the capital city of Zimbabwe, means "place where one does not
sleep." That's what a black Harare journalist told me last
summer as he drove me around his town. When Shona tribesmen first settled the
area, he said, the lions in the nearby forest interrupted the night
so forcefully with their roars that settlers had a hard time getting much
recently, as I watched from afar while President Robert Mugabe appears to
have stolen his re-election fair and square, the entire country of
Zimbabwe has become a tough place to
Terry Ford, for
example, is sleeping permanently. He was a 55-year-old white
Zimbabwean farmer. He was killed Monday, a day after Mr. Mugabe, 78, was
sworn in for a hotly contested fifth
Mr. Ford was the
10th white farmer to be killed since 2000 in Mr. Mugabe's
so-called "fast track" land reform. Ownership
by Zimbabwe's tiny white minority of 90 percent of the
best farmland is a real issue, dating back to the
country's independence in
Great Britain and
the United States pulled out of the original land reform plan a few years
after independence, charging corruption in Mr. Mugabe's government.
Mr. Mugabe did not make an issue out of the land dispute until a few years
ago, when white farmers provided a convenient scapegoat for a
mounting political backlash against Mr. Mugabe by his fellow
Mugabe's supporters in the United States (yes, he still has a few; I
think I have heard from all three of them) cynically blame
Mr. Mugabe's horrible international image on the Eurocentric view
of the world's major
have been many more blacks than whites killed, injured, jailed or
made homeless during Mr. Mugabe's land seizures and
other political power grabs, but their cases usually don't sizzle
through the world's media as much as Mr. Mugabe's
Mr. Mugabe can't blame his country's troubles on the
media. Besides, those of us who supported Mr. Mugabe from this side of the
ocean in his battle against Rhodesia's white-minority rule are more
obliged than anyone else to hold him accountable, racially and otherwise, now
that he and his political party ZANU-PF are in
story in Zimbabwe goes beyond race or tribe. It is the story of a
postcolonial Third World nation struggling mightily to join the
Mugabe's opposition is quite real and growing, born out of his
country's labor movements and fed by a new, young black professional
class struggling and striving to join neighboring economic giant South
Africa in the new global
sub-Saharan African country besides South Africa has more potential
than Zimbabwe for development based on its natural and human resources. It
has one of the continent's highest literacy rates. Its agricultural
strength made it the breadbasket of southern Africa until drought and
political turmoil in the last two years caused famine and
today bristles with young entrepreneurial professionals, easily detected
by their cell phones, laptops and, in many cases, American and European
educations. If countries that have Zimbabwe's potential fall to the
old big-man form of tribal despotism, it is bad news for a world trying to
bridge widening gaps between rich and
After two decades
in office, Mr. Mugabe has become a hindrance to his
country's future progress. Even the pragmatists within
Mr. Mugabe's party have urged him to step aside while he still can
be remembered with some semblance of honor as the father of his country.
Instead, he clings to the old despotic form of African leadership, tribally
based and eager to play the race card when his back is up against
the wall, no matter who else gets
what we say around here, we thrive on our optimism," Geoff
Nyarota, editor of the Daily News, Zimbabwe's only
independent daily told me by cell phone after the votes were
knows optimism. His printing press and offices were bombed last
year, apparently by Mugabe supporters. Still his staff comes to work every
day and puts out a paper that has helped fill the gap left by Mr.
Mugabe's closing of independent radio and TV
maintains some semblance of democracy because its courts, its press
and other institutions are weak by American standards but strong by
African standards. The country's best hope is the relentless optimism
of its people. Mr.
Mugabe has angered them by putting his corruption right in their faces and
thwarting the popular will. The opposition began calling for
national strikes as soon as the votes appeared to be miscounted in the
recent election. The voice of a new Zimbabwe is rising. It has many miles to
go before it
Page is a nationally syndicated
Afrlcan Dreams by Peter Simple The Weekly Telegraph (UK) 20 March
THERE is nothing surprising about Mr Mugabe's victory. What is
surprising is that he bothers about elections at all. There must be easier
ways of holding on to power than beating up voters, stuffing ballot boxes
with fake papers and losing them or setting them on fire and generally
rigging the result.
And for all the shock, horror and distress among
Western liberal thinkers, there is nothing surprising about the African
countries' support for him. The quarrel in Zimbabwe, as in all of Africa, is
between the white man and the black man. The black man, as Mugabe knows and
the white thinker denies, would like to get rid of the white man and all his
laws and institutions that linger on so confusingly from colonial times and
irritate Mugabe and his fellow potentates by getting in the way.
is an obvious remedy. Let the black man get rid of the white man's democratic
eletions, his parliaments and woolsacks and judges' wigs, his military
uniforms, his weapons and other ingenious devices, his science
and technology, his money and financial arrangements, his motor cars
and aircraft, his computers, radio and television, not to speak of
his hospitals and medical services.
