The world is unlikely to recognize the result of Zimbabwe's single-candidate runoff election, and many voters
will cast a ballot simply because they fear the painful consequences of refusing
to do so. But as of late Thursday, all signs were that Robert Mugabe's regime
will stage an electoral farce on Friday. The runoff was necessitated by the fact
that Mugabe's electoral commission declared that the incumbent had finished
second in the March 29 presidential vote, but that the man who won that race —
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai — had fallen just short of
a majority. But the campaign of systematic violence and repression against his
Movement for Democratic Change, and the regime's repeatedly insistence that it
will remain in power regardless of the election's outcome, prompted Tsvangirai
to withdraw his candidacy. Neighboring countries have urged Mugabe to postpone
the vote until a credible democratic process can be assured, but the man who has
run Zimbabwe for 28 years is having none of it. Addressing supporters on
Thursday, Mugabe said: "We have some of our brothers in Africa making that call
[to postpone the vote]. We have refused to do so." In an Orwellian twist, the security services and militias that have, for
months, been trying to intimidate opposition voters into staying away from the
polls, now plan to force them to vote — for Mugabe. An officer with the security
services said his men and members of the ruling Zanu-PF party would mount an
operation codenamed "Wavhotahere" ("Have You Voted?") to counter opposition
calls for a boycott. Zimbabwean voters' fingers are marked with indelible ink at
the polls to prevent repeat voting, and the officer warned that soldiers, police
and party militants would march anyone found without the ink-stain to the
nearest polling station. In Chitungwiza, a dormitory suburb near Harare, pro-Mugabe militias warned
residents to attend an all-night Zanu-PF meeting before being escorted to the
polling station on Friday morning. Some 64,000 postal ballots have already been
cast by members of the security services, and several reports indicate that
rank-and-file soldiers and police officers were forced to vote in front of their
superiors. Despite threats against those who don't show up to vote for Mugabe, some MDC
supporters remained defiant. Getrude Chisango of Sunningdale said: "I'm not
going to vote because I wanted Tsvangirai. I'm staying indoors on election day."
But such courage won't prevent Mugabe from clinging to power. With the election hopelessly rigged against him, Tsvangirai has been forced
to look abroad for redress. Mugabe's tactics have been unanimously denounced
around the world, from the U.N. Security Council and the European Union to the
African Union and South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC).
"Compelling evidence of violence, intimidation and outright terror; the studied
harassment of the leadership of the MDC, including its Presidential candidate,
by the security organs of the Zimbabwean government; the arrest and detention of
the Secretary-General of the MDC; the banning of MDC public meetings; and denial
of access to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, all have convinced us that
free and fair elections are not possible in the political environment prevalent
in Zimbabwe today," said an ANC statement this week. But despite the outrage and threats of diplomatic isolation and economic
sanctions, Mugabe seems unlikely to change course. Those in Mugabe's inner
circle have managed to amass vast wealth even as Zimbabwe's legitimate economy
imploded, which suggests that sanctions directed at the economy will have
limited impact on the regime's behavior. Chris Maroleng, Zimbabwe expert at the
International Institute for Strategic Studies, based in Pretoria, said the only
way forward was for the international community to end its cathartic but
counter-productive denunciations of Mugabe, and back Mbeki's attempts to broker
a compromise between the regime and the opposition. "The international community
has begun speaking with one voice on Zimbabwe," said Maroleng. "Mugabe is immune
to international pressure. The only chance is diplomatic negotiations through
Mbeki." Maroleng predicted that following Friday's poll, the security forces will
seek to eliminate all dissent. For some in the MDC, that means there's little
left to discuss. Party spokesman Roy Bennett, based in Johannesburg, for
example, said, "We have a completely dictatorial regime of thugs ruling the
country by force. Only force will remove it. And if the people of Zimbabwe had
the support from the outside world that they need, they would rise up. But you
can't remove a regime like that by throwing stones." But MDC figures inside
Zimbabwe, including Tsvangirai, have dissociated themselves from calls for
violence or armed intervention — if they were to endorse such calls, of course,
they would run the risk of being charged with treason, a capital offense. Still,
the idea of a more forceful response finds backing in some surprising quarters.
"If the carrot doesn't work," Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu told
TIME on Thursday, "maybe the stick?" —With reporting by correspondents inside
The world is unlikely to recognize the result of Zimbabwe's single-candidate runoff election, and many voters will cast a ballot simply because they fear the painful consequences of refusing to do so. But as of late Thursday, all signs were that Robert Mugabe's regime will stage an electoral farce on Friday. The runoff was necessitated by the fact that Mugabe's electoral commission declared that the incumbent had finished second in the March 29 presidential vote, but that the man who won that race — opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai — had fallen just short of a majority. But the campaign of systematic violence and repression against his Movement for Democratic Change, and the regime's repeatedly insistence that it will remain in power regardless of the election's outcome, prompted Tsvangirai to withdraw his candidacy. Neighboring countries have urged Mugabe to postpone the vote until a credible democratic process can be assured, but the man who has run Zimbabwe for 28 years is having none of it. Addressing supporters on Thursday, Mugabe said: "We have some of our brothers in Africa making that call [to postpone the vote]. We have refused to do so."
In an Orwellian twist, the security services and militias that have, for months, been trying to intimidate opposition voters into staying away from the polls, now plan to force them to vote — for Mugabe. An officer with the security services said his men and members of the ruling Zanu-PF party would mount an operation codenamed "Wavhotahere" ("Have You Voted?") to counter opposition calls for a boycott. Zimbabwean voters' fingers are marked with indelible ink at the polls to prevent repeat voting, and the officer warned that soldiers, police and party militants would march anyone found without the ink-stain to the nearest polling station.
In Chitungwiza, a dormitory suburb near Harare, pro-Mugabe militias warned residents to attend an all-night Zanu-PF meeting before being escorted to the polling station on Friday morning. Some 64,000 postal ballots have already been cast by members of the security services, and several reports indicate that rank-and-file soldiers and police officers were forced to vote in front of their superiors.
Despite threats against those who don't show up to vote for Mugabe, some MDC supporters remained defiant. Getrude Chisango of Sunningdale said: "I'm not going to vote because I wanted Tsvangirai. I'm staying indoors on election day." But such courage won't prevent Mugabe from clinging to power.
With the election hopelessly rigged against him, Tsvangirai has been forced to look abroad for redress. Mugabe's tactics have been unanimously denounced around the world, from the U.N. Security Council and the European Union to the African Union and South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC). "Compelling evidence of violence, intimidation and outright terror; the studied harassment of the leadership of the MDC, including its Presidential candidate, by the security organs of the Zimbabwean government; the arrest and detention of the Secretary-General of the MDC; the banning of MDC public meetings; and denial of access to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, all have convinced us that free and fair elections are not possible in the political environment prevalent in Zimbabwe today," said an ANC statement this week.
But despite the outrage and threats of diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions, Mugabe seems unlikely to change course. Those in Mugabe's inner circle have managed to amass vast wealth even as Zimbabwe's legitimate economy imploded, which suggests that sanctions directed at the economy will have limited impact on the regime's behavior. Chris Maroleng, Zimbabwe expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, based in Pretoria, said the only way forward was for the international community to end its cathartic but counter-productive denunciations of Mugabe, and back Mbeki's attempts to broker a compromise between the regime and the opposition. "The international community has begun speaking with one voice on Zimbabwe," said Maroleng. "Mugabe is immune to international pressure. The only chance is diplomatic negotiations through Mbeki."
Maroleng predicted that following Friday's poll, the security forces will seek to eliminate all dissent. For some in the MDC, that means there's little left to discuss. Party spokesman Roy Bennett, based in Johannesburg, for example, said, "We have a completely dictatorial regime of thugs ruling the country by force. Only force will remove it. And if the people of Zimbabwe had the support from the outside world that they need, they would rise up. But you can't remove a regime like that by throwing stones." But MDC figures inside Zimbabwe, including Tsvangirai, have dissociated themselves from calls for violence or armed intervention — if they were to endorse such calls, of course, they would run the risk of being charged with treason, a capital offense. Still, the idea of a more forceful response finds backing in some surprising quarters. "If the carrot doesn't work," Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu told TIME on Thursday, "maybe the stick?"
