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Tsvangirai released after brief detainment

SABC

June 06, 2008, 15:15

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, who was reportedly detained by police earlier today, has been
released. He was on a campaign trail in the southern parts of Zimbabwe when
police reportedly arrested him for yet unknown reasons.

The MDC accuses President Robert Mugabe of trying to sabotage Tsvangirai's
campaign in order to preserve his 28-year hold on power. The party called
Tsvangirai's detention "a shameless and desperate act". It said police had
banned several planned campaign rallies because authorities could not
guarantee the safety of party leaders.

"The regime must let the president do that which the people of Zimbabwe have
mandated him and the MDC, to help restore the dignity of the people of
Zimbabwe," it said in a statement.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena blamed the opposition for the incident
today. "They refused to stop at a roadblock. They just crashed through the
roadblock, led by their MP-elect in the area," he said. Tsvangirai, who beat
Mugabe in a March 29 election but failed to win the majority needed to avoid
a second ballot, was detained on Wednesday and held and questioned by police
for eight hours.

British diplomats nabbed
Yesterday, police stopped and held five US and two British diplomats for
several hours after they visited victims of political violence. Zimbabwe
also barred relief agencies from doing work in the country, suffering
economic ruin.

"It is almost as if the regime is sending out a message to the region, to
the international community that it doesn't care, that it has no respect for
life, it has no respect for the rule of law," MDC secretary general Tendai
Biti told the World Economic Forum for Africa in Cape Town. The regime is
increasing the decibels of insanity." - Reuters


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Police force Zimbabwe opposition chief to halt campaign

AFP

8 hours ago

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai was forced Friday
to halt his campaign to topple Robert Mugabe at a run-off poll this month
after being detained by police for the second time in a week.

As Mugabe's government ordered charities to halt work over accusations they
were biased toward Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change leader was
again frustrated in his attempts to rally supporters for the June 27 ballot.

MDC officials travelling with Tsvangirai in the south of the country said he
was initially turned back at a police checkpoint on his way to address a
group of mineworkers and told he did not have permission to campaign in the
area.

After circumventing the checkpoint and making a couple of unscheduled
campaign stops, his entourage were again halted and this time escorted by
officers armed with assault rifles to Esigodini police station. He and his
top aides were held there for some two hours of questioning.

Speaking after their release, MDC chairman Lovemore Moyo said they were
returning to the southern city of Bulawayo but were under orders not to
campaign any further.

"They told us we cannot hold rallies. They said Morgan Tsvangirai should not
even conduct those walkabouts as this would attract crowds," Moyo told AFP.

Although it was not immediately clear if the order signalled a nationwide
ban on campaigning, Tsvangirai has already faced huge restrictions and has
been prevented from holding all but a handful of rallies.

The MDC also said that attempts to hold rallies in township areas of Harare,
from where it draws much of its support, had been banned.

According to an MDC statement, police had written to say the gatherings in
four townships had all been refused authorisation for security reasons as
the party itself had expressed fears of attacks by Mugabe followers.

"The MDC has no access to the public media and the only interaction we have
with our members and supporters is through rallies," said the statement.

The letter by a superintendent of police, a copy of which was read to AFP,
said: "The MDC has communicated far and wide, very loudly for that matter,
that the lives of some of your politicians are under severe threat from
targeted assassination.

"Our continued investigations so far have failed to confirm your party's
allegations but still we are not prepared to take any chances by exposing
you to the public who may be possible assassins."

The ruling ANC party in neighbouring South Africa said authorities' move to
ban opposition rallies signalled "a grave threat" to holding a fair
presidential run-off.

Tsvangirai was also detained for nearly nine hours on Wednesday although
police insisted it was only to check vehicle documents.

His latest run-in with authorities came as Mugabe's government said aid
groups would only be allowed to resume operations if they pledged not to
interfere in politics, accusing them of openly siding with the MDC.

The US ambassador to Harare, James McGee, also charged Friday that Mugabe's
government was distributing its food aid only to supporters of the ruling
party.

In a country beset by food shortages, aid agencies now play a major role in
supplying and distributing staples such as maize and cooking oil.

Relations between Western charities and the Mugabe regime have long been
strained, with the government previously forcing aid groups to channel their
efforts through local officials.

However, the order to cease all field work marks a dramatic downturn in the
relationship.

"As we speak there are no NGOs. All NGOs have been asked to reapply for
registration," Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told AFP.

"They were involved in political activities and behaving like political
parties when they were supposed to complement government efforts."

Save The Children spokesman Dominic Nutt said the group was "seriously
concerned ... particularly for the most vulnerable children who we work
with".

The United Nations warned that its programmes in Zimbabwe would be hit by
the ban, and UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said the decision was
"deplorable".

The MDC wrested control of parliament from Mugabe's ZANU-PF in a joint
legislative and presidential election on March 29 in which the president
suffered the biggest blow to his authority since taking power at
independence in 1980.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the first-round poll, but officially with a vote
total just short of an outright majority.


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Mugabe bans opposition rallies

International Herald Tribune

International Herald Tribune, The Associated PressPublished: June 6, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: The opposition in Zimbabwe said Friday that its rallies
had been banned indefinitely three weeks before the presidential runoff,
while the U.S. ambassador accused President Robert Mugabe's regime of using
food as a weapon to stay in power.

Ambassador James McGee said the regime was distributing food mostly to its
supporters and that those backing the opposition were offered food only if
they handed in identification that would allow them to vote.

If the situation continued, "massive, massive starvation" would result,
McGee told reporters in Washington by video conference from Harare.

Aid groups in Zimbabwe were ordered Thursday to halt their operations,
leaving impoverished Zimbabweans dependent on the government and Mugabe's
party.

Relief agencies estimate that the prohibition will deprive two million
people of food aid and other basic assistance.

On Friday, the Movement for Democratic Change said that the police had
banned the opposition party's rallies out of concern for the safety of its
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and other party officials. The open-ended ban
only affects the opposition.
A spokesman for Tsvangirai, George Sibotshiwe, called the justification
"nonsense," and said the ban was "a clear indication that the regime will do
everything necessary to remain in power."

Opposition and human rights groups accuse Mugabe of orchestrating violence
to ensure he wins re-election amid growing unpopularity for his heavy-handed
rule and the country's economic collapse.

Steadily mounting tensions in Zimbabwe have pitted the authorities not only
against Zimbabweans who support, or are thought to support, Tsvangirai but
also against foreigners accused by Mugabe's supporters of meddling in the
country's affairs.

On Thursday, the police detained American and British diplomats
investigating political violence north of the capital and released them only
after a harrowing ordeal that included a 10-kilometer, or 6-mile, car chase
and threats to burn the diplomats alive in their vehicle, American officials
said.

As if to underscore the deepening sense of crisis, traders in Zimbabwe's
battered currency said Friday that it had fallen to an unheard-of level: 1.8
billion Zimbabwe dollars to a single U.S. dollar.

Tsvangirai tried to campaign around Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest
city, on Friday. He was stopped at two roadblocks, the second time ordered
to go to a police station about 50 kilometers from Bulawayo.

About two hours later, he and reporters with him were allowed to leave the
station. They drove back to Bulawayo under police escort.

Sibotshiwe said Tsvangirai was questioned by the police at the station for
25 minutes, and was told that all party rallies in the country had been
banned indefinitely.

Government insiders say that the campaign of intimidation and violence is
being coordinated by Mugabe and a small clique of police, intelligence and
military officials intent on winning the runoff and extending their 28 years
in power.

Their actions seemed to be part of an increasingly rough and escalating
political campaign by the authorities matched by its actions against relief
agencies.

The government earlier had barred CARE, one of the world's largest aid
groups, from providing humanitarian aid in Zimbabwe, accusing it of siding
with the political opposition before the presidential runoff this month.

But Nicholas Goche, the social welfare minister, greatly expanded the ban
this week, applying it to all nongovernmental organizations working in a
country where the economy is in shambles, unemployment has surpassed 80
percent and people are involved in an increasingly desperate struggle to
survive.

Aid workers and human rights groups say the suspension of humanitarian
operations and the detention of the diplomats are part of the governing
party's strategy to clear the countryside of witnesses to its brutal efforts
to suppress the political opposition and drive its supporters out of the
wards in which they are eligible to vote.

ZANU-PF, the governing party, is clearly determined to go ahead with the
runoff in the hope of preserving a veneer of legitimacy for a government
that is increasingly viewed internationally as a pariah, Zimbabwean
political analysts say.

