we can save Zimbabwe."

Kenya's Foreign Minister, Moses Wetang'ula, condemned the roadblocks
hindering attempts by the MDC to campaign and urged Mugabe to hold a fair
election.

"Anything less is an affront to the evolving democratic culture in Africa
and unacceptable to all people in Africa," he said in a statement released
the same day.

Three days later, the solidarity of Kenyans was expressed en masse at a
stadium when they hosted Zimbabwe in a World Cup qualifying soccer match.
The 36 000-stong crowd chanted in unison:† "Mugabe must go, Mugabe must go."

On June 24, South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob
Zuma described the situation in Zimbabwe as "out of control" and called for
urgent intervention by the United Nations and the regional SADC grouping.
He said the elections were totally "discredited".

Former President Nelson Mandela, speaking at a dinner in London on June 25,
said in his first public comments about the country's political crisis that
there had been a tragic failure of leadership in Zimbabwe.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who is chairperson of SADC and has spoken
out repeatedly on the Zimbabwean crisis, has called for the run-off to be
postponed.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon responded by pledging to work urgently with
SADC and the African Union (AU) to help resolve the political impasse that
had forced opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw from the race.

He said the circumstances that led to the withdrawal of the opposition
leader did not bode well for the future of democracy in Zimbabwe.

"The campaign of violence and intimidation that has marred this election has
done a great disservice to the people of the country and must end
immediately," he concluded.

ENDS

For further information, or to arrange interviews:

1.Pittsburgh City Council Chambers - Councilman Patrick Dowd

Contact Elaine Zelmanov† Tel:† +1 412 255 2419

2.World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh - Michelle Debelak

Contact Michelle Debelak† Tel:† +1 412 281 1258


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SA embassy to evict MDC supporters

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/

June 26, 2008

A section of the large crowd of victims of violence who sought protection at the South African embassy in Harare Wednesday.

HARARE (Sapa-AFP) - Around 200 people saying they were victims of political violence in Zimbabwe gathered at the South African embassy in Harare on Wednesday night to seek refuge.

Men, women and children huddled in the open in the car park of the embassy, situated less than a kilometre from President Robert Mugabe’s official residence.

But the SA ambassador to Harare is expected to tell the desperate Zimbabweans to leave on Thursday, or he will have to deal with a crisis directly linked to the controversial presidential elections.

‘We believe we are much safer here than anywhere else in this country’
The MDC supporters arrived at the embassy on Wednesday saying that they had fled violence orchestrated by Zanu-PF.

They charged that they had been harassed by police when the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) headquarters was raided on Monday and had sought refuge in the US embassy where they were turned away.

Then they headed for the South African compound.

Their crime, they said, was to vote against Mugabe in the March election.

“Our main concern right now is our security,” said Tangai Takaruza, an MDC official from Mhondoro, a rural district about 100km south-west of Harare.

“We believe we are much safer here than anywhere else in this country.

“Even if we sleep in the open here, we are better off than roaming the streets as we have been doing for the past three days.”

Carrying a nine-month old baby, Mettirem Chokodou said her home in Mbira, Mashonaland Central, had been burned down on April 19. She fled to Harvest House, MDC headquarters.

“We were living (at Harvest House) for a month until the place was raided by the police in May. We settled in Mbare (township), but Zanu (supporters) assaulted me when they chased MDC supporters out of the township last week.

“We went back to Harvest House, and the police raided (again) on Monday,” she said.

But the SA embassy said it could not accommodate them any longer. The ambassador, Professor Mlungisi Makalima, said he would have to tell them today to find an alternative refuge.

“We don’t have enough infrastructure to house them at the embassy,” he said last night.

“We are talking to international agencies and NGOs to help with the situation.”

A source at the embassy said the Zimbabwean government’s Social Welfare Department had offered to accommodate the Zimbabweans.

“(But) the refugees refused, arguing that they cannot turn to the same people they are running away from,” said the source.

Men, women, some with babies on their backs, and children endured a cold night on the concrete tarmac of the parking lot.

SADC observers distributed blankets provided by local non-governmental organisations.