No longer ensnared by the white
man's overpowering gifts, the Africans could return to African ways of doing
The African chief would summon his tribal council and dispense
African justice. Wars would be fought with sticks and stones. Cattle would
be currency. Witchdoctors would flourish with their spells and potions.
The people would dance and sing and celebrate birth and death and
the procession of the seasons. The fat man, reclining in the shade, would
have the thin men scurrying about to do his bidding, as from time
No news, good or bad, would come out of Africa any more to
fill our "media" with worry and soul-searching. Experts and liberal thinkers,
deprived of conscience-fodder and obsessive guilt, would have to find other
ways of passing their time. And Africa, free of mad, white, alien dreams
of progress and modernity, would be itself again.
.Zimbabwe At The Crossroads: Transition Or
Conflict? If the current election outcome in Zimbabwe is allowed to stand,
the message across Africa would seem to be that managed violence works, vote
rigging is acceptable and that Africa is in the main not prepared to defend
modern democratic standards. In the end the goal must be a
transitional power-sharing arrangement, new elections and a political exit
strategy for Robert Mugabe. ICG sets out a two-track, complimentary strategy
with regional leaders, including importantly South Africa, seeking to broker
a transition, while the EU, U.S. and others should take a hard-line
position that reinforces the leverage of the regional efforts.
HOLGER JENSEN International Editor, Denver Rocky Mountain News Foreign
Affairs Columnist, Scripps Howard News Service
'Brother' Africans turning on Mugabe
3/21/02 By Holger Jensen News International Editor President Bush
is still consulting with allies on how to respond to Zimbabwe's stolen
election but other nations have begun piling the pressure on President
Robert Mugabe. The Commonwealth, composed mostly of former British
colonies covering nearly a third of the world, humiliated the 78-year-old
despot by suspending Zimbabwe for a year and calling for new elections.
Denmark closed its embassy in Zimbabwe and shut off economic aid.
Switzerland froze any assets Mugabe and his inner circle might have in that
country and joined in a travel ban imposed by the United States and European
Union before the election. Suspension from the Commonwealth is largely
symbolic since few penalties are attached. But it was a stinging personal
rebuff to Mugabe because it came from two African leaders he had previously
regarded as friends and allies in his battle against “white imperialism.”
The Commonwealth task force that recommended the suspension was made up of
Australian Prime Minister John Howard, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa
and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria. Howard, the leader of the
troika, is unimportant to Mugabe, who considers him a lackey of Britain.
Australia is routinely dismissed by Zimbabwe's official press as a “British
dominion” and thus part of the “Western conspiracy” that seeks to restore
colonial rule in Zimbabwe, according to Mugabe's carefully spun mythology.
But Mugabe had always counted on the support of neighboring South Africa,
the continent's richest nation, and Nigeria, its most populous.
Mbeki's African National Congress and Mugabe's ZANU-PF had been allies since
the 1960s, when both were fighting white minority regimes. Some of Mbeki's
top lieutenants had already recognized Mugabe's election victory as
legitimate and congratulated him on what he called his “stunning blow to
imperialism.” Obasanjo's betrayal stung even more because Mugabe
idolized him. In an interview with a Lagos newspaper last year, he praised
the Nigerian leader as his “master,” saying: “You are the one who taught us
how to fight the white man.” Now the master, in Mugabe's view, has rallied
behind the white man against an African brother. The Commonwealth
groups 50 developing countries from Africa, Asia and the Pacific alongside
four developed ones: Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Supporters
say it offers a platform for joint action on worldwide problems such as
poverty and AIDS. But critics say it is a redundant relic of the British
Empire, a difficult mix of rich and poor nations with sharply diverging
priorities. Eleven years ago, at a meeting hosted by Mugabe, the
Commonwealth pledged to uphold “the rule of law and the independence of
judiciary, just and honest government and fundamental human rights.” It
backed that up by suspending Nigeria in 1995, when it was under military
rule, and Fiji and Pakistan for coups that ousted their elected governments
in 1999 and 2000. However, Zimbabwe had always escaped censure even though
Mugabe's regime was neither honest nor just and often operated above the
law. Steeped in corruption and ruthless with political opponents, it killed,
tortured and terrorized the president's foes, ignored court orders, fired
judges who ruled against the government and unleashed lawless mobs of war
veterans to seize white-owned farms and intimidate the growing black
opposition movement. Faced with convincing evidence that Mugabe was
rigging his re-election, Britain, Australia and New Zealand demanded
Zimbabwe's suspension at a Commonwealth summit a week before the vote. But
all the African nations banded together to protect Mugabe. Saying it would
be unfair to judge the election before it happened, they created the
three-nation task force to rule on its validity after the vote. Even
then, Mbeki and Obasanjo gave Mugabe one last chance to avoid suspension by
trying to persuade him to invite his opponents into a government of national
unity. Only when he refused did they fly to London and signal their
acceptance of the Commonwealth election observers' report. It cited
political violence and other irregularities, concluding that “conditions in
Zimbabwe did not adequately allow for a free expression of will by the
electors.” Now that Africa's two most influential leaders have turned
their backs on Mugabe, others are bound to follow.