At an emergency meeting Thursday in Harare, the capital, United Nations
agencies and aid groups agreed to protest the aid suspension and issue a
statement about its humanitarian implications, according to the minutes of
the meeting.


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South Africa calls rally ban 'threat' to fair vote

Ottawa Citizen

Agence France Presse
Published: Friday, June 06, 2008
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's ruling party said Friday that Zimbabwe
authorities' move to ban opposition rallies in Harare signalled "a grave
threat" to holding a fair presidential run-off this month.

"If these reports are correct they signal a grave threat to the prospect of
an environment conducive to a free and fair run-off election," the African
National Congress said in a statement.

It added that it is "critically important that all candidates are able to
campaign freely and have free access to the media."

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been barred
from staging a series of rallies in Harare after police said they cannot
guarantee their leaders' safety, the party said.
According to a letter signed by a superintendent of police, a copy of which
was read by the MDC to AFP, authorities have based their decision on
statements by the party concerning assassination threats.

Police detained MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is hoping to topple
President Robert Mugabe in the June 27 vote, for the second time this week
on Friday and released him without charge some two hours later.

The ANC said it was "deeply concerned" at Tsvangirai's detention.

South African President Thabo Mbeki is chief mediator between Zimbabwe's
ruling party and Tsvangirai's MDC, and has faced criticism over what many
have seen as an unwillingness to pressure Mugabe.

Tsvangirai has called for Mbeki to be axed as a mediator.

Meanwhile, the South African government on Friday called "on all parties to
desist from any action that may serve to detract from the objective of
having free and fair run-off presidential elections."


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Zimbabwe's Stark Choice: Vote for Mugabe or Starve

ABC news, US

Mugabe Aims to Extend His 28-Year-Reign in Zimbabwe
By KIRIT RADIA
WASHINGTON June 6, 2008

The government of Zimbabwe is giving its impoverished citizens a stark
choice, U.S. Ambassador James McGee said today: Vote for President Robert
Mugabe in the upcoming election - or starve.

Millions rely on food aid in Zimbabwe, but yesterday the regime ordered that
foreign aid organizations cease operations. The Zimbabwean government's own
food aid programs are now the only source of sustenance for much of the
population.

McGee told reporters during a videoconference from the capital, Harare, this
morning that his embassy has solid evidence that in order to receive food
aid from the government, Zimbabweans must first show their party
registration cards.

If they have a card from Mugabe's ruling party they can have access to food,
but if they only have opposition cards they must turn over their national
identification cards in order to receive the food they need.

The government holds onto the cards until after the June 27 election, McGee
says - meaning opposition party members will not be able to identify
themselves when they go to vote.

The result, McGee said, is that many in the opposition party are forced to
give up their right to vote in exchange for vital food aid.
"What we have is a bunch of greedy people who want to stay in power at any
cost," the ambassador said.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the move "outrageous."
"That is cruel in the most sinister kind of way; using food as a weapon,
using the hunger of parents' children against them to prevent them from
voting their conscience for a better kind of Zimbabwe," McCormack said.
"That's an example of the kind of thing that is going on in Zimbabwe today."

The United States is providing $200 million in aid to Zimbabwe this year,
$171 million of which comes as food aid. The balance comes mainly in the
form of medical assistance like AIDS prevention.

McGee says the U.S. has no plans to cut that aid, but currently America's
help is blocked by the Mugabe government's ban on foreign aid operations.

McGee said that around 1 million people depend on food aid from
international sources. He warns there may be "massive, massive starvation"
unless the block is lifted. State Department officials estimate that 110,000
people will go hungry this month because they won't have access to food aid
provided by only one of the international charities that were distributing
food before yesterday's ban.

professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe, who spoke on
the condition of anonymity because he fears government retaliation, sees
another reason for the ban on international aid groups.

"Aid groups being suspended is part of (President Mugabe's party) ZANU-PF's
strategy to create a situation . where there [will be] a virtual information
blackout in the country. . It is likely that in the event of a complete
meltdown, information about massacres and other human rights abuses will be
slower in reaching the outside world. Many people in the rural areas are
truly desperate and do not know how they will survive from one day to the
next," he told ABC News.

At the end of the month Mugabe will face off against his political rival
Morgan Tsvangirai in a run-off election. Tsvangirai was detained by police
Friday, his second detention this week.

McGee said he fears for Tsvangirai's safety. "Given the excesses of the
government here, we are not sure what they will do," he said.

Despite the political violence and intimidation McGee said the run-off
should proceed as scheduled on June 27. "Anything less would give the Mugabe
regime a victory they do not deserve," he said.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the first round of elections in March, but did not
garner enough votes to avoid the run-off.

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since it's independence in 1980, but has resorted
to increasingly desperate measure to stay in power in recent years.

McGee called on regional powers, in particular South Africa which has
significant leverage with Zimbabwe but has been reluctant to use it, to send
in election monitors to ensure as fair an outcome as possible and to protect
the voters.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that the U.S. isn't
currently considering imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe. However, McGee left
the door open to other options pending the outcome of the elections.

The United States protested yesterday's harassment of its diplomats on a
road north of Harare to Zimbabwe's ambassador in Washington and to
Zimbabwe's delegation to a United Nations food conference in Rome.

ABC News' Dana Hughes contributed to this report from Nairobi, Kenya


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Amnesty International accuses government of using food for political gain

Amnesty International (AI)

Date: 06 Jun 2008

Amnesty International today called on the government of Zimbabwe to
immediately lift its ban on field operations by non-governmental
organisations (NGOs), and accused the government of using food for political
ends.

'The suspension of field operations by all NGOs on the order of the
Zimbabwean government is likely to increase food insecurity in Zimbabwe and
expose millions of people to hunger,' said Amnesty International.

'The suspension of NGO operations is yet another attempt by the government
to manipulate food distribution for political ends,' said Amnesty
International.

'Suspension of humanitarian operations by NGOs ensures that the government
has a monopoly over food distribution through the state-controlled Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) during the pre-election period.'

Since 2000, Amnesty International has documented how GMB food has been used
as a political tool against perceived government opponents.

Amnesty International said that the restrictions will not only have a
detrimental effect on food security in Zimbabwe, but also serve as a means
for the government to prevent aid workers from witnessing the sharply
increased levels of state-sponsored political violence taking place in the
country since presidential and parliamentary elections were held on 29
March.

'By closing off the space for NGOs in Zimbabwe, the government is attempting
to hide the worst of the human rights violations taking place in the
country,' said Amnesty International

'The Zimbabwean authorities must ensure that food is distributed to all on
the basis of need -- irrespective of real or perceived political
affiliation.'

'Humanitarian organisations and other NGOs should be allowed go about their
legitimate work without interference. By deliberately blocking
life-sustaining aid, the government of Zimbabwe may be violating the right
of its citizens to life, food, and health.'

Notes to editors

Without giving specific reasons for his action, the Zimbabwean Minister of
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Nicholas Goche, wrote to all
private voluntary organisations and NGOs on 4 June 2008, instructing them to
stop their operations.

The Minister gave his intention to invoke Section (10), Subsection (c), of
the Private Voluntary Organisations Act [Chapter 17:05] as the basis for his
action.

The poorest Zimbabweans will be worst affected by the ban. They will be
increasingly exposed to life-threatening diseases, since the suspension
affects water and sanitation projects. The ban will also severely impact the
care of Zimbabwe's over one million children orphaned by AIDS, and the
terminally ill who are on home-based care programmes.

This is not the first time that government policies and practices in
Zimbabwe have exacerbated Zimbabwe's food security problems. In 2005,
Operation Murambatsvina, the government's programme of mass forced
evictions, resulted in hundreds of thousands of women, men and children
being made homeless, without access to adequate food, water and sanitation,
or healthcare.

Since 2000, millions of people in Zimbabwe have had great difficulty in
gaining access to adequate food. One of the major causes of the food crisis
in Zimbabwe has been the drop in domestic food production. While climatic
factors, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and economic problems have all played a role
in declining agricultural productivity, government policies and practices
have exacerbated Zimbabwe's food security problems.

/END

For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in
London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: press@amnesty.org

International Secretariat,
Amnesty International,
1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK
www.amnesty.org

Eliane Drakopoulos
Africa Press Officer
Amnesty International
Tel +44 207 413 5564
Mob +44 7778 472 109


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Aid orgs: Zimbabwe order put AIDS patients at risk

Yahoo News

By ELIANE ENGELER, Associated Press Writer 31 minutes ago

GENEVA - Aid agencies in Zimbabwe said Friday the government order for
humanitarian groups to suspend work would cut off care and medicine to those
living with AIDS.