—With reporting by correspondents inside Zimbabwe
26 June 2008
In the countdown to Zimbabwe's illegally delayed Presidential run-off
election on Friday June 27, civil society organisations and opposition
parties are urging the electorate to boycott the poll.
Since the poll will have no international legitimacy, and Movement for
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai is not contesting the run-off,
Zimbabweans are urged to stay home and not to vote.
However, if people find themselves being rounded up and forced to vote,
especially in areas where there are no election observers, they are asked to
spoil their ballots - unless they are voting in front of a government agent.
Mr Tsvangirai listed the reasons for his withdrawal in a letter written to
Justice George Chiweshe, chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC), and published this week.
He said conditions throughout the country made it "virtually impossible for
an election envisaged in both the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Electoral
Act [Chapter 2.13] to take place."
From a legal perspective, he said the commission "had failed to abide by the
provision of the Electoral Act when it failed to conduct the presidential
run-off within 21 days from the date of the announcement of the presidential
elections results conducted on March 29."
Furthermore, there were no rules prescribed for the conduct of a run-off
election, and in particular the notice period set for the withdrawal of
candidature by a participant.
Under the heading: "Failure by the Electoral Commission to Ensure Free and
Fair Elections", he drew the ZEC's attention to the high level of
To date Tsvangirai said the country had recorded at least 86 deaths, 10 000
people injured, 10 000 homes destroyed and 200 000 people displaced.
However, despite the overwhelming difficulties and the appalling level of
violence, there is reason for Zimbabweans to have hope.
Across the region - and the continent - criticism of the regime is
escalating at a rapid rate and Zimbabwe's neighbours are closing ranks
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has responded by pledging to work urgently
with SADC and the African Union to help resolve the political impasse.
This week two legal opinions commissioned by the Southern African Litigation
Centre supported a conclusion that Tsvangirai had been duly elected
According to the legal experts, due to the delay and absence of a lawful
run-off, the candidate who obtained the greatest number of votes in the
March 29 election was the winner.
Ross Herbert, a research fellow at the South African Institute for
International Affairs, also confirmed this week that Tsvangirai had won.
"If we follow the Zimbabwe Electoral Act, legally, Morgan Tsvangirai is the
winner, the regime having failed to organise a re-run within 21 days after
the election result was released," Herbert said.
"This Friday's re-run is clearly outside the law and so its outcome will be
illegitimate," he concluded.
2 hours ago
HARARE (AFP) - As Zimbabwe heads into an election with President Robert
Mugabe as the sole candidate, some voters say pure self-protection is the
reason they'll head to the polling stations.
"I need to go and vote because I don't want anyone harassing me after the
vote," said one man, who like most Zimbabweans interviewed asked not to be
named. "I'm just going to get the ballot paper and put a x."
His comments and similar ones from others illustrate the tense atmosphere in
the approach to Zimbabwe's presidential run-off -- an election that
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has withdrawn from, saying violence had
made a fair vote impossible.
Ink on voters' fingers shows who has gone to the polls and who has not,
adding to pressure to turn out in favour of Mugabe.
"I don't want to vote, but I have to because I fear big harassment after,"
another man said.
Other signs of self-protection could be seen in the approach to the run-off.
Campaign posters, flags and other expressions of support for Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party have become the newest fashion in Zimbabwe -- but not
necessarily because his popularity is growing.
A bank worker hung a ruling party bandanna from his car's rear-view mirror
recently, saying he had little choice.
"This is protection against harassment by ZANU-PF youths," he said. "I don't
belong to any of these political parties and I am not interested in active
politics, but these days you just have to take precaution."
A number of people interviewed said the regalia serves as a kind of
protection as harassment and violence have risen ahead of the election.
Cars, buses and taxis have been festooned with Mugabe campaign material.
One driver with a campaign poster with Mugabe's portrait on his dashboard
said it acts as a pass when he is stopped at roadblocks.
"This is just like a visa. I don't get harassed by anyone and I can easily
drive to the rural areas with no questions asked," he said.
Areas of the countryside, where the opposition says a campaign of violence
was launched shortly after the first round of elections on March 29, have
become no-go areas for many city dwellers. The opposition draws much of its
support from urban areas.
But even in the capital, traditionally an opposition stronghold, youths can
be seen clad in ZANU-PF t-shirts.
For Mugabe's final pre-poll rally on the outskirts of Harare on Thursday,
ruling party supporters were seen going door to door pressuring people to
A taxi driver parking his car in downtown Harare recently pulled out a
poster from under his seat and stuck it on the windscreen, where it doubles
as a sunshield.
"With this, I can park my car anywhere even without displaying a parking
disk and none of these traffic police will dare clamp my car," he said.
Street vendors selling cellphone credit cards have traded the opposition
shirts they proudly sported ahead of the first round of the election on
March 29 with shirts in support of Mugabe.
Even before he pulled out of the race, there were few signs that Tsvangirai
was a candidate at all in the election, with hardly any of his campaign
posters on the streets.
But the Mugabe regalia alone is not a guarantee against harassment. Campaign
slogans can provide additional insurance.
"You have to know how to chant the slogans, otherwise you risk getting into
trouble if you run into these guys," said a vegetable vendor.
There are of course others who wear Mugabe gear as a genuine expression of
At the Mugabe rally on Thursday in a shopping centre parking lot in
Chitungwiza, outside of Harare, James Chisingaere was among many wearing a
shirt with Mugabe's face
He didn't hesitate when asked why he would bother voting for Mugabe when his
challenger has pulled out of the race.
"No, he is not alone (on the ballot)," the farmer from a village outside of
Harare said. "Morgan is in the race but he decided to chicken out at the
June 27, 2008
Jan Raath in Harare
Bread disappeared on Monday. It has happened before, only to turn up on the
shelves again a few days later, though this time things look different. "No
flour," the young woman behind the counter said with an air of finality.
We live in a country where nothing, not even our daily bread, can be taken
for granted as the economy slips into chaos and the streets are gripped by
anarchy. We live in fear of what's coming next.
I was driving for a meal with friends the other night and passed a mob of
about 30 youths, wearing T-shirts with Mr Mugabe's visage, long sticks at
the ready. Such scenes have not been uncommon in recent years, and
especially recent weeks, but this time I was witnessing them in the
comfortable, safe suburb of Highlands. You feel a silent whoosh as reality
suddenly drops away inside you.
At dinner I mentioned that war "veterans" had occupied the bars at the City
Bowling Club and Reps Theatre. People stopped talking and fiddled with their
You get a bad dose of dread when you pass a crowd of Zanu (PF) rabble, with
the taunting, knowing leers of a pack of bad dogs circling a cat in the
open. The depression after hearing John the plumber's story of his family
being held hostage in his rural area, to force him to return today to vote
for Mr Mugabe, stayed with me for days.
Even reading Zanu (PF)'s daily Herald newspaper, swollen with venom and
murderous threats, makes my stomach harden into a knot.
On bad days the ring of the mobile phone is like a fire bell going off next
to you. It's the same with the people who show me their burnt-out homes in a
township - when a car hoots or people shout in the street, the passers-by
flick their heads in the direction of the noise, their eyes wide with
There are many things that still give a semblance of normality. My
neighbour's son won the Poetry Club cup for elocution. A teacher nearby
takes her Jack Russells for obedience training. That innocent things can
still occur inside this barbarous, surreal world is deeply reassuring.
But a sense of danger and despair intrudes constantly now. A doctor who
deals with victims of violence says that he wants to cry all the time. My
pharmacist assures me that everyone who can afford it is on some kind of
antidepressant. Others drink themselves into a stupour every night.
The dread often grows into rage at the outrageous presumption of one little
old man with a monstrous ego causing an entire nation's agony. More than
anything else, there is a profound longing for the night to end. It would
end so abruptly if he just went away, or if he died. The nation is at
prayer, says a priest. But on and on it goes.
It was within catching distance when he lost the elections in March, but he
tore up the result. Each day there are signs and hopes, sometimes big ones,
such as this week when the entire international community, from the United
Nations Security Council to Nelson Mandela, turned on him.