Copyright 2000 Holger Jensen. These columns may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written
authority of Holger Jensen.
Zimbabwe Farmers Report Intimidation Intimidation,
Revenge Violence Reported by Labor Officials, Farmers in Zimbabwe
HARARE, Zimbabwe March 21 — Most businesses on
Thursday ignored a national strike organized to protest disputed elections
and remained open, and labor leaders blamed government intimidation. They
said police, troops and ruling party militants took down the names of people
who did not report for work.
Tensions have remained high in the wake of
the March 9-11 elections, which Zimbabwe's opposition and several independent
observer groups say was rigged to ensure the victory of President Robert
Mugabe. The government declared Mugabe the victor.
The Commonwealth of
Britain and its former colonies this week suspended Zimbabwe from the
organization's meetings for one year, citing the "high level of politically
motivated" violence in the vote.
On Thursday, a Commonwealth official
said that he hoped Zimbabwe would work to regain full status within the
Speaking from a U.N. summit in Mexico, Don McKinnon said
the Commonwealth stopped short of taking harsher action such as expelling
Zimbabwe from the group in part because of "the fragile nature of the
Labor leaders said authorities used new security new
laws to prevent them from meeting freely with workers to coordinate the
three-day nationwide protest strike that began Wednesday.
factories remained closed Thursday, but most banks and shops reopened and
government offices, post offices and schools never closed.
estimated about half of Harare's businesses were curtailed by early
Wednesday, declining to about a third in the afternoon as workers showed up
at their jobs.
Meanwhile, white farmers accused ruling party militants of
attacking them as part of a new campaign of violence intended to punish them
for perceived support of the opposition in the elections.
Commercial Farmers Union said at least 50 farmers were illegally evicted from
their properties since the elections.
One farmer died Monday in an
execution-style killing, a farm worker was killed in a separate assault,
hundreds of workers were forced to flee their jobs and 66 farmers were
arrested after providing logistical support for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, the union said.
Most of those arrested face charges
they violated new security laws by using licensed radio equipment for
political activities, the union said.
Though international leaders have
appealed for reconciliation in the country, which has been plagued by
violence and intimidation over the past two years, Zimbabwe remains as tense
Authorities charged opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai with
treason Wednesday and released him on bail in connection with an alleged plot
to assassinate Mugabe.
Tsvangirai has denied the accusation,
dismissing the charges as a government ploy devised to weaken the
Despite vigorous SA efforts to secure political accommodation in Zimbabwe,
President Robert Mugabe seems intent on a hardline cabinet committed to
Official sources said yesterday that President
Thabo Mbeki's reconciliation and economic recovery plans faced collapse as
Mugabe contemplated a "crisis cabinet" to resist growing international
pressure and sanctions after his disputed election victory. That would make a
coalition impossible with Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
Mugabe seemed interested at first in Mbeki's unity talks and the
economic rescue package as he sought political legitimacy, but made an
about-turn on Wednesday, and dug in his heels, raising fear of heightened
A day after Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth,
Mugabe pounced on Tsvangirai. Despite his earlier assurance to Mbeki and
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo that he would not hound opponents,
Mugabe dragged Tsvangirai to court on treason charges for an alleged
The US said the treason charges were baseless, and it
was reviewing more measures to pressure Zimbabwe's leadership.
said Zimbabwean Finance Minister Simba Makoni and Industry and International
Trade Minister Herbert Murerwa seen in SA and the US as progressive faced the
chop in a looming cabinet reshuffle. It is thought Mugabe will cling to his
old guard and turf out ministers amenable to economic
Insiders said the "ultras" would prevail over reformers, given
the state of Mugabe's mind.