But a SADC observer who was involved in distributing blankets told the Cape Argus that they had been intimidated by police.

“The police follow us wherever we go. We were stopped at a roadblock not far from here. This is why these people are refusing to go to churches or halls around the city. They told us that they fear police raids,” the observer said.

Riot police mounted a roadblock less than 500m from the South African embassy last night.

Some of those taking refuge said that their villages, mainly in Mashonaland Central, had been razed by Zanu-PF supporters.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said: “It is insecurity and lack of safety in this country that drives people to leave their homes and take refuge in foreign embassies.”

Harare has been tense since Zanu-PF youth disrupted and assaulted MDC supporters at a rally on Sunday.

This triggered MDC leader Tsvangirai’s decision to withdraw from the presidential election run-off and take refuge at the Dutch embassy.

Mugabe and his spokesperson, George Charamba, insisted yesterday that the elections would take place without Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman Judge George Chiweshe dismissed Tsvangirai’s withdrawal as “filed well out of time and for that reason the withdrawal was of no legal force or effect”.

“Accordingly, the commission does not recognise the purported withdrawal. We are, therefore, proceeding with the presidential run-off election this Friday (tomorrow) as planned,” Chiweshe said.

Mugabe is expected to be in-augurated uncontested on Monday, defying international pressure to call off the elections and drag all parties to the negotiating table.

However, diplomatic efforts by South Africa to negotiate for a government of national unity were still proceeding despite Mugabe’s defiance.

Naomi Ndlovu, 26, a vegetable vendor whose house was torched in Epworth, south of the capital, said moving into the South African embassy was likely to help pressure President Thabo Mbeki to act quickly in finding a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis.

Mbeki is the regionally appointed mediator for Zimbabwe and has faced criticism over his “quiet diplomacy approach”.

“We think that Mbeki is not pushing this case with much punch. Hopefully this will get him to move,” Ndlovu said.

The MDC alleges that more than 80 of its supporters have been killed and thousands displaced in the run-up to the presidential election.

(This article was originally published in The Cape Argus on June 26, 2008)


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Intervention in Zimbabwe is not the answer

The Times
June 27, 2008

There are several ways to stem the escalating crisis; should deploying the
Army be one of them?
Sir, Military intervention is not the solution to the crisis unfolding in
Zimbabwe .

Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering from intimidation, harassment
and torture; millions have been deprived of food after the Government
suspended NGO operations, and those who dare to speak out are arrested or
arbitrarily detained.

Surely it is reckless to deploy an international military force into this
already vulnerable state?

Rather, the regional powers in southern Africa should use their influence to
pressure the Government of Zimbabwe to restore peace. An emergency summit
should be convened by the South African Development Community at which it
can set out concrete measures to stem the tide of abuse.

Kate Allen
Director, Amnesty International UK

Sir, Robert Mugabe, who brought his people freedom from colonialisation,
rightly considers his life's work unfinished until he recovers the vast
tracts of farmland - Zimbabwe's best - that we sold over the people's heads
to white farmers.

This we could have returned when we grudgingly gave them their independence.
Now, 27 years later, his people are starving and the land reform commission,
sitting in London, has failed.

Let us return this land without further delay. This will offer their people
a new start and prove a lot cheaper than military intervention.

Eric Spielman
Loughton, Essex

Sir, I am horrified to note that despite the rapidly deteriorating situation
in Zimbabwe the Government, according to the No 10 website, is still
considering returning unsuccessful asylum seekers there once the Asylum and
Immigration Tribunal test case of "HS" has been heard.

Surely this flies in the face of reason when the Ministry of Defence is
considering two contingency plans involving the deployment of troops in
Zimbabwe and the Government is pressing for fresh sanctions. Or does the
governmental right hand really not know what the left hand is doing?

The Rev T. John Davies
Walsall, West Midlands

Sir, In the page upon page of print devoted to news, comment and opinion
relating to the unfolding calamity in Zimbabwe, not a peep has been heard
from that august organisation that claims to be a unique association of
nations sharing common values and aspirations, namely, the oft-trumpeted
Commonwealth.