But each time the door is slammed shut, on your fingers. He appears almost
Ranged against him, though, is an equally unworldly spirit, nurtured by the
people to whom he has done the most wicked things. Men and women who have
lost husbands, wives, children - burnt, hacked, with injuries inflicted with
such force that doctors cannot believe what they are seeing.
Victims of political violence are eerily resilient. "They don't behave like
victims of traffic accidents, who lie in bed and pull the blanket over their
heads," said Gertie the physiotherapist. "The ones who have been through
torture, they come into the ward, very soon they are smiling, they are
co-operative. They try hard to get better."
Those who lost their loved ones don't break into sobs, as most white people
I know would. They calmly relate how it happened, open the coffin lid to
show the corpse in the pose of a horrific death, point out the blood smears
on the walls and seem more worried about the loss of blankets and clothing.
Coping mechanism, said Liz, a psychologist. These people will be emotionally
damaged forever. But all of them say the same thing: "We will not give in to
As the election day grew closer, the violence became wilder, as if Mugabe
knew that the more he brutalised Zimbabweans, the more determined they
became to resist him.
Today he presides over an election that he cannot lose because he is the
only candidate, having made it impossible for anyone to stand against him.
It was the only way he could do it. Violence would not subdue the people.
Originally published 06:06 p.m., June 26, 2008, updated 06:04 p.m., June 26,
Zimbabwe's one-candidate presidential runoff is already a footnote, with the
world looking beyond Friday's electoral charade to how longtime leader
Robert Mugabe can be pushed toward real democracy.
Mugabe _ who at the 11th hour told a campaign rally Thursday he was willing
to talk to the opposition _ is expected to orchestrate a mass turnout, with
anyone who tries to stay home subject to attack.
Nigeria joined the chorus of nations in Africa and the West calling for the
vote to be postponed, saying Thursday it was doubtful a credible election
could be held. It said an observer mission for a West Africa bloc led by a
former Nigerian leader had been recalled from Zimbabwe.
The 84-year-old Mugabe has shown little interest in talks with Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, and his government had scoffed
at the opposition leader's call Wednesday to work together to form a
But at a campaign rally Thursday, Mugabe said: "We remain open to discussion
with the MDC." Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said that did not
indicate a softening toward the opposition, however, and any contacts could
only take place after Friday's vote.
Mugabe also told the crowd he would be going to Egypt, where a meeting of
African Union heads of state is to be held Monday _ presumably to attend as
a victorious re-elected president.
Tsvangirai announced Sunday he was withdrawing from Friday's vote because
state-sponsored violence against his Movement for Democratic Change had made
it impossible to run. He then fled to the Dutch Embassy for safety.
Speaking to the BBC World Service from inside the embassy, Tsvangirai said
he expected voters would be forced to the polls on Friday.
"There will be massive frog-marching of the people to the polling stations
by force," the opposition leader 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."
Still, he told his supporters not to resist if militants from Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party or government soldiers force them to go to the polls.
"They should go. If they even vote for ZANU-PF, if they even vote for
Mugabe, what does that change?" he said. "It makes no difference because the
vote is a fraud."
By Thursday, an atmosphere of tension and fear had settled over the capital.
Businesses and factories closed around noon ahead of Friday's poll. Most
schools had been shut since Monday, when teachers called parents to pick up
their children because suspected Mugabe militants had been spotted camped on
vacant scrubland nearby.
"There are too many people going around. It's like we are under some sort of
siege," said Chipo Chihota, standing in a food line near her daughter's
Trees and lamp posts across Harare were plastered with Mugabe election
posters. A few Tsvangirai posters left over from the first round of voting
on March 29 were defaced and torn, some with his eyes gouged out.
Peter Nyirenda, owner of a clothing store in eastern Harare, said his shop
had been closed since Tuesday. "It's not safe," he said.
In a parking lot for buses in downtown Harare, most minivan taxis and buses
were plastered with Mugabe stickers, fliers, posters and flags _ put there
on orders from militants, several drivers said.
Ruling party pickup trucks filled with youths wearing Mugabe campaign
T-shirts and scarves traversed downtown. Some shops locked down their
shutters and in a district of Asian-owned stores, extra private security
guards were posted.
"There's been a general mobilization of Mugabe's people," said one
businessman who gave his name only as Mukesh.
Witnesses in townships surrounding the capital said army troops and police
were on patrol and militants ordered market stalls and bars to close by
In well-to-do suburbs, sports clubs and restaurants were warned to close by
early evening. "We're not taking bookings tonight, and in any case all week
our regulars didn't want to be out after dark. It's that tense," said one
Kubatana, an independent information Web site, said Mugabe supporters were
manning roadblocks on main streets and highways. Witnesses reported nine
checkpoints on a 120-mile stretch of highway from the eastern city of
Mutare, five manned only by militants.
Mugabe supporters were intimidating voters, warning them to turn out in
large numbers to give Mugabe a landslide win, Kubatana quoted residents as
saying. It said anyone without indelible ink stains from polling stations on
their fingers would be seen as boycotting the vote in support of
Mugabe officials were also demanding voters write down the serial numbers of
their ballot papers so their votes could be checked later, the Web site
said. It said village elders said they would log the names of voters at
polling stations to cast their ballots, and voters who didn't show up would
U.S. Ambassador James McGee said in a statement that the embassy had also
received reports that Mugabe's party "will force people to vote on Friday
and take action against those who refuse."
The main independent local election observer group, the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network, said Thursday it was unable to field monitors because they
had not been accredited. It said Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is
also chief spokesman for Mugabe's party, restricted it to only 500 monitors
for the runoff, but failed to clear them for accreditation.
In the first round of voting, the group deployed several thousand monitors
and was the biggest independent body observing at about 9,000 polling
Tsvangirai came in first in a field of four in the first round of voting,
but did not get the majority needed to avoid a runoff against Mugabe. That
campaign was generally peaceful, but the runoff has been overshadowed by
violence and intimidation, especially in rural areas.
Independent human rights groups say 85 people have died and tens of
thousands have been displaced from their homes, most of them opposition
An East african perspective
Sometime last week, I received a hate mail from one Larry Hill, who though his name looked European, I suspected was some blind Zimbabwean supporter of Robert Mugabe come rain or sunshine.
The man was annoyed with me over an article I had written earlier in the week. In that article I questioned why the World Food Programme in Rome had excluded Mugabe from a farewell dinner soon after the World Food Summit in Rome.
This is what Larry Hill said:
“Hello Jerry, in regards to your article, ‘How Mugabe’s speech caused him a plate of chips in Rome’ written on Wednesday, June 11, 2008, I have to say I read the article and felt pitiful that I almost cried at Africa. You have sold your soul to the white propaganda machine for a mere $0.10 and you are not bothered at all. I would rather you go pick up a book and read about the colonisation of Africa, The Berlin conference of 1884, the 500 years of slavery. The stupid African kings thought they were just selling their brothers from different tribes, but in turn the whole continent was enslaved. Now the continent is again under siege from the great grandsons of the former colonisers and you can’t see that? Why not talk about the promises the British reneged on, they have not paid a dime of the 50 million pounds they were to pay for the resettlement of the white settlers. The land question in Zimbabwe had not been answered. I believe this is hard to envision, given Kenyans lost their land a long time ago and they don’t even remember what it means to own land. Very sad.”
When I read this article, I didn’t even feel angry at this Zimbabwean African who found it necessary to judge me for writing about Robert Mugabe. What was even more annoying was the fact that Larry Hill, in his blind faith for Robert Mugabe despite the latter’s atrocities, didn’t even bother to open his eyes to see what was unfolding in his country! Perhaps his kind is the reason despots in Africa continue to act with impunity. They have a cult-like following despite their crimes against humanity.
This article is directed at the African and the world community. What is happening in Zimbabwe is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to go on when the Rwanda trials are still going on next door in Arusha, Tanzania. How can the world community, more so Africa stand there and fold their arms while Mugabe is slaughtering his own people?