Aid groups and Western officials also said many in the impoverished African
country will starve without food aid, amid allegations that President Robert
Mugabe's regime is using food to cement his rule.

On Thursday, Mugabe's government ordered aid groups to suspend field work
indefinitely, saying they had violated the terms of their agreement. It has
accused at least one group of campaigning for the opposition in the June 27
presidential runoff between Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe's National Association of Non Governmental Organizations, after an
emergency meeting Friday in the capital of Harare, challenged the government
to name charitable, aid and civic groups it alleged were in breach of
regulations and specify the accusations against them.

"One cruel direct impact of the ban will be that people living with HIV/AIDS
will increasingly die since many NGOs provide assistance in the form of
home-based care and anti-retroviral medication," the group said in a
statement.

More than 1.3 million people are living with AIDS, according to Zimbabwe's
report to UNAIDS for the years 2006-2007. More than 15 percent of adults in
the country of 12 million is believed to be HIV-positive, the report said.

Starvation is also a concern in what was once a regional breadbasket but now
suffers from the world's highest inflation rate that puts the price of
staples out of reach. The halting of private aid group operations leaves
poor Zimbabweans dependent on the government and Mugabe's party.

The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, said Friday the Mugabe regime
is distributing food mostly to its supporters and that opposition loyalists
are offered food only if they hand in identification that would allow them
to vote in the runoff.

If the situation continues, "massive, massive starvation" will result, McGee
told reporters in Washington by video conference from Harare.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the order "a vicious
attempt to use food as a political weapon."

"It's just another despicable act in a litany of despicable acts committed
by this government against its own people," he said in Washington.

The order hampers aid delivery to more than 4 million people and puts at
least 2 million at greater risk of starvation, homeless and disease,
according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

John Holmes, who heads the office, called the decision "deplorable."

He said the U.N. would "do our best to make up for this" shortfall, though
much of the world body's aid to Zimbabwe is funneled through private groups.

Life expectancy is only 35.5 years in Zimbabwe, and more than half the
population of 12 million people lives on less than $1 a day, according to
the U.N.

The World Food Program said the government order "will halt our food
distributions in Zimbabwe and put lives at further risk."

"WFP food distributed by NGO partners will cease, preventing 314,000 of the
most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe from receiving food in June," said Peter
Smerdon, the U.N. agency's spokesman in Nairobi.

Britain's foreign aid chief called the decision to restrict humanitarian
agencies' work "indefensible," and said it showed "the lengths to which
Mugabe will go to cling to power."

Douglas Alexander said from London that it was "offensive and absurd" for
the government to suggest international NGOs were interfering in politics.

Zimbabwe's social welfare minister, Nicholas Goche, said when ordering the
aid groups to suspend operations that they were violating the terms of their
agreement with the government, according to a brief statement seen Thursday
by The Associated Press.

CARE International said earlier this week that it was ordered to stop its
aid operations pending an investigation of allegations it was campaigning
for the opposition. CARE denies doing that.

CARE International's Africa communications director, Kenneth Walker, said
the government order will affect the people "very badly."

"Nobody is going to starve to death tomorrow," he said. "But obviously the
longer the suspension remains, the more dire the circumstances become."

The suspension of CARE's activities alone immediately affects half a million
Zimbabweans, the U.N. said.

The U.N.'s Children Fund said the decision meant more than 185,000 children
would not receive food aid, education and health care. With one child in
four an orphan and families struggling with skyrocketing inflation, children
already have been paying a heavy toll.

"To see their situation further deteriorate through stopping aid workers
from delivering relief to those in need is unacceptable," UNICEF said in a
statement.

Human Rights Watch said the halt of aid groups' work was not surprising.

"This is part of a campaign. There has been extreme campaign of violence,
and torture" against opposition supporters, Norris said. "This is to
intimidate and spread fear before the elections."


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UN: Zimbabwe aid cutoff endangers 2 million people

Yahoo News

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 15 minutes ago

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N.'s top humanitarian official says at least 2
million people in Zimbabwe are facing a greater risk of starvation,
homelessness and disease.

That's after the Zimbabwean government on Thursday ordered aid groups to
halt their operations there.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes on Friday called the decision
"deplorable."

Much of the U.N.'s aid in Zimbabwe is funneled through non-governmental
organizations.

He says restricting that flow will affect at least 2 million people,
particularly children.

Holmes' comments came after U.S. and British diplomats warned that
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is using food as a weapon ahead of the
June 27 runoff election.


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World bodies, governments slam Zimbabwe NGO ban

africasia

UNITED NATIONS, June 6 (AFP)

World bodies and governments Friday strongly criticised an order from
Zimbabwe for all non-governmental organisations to stop work there before
the presidential run-off on June 27.

The United Nations' humanitarian affairs bureau OCHA said the ban, at a time
of deteriorating food security in Zimbabwe, would disrupt the delivery of
humanitarian aid and hit more than four million Zimbabweans who rely on it.

The UN children's charity UNICEF also warned that more than 185,000 children
would miss the essential support they need, including healthcare and
nutrition, describing the move by Harare as a "violation" of children's
rights.

And UN humanitarian chief John Holmes strongly urged Zimbabwe to rescind its
order.

"This is a deplorable decision that comes at a critical humanitarian
juncture for the people of Zimbabwe," he told a press briefing.

Holmes, who heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA) warned that if voluntary organizations and NGOs were not able to
work, "humanitarian aid for at least two million of the most poor and
vulnerable of Zimbabwe's people, particularly children, will be severely
restricted."

In Brussels, the European Union's top relief official urged Harare to lift
the ban immediately, while Britain, the colonial power in Zimbabwe until
1980, accused President Robert Mugabe of using hunger as a "political
weapon."

"Non-governmental organisations are key implementing partners of UN
agencies, and curtailing operations affects the implementation of UN
programmes in Zimbabwe," OCHA spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in
Geneva.

The UN's rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, said refusing
humanitarian aid and preventing NGOs from working was "scandalous."

The EU's humanitarian aid commissioner Louis Michel said he was "deeply
distressed" at the thought of depriving needy Zimbabweans of aid and that it
was "essential" to allow aid agencies unrestricted and secure access.

"The presidency condemns the instructions issued by the government of
Zimbabwe to suspend all NGO field operations in Zimbabwe immediately and
without further notice," EU president Slovenia said in a statement.

The European Union also expressed concern about the detention Friday of
Zimbabwe opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai, for the second time in a week.

The EU's executive Commission is the biggest aid donor to Zimbabwe,
providing 90.7 million euros (141.4 million dollars) last year in
humanitarian assistance and other support to its population.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's office described the move as a
"tragedy," while his International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander
said it was "absurd" to suggest NGOs were involved in political activism.

"For Robert Mugabe to use the threat of hunger as a political weapon shows a
callous contempt for human life," he said, in comments echoed by the US
ambassador to Zimbabwe and the State Department in Washington.

Accusing Harare of playing politics with aid, Amnesty International said
Zimbabwe should immediately lift its ban on non-governmental organisations
operating in the country.

"The suspension of field operations by all NGOs on the order of the
Zimbabwean government is likely to increase food insecurity in Zimbabwe and
expose millions of people to hunger," the London-based rights group said.

Oxfam, which works with local partner organisations on reconstruction and
development projects in five areas in Zimbabwe, said international NGOs have
had limited access to rural areas for humanitarian work.


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Ten MDC activists hospitalized after Zanu PF attack in Gwanda


By Lance Guma
06 June 2008

Ten MDC activists were admitted to Bulawayo's Galen House medical centre
Tuesday after being attacked by Zanu PF thugs in Gwanda. The activists had
been gathered near Manama Mission awaiting the arrival of MDC President
Morgan Tsvangirai who was due to address a rally. A convoy of 4 unregistered
vehicles arrived in the area much to the excitement of those gathered, who
thought Tsvangirai had finally arrived. A man in one of the cars asked the
crowd what they were waiting for and when the crowd said Tsvangirai, they
jumped out of their vehicles and started assaulting everyone.

Our correspondent Lionel Saungweme said the attack was led by war veterans
Mlungiselwa Nkomo, Edward Sibanda and Jacob Ngwenya. The trio have been
terrorizing villagers in Gwanda, brandishing AK-47 rifles and tear gas
grenades.