Many of us have long known that this body is little more than an excuse for
ritual and pointless junketing by the leaders of its member states. What
they have in common is hard to see, except, perhaps, a taste for la dolce
vita at their taxpayers' expense.

The acquiescence of so many African Commonwealth leaders in the barbarism of
Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF) must surely forever lay to rest the notion that
the members of this body have anything worthwhile in common. It is, in
truth, little more than a fig leaf covering Britain's long-lost power,
influence and status. That it has lasted so long is regrettable. It will be
somewhat more regrettable if this irrelevant, ineffectual and aimless
travesty is not now laid to rest.

Michael J. Lazarus
Northaw, Herts


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

BTH with Brian Kagoro and Dr Alex Magaisa

Broadcast 26 June 2008

Under the concept of a†'Responsibility to Protect’ does the United Nations have a legal and ethical basis for humanitarian intervention in Zimbabwe? On Behind the Headlines Lance Guma speaks to political analysts Brian Kagoro and Dr Alex Magaisa, who debate the options for intervention by the United Nations, the African Union and SADC in the crisis. The programme also explores whether Zimbabweans have mortgaged their fate to the hands of outsiders, while doing nothing themselves.

Click here to listen

Lance Guma

Producer/Presenter

SW Radio Africa

www.swradioafrica.com

Mobile: +44-777-855-7615

Full broadcast on Shortwave: 4880khz and 12035Khz.

Also available 24 hours on the internet.

You can also access archives at http://www.swradioafrica.com/pages/archives.php


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Civil Society press statement on the June 27 presidential run-off

The Zimbabwean

Thursday, 26 June 2008 13:03
26 June 2008.

Civil society organisations in Zimbabwe, being witnesses and victims
of the politically motivated violence that is occurring in our country since
the March 29 harmonised elections, make it known to our fellow citizens,
fellow Africans and the global community that we hold that the Presidential
runoff election scheduled for June 27 2008 cannot be free and fair and is
therefore void of legitimacy.

The acts of brutality that have occurred over the last three months
have made any semblance of a free and fair election impossible. We therefore
urge the people of Zimbabwe not to vote, unless doing so in order to protect
their own lives or wellbeing.

The atrocities have been characterised by the burning of peoples'
homesteads, the forcing of people to attend rallies during the day and
night, the targeted killings of opposition and civil society activists, the
disruption of church services as well as the complicity of the state
security services through their participation in the violence and failure to
protect innocent Zimbabweans. Moreover, as civil society organisations we
cannot participate in any monitoring or observation processes around this
election as we view it as electoral fraud. At the time of the release of
this statement, we are aware that over 300 Zimbabweans are gathered at the
South African Embassy as a direct result of the political violence and the
failure of the Zimbabwe Republic Police to protect life and limb.

In light of the foregoing, we view the only solution to our current
national crisis as one that requires the holding of fresh elections under a
new, democratic and people driven constitution.† This will entail
instituting changes to our political environment which will include:

1. The immediate dismantling of all government sponsored militia bases
in the country.
2. The immediate dismantling of the Joint Operations Command that has
been running this country on a military basis and is accused of being the
primary organising entity of all the political violence being meted out on
the people of Zimbabwe.
3. The immediate establishment of a refugee council to address the
plight of internally displaced people in the country.
4. The allowing of humanitarian aid agencies to resume their
invaluable work of providing food, shelter and health services to the people
of Zimbabwe.
5. The bringing to justice of all perpetrators of political violence.
6. The release of all political prisoners from Zimbabwe's prisons.
7. The establishment of a peacekeeping and monitoring framework that
is spearheaded by the SADC.

In this framework, we implore the SADC Heads of State and Government,
the African Union and the United Nations to urge the main political parties
in Zimbabwe to respect the will of the people of Zimbabwe which because of
the ongoing political violence has been compromised. We urge the SADC, AU
and UN to work with political parties, civil society, churches and the
people of Zimbabwe to facilitate the holding of fresh elections under a new
democratic constitution and assist in healing the wounds of politically
motivated violence that has affected our country.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

In the Heat of the Battle

The Zimbabwean

Thursday, 26 June 2008 11:02

I can just imagine what it must have been like to participate in one
of those famous battles in medieval times in Europe. On the ground it must
have been quite something ? thousands of individual contests of strength and
stamina.From a distance and perhaps on a nearby hill or vantage point, the
situation
would look equally confused as the battle raged back and forth.