How can the African leaders, especially Thabo Mbeki and Jakaya Kikwete call themselves African leaders while one of their own in the SADDC region is carrying out genocide right in front of their eyes?
Wasn’t it an insult to see Ban Ki-moon the UN Secretary General shifting the embarrassment to the African Union just hours after the UN Security Council merely condemned the Zimbabwe crisis?
Why is it that when there is a crisis of this nature in Africa, it is always an African problem that requires an African solution? On what basis did the Allied Forces invade Iraq twice in 1993 and 2003, the latter still going on today? On what basis did America and her allies hang Saddam Hussein?
Were Saddam’s sins against humanity worse than Mugabe’s murderous orgy that is in progress?
On what basis did the NATO forces invade Bosnia and Kosovo at the height of genocide in that region? How come when Rwanda was burning in 1994, it was an African problem that did not require superpower and UN interventions?
How come when the apartheid regime was carrying out genocide inside South Africa while murdering innocent civilians in cross-border raids among frontline states, the superpower that controlled the UN decisions stood by for 40 years and did nothing for Africans except Fidel Castro who intervened militarily in the region?
To the African leaders and the United Nations, I say that Robert Mugabe has crossed the line. The despot must be removed by force if necessary to stop him from further annihilating his country, his record as a freedom fighter notwithstanding.
Zimbabweans did not fight for freedom only to be massacred by one of their own!
Because of the shame of what is going on in Zimbabwe, the African Union and the United Nations stand condemned in the court of World Public Opinion.
One bright moment in a grim week
Tendai Biti, the secretary-general of Zimbabwe's opposition MDC, was set
free by a Harare court yesterday, Thursday, just in time for the world's
most pointless election.
It was the one bright moment in an otherwise depressing week as, despite
international pressure reaching an unprecedented pitch, Mugabe and his
ruling Zanu-PF junta refused to postpone or call off today's one-man
presidential re-run poll.
With Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, refusing to take part in the poll,
no-one can forecast how the people will react to what is clearly a farce
being enacted before their eyes. But few expect any lessening of the
government-inspired violence that has rocked the country in the past weeks.
Biti, who had been facing charges of treason which carry the death penalty,
plus other charges relating to making false statements, and one ludicrous
charge of insulting the president, was arrested two weeks ago.
The court set his bail at one trillion Zimbabwe dollars - that's roughly one
hunded pounds or two hundred US dollars at the time of writing. But it set
severe conditions. He must remain in his home, hand in his passport and the
deeds to his house, and report to the police once a week.
But the court gave us a brief indication that justice is not entirely a lost
cause here yet, when it stated that the evidence against Biti appeared to be
Biti himself told reporters that conditions in prison accurately reflect the
state of the country.
"People are dying in there. People have no food. People have no blankets. It
is a depressing place, it really attacks your morale, your strength. So I am
tired now - but the struggle continues."
Posted on Thursday, 26 June 2008 at 21:17
Thu 26 Jun 2008, 21:08 GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE, June 27 (Reuters) - Zimbabweans vote in a one-sided presidential
run-off on Friday after President Robert Mugabe defied mounting world
condemnation and calls to potspone an election which the opposition says is
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who beat Mugabe in the first round of
voting in March, withdrew from the run-off last Sunday over violence and
intimidation of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters by the
ruling ZANU-PF party.
The poll has already been widely condemned and a security committee of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called for the vote to be
postponed, saying Mugabe's re-election as the only candidate could lack
But Mugabe, 84, and planning to extend his 28-year-old uninterrupted rule,
remained defiant and even ridiculed African leaders who have made calls to
delay that election. "Even today they are saying do away with the election,
what stupidity is that," Mugabe said at his last campaign rally on Thursday,
where he urged people to vote in large numbers.
Mugabe has barred observers from Western countries critical of his
government and all but refused entry to hundreds of foreign journalists who
were keen to cover the election.
A grouping of local observers has said its members were harassed and
intimidated by government supporters and would not observe Friday's vote.
But Zimbabwe's electoral authorities have forged ahead with preparations for
the poll, deploying thousands of polling officers across the country and
distributing ballot boxes and papers to more than 8,000 polling stations.
Police said they would deploy officers to prevent any trouble.
Analysts said Mugabe was pressing ahead with the election in a bid to cement
his grip on power and strengthen his hand if he is forced to negotiate with
Mugabe has said he is willing to sit down with the MDC but would not bow to
outside pressure, even from the African Union.
African heavyweight Nigeria backed the SADC's call for a postponement,
saying it was doubtful a credible poll could be held under the current
"Clearly Mugabe's plan is to be in a stronger position come negotiating day
but the whole process lacks legitimacy both locally and internationally,"
John Makumbe, a political analyst and longtime Mugabe critic said.
Zimbabweans had hoped the run-off would help end a severe economic crisis
marked by acute shortages of foreign currency, food, an 80 percent
unemployment rate and the world's highest inflation rate, estimated to be
two million percent.
A loaf of bread now costs 6 billion Zimbabwe dollars, or 150 times more than
at the time of the first round of elections.
The MDC says nearly 90 of its supporters have died in political violence
which it blamed on supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF. Mugabe says the
opposition has been responsible for the violence.
Tsvangirai said if Mugabe declared himself president he would be shunned as
an illegitimate leader who killed his own people.
"I will not be voting, I think it does not make sense to vote when one of
the candidates has already withdrawn from that contest," said Terrence
Mukumba, a Harare-based bank employee.
The MDC said it feared ZANU-PF would force people to vote, especially in
rural areas, ruling party strongholds where Mugabe seemed to have lost his
support to the MDC during the first round of voting in March.
"What will happen tomorrow is that people will be forced to vote ... because
the military were mobilised to accompany this process," Tsvangirai said in
an interview on Thursday with Portuguese radio station Renascenca, which
gave Reuters a transcript.
Zimbabwean police said Britain and the United States were backing plans by
the MDC and some NGOs to disrupt Friday's vote with violence, including
burning down voting tents.
Since the March elections, Mugabe has rallied his shock troops, war veterans
of the 1970s independence war and youth militia, in a violent campaign that
critics say has made a free and fair election impossible.
"The whole thing, as we said at the beginning, was always going to be a
runover over people and the closer we got to the 27th of June the clearer it
became that this was a farce," MDC secretary general Tendai Biti told
journalists on his release from prison on Thursday. (Additional reporting by
Cris Chinaka and Nelson Banya, Editing by Marius Bosch and Richard
Monsters and Critics
Jun 26, 2008, 19:40 GMT
New York - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe faced a serious question about the legitimacy of the
runoff presidential elections if the vote were to take place as scheduled on
Ban renewed a call he made to Mugabe to postpone the vote, in part based on
an African Union request. He said he discussed the matter on Thursday with
Angola's President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who is leading talks to defuse
the crisis in Zimbabwe.
'The situation seems to be evolving, but I am still concerned that if the
election is held under these circumstances, there will be serious questions
about the legitimacy of the election,' Ban said at a press conference.
He said the runoff cannot be credible and fair and therefore should be
postponed until 'such a time when we can create fair and credible
'I again urge the African leaders to engage in more dialogue (with
Zimbabwe),' he said. 'The United Nations fully supports the Southern African
Development Community and African Union positions to postpone the election.'
ABUJA, June 26 (AFP)
Nigeria on Thursday added its voice to the growing international pressure on
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe over an election in which the opposition
candidate has withdrawn in protest over violence.
The Nigerian government was "deeply concerned" at the prospect of polls on
Friday "from which the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), has withdrawn its participation because of an unacceptable
risk to the lives and property of its followers," it said in a statement.
"In the present circumstances, it is doubtful if a credible run-off election
can be held in Zimbabwe," it added.
International criticism of Mugabe been intensified in the run-up to the
election with former South African President Nelson Mandela speaking of a
"tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe" in a rare public
statement on the crisis.
US President George W. Bush has said the polls "appear to be a sham."
The MDC says more than 80 of its supporters have been killed and thousands
injured in a campaign of intimidation in the approach to the run-off vote
which was triggered by MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai's victory in the
first round vote on March 29.