Tsvangirai was later forced to abandon the rally after heavily armed
soldiers camped inside the designated venue, effectively sealing it off from
his campaign team. Saungweme told us the vehicles involved in the Gwanda
attack were the same ones used to trail Tsvangirai's convoy in Esigodini on
Friday. Police at a roadblock later barred the convoy from proceeding with
their campaign journey. The team was also detained for about 3 hours at
Esigodini police station.

Meanwhile MDC victory celebrations in Lower Gweru were disrupted on Thursday
by a serving soldier identified as Mangena who drew out a pistol and shot at
the wheels of an MDC Isuzu truck. The incident took place in front of MDC
legislators Sam Sipepa Nkomo, Amos Chibaya and Gweru mayor Sesel Zvidzai.
Mangena is said to have chased a group of MDC women who were cooking at the
venue, forcing them to abandon their pots in the bush. Despite parliamentary
elections having ended two months ago Mangena is said to have shouted at the
top of his voice that the MDC had torn down his posters.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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18 MDC activists abducted in Chipinge


By Tichaona Sibanda
6 June 2008

Zanu-PF militia brandishing AK 47 rifles, on Friday abducted eighteen MDC
activists from their homes in Chipinge in early morning raids, according to
the MDC MP for the area.

Prosper Mutseyami, the MP elect for Musikavanhu constituency in Chipinge
district, said the raids were led by two well known Zanu-PF thugs,
identified as Morris Mukwe and Simon Mapfumo.

Eight of the activists were picked up from Rimai and the other 10 from
Murembe, two villages that overwhelmingly voted for the MDC.

'They moved around in a Toyota Hilux truck and were brandishing AK 47
rifles. This was a well-coordinated plot as all those abducted were key
election officials for the party in the forthcoming presidential run-off,'
Mutseyami said.

It is understood that the 18 MDC activists were badly tortured at Checheche
police station where the militant group dumped them. From Checheche the
activists were driven to Chisumbanje police station where they are currently
being held. Police have charged them with inciting violence in the
constituency. But the MDC rubbished the allegations, saying they are trumped
up charges.

'How can we beat people who overwhelmingly rejected Robert Mugabe and voted
MDC? The police are saying we are beating up people belonging to Zanu-PF,
but as far as we know there are no longer people from Zanu-PF in the
constituency, if we go by what came out during the March elections,'
Mutseyami said.
Other militias in the district have taken over the home of Mathius Mlambo,
the MDC MP for Chipinge East. Over 50 war veterans and militias brandishing
guns invaded his home on Tuesday and have been camped there since.

'I managed to flee when I got a tip-off that they were coming for me. My
family is also in hiding but I understand they've killed some of my goats
and cattle and have been partying and playing loud music on my stereo,'
Mlambo said.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Robert Mugabe's military cabal

The Telegraph
The military leaders playing a pivotal role in President Mugabe attempt to hold onto power in Zimbabwe.

General Constantine Chiwenga, commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces

Gen Chiwenga is the overall armed forces chief and the most important member of the Joint Operations Command (JOC). This makes him possibly the single most powerful figure in Zimbabwe today.

Gen Chiwenga, a veteran of the war against white rule, has always been seen as a highly political officer, closely linked to Zanu-PF. Gen Chiwenga’s wife, Jocelyn, is a notorious figure in her own right, who has benefited from the seizure of white-owned farms and been implicated in organising assaults on MDC supporters

Augustine Chihuri, national police commissioner

Another veteran of the war against white rule, Mr Chihuri infuriated the opposition by making it explicitly clear that all policemen must support Zanu-PF. He is believed to have ordered the police to turn a blind eye to Zanu-PF’s violent campaign against the MDC.

Mr Chihuri has been rewarded for his loyalty with Woodlands Farm near Shamva, once a white-owned property.

Air Marshal Perence Shiri, air force commander

One of the most notorious figures in Zimbabwe, Air Marshal Shiri led a brutal campaign against dissidents among Zimbabwe’s minority Ndebele people in the 1980s. Then an army officer, he commanded the Fifth Brigade which murdered about 8,000 people and tortured or abducted tens of thousands more between 1983 and 1986.

If Mr Mugabe is overthrown, Mr Shiri might be vulnerable to prosecution.

General Paradzai Zimondi, prisons chief

After retiring from the army, Gen Zimondi was kept in the state’s security apparatus with a post running the prisons service. A trusted officer, he is believed to be especially close to Mr Mugabe.

Before the election’s first round, Gen Zimondi told a gathering of prison officers: "I am giving you an order to vote for the President", adding: "I will only support the leadership of President Mugabe."


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ZANU-PF plans to take over parliament and stop run-off

afrik.com

A new formation of hardline supporters of Robert Mugabe - whose patron
is his wife, Grace - is urging the government to abort the electoral process
and instead reconstitute the old parliament dominated by the ruling ZANU PF
party and let the veteran leader keep his job.

Friday 6 June 2008, by Bruce Sibanda

from our correspondent in Harare

The group of former freedom fighters yesterday said it wanted the June 27
second round presidential election shelved until Western countries lifted
sanctions against Mugabe's government, which the group said have hurt the
economy and turned voters against the Harare administration.

Old Mugabe parliament to be re-constituted

The group, calling itself the Revolutionary Council and led by war veteran
Chris Pasipamire, said its major objective was to defend Mugabe's
controversial land reforms that saw white farmers expelled and their farms
handed over to blacks, most of them supporters or top officials of ZANU PF.

"As the Revolutionary Council we hereby demand that the whole electoral
process be set aside and the old parliament be re-constituted with President
Mugabe remaining the head of state," said the group that announced its
arrival on Zimbabwe's political scene late on Wednesday night.

"No run-off (election) will be held until the sanctions are lifted . . .
elections are not a priority now as they serve no purpose except regime
change," the war veterans group said.

War veterans are key allies of Mugabe who he often uses as shock troops to
intimidate political opponents.

While Pasipamire said Grace was the patron of the Revolutionary Council,
Mugabe's wife was not immediately available to confirm her role in the
organisation or whether she subscribed to its call to abort the electoral
process.

She is currently in Rome, Italy "probably spending most of her time shopping
while Mugabe is attending the UN Food and Agriculture Organization summit"
said a reporter.

Mugabe's wife advotcates for dictatorship

But Grace last week told ZANU PF supporters that her husband would never
handover power to opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
leader Moragn Tsvangirai even if he were to win the second round
presidential election later this month.

Grace - 40 years junior to the 84-year old Mugabe and known for her love for
shopping - said her husband would give up power only to someone from his
ZANU PF party.

The run-off election is being held because Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a
March 29 poll but failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote needed
to take power under the country's electoral laws.

Tsvangirai, who polled 47.8 percent of the vote in March against Mugabe's
43.2 percent starts as favourite to win the run-off election. However,
analysts say political violence that has to date killed at least 60 MDC
supporters and displaced thousands others might just tilt the scales in
favour of Mugabe.

But MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa on Thursday dismissed the Revolutionary
Council as a ZANUPF-sponsored group out to sow confusion ahead of the
run-off poll.

Chamisa said: "The run-off is a legal requirement . . . we don't care a jot
about a ZANU PF-sponsored organisation afraid that Mugabe's time is up."

Detention of US diplomats

Meanwhile, the Mugabe regime yesterday indefinitely suspended all work by
aid groups while police held a group of U.S. and British diplomats for
several hours after they visited victims of political violence ahead of a
presidential vote.

The United States blamed the seven diplomats' detention firmly on Mugabe's
government, which Washington accuses of trying to intimidate opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai's supporters ahead of the June 27 run-off election.

Aid work was suspended nearly a week after Mugabe's government banned some
aid groups from distributing food, accusing them of campaigning for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in elections held on March
29.

U.S. ambassador James McGee said police stopped the diplomats' vehicles at a
roadblock and slashed their tyres. Mugabe supporters threatened to set the
vehicles ablaze unless the diplomats went with police to a nearby station,
he said.

The diplomats, also accused by the government of distributing campaign
literature for Tsvangirai, were released after several hours.

Aid agencies accused of irregularities.

"A number of NGOs involved in humanitarian operations are breaching the
terms and conditions of their registration [...] I hereby instruct all PVOs
(Private Voluntary Organisations)/NGOs to suspend all field operations until
further notice," said Nicholas Goche, Minister of Public Service, Labour and
Social Welfare.


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Vote check fraud - correction

Contrary to the item published onhttp://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jun4_2008.html#Z17 , it appears that http://www.zimvoter.comis a genuine website, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the ruling party.
Please ignore the original posting, and feel free to use the facilities set up at http://www.zimvoter.com
Paranoia sometimes gets the better of us!