Long before the outcome was apparent to those in the thick of the
fighting,it would become clear to the watchers from afar that the tide had
turned one way or another. Right now it is like that in the fight for
democracy and freedom in Zimbabwe. Those on the ground, struggling with the
individual contests that
make up such battles, have no clear idea of just what is happening
overall.Further away it seems that a key turning point has been reached ?
one, which may well yet determine the final outcome.

Since Morgan announced that he would withdraw from the run off
scheduled for this coming Friday, we have seen a rapid coalescing of global
opinion leading to the historic decision on Monday night when the UN
Secretary General declared the Zimbabwe crisis a threat to world peace and
security. The UN Security
Council then went on to decide on a unanimous basis, that the recent
behavior of the Mugabe regime should be condemned in the strongest terms and
the vote on the 27th June declared null and void.

Although the Zimbabwe Ambassador to the UN brushed this decision
aside, his face in the debate said it all ? he was shamed and humiliated.
The Chairman of SADC, the President of Zambia, then called a press
conference and stated that he was disappointed in the mediation of Thabo
Mbeki on the Zimbabwe crisis,
that the crisis had to be addressed by the regional community and he
intended to act on the matter independently of Mr. Mbeki whom he claimed was
not responding to his calls. That is exactly what has now happened with the
SADC meeting today in Swaziland without Mr. Mbeki who was simply not
invited.

Today the press ? always looking for another dramatic twist to the
story to keep the issue in the limelight, is pressing the UN and the major
powers to say whether or not they will back military intervention. In fact
this is a red herring, as military intervention never was a possibility and
in any event is not needed. The region itself knows full well that Zimbabwe,
a landlocked State, is very vulnerable to any form of regional blockade.
This was clearly demonstrated with the recent arms shipment from China. An
arms blockade and
restrictions on fuel and electrical energy would quickly deny the
Zimbabwe regime with those things they must have to maintain their effort on
the battlefield.

Next week the African Union meets and Zimbabwe will be on the agenda.
Given the strength of the feelings at the UN and the international media
attention, it is likely that in both the SADC and the AU we will see, for
the first time not only strong criticism of the Zimbabwe leadership but
agreement on certain
actions.The UN will almost certainly follow up with additional
sanctions and an arms embargo now seems likely.

While these global events are taking place the struggle continues on
the ground with individuals and groups engaged in what is virtually hand to
hand fighting.The weapons are diverse ? the Internet, a hand held camera,
clandestine visits by the international media to report the truth, courage
and determination by thousands of individuals who are at the receiving end
of a brutal and savage regime.

To those on the ground we need to say ? hold firm, do not quit! We are
winning and the tide has turned. If you can continue a bit longer, help is
on the way and the regime will soon be defeated and flee the field of
battle. At the same time take care and stand back to back when you can ?
protect each other and
affect a strategic retreat when required before going back into the
battle.

I have no doubt that the Mugabe regime will win some local contests ?
but overall they are now losing this war. It is now just a question of
staying power and we will not quit until this battle is won.We plan to go
back to Zimbabwe shortly. My health has improved and I must get back to my
constituency and home. Many have said stay out for a bit longer but I really
cannot wait to get back into the fight on the ground. Thank you to all those
who made this short trip to South Africa possible and who helped us pay
for the procedure in Pretoria. I am still not out of the woods but the
specialists here want to see me again in three months time to decide if the
second and more dangerous procedure is needed.

How to cope with inflation at millions of percent and a currency in
freefall is difficult and I have simply no idea what to do in the business,
let alone my constituency. I hear food is very short and that many are
simply not surviving.They also say that our Party structures are in disarray
and many in hiding.
Still that is all part of the struggle. There are so many courageous
and special people there that I simply cannot wait to get back.