June 27, 2008
With four carefully chosen words the 89-year-old Nelson Mandela showed why
he is still the master of political theatre. At a banquet in London on
Wednesday the anti-apartheid hero said simply that he regretted the "tragic
failure of leadership" in Zimbabwe. It was enough to win plaudits from all
sides for breaking a self-imposed silence on current affairs when he retired
from public life nine years ago.
His successor as President of South Africa can only look on in awe. Thabo
Mbeki, derided widely for his efforts to mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis,
has tried for years to escape Mr Mandela's shadow. Time and again he has
Nowhere has that failure been more evident than in his dealings with
Zimbabwe. Privately, Mr Mbeki is said to be furious with Robert Mugabe, who
is now reportedly refusing to take his calls. However, he still refuses to
criticise him publicly for fear that it will jeopardise his influence - an
influence he clearly does not have. "Politics is the art of communication
and Thabo just does not have it ... He is his own worst enemy," a former
Mr Mandela may have the authority of the world's elder statesman, but he
said nothing that has not been said by others in the region. His comments
were weaker than the statements by South Africa's ruling African National
Congress (ANC) and the UN resolution, supported by Mr Mbeki's Government.
Mr Mandela studiously avoided mentioning Mr Mugabe by name and broadened his
critique to include the country's entire leadership - a swipe at senior Zanu
(PF) members who failed to rein in Mr Mugabe when they had the chance. But
one short phrase was enough to put him on the side of the angels; Mr Mbeki's
silence sees him condemned by all.
Insiders say that much of the criticism levelled at Mr Mbeki is unfair. He
has worked tirelessly to broker an accord, and it was his pressure that won
two key concessions before the first round of voting: an agreement to post
the results outside every polling station, and to allow representatives of
every political party and independent monitors inside. These two steps
directly contributed to Mr Mugabe officially losing an election for the
first time since he took office in 1980.
"This made cheating much more difficult, especially in the age of mobile
telephony with results immediately texted around the country," said a
diplomat from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) - the
organisation that originally gave Mr Mbeki a task no one else in the region
Mr Mbeki, 66, felt that making public statements would compromise his role
as an honest broker. In addition, he knew it was important not to break one
of Africa's taboos by publicly berating a hero of the liberation movement,
particularly at the behest of former colonial powers. His refusal to
compromise prevented him from distinguishing between criticising the
Government and condemning atrocities and human rights violations. That
simple gesture was urged on him by the outside world and he has paid a high
price for failing to do so. Consequently, he has ended up pleasing no one
and looking ridiculously weak.
Now dubbed Thabo "What Crisis?" Mbeki, his hopes of a big international job
when he finally limps out of office next year have all but evaporated.
Unlike his wily predecessor, he lacked the skill and strength of character
to navigate a safe middle passage.
It is a failing made worse by an arrogance that has blighted his entire
political career. Last December, it cost him the ANC leadership when he
refused to stand down in favour of a pro-Mbeki third candidate. That move
handed the ANC to his great rival, the populist Jacob Zuma, and his
left-wing union friends. It has left Mr Mbeki a lame duck president at home
and put his entire legacy of economic growth in jeopardy.
Perhaps his own father was right. When told that his son was to take over
once Mr Mandela had stepped down, Govan Mbeki - a hero of the movement
himself - reportedly said: "No, he is not ready. Thabo is not big enough to
lead the ANC."
by Cuthbert Nzou Friday 27 June 2008
HARARE - United Nations (UN) country representative Agostinho Zacarias has
told Zimbabwean authorities that the world body could be forced to withdraw
from the southern African country if its workers continued to be targeted in
According to sources in the diplomatic community, Zacarias met with Police
Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri on Wednesday and told him that the UN
was considering relocating to neighbouring countries due to escalating
political violence in Zimbabwe.
"Zacarias and Chihuri met this Wednesday," said one of the sources. "He
expressed concern over continued harassment and intimidation of aid workers
and gave Chihuri an ultimatum to ensure security of UN personnel."
Both Zacarias and Chihuri were not immediately available for comment on the
But our sources said the UN coordinator told Chihuri that unless police
acted to protect UN workers from intimidation and other acts of violence the
organization would revise Zimbabwe's security rating from its present
category two rating to category three.
Category two is for countries where movement for diplomats is restricted
while category three is for countries where diplomats are so insecure that
the UN has to relocate its offices to safer neighbouring states.
Chihuri is said to have promised Zacarias that the police would issue
"special letters" for UN humanitarian aid workers to ensure their safety
throughout the country.
In an interoffice memorandum shown to ZimOnline, Zacarias said there were
reported cases of political violence throughout the country and feared that
the simmering tension between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party and President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party would affect
the UN's local operations.
"Since 29th March, there have been cases where our UN colleagues, especially
national staff have been harassed by youth and others who were politically
motivated," Zacarias said in the memorandum dated June 24.
Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour on Thursday
condemned political violence ahead of the country's controversial
presidential run-off election today.
Arbour, an outspoken critic of Zimbabwe's poor human rights record, said
violence had created a "perversion of democracy" in the African country.
In a statement issued from Geneva, the UNHCR chief accused Mugabe's ZANU PF
party of committing gross human rights violations but said the opposition
MDC was also guilty of committing some of the abuses.
Arbour said: "Victims and their relatives deserve justice. Those who
perpetrate crimes must be held to account."
Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was not immediately available
for comment on the matter. - ZimOnline
Fareed Zakaria is a preeminent foreign affairs analyst and hosts "Fareed Zakaria: GPS" on CNN Sundays at 1 p.m. ET . He spoke to CNN about the crisis in Zimbabwe.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Zimbabwe's main opposition party is urging the world to intervene immediately before a mounting political crisis in the country gets even worse. Analyst Fareed Zakaria gives his view of the situation.
CNN: What should we make of the crisis in Zimbabwe?
Zakaria: Robert Mugabe is using every trick in the book -- many of them nasty and brutish -- to stay in power. But what does that mean? Zimbabwe is already under sanctions. Perhaps tighter sanctions will have an effect, but in general, this is an illustration of one of the great frustrations of diplomacy. You can watch an intolerable situation involving great injustice, but still be unable to do that much about it.
CNN: Should military force be an option?
Zakaria: Well, you should never rule anything out, but it's a lousy option. It would arouse strong opposition. And what happens the day after the invasion? You now own Zimbabwe, a country that Mugabe and his regime have run into the ground over the last 30 years. Watch victims of beatings in Zimbabwe »
CNN: So could anything work?
Zakaria: The world should try real, foolproof sanctions that are not directed against the country but the regime, the few hundred people at the top. Freeze their bank accounts, make it impossible for them to travel anywhere, revoke the visas of their children who are studying abroad. Let them -- not ordinary Zimbabweans -- pay for Mugabe's crimes.CNN: Should the United States lead on this issue?
Zakaria: No. The U.S. should certainly make its position clear, but it doesn't have the credibility to make the difference. Only one country does -- South Africa. And its president, Thabo Mbeki, has been shamefully quiet about the horrors in Zimbabwe. Mbeki has abdicated his country's natural leadership role in Africa by his cowardice and complicity. Mbeki should hang his head in shame.
CNN: The UK has been taking a lead position in condemning Mugabe. ... Is this appropriate, given its history in Zimbabwe?
Zakaria: Absolutely. Britain has long ties with Zimbabwe and knows the country well. I don't think it should be paralyzed by its colonial past. As John Burns of The New York Times says on our show this week, "Zimbabweans aren't stupid, and Africans aren't stupid." Mugabe is trying to play the colonial card against Britain, but it won't work. Britain is doing the right thing.
June 27, 2008
Tyrants may try to ban it, but humour has a way of seeping through the
cracks of any dictatorship
Heard the one about Zimbabwe? A policeman stops a motorist and asks for a
donation: terrorists have kidnapped the former Sir Robert Mugabe, and have
vowed to soak him in petrol and set him alight if the ransom is not paid.
"How much are other people giving?" the motorist asks.
"On average about two or three litres." It may not be new, or even funny,
but the joke represents one of the few points of light on the dark landscape
of Zimbabwe. Mugabe and his thugs have killed off any meaningful election,
food shortages are acute, inflation is heading for 1.5 million per cent, but
one currency in Zimbabwe is steadily increasing in value - jokes.