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Zimbabwe's currency "becoming unusable"-industry

Reuters

Fri 6 Jun 2008, 16:50 GMT

HARARE, June 6 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's fast depreciating currency is
increasingly being rejected by traders as they battle a severe economic
crisis, the head of the country's main industry body said on Friday.

Zimbabwe's currency hit new lows this week, trading at 1.2 billion dollars
against the U.S. dollar on Friday amid political uncertainty over a
presidential run-off election set for June 27.

The poll pits President Robert Mugabe against opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai.

Callisto Jokonya, president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
(CZI) accused Mugabe's government of printing money, driving inflation and
undermining the currency.

"We need to act as a matter of extreme urgency to reduce money supply
growth. If we continue with the current policy of injecting massive amounts
of liquidity into the economy, we will continue to see a continuous
depreciation of the local currency," Jokonya said.

"This will make doing business more and more difficult and we will reach a
point where we risk the local currency becoming unusable."

In May, Zimbabwe introduced special high-value "agro-cheques" which the
central bank said were meant for convenient payments to farmers during the
current agricultural marketing season.

These notes, in 5 billion, 25 billion and 50 billion denominations, are now
largely used across the economy, effectively becoming regular banknotes in
the inflation-ravaged economy.

But the CZI said the moves had failed to stop the declining confidence in
the currency.

"Already, we are seeing in both urban and rural areas a phenomenon where
small traders, landlords and individuals are refusing payment in local
currency and insisting on either barter deals, for example payment in
cooking oil or foreign currency," Jokonya said.

"Our number one enemy is the excess of the Zimbabwe dollar on the market."

State media reports on Friday said the central bank could soon slash some
zeros off the currency to help consumers cope with the effects of inflation,
officially at over 165,000 percent and the highest in the world.

Analysts estimate inflation to be considerably higher.

Critics blame Mugabe's policies, such as the seizure of farms from whites to
resettle blacks, for the economic crisis, which is also shown by 80 percent
unemployment and shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency.

But the veteran ruler denies ruining one of Africa's most promising
economies and blames Western sanctions for the crisis.

(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Muchena Zigomo and Ron Askew)


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Zimbabwe economy could 'fly' post-Mugabe

AFP

6 hours ago

CAPE TOWN (AFP) - Despite current woes, Zimbabwe has enviable resources and
infrastructure for a bright economic future after President Robert Mugabe's
departure, political and business leaders said Friday.

Addressing the 18th World Economic Forum on Africa, Zimbabwe's opposition
leaders and business people said that once the country's political crisis is
resolved the economy holds endless opportunity.

They expressed hope for the future despite Zimbabwe drawing more
international outrage Friday by suspending all aid work, while police
detained opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for the second time this week.

Tsvangirai faces President Robert Mugabe in a run-off election on June 27.

"Our economy can be stronger than South Africa. We have the potential when
we get our legitimacy to fly ... to become a global economy," Arthur
Mutambara, leader of a faction of the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), told delegates.

Mutambara was recently arrested in Zimbabwe following a written attack
against Mugabe.

Zimbabwe businessman Nigel Chanakira, chief executive of Kingdom Meikles
Africa, said business opportunities still existed in the southern African
nation despite an official inflation rate of more than 165,000 percent.

"The reality of the matter is that countries don't fall off the face of the
earth. People live in Zimbabwe, people conduct business and still try and
fashion a life out of that.

"In the midst of the chaos there are business opportunities. Services are
required, basics are needed. People can play a role from that perspective
amidst the unpredictable macro economic indicators.

"This is no time for an African renaissance, it is time for the African
reformation," he said.

He outlined a plan including talks with the West, a conference on land
reform, a donor conference and multilateral institutions engaging in
Zimbabwe to rebuild the economy.

"Talks with the West have to take place whether we like it or not. We are
entrenched and steeped in history ... pointing fingers at one another just
doesn't cut it any more," he said.

"It takes the brave."

Chanakira said land was still "the Achilles heel of Zimbabwe" and would need
to be urgently addressed.

Mugabe embarked on a chaotic land reform programme in 2000 which resulted in
some of the country's most productive farms being handed to people with no
previous farming experience or ruling party cronies who let the land grow
idle.

Chanakira said the country's natural resources and more than 800 mines were
engines of growth, but he warned: "Clearly investment requires a signal and
the political signals have not been conducive."

Simba Makoni, a former finance minister who finished third in first-round
presidential elections in March, said the tourism, agriculture and
manufacturing sectors could all be revived relatively easily.

"You can literally switch on tourism once there is normalisation... there is
no threat of fear. You can kickstart agriculture, there is still a core of
competent farmers."

Tendai Biti, MDC secretary general, said reviving the economy also meant
huge humanitarian investments, such as almost 500 million dollars (319
million euros) for anti-retroviral drugs. Reviving the education system
would require schooling to be free, he said.

"There is the issue of national healing, we need to heal that country. It
has been traumatised. It has been brutalised," he said, adding victims of
Mugabe's regime would need compensation.

Collen Gwiyo of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said the average
income in Zimbabwe was equivalent to 300 South African rand (25 euros, 38
dollars) a month.

"Where on earth can a human being survive on 300 rand a month. Unemployment
is above 80 percent. Poverty levels again are almost equal to the rate of
unemployment if not higher," he said.


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Zimbabwe overshadows African economic conference

http://www.businessweek.com
The Associated Press June 6, 2008, 2:35PM ET

By CLARE NULLIS

CAPE TOWN, South Africa

Senior Zimbabwean opposition figures accused President Robert Mugabe of
waging war on detractors Friday as concerns about the escalating violence
overshadowed the final day of an African economic conference.

"The regime is increasing the decibels of insanity at every given level,"
Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change, said
of the arrests and murder of opposition supporters and the ban on
humanitarian agencies.

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the most votes in the
first round of voting in the presidential election, but not by an absolute
majority, according to official results. His party says that more than 60 of
its supporters have been killed in mounting violence before the runoff.

Zimbabwe's economic meltdown is also worsening, Biti told political and
business leaders at the World Economic Forum on Africa, with an inflation
rate of 1.8 million percent. He said that a packet of chicken now cost 4
billion Zimbabwe dollars and cheap sausages 6 billion.

Biti accused African leaders of staying silent. At Friday's closing session,
South African President Thabo Mbeki -- who is the main mediator in
Zimbabwe -- made no reference to the escalating crisis.

Jendayi Frazer, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for African affairs,
appealed to Mbeki to put pressure on Mugabe "not to starve the population
and to allow international organizations to function."

"It's unbelievable that the government will actually kick out the
organizations which are providing services to the people," Frazer said of
the suspension of aid organizations' operations. She said it was vital that
southern African nations send as many observers as possible -- and
quickly -- for the June 27 presidential runoff.

Asked whether Zimbabwe was headed toward civil war, Biti said: "There's a
war already but it's a war against an unarmed people that's not fighting
back."

Despite this, he said that if Tsvangirai won the June 27 runoff, it would
not seek to retaliate, but would try to establish an "inclusive government."
He said this would be without Mugabe, 84, who was "well past the age of
retirement."

"We have to promote him upstairs as a statesman. We have to respect him as a
founding father," he said.

Biti ruled out a Kenyan-style power sharing arrangement to keep Mugabe in
power, but also give Tsvangirai a senior government post. Kenya's Dec. 27
presidential polls triggered the nation's worst ever political violence,
which ended when President Mwai Kibaki kept his post and challenger Raila
Odinga became prime minister.

Odinga told the forum Thursday that Mugabe's government was an
"embarrassment" to the rest of Africa.

Arthur Mutambara, leader of a small faction of the Movement for Democratic
Change, branded Mugabe and his entourage as "genocidal maniacs."

Mutambara, who was arrested last week for writing a critical newspaper
article and was released on bail, said he would most likely be re-arrested
upon his return home.

"But that's nothing compared to what's going on in my country," he said.


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Zille's open letter to Mbeki on Zimbabwe

Politicsweb

Helen Zille
06 June 2008

DA leader calls on SA president to speak out before it is too late

"An open letter to President Mbeki: Speak out on Zimbabwe before it is too
late"

Dear President Mbeki,

There is a crisis in Zimbabwe. Everyone recognises this now.

This week, the international community was united in its condemnation of the
arrest and detention of Morgan Tsvangirai by the Zimbabwean security forces.
Yesterday, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga described President Robert
Mugabe as a dictator and an embarrassment to Africa.

You said nothing.