When the final collapse of the regime comes it will be fast and
comprehensive. I can still vividly remember the collapse of the East German
regime and the collapse of the Soviet empire. Who would have thought that
those regimes ? far more powerful that the pathetic regime in Harare would
end their infamous
run in such a way? 6 months before the President of Rumania was
executed by his own soldiers, he was granted the freedom of the City of
Harare by Mugabe! My own son was denied a visa to visit Berlin in 1989 and
when he was there a few weeks later, he witnessed the fall of the wall and
was able to walk though under the watching eyes of East German border
guards.

So lets keep faith with the future, stay strong and determine to fight
on until we finally see the regime flee the field of battle in disarray.
What we are fighting for is right and the outcome will determine the future
of the entire region. Our final victory will also encourage all those who
are engaged in
similar struggles with evil autocratic regimes that resist change.

Eddie Cross
Johannesburg, 25th June 2008


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Bill Watch special

[25th June 2008]
PRESS STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION - 25th JUNE 2008
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to this press conference.
The Commission wishes to advise stakeholders and the electorate at large that on 24th June 2008 we received a letter from Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC (T), a candidate in the Presidential run off election set for the 27th June 2008.
In the letter Mr Tsvangirai advises that he has pulled out of the Presidential run off election citing various reasons.
The Commission sat today 25th June 2008 to deliberate on the content and effect of this letter.† It was unanimously agreed that the withdrawal had inter alia been filed well out of time and that for that reason the withdrawal was of no legal force or effect.
Accordingly the Commission does not recognize the purported withdrawal.† We are therefore proceeding with the Presidential run off election this Friday as planned.† The ballot papers have been printed and dispatched.
We are advising Mr Tsvangirai accordingly.
Thank† you.
Note:† ZEC have informed us that a statutory instrument will be published declaring Friday 27th June, polling day, a public holiday.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

UN's Arbour slams Zimbabwe 'perversion of democracy'

Ottawa Citizen

Reuters
Published: Thursday, June 26, 2008
GENEVA - The United Nations' top human rights official said on Thursday that
political violence in Zimbabwe had corrupted the electoral process and
created a "perversion of democracy."

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said serious human
rights abuses by members of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party,
and in some cases by the opposition MDC, "are unacceptable and need to stop
immediately".

"Victims and their relatives deserve justice. Those who perpetrate crimes
must be held to account," the former U.N. war crimes prosecutor said in a
statement released in Geneva.

Nearly 40 U.N. human rights investigators called on the 84-year-old Mugabe
to heed African calls to postpone Friday's presidential election, following
deadly attacks on his political opponents that caused Movement for
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw.
Mugabe, who is bound to extend his 28-year rule in the one-candidate
election, has rejected such calls and said there could be no interference in
his country, even from the African Union.

"We are of the view that no election should take place in the absence of
conditions that would guarantee the free, full and equal participation of
all citizens in the electoral process," the independent U.N. experts said in
a joint statement released in Geneva during their annual week-long meeting.

"We strongly urge the government of Zimbabwe to ensure respect for human
rights and to abide by democratic principles and practices, in accordance
with Zimbabwe's own domestic law and international human rights standards,"
they said.

Separately, the International Federation for Human Rights urged the U.N.
Human Rights Council to hold a special session on "gross and systematic
human rights violations" in Zimbabwe, including killings, torture, arbitrary
arrests and intimidation.

The Paris-based watchdog said the Council should launch an international
commission of inquiry into violations carried out during the electoral
process.

Jean Ziegler, a former U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, urged
Mugabe to leave office and retire to his farm.

"It is always painful to discover perversion in someone you've admired. I
was in Harare at the liberation and I have a magnificent memory of Mugabe as
somebody with the stature of (Congo's independence leader) Patrice Lumumba,"
Ziegler told the Swiss weekly L'Hebdo published on Thursday.

"But I'm obliged to state today that he seems to have gone mad."

With files from Laura MacInnis and Stephanie Nebehay


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Botswana Threatens to Take Action in Country



SW Radio Africa (London)

26 June 2008
Posted to the web 26 June 2008

Reports in a South African publication say that Botswana's President Ian
Khama has threatened to take action against Zimbabwe if southern African
leaders don't address the political crisis.