Unreported amid the horrors is the growth of underground anti-government
humour. Jokes about Mugabe are a crime; anyone saying or writing anything
insulting to the Government is liable to be arrested. Yet the jokes are
spreading, by text message, e-mail and by word of mouth. The www.nyambo.com
website is dedicated to Zimbabwean humour. ("Nyambo" is Shona for "jokes".)
Question: What did Zimbabweans use for light before candles? Answer:
There is no sound more terrifying to a tyrant than a collective snigger.
"Every joke is a tiny revolution," George Orwell wrote. The moment of truth
for the Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu came when he looked out over the
balcony during a rally in Bucharest and heard not the regimented chanting of
a cowed people but the unmistakable susurrus of rebellion, a welling,
mocking laughter that signalled the end.
Jokes alone cannot topple dictators, but anti-regime humour is the most
subtle form of revolt, the slow erosion of a despot's dignity, a survival
mechanism, a cathartic snook cocked at the stupidity, cruelty and hypocrisy
of life under the boot.
Autocrats have seldom managed to suppress humour, although most have tried.
Satire is banned in North Korea, the world's most humourless land. Earlier
this month, police arrested Zarganar, Burma's most famous comedian, who has
attracted a wide following by mocking its military rulers. Zarganar had led
efforts to distribute humanitarian aid to victims of Cyclone Nargis.
Official reports accused "unscrupulous elements" of exaggerating the
"Humour," as Joseph Goebbels remarked, "has its limits." He was wrong, of
course, for humour has no limits, and an uncanny way of seeping through
cracks of the most vicious dictatorship.
Iraqis laughed behind their hands at Saddam Hussein, Romanians secretly
teased Ceausescu (Why does he hold a May Day rally each year? To see how
many people have survived the winter) and the French Revolution was preceded
by a spontaneous upsurge of ribald humour at the expense of the monarchy.
Perhaps the most extraordinary proof of how humour can survive and even
flourish under oppression is the spread of jokes under Soviet communism. In
a fascinating new study entitled Hammer and Tickle, published by Weidenfeld
& Nicolson, Ben Lewis explores the wealth of subversive humour during the
long, bleak decades of communism.
People gathered, treasured and exchanged jokes, the "music of the oppressed",
in Lewis's words - jokes about the endless shortages, official corruption,
and the chasm between official pronouncement and crushing everyday reality:
laughter in the face of unhappy truth.
Question: What stage comes between socialism and communism? Answer:
Humour did not defeat communism, but it helped, chipping away at the plinth
of dignity and omniscience on which the entire, ludicrous structure was
perched. Ronald Reagan used to insist on telling anti-Soviet jokes to
Mikhail Gorbachev at every meeting, to make a point - that the jokes made
about him did not threaten the entire political system.
Party bosses understood the danger, and attempted to co-opt humour itself.
Stalin encouraged jokes about Trotsky. Soviet ideologues invented "positive
humour", a genre designed to emphasise the virtues of communism, and
The most chilling moment in The Lives of Others, the brilliant 2007 film
about East Germany's surveillance society, comes when a Stasi boss overhears
a young underling telling a mild joke about Erich Honecker: he bids him
repeat the joke, laughs heartily and then takes down his name and rank.
Perhaps the same sort of thinking lies behind Robert Mugabe's amusing dress
sense - wear a ludicrous shirt and see who dares laugh, the Emperor's New
Clothes in reverse.
Hitler authorised a book of cartoons in 1933 respectfully satirising
himself, apparently in the belief that if humour was tolerated, up to a
point, it might be controlled.
A thin but resilient vein of humour persisted, even in the death camps,
where a mordant Jewish wit survived. What is the difference between a Jewish
optimist and Jewish pessimist: Jewish pessimists are all in exile; Jewish
optimists are all in concentration camps.
In July 1944 Father Josef Möller was sentenced to hang by a Nazi court for
"one of the most vile and dangerous attacks directed at our confidence in
He had told two parishioners this joke. A fatally wounded German soldier
asked his chaplain to grant a final wish: "Place a picture of Hitler on one
side of me, and a picture of Goering on the other side; that way I can die
like Jesus - between two criminals."
Möller's last joke, Holocaust humour, the Soviets mocking their own plight
and the thousands of Zimbabweans exchanging grim laughter in the face of
brutality - these mark the strange point in history where courage and comedy
combine. The very best jokes do not just make us laugh.
June 26, 2008, 18:30
The pre-election violence has taken its toll in Zimbabwe. With the run-off
only hours away, many fear for their lives and have sought refuge outside
the South African Embassy in Harare. The group says they fled the Movement
for Democratic Change's headquarters following a police raid.
As the Zimbabwean crisis deepens, the number of refugees fleeing to South
Africa is on the increase and churches in central Johannesburg have to house
"The southern African authorities and South African government can
definitely expect that more Zimbabweans will stream in across the border
over the next few days, and this will just make the situation here at home
even more difficult to deal with," said human rights lawyer, Jacob van
Analysts warn the next few days are critical and could see even more people
fleeing to neighbouring countries.
While efforts for a solution to the country's political crisis are becoming
even more urgent, civil society has opened their hearts to the Zimbabwean
June 26, 2008, 22:15
As the world calls for the cancellation of Zimbabwe's presidential run-off
tomorrow, the town of Musina in Limpopo is grappling with an increasing
number of displaced Zimbabwean children.
Various business people, church organisations and members of the Limpopo
First Lady's Trust Account have donated food, clothes and blankets to about
30 displaced Zimbabwean children found roaming the streets of Musina.
The number of displaced Zimbabwean children from the ages of eight to 18 is
increasing around Beitbridge and Musina. Most of them say they ran away from
their country due to poverty and the ongoing violence. They sleep at the
Musina police station and during the day, police take them to a place of
safety, but some end up on the streets.
Thanks to some business people in the province, police, Save the Children UK
and a church organization, a trust account has been started today wherein
donors will deposit money aimed to help the children.
Save the children UK has also bought a house which will be temporarily used
as a center for the children. The first land trust account has also donated
R5 000 to assist in setting up the Zimbabwean Children Trust account.
Why do taxpayers permit their billions to be used to support a totally
degenerated tin pot dictator?
26 Jun 2008 17:44
JOHANNESBURG - -
Why do taxpayers around the world allow their billions of collective tax
dollars to be spent supporting Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, by popular
consensus rated as a totally degenerated tin pot dictator? To grapple with
this conundrum, consider that the modern world houses more multilateral
organisations than ever before. The long list includes the likes of the
United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, entities funded by billions
of taxpayer dollars.
The world also has more "do good" NGOs (non governmental organisations) than
ever before, and a record number of relief agencies. These are often at
least partially funded by governments, which are funded by taxpayers,
individuals which in turn often make direct donations to these kinds of
entities, in the manner of voluntary tax dollars. It's estimated that there
are more than 40,000 so-called INGOs (international NGOs), and hundreds of
thousands of country NGOs.
The billions of dollar confiscated from, or donated by, countless
individuals, are being used to prop up one of the most appalling characters
known to history. Link up the world's biggest multilateral organisations,
its biggest NGOs, and its biggest relief agencies, and all you get for your
taxpayer and donated dollars are an increasingly demented Mugabe turning up
his volume of invective aimed at the world as a whole, while perpetuating
gross human rights atrocities under the world's proverbial nose.
Nobody watching on seems to give a damn, yet at the same time, everyone
watching on is kicking themselves in the shins. Never has the world been so
organised, and never has it had so pitiful little to show for it. Mugabe
will never match the status of a Ghengis Khan or an Attila the Hun, nor rank
as a poor cousin of Adolph Hitler, nor be described by sane people as an Idi
Amin wannabe. Mugabe will instead go down as the architect of one of the
world's biggest sewage pits, and will be remembered only as an industrially
Anyone familiar with the military will know that Zimbabwe's capital, Harare,
could be taken by a professional regiment led by a seasoned colonel,
accompanied by decent hardware, and escorted by a couple of well-equipped
Apache helicopters. Make no mistake, when it's clear that Mugabe's going to
be captured, it will be impossible to ever find anyone who supported him.