What will it take for you to acknowledge what is happening in Zimbabwe? How
many more people must be detained, tortured or killed?

Since the parliamentary and presidential elections on 29 March, it has
become clear that President Mugabe will do whatever it takes to stay in
power. I refer to:

a.. The arrest of opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara;
b.. The halting of food aid to 100 000 children in MDC strongholds;
c.. Zanu-PF's systematic intimidation campaign, which has reportedly
resulted in the killing of 65 MDC supporters and the displacement of 25 000
people;
d.. Rumours of an assassination plot against Morgan Tsvangirai;
e.. The intensified use of the state-controlled media as a propaganda arm
of Zanu-PF;
f.. The arrest and intimidation of journalists, including three South
Africans jailed for six months for being in possession of broadcasting
equipment; and,
g.. The detention of US and British diplomats.
These developments, added to the systemic flaws in Zimbabwean electoral law,
remove any vestige of hope that the presidential run-off election on 27 June
will be free and fair.

What are you in your role as mediator doing to ensure that the election
reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people? How have your mediation efforts
improved the situation in Zimbabwe?

The time for quiet diplomacy is well and truly over. It has served only to
prop up a dictator and prevent real change in Zimbabwe. By appeasing Mugabe
and endorsing every fundamentally flawed election in Zimbabwe, you are
complicit in the tyranny that has befallen that country.

Now that you are starting to think about your legacy, you should focus on
policy areas where you can make a real difference in the time you have left.
Zimbabwe is one of them.

It is essential that you publicly call on President Mugabe to:

a.. Immediately halt state-sponsored political violence and intimidation
of opposition parties;
b.. Release all journalists and opposition supporters currently detained
by the security forces;
c.. Lift all restrictions on independent media, both domestic and foreign;
d.. Allow for the deployment of international electoral observers to
Zimbabwe to monitor the presidential run-off election; and,
e.. Reinstate the NGOs responsible for food aid in areas of need.
These measures, if implemented, will not ensure that the presidential
run-off election is free and fair. But they may enable the will of the
Zimbabwean people to triumph despite the systemic flaws in the electoral
process.

As the President of the leading power in Africa and the appointed mediator
in Zimbabwe you are in a position to exert considerable pressure on Mugabe
to implement such measures. It is well within your power to lobby for
Zimbabwe's immediate suspension from the Southern African Development
Community and the African Union. There is nothing stopping you from imposing
targeted travel and financial sanctions on Zanu-PF's ruling elite.

Your perceived complicity with the Mugabe regime has done immeasurable
damage to South Africa's reputation abroad and to the morale of our people
at home. I urge you to take this one last chance to signal to the world and
the region that your government is committed to furthering democracy, not
despotism, on the African continent.

Yours sincerely,

HELEN ZILLE
LEADER OF THE DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE

This letter was first published in South African Today, a weekly letter from
the leader of the Democratic Alliance, June 6 2008


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Will South Africa act over Zimbabwe?

The Spectator
Friday, 6th June 2008
James Forsyth 5:02pm

Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is as dependent on South Africa as Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, and The LA Times editorial board has a good example of how South Africa could force Mugabe to back down if it wanted to:

Mugabe is beyond hope, but it's worth attempting an international pressure campaign against his chief enabler, South African President Thabo Mbeki.

“Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa,” Mbeki famously answered those who have urged him to curb Mugabe's excesses. That's true. It's more like a protectorate of South Africa. South Africa supplies food, fuel, money, remittances and electricity to its neighbor. The electricity runs Zimbabwe's vital platinum mines, in which South African firms own a large interest. Platinum prices have hit record levels, and anxious manufacturers, including the Chinese, are desperate to prevent disruption of supplies. Could a threat to cut off the free electric power make Mugabe's minions more amenable to a political settlement?

Decisive action from South Africa increasingly looks like the only thing that can avert a violent confrontation.


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Tsvangirai Sets Out His Stall

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

MDC leader's plans for taking the country forward win the backing of
experts.

By Thompson Bveni in Harare (ZCR No. 149, 6-Jun-08)

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has unveiled lofty ambitions for
Zimbabwe if he prevails in the June 27 presidential run-off against
President Robert Mugabe.

Roundly criticised in the past as lacking vision, Tsvangirai won plaudits
this week from analysts critiquing policies spelled out during his state of
the nation address on May 29.

The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, who outpolled Mugabe
in the first round on March 29, envisages implementing a wide range of
social, political and economic policies.

Included in his plans for Zimbabwe are a new constitution; reform of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe; both supply-side and demand-driven interventions
to address the country's hyper-inflation; the repeal of repressive
legislation; and the establishment of a truth and justice commission with
the power to pay reparations to victims of state-sponsored violence.

"It is my belief that [Tsvangirai's] policies are well-thought out and the
correct ones to take the country out of the wilderness," said John
Robertson, a Harare-based economist. "He has the ear of the international
donor community. He will get the assistance he needs to implement the clear
policies that he has continued to espouse."

The rejuvenation of the battered economy is a priority. Describing it as the
most dysfunctional in the world, Tsvangirai said the MDC government was
determined to effectively address the hyperinflation bequeathed to the
country by Mugabe. The MDC would use a combination of demand and supply-side
interventions.

He said he would work tirelessly to ensure that macroeconomic stability was
accompanied by an immediate supply-side response, both as a way to sustain
the former and to raise industrial capacity and productivity levels and
create sustainable jobs.

On the demand side, he has said that the country's hyperinflation would only
be tamed if government's unrestrained appetite for resources were also
curbed.

To entrench a culture of fiscal discipline, the MDC intends to introduce
complementary institutional measures, starting with the reform of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The bank has been accused of bankrolling Mugabe's
presidential campaign. An MDC government, he said, would make the bank
independent of the executive but accountable to parliament. Its mandate
would also be streamlined to focus on the maintenance of price stability,
monetary policy, and bank supervision.

Another institutional measure would involve tightening the accountability of
public enterprises. To ensure that they do not perpetually remain a drain on
the government budget, the MDC intends to house them in a new ministry of
public enterprises, which would set clear performance targets and criteria
for which all public enterprises would be held accountable.

"We have lofty ambitions for our economy. The Zimbabwean economy is an
enclave economy that is a fraction of its potential size. Income per capita
is unacceptably low and, due to ZANU-PF's cronyism and corruption, income
distribution, which was also quite uneven, is now at unconscionable levels.
ZANU-PF's affinity for command economics made control the preferred tool for
government intervention in the economy over the last three decades," said
Tsvangirai.

An MDC government would create an alternative people-centred economy and the
new parliament would move quickly to pass legislation to establish an
economic development council.

A new, people-driven constitution, to be introduced within 18 months of the
formation of an MDC government, is also high on his agenda. Lovemore
Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, said
Tsvangirai's espousal of a new constitution made him a good candidate to be
lead the republic.

"This is what we have been calling for. It is sweet news to our ears. We
maintained all along that all the problems of this country stem from a bad
constitution, the lack of a democratic people-driven constitution," said
Madhuku.

"Apart from the issue of a people-driven constitution, other policies that
he says he will pursue when in government after the elections resonate with
what the generality of Zimbabweans want. He might not be the best that we
have, but he is a better president than Mugabe."

Robertson agreed that the policies put Tsvangirai in good stead to steer the
Zimbabwean ship out of troubled waters. "Morgan will be acceptable to the
international community. Mugabe will not. Morgan's policies and intentions
are acceptable, judging from what we have deciphered from what he has been
saying about the way forward for the country," he said.

Tsvangirai, a veteran trade unionist, would establish a truth and justice
commission that would look not only at human rights abuses but also at the
Mugabe regime's corruption, looting and asset-stripping.

To address the "most egregious of the regime's abuses", the new parliament,
in which the MDC has a majority, intends to pass legislation to deal with
compensation and reparations for the victims of Gukurahundi and
Murambatsvina. Both military campaigns were launched to shut down opposition
to the rule of ZANU-PF. During Gukurahundi, beginning in the early 1980s, up
to 20,000 people in Matabeleland and the Midlands were killed by government
forces for their perceived loyalty to Joshua Nkomo and his ZAPU party.
Murambatsvina, begun in 2005, was designed to drive MDC supporters out of
the urban areas; close to 2.5 million people were displaced.

"Truth alone is not enough. Our people must be compensated," said Tsvangirai
in his 13-page state of the nation address.

The de-politicisation of the work of state security agents and other
national institutions, including the Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO,
is also part of his plan.