At a business conference in Botswana's capital Gaberone, Khama said that
SADC must "become proactive in the crisis" in Zimbabwe, adding; "We are
still part of SADC, but he did not specify exactly what action Botswana
would consider taking.

There are an estimated 50,000 Zimbabwean refugees in Botswana, according to
Botswana's Defense Minister Ndelu Seretse.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Italy urges world leaders to act on Zimbabwe

Reuters

Thu 26 Jun 2008, 14:49 GMT

By Sophie Hardach

KYOTO, Japan (Reuters) - The international community must take action to
quell the chaos and violence in Zimbabwe if African leaders fail to address
the crisis, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters during a gathering of the Group of Eight wealthy
nations in Kyoto, Frattini criticised the African Union for not putting
enough pressure on President Robert Mugabe ahead of his one-man election on
Friday.

"The credibility of the United Nations and the African Union and the
Southern African Development Community is at stake here. I take note of the
rather tepid reaction of the African Union," he said.

"If there isn't an African reaction, then the international community should
think about other measures and sanctions.

African leaders have condemned the chaos in Zimbabwe, and on Wednesday a
security committee of the Southern African Development Community urged
postponement of Friday's vote after the opposition candidate withdrew.

Mugabe, 84, rejected the idea and said the run-off election would go ahead.

The United Nations Security Council should be ready to discuss such
measures, Frattini told reporters after a series of bilateral meetings and a
working dinner with other G8 foreign ministers.

Representatives of Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Britain, Russia, Japan
and the United States are meeting in Japan's ancient capital for two days to
discuss global security issues ranging from the Afghan conflict to North
Korea's nuclear programme.

Zimbabwe's political situation has landed on the agenda amid mounting global
pressure on Mugabe, who is clinging to power as his country's economy
collapses and its people are engulfed by violence.

Frattini said it would be premature to discuss further sanctions since they
were likely to hurt Zimbabwe's already suffering people, but added that the
international community should not exclude additional measures.

Current sanctions against Zimbabwe, such as a European Union visa ban on
Mugabe and a group of top officials, target the country's elite to avoid
causing more pain for ordinary Zimbabweans.

Critics have said that regional leaders such as South African President
Thabo Mbeki, the designated regional mediator in Zimbabwe, have been too
soft on Mugabe.

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who withdrew from the
electoral race on Sunday and took refuge in the Dutch embassy, has
challenged Mbeki to take urgent action to end the crisis.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Germany's Merkel presses African leaders to use their influence on Zimbabwe

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: June 26, 2008

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged African leaders to take the
lead and "use their influence" in pressing for a resolution of Zimbabwe's
mounting political crisis.

Merkel spoke Thursday after meeting with Liberian President Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf, who backed southern African leaders' call for Friday's presidential
runoff vote in Zimbabwe to be postponed.

"We're watching the situation in Zimbabwe with bated breath and concern,"
Merkel said at a news conference. "We hope African leaders will use their
influence to rectify the situation."

Merkel did not specify what that would entail. Opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai withdrew from the runoff race against President Robert Mugabe
because of state-sponsored violence.

"It's not worth much if we say from a distance that we see matters as a
certain way," Merkel said. "It means much more from direct neighbors."

African nations have drawn criticism in the West for their handling of the
situation in Zimbabwe. Earlier this week, German Development Minister
Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul accused Africa of reacting "too late and too
indecisively" to events.

Sirleaf was visiting the German capital for a World Bank conference on debt
relief. Merkel praised Sirleaf's efforts to reduce debt in her West African
nation.

"There are many stages before a country in debt can borrow money again,"
Merkel said. "We are grateful that the World Bank is acknowledging progress
Liberia has made."


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Liberian leader says Africa has taken stand on Mugabe

Monsters and Critics

Jun 26, 2008, 14:28 GMT

Berlin - African leaders have taken a stand on President Robert Mugabe's
conduct of Zimbabwe's presidential elections, Liberian President Ellen
Johnson Sirleaf said while on a visit to Berlin Thursday.