The drained Zimbabwe Defence Force, police and army veterans (most barely
out of their teens) would be burning their clothes the moment chopper blades
Professional and decisive military action - with no threat of preemptive
violence - is the only logical option left available to an appalled global
audience watching on as Mugabe's goons escalate an orgy of violent murders,
accompanied by rape and every possible version and perversion of human
rights atrocities. The tragedy is that it's going to prove impossible, in
practice, to establish consensus on military action, especially with the
likes of South African president Thabo Mbeki seemingly lurking around like a
flittering shadow in a fresh mass graveyard.
Beyond the squandering of billions of taxpayer dollars, the world has
completely lost its moral compass. Even the most outspoken leaders avoid
calling for military intervention. This week US presidential candidate
Barack Obama called on the UN to continue applying "as much pressure as
possible on the Mugabe government". He added that "in particular other
African nations, including South Africa, have to be much more forceful in
condemning the extraordinary violence that's been taking place there".
John McCain, the other US presidential candidate, with the military strongly
in his personal history, also falls short of calling for what's really
needed: "I believe the international community must act to impose sanctions
against Mugabe and his cronies and thereby hasten the end of that regime".
If the world is vaguely democratic, vaguely free and vaguely hopeful, the
proof lies in the overwhelming ongoing violence perpetrated by Mugabe, the
(RTTNews) - The Dutch government issued a warning on the eve of Zimbabwe's
presidential election run-off, advising its citizens not to travel to the
unstable African country.
The Netherlands is apparently concerned over a possible repercussion over
its giving shelter to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who pulled out of
Friday's election re-run against President Robert Mugabe after assessing
that the election will not be free and fair.
Tsvangiari sought refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare last week because of
fears for his safety.
The Dutch foreign ministry said in a statement that the government was
concerned about the security of its citizens in Zimbabwe during and after
About 600 Dutch citizens in Zimbabwe have been asked to provide their
contact details in the embassy in the capital.
For comments and feedback: contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Germany's Human Rights Commissioner Guenter Nooke called the political
crisis in Zimbabwe a tragedy. In a DW-WORLD interview, he said the regional
southern African body (SADC) needs to take up the issue urgently.
On the eve of the controversial election in Zimbabwe, German Human Rights
Commissioner Guenter Nooke described the political crisis in Zimbabwe as a
decades' old "tragedy" which the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) region needs to deal with urgently.
"The Zimbabwean crisis has been a tragedy for decades. It is up to the
southern Africa region to save the people of Zimbabwe and really take up the
issue as a matter of urgency," Nooke told DW-WORLD in a telephone interview
The German politician said it was the responsibility of political leaders in
Zimbabwe and the southern African region to find a solution to the crisis
which has since claimed lives of more than a dozen supporters for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and displaced thousands.
"It is the responsibility of Zimbabwean and SADC leaders to find solutions
to this difficult and terrible situation today. I understand it when African
leaders say they don't want Europeans or those from the western world to
speak on African issues but they have to take the responsibility and speak
emphatically on issues," said Nooke.
Military intervention not an option
The German added that he disagrees sharply with those who are advocating
military intervention in Zimbabwe as a way of solving the crisis.Dialogue
should be exhausted before people can start talking about such moves, he
"Military intervention should not be an option, but it is important for the
international community to speak with one voice whether it's the European
Union, SADC or African Union. Military intervention will not be a good move.
People should speak whether with silent diplomacy or shouting, but a
solution should come through speaking," he said.
Elections should be postponed
Despite announcements by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai that he will
not participate in elections scheduled for June 27, the Zimbabwe government
was reported to have been forging ahead with plans to hold the run-off
presidential poll, which would leave Mugabe as the sole candidate.
Echoing the reactions of the international community and the SADC, Guenter
Nooke said Zimbabwean authorities should have called off the elections.
"It would have been better if elections had been stopped," Nooke said.
EU voices concern over violence
On June 25 the EU backed an African call to postpone the presidential
run-off vote in Zimbabwe saying the results of the poll would not reflect
the will of the people. The EU presidency issued a statement expressing
concern about violence that has dogged campaigning ahead of the election.
"Harassment of the opposition and the campaign of violence in the country
have led to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's
decision to withdraw from the second round of the presidential
elections," the statement said.
"These circumstances cannot credibly lead to a result that
reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people. Therefore the EU presidency
expresses its full support to the SADC call for the postponement of the
second round of the elections."
The statement also called for an immediate halt to the violence
and the release of political prisoners. The opposition MDC party says about
2,000 of its supporters are behind bars.
Jun 26th 2008
From The Economist print edition
By forcing the opposition to abandon the election, Robert Mugabe has
undermined his position
IT IS hard to believe that the horrors inflicted by Zimbabwe's ruler on his
own people could get worse. But even in the past week they have. The burning
to death of a six-year-old boy because his father is an opposition
politician, and the butchering of the young wife of the capital's new
opposition mayor, are part of a growing wave of violence that has persuaded
Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, to withdraw from the presidential
run-off that was due on June 27th. He rightly felt that, by standing in the
election, he was risking the lives of too many thousands of his supporters.
Yet Robert Mugabe's crimes are finally coming home to roost. He will claim
to be re-elected president, by default. But he has lost one of the big
things that have kept him in power to date: the grudging support of Africa.
His brutality and fraudulence have become so plain for all to see that
neighbours who once defended him are changing their tune. Just as he is
poised to declare himself the winner, almost the entire continent-not to
mention the rest of the world-has come to believe that he cannot be allowed
to stay in office .
He is, as a result, weaker; but he and his thugs are determined to hang on.
He has the tyrant's delusion that "only God", as he puts it, can displace
him. So Western and African countries, especially Zimbabwe's neighbours,
must act in concert to get rid of the ogre that has shamed an entire
How to finish him off
The first and easiest act is to refuse to recognise any administration led
by Mr Mugabe. The European Union, the United States and much of the rich
world will ostracise him. Now is the time for Africa, especially the
influential regional club of 14 countries known as the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), to follow suit. A swelling chorus of other
African leaders has condemned the election as unfair. Even South Africa,
whose spineless president, Thabo Mbeki, is still refusing to criticise Mr
Mugabe outright, has begun to turn against him. Its likely next president,
Jacob Zuma, is increasingly exasperated. Its trade unions have called for a
blockade of Zimbabwe, symbolic at first but perhaps a harbinger of pressure
to come. Nelson Mandela, South Africa's beacon of decency, in London this
week to celebrate his 90th birthday, spoke out against the "tragic failure
of leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe".
South Africa remains the key. Its leaders have long had the power to bring
Mr Mugabe to his knees, just as their white predecessors squeezed the life
out of Rhodesia's white-supremacist leader, Ian Smith, three decades ago,
letting Mr Mugabe take over when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. Mr Mbeki will
argue that economic strangulation would hurt the hapless Zimbabwean masses
more than the pampered elite around Mr Mugabe. In the short run, he is
right. Humanitarian aid must continue to flow into Zimbabwe, though Mr
Mugabe has made it hard-often impossible-for charitable outfits to ensure
that their largesse goes directly to the right poor people. But South
Africa, along with other countries in the SADC, should certainly join in
imposing the targeted sanctions already enforced by the EU, the Americans
and other governments against Mr Mugabe and 130-odd of his closest comrades,
who are banned from visiting the penalising countries and have had their
assets there frozen. Depriving Mr Mugabe's cronies of trips to a decent
country that works could have a salutary effect.
The African Union (AU), which embraces all 53 of Africa's countries, should
also be far more robustly involved. Unlike the SADC, which is often
paralysed by its search for consensus, the AU's rules provide for decisions,
specifically including the imposition of sanctions on errant members, to be
taken by a two-thirds majority. The union is holding its annual summit next
week, in Egypt. It should call on its members not to recognise Mr Mugabe as
president or his party as the government.