"It is not the intention of MDC to persecute or victimise any peaceful
member of the uniformed services, whether officers or junior members," he
said. "This assurance has been explained in the MDC policy paper statement
to the uniformed forces. But let me say to all very clearly - the violence
must stop now. There will be no tolerance or amnesty for those who continue
to injure, rape, and murder our citizens. We consider these criminal acts,
not political acts. Criminal acts will be prosecuted."

Tsvangirai said one of the first acts of parliament will be to repeal
repressive legislation, including the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act, Aippa, used to control the media; the Public Order and
Security Act, Posa; the Broadcasting Services Act, the Official Secrets Act,
and some aspects of the criminal code, laws the MDC leader argues were
crafted by Mugabe merely to sustain his power.

In tackling the emotive land issue once and for all, Tsvangirai said his
government would create a land commission, an independent and professional
policy organ that will recommend to parliament how the land question should
be finally resolved.

Once the land commission had completed its work, he said his government
expected the land question to be completely depoliticised by the commission's
professional input, making it possible to rely on the market mechanism to
determine the ownership of land in the long term.

"We intend to banish the colonial system of separate land tenure systems for
commercial and communal agriculture. However, we realise the need for
creativity and flexibility as we move from the current system to the
universally applicable one for all farmers," he said.

To ensure the productive use of land and to discourage speculative land
holding, his government would institute a progressive land tax. The revenue
generated from that tax would be applied to the provision of infrastructure
and other social services in that community.

Turning to restoration of basic services, which have collapsed under Mugabe's
regime, he envisages doling out free anti-retrovirals, offering affordable
education, and rehabilitating hospitals.

"Of urgent importance, nobody in our country should ever go hungry again.
Innovative and completely depoliticised food delivery mechanisms are
urgently required whilst we get our agricultural production up and running
again," he said.

On the international front, he said an MDC government was ready to return
Zimbabwe to the family of democratic nations, including the Commonwealth,
from which Mugabe personally withdrew the country in 2003. Analysts say
Mugabe's scorched earth policies have cost Zimbabwe international finance
and friends to take the country forward, especially in the past eight years.

Thompson Bveni is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.


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'Zim rivals prepared for unity government'

IOL

Peter Fabricius
June 06 2008 at 10:13AM

Outspoken Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga says President Thabo
Mbeki has told him that both Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai want a government of national unity.

But Mugabe wants it after the presidential run-off election on June
27, whereas Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change wants it to happen
before then.

Odinga, who is attending the World Economic Forum Africa conference,
met Mbeki in Cape Town yesterday. He said the president had told him that
both the Zimbabwean antagonists realised that neither can rule the country
without the other.

Several commentators have said the rising political violence will make
a free and fair election impossible, and this is why the MDC might not want
to contest it.

Odinga said he had advised Tsvangirai to contest the poll.

Some analysts believe Mugabe - who came second to Tsvangirai in the
initial election on March 29 - wants to beat him, by force if necessary, on
June 27 so that he can be the top dog in a government of national unity.

Tsvangirai has said he was prepared to consider joining Zanu-PF
leaders in a transitional government, but not as a junior partner to Mugabe.

Before meeting Mbeki, Odinga said he would ask him to tell Mugabe that
"the game is up".

Emerging after the meeting, Odinga said he had expressed concerns
about Zimbabwe and that Mbeki had told him he too was concerned about
developments there.

"I told him he must ensure that Mugabe does not tamper with the
elections, that Mugabe must ensure the elections are free and fair."

Mbeki had assured Odinga that the Southern African Development
Community - which appointed Mbeki as its mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis -
would send in a large force of observers to the election.

Odinga had earlier told journalists that it was "detestable" that
Tsvangirai had been arrested and held by Zimbabwean police for several hours
on Wednesday.

The only solution for the crisis would be SA "taking a firm stand on
the issue".

This article was originally published on page 3 of The Star on June
06, 2008


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Cost of Mugabe and Milošević and Castro

http://www.b92.net

6 June 2008
Charles Crawford

Zimbabwe as expected falls ever more steeply to total disaster. The gang of military/security leaders previously dependent on Mugabe now look to be running the shop, desperate as they are to cling on to power and privileges at the cost of ruining their own country. A text-book case.

Yet the UN still gives Mugabe a forum to rave away. And we taxpayers end up paying for it.

I have been looking at the True Cost of Stupidity.

Take Serbia and Slovenia.

After the initial flurry of violence when Slovenia broke from the then Yugoslavia, Slovenia has patiently got on with developing its economy.

Serbia by contrast got on with more violence against Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. This led to reduced investment, sanctions and even in the end a NATO bombing.

Result? In GDP per capita terms, Serbia is still struggling to match its economic position of 1991.

Thus the Cost of Milošević(ism) can be accurately measured. It is the space between the two lines of a simple graph of total GDP measured over time:

- one line shows Serbia's actual awful performance

- the other line shows what Serbia would have achieved by growing at an average of 3 percent a year over the past seventeen years. (Note: a conservative estimate - of course it could have done a lot better than that with common sense leadership and policies.)

To calculate that gap, a mathematician uses the Trapezium rule. In Serbia's case the "opportunity cost'" of Milošević and Miloševićism now runs towards hundreds of billions of dollars.

It is no exaggeration to say that Miloševićism in all its forms delivered a set-back to Serbia from which it will never recover. There is no conceivable chance of Serbia growing faster than Slovenia for the decades required for Serbia to "catch up" the ground lost in the past seventeen years.

The political costs of this madness also have compounded up. Montenegro and Kosovo have broken away - had Serbia developed to its natural potential they could be clamouring to stay with Serbia and share its success.

Ditto for Mugabe.

Running the Trapezium formula on Zimbabwe's performance over the past twenty years and comparing it with eg Estonia is a profoundly depressing experience.

Mugabe like Milošević for reasons of selfish paranoia has created national losses running to scores of billions of dollars, losses on a scale far exceeding anything development assistance might now do to put right.

Zimbabweans will pay for this folly for many decades to come through low living standards, higher disease and death rates, worse roads, poorer education, weaker institutions.

Castro Communism is another horror story. Back in 1959 Cuba was richer than Singapore. Singapore got on with developing and building itself up, maintaining solid policies over forty years. It is now one of the most successful countries in the world. Castro's Cuba scarcely changed at all.

Conclusions?

Market-based steadiness pays.

Socialistic stupidity does not pay.

Small sustained differences in performance mean big differences in absolute outcomes.

The steady and quite rich get steadily quite a lot richer.

The poor have to be more than steady to start to close the gap.

The stupid get enormously worse off.

Gaps can be closed by sustained good performance (see China, India, Estonia, Poland).

But once you've fallen far behind you are severely weakened; the effort needed to sustain such performance over decades is usually undeliverable...

In this sense it scarcely matters if the political flotsam and jetsam comprising Milošević's former party make it into Serbia's government again under some or other coalition deal.

The damage has been done, on an unimaginable scale. Let them play a walk-on part in wandering through the rubble to try to start some modest rebuilding.

Charles Crawford is a former British diplomat who served as ambassador in Sarajevo and Belgrade. This article originally appeared on charlescrawford.biz


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Stymied by the cynical realities of power

http://www.theherald.co.uk

IAN BELL June 07 2008

There is a new fad among thuggish dictators. Perhaps, on second thoughts, it
is not so very new. You might even call it symptomatic. Given the choice
between allowing aid to the people or having outsiders bear witness to his
behaviour, the average tinpot clown does not hesitate: the people can rot.
First Burma, now Zimbabwe.

It is one of the problems, if that's the word, with established guilt. Once
there is nothing left to lose, nothing is unthinkable. Why should the
300,000 Zimbabweans currently dependent on direct food aid (there will be
many more after the harvest) matter to Robert Mugabe? They hate him anyway.

Reality has caught up with the old paranoia. No doubt he tells himself that
if people starve because he has forbidden foreign agencies to distribute
food, they only have themselves to blame. They chose the wrong allegiances,
cast the wrong votes. When they go hungry, they will only hate him that
little bit more. They too are enemies.

Judging by his appearance at the emergency meeting of the UN Food and
Agriculture Organisation in Rome, the octogenarian Mugabe's behaviour has
less to do with delusions than with cold deliberation. First, for the
benefit of African neighbours still naive enough to believe it, there was
the perverted version of the old liberation narrative.
If Zimbabwe is impoverished, blame the west. If a Zimbabwean dollar that was
worth more than the US equivalent at independence in 1980 is now valued
(according to the Economist) at 250 million to one greenback, blame a
British plot. If "popular" land seizures have only exacerbated an economic
catastrophe, blame an international plot among the whites.