Johnson Sirleaf pointed to the crisis meeting held in Swaziland by
Zimbabwe's neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
on Wednesday.

'African leaders put forth some proposals to Zimbabwe, to President Mugabe,
essentially to put off the elections until some solution can be found, until
some compromise can be reached between the opposition and the government,'
Johnson Sirleaf said.

The Liberian president, elected in late 2005 to lead the West African
country out of the chaos of more than a decade of war, said the issue would
come up at an African Union summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt next week.

Johnson Sirleaf would not be drawn on whether Mugabe should face the kind of
international justice her predecessor as president, Charles Taylor, is
facing before the UN's Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Any legal process would have to await the collection of evidence, she said,
adding she did not know of anyone who had yet put forward evidence that
Mugabe had committed crimes 'of the order of former president Taylor.'

'We will have to see how things evolve ... Now I couldn't say that,' the
Liberian president said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany was following the situation in the
southern African country 'with great concern'.

'We call on African leaders to use their influence to get Zimbabwe to follow
a better course because the people in this country are suffering in a
particular way,' she said.

The two leaders were speaking after the signing of an agreement to cut
Liberia's foreign debt to Germany by 268 million euros (420 million
dollars).

Merkel said the debt relief paved the way for Liberia to kickstart its
development process by being able to borrow again and pledged that further
debt relief would remain on the agenda.

Liberia has since March been part of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
debt-relief initiative launched by the World Bank and International Monetary
Fund in 1996.

The chancellor, who visited Liberia in October last year, highlighted the
poverty there and the achievements of Johnson Sirleaf's government in
alleviating the situation.

'I have heard of children in Liberia who have seen electric light for the
first time, who can go to school again,' Merkel said.

She also referred to those who had been abused as child soldiers during the
civil war of the 1990s.

At the start of Johnson Sirleaf's two-day visit, German Development Minister
Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul announced funding of 15 million euros (24 million
dollars), 10 million euros of which would go to the Liberia Reconstruction
Trust Fund tasked with rebuilding the shattered infrastructure.

Liberia descended into chaos in the late 1980s. Taylor's forces entered
Monrovia in 1990, and a decade-long civil war ensued with widespread
atrocities.

Taylor, who had made himself president, went into exile in Nigeria 2003. He
is currently being held in The Hague, while his trial on charges of war
crimes and crimes against humanity proceeds.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Diplomat to check on Irish in Zimbabwe

BreakingNews.ie

26/06/2008 - 17:53:13
Ireland is sending a top diplomat to Zimbabwe to check the welfare of Irish
citizens as voters go to the polls in tomorrow's re-election of president
Robert Mugabe.

The ambassador to South Africa Colin Wrafter also has diplomatic
responsibility for the troubled neighbouring country run by controversial
leader Robert Mugabe.

Mr Wrafter had been due to act as an official observer to tomorrow's planned
presidential run-off contest before Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was
forced to pull out.

"The ambassador will now be meeting with political and diplomatic contacts
on the ground in Harare today and tomorrow and will be reporting back to the
Irish Government on his findings," said a Department of Foreign Affairs
spokesman.

Mr Wrafter is also expected to meet with members of the Irish community in
the capital.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is still urging Irish people not to travel
to the southern African country.

"The situation on the ground is unpredictable and tensions are high," a
spokesman said.

"There has been an increase in violent incidents throughout the country,
including Harare.

"Many of the incidents of violence have been indiscriminate in nature. The
situation could deteriorate further."

Former South African leader Nelson Mandela, 90, finally broke his silence on
the issue to condemn Mugabe for his "tragic failure of leadership".

Britain has stripped the Zimbabwean leader of his honorary knighthood over
his "abuse of human rights" and "abject disregard" for democracy and the
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has also cancelled Zimbabwe's tour of
the UK next year.

The Irish Government said this week that it condemned the "orchestrated and
brutal state-sponsored campaign of violence" which led to the decision by Mr
Tsvangirai to withdraw from the second round of the presidential elections.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin also stated that Ireland and the
international community will refuse to accept the result of such a sham
process.