The United Nations, too, must be ready to help. South Africa has been
disgracefully blocking discussion of Zimbabwe in the 15-strong Security
Council, of which it is a current member (see article). But this week it was
shamed into signing a unanimous statement deploring the Zimbabwean
government's violence. There have been calls for the UN to send peacekeepers
and to oversee fresh elections: a nice idea that will not come to pass any
time soon. At present, no such resolution in the Security Council would get
the necessary support, especially from Russia and China (not to mention
South Africa). Moreover, while the loss of life in such blighted places as
Sudan's Darfur province and Somalia is still many times higher than in
Zimbabwe, the UN has proved unable to send anything like an adequate force
to those places; getting the Security Council, and in particular China, to
take action over Darfur was like pulling teeth. Yet there is every reason to
start campaigning for the UN to take up the cause of Zimbabwe too. It should
certainly help to manage a fresh election.
Why not send in the troops?
Some romantic spirits ask why Mr Mugabe cannot be ousted by force-by Western
powers, if not the UN. It would be glorious if he were removed by any method
at all. But it remains unthinkable for such an action to be taken without
the co-operation-logistical, among other things-of the region's leaders.
Persuading them to collaborate in isolating Mr Mugabe is hard enough.
Deploying an international force should not be ruled out in the future,
especially if the violence spreads. But other methods, with Africans to the
fore, must be tried first.
In any event, the rich world should spell out a generous and co-ordinated
recovery plan to be acted on as soon as Mr Mugabe has gone and proper
elections held that would presumably bring Mr Tsvangirai to power. Zimbabwe
needs at least $10 billion to put it on the path to recovery. Yet it is a
resource-rich country with a core of well-educated people, millions of whom
have fled abroad and must be wooed back home. Mr Mugabe may cling to power
for a while, but his grip is weaker. Zimbabwe needs help from the West. But
most of all it needs its African neighbours to tell the tyrant unambiguously
to go-and to snuff him out if he refuses. It can be done.
Sydney Morning Herald
June 27, 2008
The Government of Zimbabwe recently ordered foreign aid groups to halt their
operations within its borders, thereby blocking the food aid that the United
Nations funnels through such organisations from getting to the country's
starving people. Last month, the government of Burma issued a similar ban.
Of course, when we say "the government of Zimbabwe," what we really mean is
President Robert Mugabe, just as "the government of Burma" these days means
Senior General Than Shwe, the leader of the ruling junta.
In justifying the bans, each ruler harrumphed that outsiders should not be
allowed to tell his nation what to do. But the real obstacle blocking
international food aid is not the principle of national sovereignty; it is
the insistence of dictators on being left to call their own shots. Mugabe
decided that his citizens were better dead than fed; his nation had no part
in the decision.
This murderous outrage reminds us of a central problem in trying to help
ease the misery of the developing world: leaders in such sad little states
as Zimbabwe and Burma are quite ridiculously powerful. They have turned
parliament, the news media and the judiciary into mere implementers of their
strangling systems of control. But the extraordinary lack of external
restraints on these dictators is poorly understood.
Many people are still trapped in a politically correct mindset that sees a
strong, rich world bullying a weak, poor world. The disastrous 2003 US
invasion of Iraq played straight into this mentality of seeing wealthy
countries as bullies. Yet the planet's key power imbalance is not between
rich and poor; it is between confident, open governments willing to pool
sovereignty to help their publics and crabbed, defensive governments
determined not to give up a scrap of sovereignty. The former produce
prosperity; the latter manufacture misery.
So how can the grossly excessive powers of the Mugabes and Shwes of the
world be curtailed? After Iraq, there is no international appetite for using
the threat of military force to pressure thugs. But only military pressure
is likely to be effective; tyrants can almost always shield themselves from
economic sanctions. So there is only one credible counter to dictatorial
power: the country's own army.
Realistically, Mugabe and Shwe can be toppled only by a military coup. Of
course, they are fully aware of this danger, and thus have appointed their
cronies as generals and kept a watchful eye on any potentially restless
junior officers. Such tactics reduce the risk of a coup, but they cannot
eliminate it: On average, there have been two successful coups per year in
the developing world in recent decades. A truly bad government in a
developing country is more likely to be replaced by a coup than by an
I find it a little awkward to be writing in praise, however faint, of coups.
They are unguided missiles, as likely to topple a democracy as a
dictatorship. But there is still something to be said for them.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the international community has taken
the rather simplistic position that armies should stay out of politics. That
view is understandable but premature. Rather than trying to freeze coups out
of the international system, we should try to provide them with a guidance
The question then becomes how to provide encouragement for some potentially
helpful coups while staying within the bounds of proper international
In fact, some basic principles are not that hard to draw. For starters,
governments that have crossed the red line of banning UN food aid - a
ghastly breach of any basic contract between the governors and the
governed - should temporarily lose international recognition of their
legitimacy. Ideally, such moves should come from the United Nations itself;
surely banning UN help constitutes a breach of rudimentary global
obligations. But realistically, other dictators, worried that they might
wind up in the same boat, would rally to block action at the United Nations,
so we must look elsewhere.
Which brings us to the obvious locus of international action: Europe. The
European Union has a long tradition of setting minimum standards of
political decency for its members, who must protect their minorities and
defend basic rights. A collective EU withdrawal of recognition from the
Mugabe or Shwe regimes would be an obvious and modest extension of the
values that underpin the European project. Making any such suspension of
recognition temporary - say, for three months - would present potential coup
plotters within an army with a brief window of legitimacy.
The scope of the torment in Burma and Zimbabwe should be more than enough of
a goad to action. We need to move away from impotent political protest, but
we must also face the severe limitations on our own power. The real might
lies with a dictator's own forces of repression. Our best hope - and the
best hope of suffering citizens - is to turn those very forces against the
men they now protect.
Paul Collier is an economics professor at Oxford University and the author
of The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing And What Can Be
Done About It. This is an edited extract of an article which first appeared
in The Washington Post.
Today is, perhaps, the turning day in the modern history of Zimbabwe. After 28 years of tormentuous dictatorship by Robert Mugabe, the people of the once great nation might finally have something to hope for.
And it comes in the form of a crippled 90-year-old who has mumbled speech, grey hairs and seven years ago survived prostate cancer -- Nelson Mandela. In a speech, marking his birthday, in London, he finally -- after years of never criticising the Zimbabwean regime, for fear of overshadowing the current South African President Thabo Mbeki -- spoke out against Mugabe. He said that Zimbabwe faced a "crisis of leadership" -- obviously directed at Robert Mugabe himself.
But Mandela is still failing to use his considerable international political power to effect great and cause necessary change in Zimbabwe. What he could do and what he will do are, unfortunately, for the moment, not the same thing.
In 1980, like many of the infamous dictators of our time, Mugabe was seen as a revolutionary, a changer. The Barack Obama of his time. Yet twenty-eight years on, there is little change for the good. There is a new, very big, very very expensive presidential palace (apparently the old one wasn't big enough).
Oh, and there is the highest inflation rate the world has ever seen since 1920s post-war Germany.
Conditions in Zimbabwe are beyond terrible. Political violence merely surmounts pressures such as starvation, famine, drought, lack of healthcare and even lack of shelter much of which has been caused by Mugabe's policies of removing white farmers and placing unskilled or unqualified workers in charge of growing the nation's crops. Mugabe rules by the use of henchmen, terrorists and his particularly thuggish "veterans" groups, who are just the remnants of his revolutionary force from the 80s which helped him take over power, for what was then the good.
I have always considered myself a balanced individual -- fair-minded and just. (Modesty forbidding, of course...) But I truly and deeply believe that we as fellow human beings owe it to the people of Zimbabwe to remove Robert Mugabe from power and restore democracy to the country.
Harry Truman once said about democracy:
Democracy is based on the conviction that man has the moral and intellectual capacity, as well as the inalienable right, to govern himself with reason and justice. Democracy maintains that government is established for the benefit of the individual, and is charged with the responsibility of protecting the rights of the individual and his freedom in the exercise of his abilities. Democracy has proved that social justice can be achieved through peaceful change. Democracy holds that free nations can settle differences justly and maintain lasting peace.
Mugabe has said that "only God himself" will remove him from his presidential office.
So I think it's high time we arranged a meeting between Robert Mugabe and God himself.