Meanwhile, back in Zimbabwe, distribution of food aid is first taken under
government control, then the foreign agencies themselves are banned. Food
has been Mugabe's weapon of choice for some time. Obey and you could eat;
disobey and you would starve. Outsiders capable of meeting the people's
basic needs - of liberating them from state control - were disrupting a
neat, sinister system in which the carrot was the stick. Worse, the
foreigners could see what was and is going on. They had to go.

In this, Mugabe is no different from all the others in the fraternity of
repression. He proclaims himself a victim, yet cannot stomach the thought of
witnesses. He offers elaborate explanations for his country's plight, as in
Rome, but cannot bear to have them examined. And he has a run-off election,
due for June 27, still to rig.

His tame generals and police, his militias and his "veterans", have all been
at work terrorising (when not murdering) supporters of the Movement for
Democratic Change. This week Morgan Tsvangirai, the leading opposition
figure, was arrested twice within the space of three days. British and
American diplomats were detained and threatened. Meanwhile, the school
teachers who manned the polling booths during the general elections are
being hunted down.

London fulminates; Washington deplores; the world looks on aghast. Mugabe
doesn't care. It suits him when Douglas Alexander, International Development
Secretary, calls his appearance in Rome obscene. Only opinions in southern
Africa (and perhaps in Beijing) count for anything. Judged by non-existent
results, even the views of all those delegations from the African Union, the
Southern African Development Community and South Africa's Thabo Mbeki do not
count for much.

Mugabe is not dissuaded. Either he is in power or he is finished. Two months
ago there was some hope that after losing to Tsvangirai by 47.9% to 43.2%
(the MDC insist that their man got the necessary 50+%), the aged president
would retire to his bank accounts and his Malaysian holiday home. He, and no
doubt those around him, decided otherwise. As the Third World has discovered
time and again, parasites can prosper even in a desolated country.

What does the world propose, after all? More sanctions? Most of those
available have been applied. They only have an effect, in any case, when a
regime identifies its own fate with the fate of an afflicted country. More
diplomacy? Mr Mbeki, the only regional figure with any sort of influence,
has been making glib, positive noises for more than a decade.

Military action? The west could not; the African Union - or South Africa,
come to that - will not. The presence of three million Zimbabwean refugees
has been an excuse for ethnic violence in Mr Mbeki's own country, but Mugabe
the Liberator retains his peculiar status for many.

Zimbabwe begins to look like one of those unfolding crises for which there
is no immediately obvious solution. If things are bad now, wait until June
28, and the morning after the run-off poll, if that blatantly crooked affair
actually takes place. All the great hopes of 1980 will die finally with the
tawdry, familiar formula: president for life. All that will remain will be
the long wait to see which dies first: Mugabe or Zimbabwe.

Cast your mind back to Mr President crashing the Rome party. Overlooked amid
the horrified fascination with Mugabe's gall, defiance and hypocrisy was a
chilling truth. This time, even he did not attempt to deny that his country
is in dire economic straits. His analysis of the reasons rested on
half-truths and sheer fiction. He blamed everyone but himself. Nevertheless,
in order to formulate his accusations he had to recognise the crisis the UN
food organisation had gathered to discuss.

Mugabe offers an extreme example, but if the developed world is serious
about feeding Africa in the 21st century - or serious about helping Africa
to feed itself - an old problem will have to be addressed. The west can
rightly be accused of exploiting the mechanisms of food, aid and trade
without mercy. The World Bank and the IMF have miserable, if not
disgraceful, records. Usury abroad and agricultural subsidy at home have
proved lethal. But if all that changed, would things improve?

We have nothing to be proud of, despite all those grand G8 promises. In real
terms, food aid to the Third World fell from 4bn in 1980 to 1.7bn in 2004.
Agricultural development, meanwhile, became less fashionable among aid
organisations. Biofuels, our latest wheeze, feed no-one. And Africa, one way
or another, is producing less food than ever while the hungry, priced out of
their local markets, riot.

All true, if only as a sketch of a complex situation. Yet there remains a
further problem. If there is, in fact, nothing we can do about Mugabe, how
do we hope to establish food security for Africa when there are so many
other "problems of governance" in the continent? New versions of the old
colonialism? Bullying of a sort that may fix dictators, but aids only our
transnational corporations? Recent western attempts to impose democracy
elsewhere have been patchy, shall we say. In the case of Zimbabwe, we do not
even pretend to offer that sort of intervention.

It amounts to a depressing conundrum for this new, nervous century: a
responsibility to act without the means to do so. Mugabe and the Burmese
generals have destroyed the assumption that even dictators will grab aid
with both hands.

Grand, well-meaning conferences in fine European cities can excoriate the
west to their heart's content, but they will not even begin to address the
cynical realities of power, in the Third World or the First.


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Fear versus democracy


JOHANNESBURG, 6 June 2008 (IRIN) - Zimbabweans living in South Africa
returned in droves earlier this year to vote; this time many are unlikely to
make the trip for the second round runoff for the presidency on 27 June
between President Robert Mugabe, leader of ZANU-PF, and Morgan Tsvangirai,
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), because they are
resigned to a Mugabe "victory".

In elections on 29 March, the ZANU-PF party lost its parliamentary majority
for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980, and Mugabe
trailed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential vote. But
Mugabe, an 84-year-old former guerrilla fighter, has insisted he will not
leave State House, regardless of the outcome of the runoff.

Mugabe has repeatedly branded Tsvangirai and his MDC as agents of
imperialism, buying their way to 48 percent of the presidential vote in
March - just short of the 50 percent plus one that Tsvangirai needed for a
first-round knockout.

A new splinter group of war veterans, the Revolutionary Council, with First
Lady Grace Mugabe as its patron, has called for the June poll to be
scrapped. The faction argues that elections cannot be held with the country
under "sanctions" - a reference to the freeze on donor aid - and was ready
to take up arms to "defend the revolution".

The statement followed comments last week by Chief-of-Staff Maj-Gen Martin
Chedondo, who said the army was not apolitical, and ordered all soldiers
intending to vote for the opposition to resign.

Emmanuel Hlabangana, director of Diaspora Dialogue, a Johannesburg-based
pro-democracy organisation for Zimbabweans in exile, said the Zimbabwe
government was furiously trying to undermine the MDC before the June poll.

"The undemocratic statements which have been made have only served to
discourage some people from going back home to vote, because they feel that
their vote will not count. The establishment wants to create a siege
mentality among Zimbabweans to lose hope," he told IRIN.

"After losing in the first round of voting, ZANU-PF wants to make sure that
the election will be so close that Mugabe will declare himself the winner,
then arm twist Tsvangirai into a government of national unity with himself
[Mugabe] as the leader," said Hlabangana.

Political violence and intimidation have also escalated: Tsvangirai was
detained by the police twice this week; the diplomatic community has been
harassed; on Thursday all aid organisations were ordered to stop their
operations on grounds of "political activity" by some, and accused of
supporting the MDC.

Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of the militant Progressive Teachers'
Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), which has a branch in South Africa, said thousands
of his members had fled the country after they were they were accused of
backing the MDC.

"In my interactions with our members, many have indicated that they are not
prepared to go back home and vote. They say - based on statements issued by
war veterans, the army and ruling party officials - it is not likely that if
Mugabe loses, he will surrender power."

Fambai Ngirande, the advocacy and communications manager for the National
Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, a civil society umbrella
body, told IRIN from the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, that even within the
country many were too afraid to vote.

"The state-sponsored political violence was systematic and targeted. Those
who were affected were known and perceived opposition supporters, election
agents for the opposition in the last elections, and opinion leaders such as
teachers and nurses. Because in our elections people can only vote where
they are ordinarily resident, very few will be brave enough to go back to
where they were displaced from in order to vote," Ngirande said.

Mugabe's chief election agent, Emmerson Mnangagwa, told IRIN that Mugabe was
misunderstood when he said he would not relinquish power. "Nobody goes into
an election thinking that they will lose, otherwise there would be no point
in contesting. What the president meant is that he does not think he will
lose and hand over power."

Asked to comment on statements from the military and war veterans that they
would not recognise a Tsvangirai victory, Mnangagwa said they were speaking
in their "private capacity".

"If he [Mugabe] loses the election, I will be the first to go to him as his
chief election agent and say: 'Boss, we have lost. We brought democracy to
Zimbabwe and we should defend it'. I will ask him if I should draft his
resignation speech, or whether he would rather draft his own statement."

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

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