"At EU and UN level, Ireland will strongly support any new measures which
would exert further pressure directly on those guilty of directing political
violence in Zimbabwe without increasing the suffering of the Zimbabwean
people," said Mr Martin.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

AIDS organisations still grounded


Photo: Sofia Teixeira/PlusNews
Home-based care programmes have been shut down in some districts
JOHANNESBURG, 26 June 2008 (PlusNews) - As Zimbabwe's political crisis deepens ahead of the presidential run-off election on Friday 27 June, and the status of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) remains uncertain, the situation for HIV-positive Zimbabweans is more precarious than ever.

Nicholas Goche, the social welfare minister who regulates NGO activity, announced on 13 June that more than 400 organisations working in the HIV/AIDS sector would be exempt from the blanket ban on NGO operations announced the week before.

However, NGOS working in the AIDS sector have told IRIN/PlusNews that local police and militia are preventing them from operating in many districts. "On the ground, the first message [banning all NGOs] had already gone out," said Lindiwe Chaza, director of the Zimbabwe AIDS Network, a national umbrella organisation for AIDS organisations.

Goche's statement exempting AIDS organisations has not reached all officials. "We are appealing that beyond just making that statement, the message is understood at district levels," Chaza said.

Moira Ngaru, director of the Farm Orphan Support Trust of Zimbabwe (FOST), which runs home-based care programmes for people living with HIV, told IRIN/PlusNews that her organisation had had to stop its activities in all the districts where it works.

''If you do manage to get into the field, you're asked not to do anything by the local militia''
"We're supposed to be exempted, but when you go on the ground, they just say all NGOs [are banned]," she said. "If you do manage to get into the field, you're asked not to do anything by the local militia."

In the Chipinge district of Manicaland Province, in southeastern Zimbabwe, the police came to FOST's office and told them to close. In other districts, field workers were too afraid to visit clients living in rural areas.

"You can travel into the area, but the moment you go in, you have to identify yourself and it's dangerous," Ngaru said. "What it means is that we don't know the state of the patients at the moment."

Zimbabweans living with HIV have been hard hit by hyperinflation, unemployment and shortages of basic commodities resulting from the country's economic meltdown. Many depend on food parcels from NGOs like FOST, but a warehouse full of food destined for FOST's HIV-positive clients had to be returned to the suppliers before it expired because of the ban being misinterpreted.

Treatment available, but other barriers

Loretta Hieber Girardet, a senior HIV/AIDS advisor with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, who visited Zimbabwe last week, said the political violence had not disrupted the government's treatment programme, which provides ARV drugs to about 100,000 of the estimated 321,000 people in need of them.

Girardet pointed out that there was "intense interest" by the donors funding the government's programme to ensure that treatment continued, because interruptions in ARV treatment can result in the HI virus becoming drug-resistant and more difficult to treat.

Reports of drug supplies not reaching hospitals in rural areas because of transport and security issues were very difficult to verify, said Girardet. "The humanitarian community is not getting access to the rural areas. Even the government institutions which deal with AIDS, such as the National AIDS Committee, are not able to go into rural areas."

Chaza, of the Zimbabwe AIDS Network, said her organisation was also struggling to get reliable information. "To the best of my knowledge, the government [treatment] programme hasn't been interrupted, but there have always been other barriers."

Even before the recent wave of violence, patients had found it difficult to afford transport to health facilities, buy enough food to take with their ARVs, and make enough money to support their families.

Contingency plans needed

No one knows whether Friday's poll will go ahead, or to what extent it will lessen or worsen the violence, but Girardet said UN agencies and donors were planning for the possibility that people may not feel secure enough to leave their homes and travel to hospitals to fetch their medication.

The large numbers of Zimbabweans, some of them HIV positive, who were likely to seek refuge in neighbouring countries if the situation in their country deteriorated required a regional contingency plan, said Girardet.

"Another concern is that there are large numbers of young Zimbabwean women who've left Zimbabwe and are now engaging in survival sex in neighbouring countries and, to our knowledge, there is no effective [HIV] prevention programme that's in place."


[ENDS]

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Back to the Top
Back to Index