It is now accepted in government circles
that Vice-Presidents Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika will be retired. Sources
said Mugabe's combative loyalists like Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Chinamasa,
Elliot Manyika, Sydney Sekeramayi and Nicholas Goche were set to form the
core of the obstructionist team.
A reactionary cabinet would undermine
the rescue package the SA government was preparing. Trade and Industry
Minister Alec Erwin said last week Pretoria was waiting in the wings with a
recovery plan linked to political stability. Ironically, the plan was drafted
with the assistance of Makoni last year.
While there has been growing
international pressure for a new election in Zimbabwe, Malawian President
Bakili Muluzi called yesterday for closure, saying the controversial election
was now "water under the bridge".
Muluzi said the 14-nation Southern
African Development Community (SADC), which he chairs, would help Zimbabwe
rebuild its economy and attain political stability.
that there is stability in that country because the economy is in shambles.
Stability is the future of Zimbabwe," he told Malawian observers to the
Zimbabwean election at his Sanjika palace in Blantyre.
Tsvangirai has joined calls for another poll. Charging that Mugabe stole the
presidential poll, the opposition chief said his party was pressing for an
election rerun in line with growing international demands.
opposition party Zapu also called for the election to be staged again under
United Nations monitoring.
Mar 22 2002 12:00:00:000AM Dumisani Muleya and
Sapa-AFP Business Day 1st Edition
President Mugabe began his land grab two years ago Iain Kay was among the
first white farmers to suffer. He was tied up and beaten senseless
by so-called war veterans.
Within hours of Mr Mugabe declaring
victory last week, Mr Kay, a supporter of the opposition MDC, was again in
the frontline. On Friday, his home at Chipesa Farm in Marondera was taken
over. His adopted son, Jon Rutherford, was assaulted and his black bodyguard
killed as he tried to save the young man's life. Police fired on Mr Kay and
another son. On Monday, Tony Ford, a friend and fellow farmer, was tied to a
tree and shot.
Mr Kay's wife, Kerry, said that after helping to get her
grievously injured son to hospital, she had seen the mutilated body of
Darlington Vikaveka, the security manager, placed in a metal coffin as local
police recorded his death as natural causes. Farm workers told her that Mr
Vikaveka pleaded with the mob to spare her son.
I just broke down and
sobbed for the sheer brutality of it all, killing and beating with impunity,
a witch hunt to beat, rape and kill whoever supported the legitimate
opposition party, she said.
While she waited at Jon's bedside, her
husband and his son David drove to Chipesa after reports that a tractor
driver was being tortured. When they arrived the father and son were
surrounded by armed marauders. They knew two of the ringleaders, Marimo and
Katsiro, who were trying to smash the vehicle's windows.
shouting for help on his shortwave radio, was told that police were on their
way. When they appeared, Mr Kay said, they turned their assault rifles on
him, shattering the windscreen as he accelerated away.
Mrs Kay is
worried about the farm workforce and their families, who were chased into the
bush after their homes were torched. Among them is a nine-year-old boy who
appeared at Mrs Kay's front door recently, explaining that his father was
dying of Aids and his mother was already dead. She found him a home, but now
has no idea of his fate.
Like so many now suffering at the hands of the
war veterans, the Kays were once supporters of President Mugabe. Mr Kay's
father, Jock, was an Agriculture Minister from 1992 to 1994.
Kay, 52, was born on the farm and was a pioneer in helping black farmers to
build up their own herds of livestock and developing pockets of land. Zanu
(PF) took exception to his interference in the hold it had over so-called
communal farmers, fearing that if they had their own livelihoods the party's
control would slip.Mrs Kay says that this is why, when Mr Mugabe declared war
on white farmers, her husband was singled out.
Monterrey, Mexico - The
secretary-general of the Commonwealth said on Thursday that he hoped
Zimbabwe, recently suspended from councils in the organisation of Britain and
its former colonies, would work to regain full status after its conflicted
Commonwealth nations suspended Zimbabwe from their councils
for one year on Tuesday because of the "high level of politically motivated
violence" that marred March 9-11 presidential elections. The disputed vote
gave President Robert Mugabe another six years in office.
organisation stopped short of harsher action - such as expelling Zimbabwe
from the group - in part because of "the fragile nature of the Zimbabwean
economy", Don McKinnon said.
"I think there's always the feeling, 'It's
got to get better some day'," McKinnon said. "If you take the major action
and suspend them, you lose contact."
He said the Commonwealth would
work with Zimbabwe to help renew investments in the country and to improve
its electoral system.
No new financial aid
Minister John Howard, who announced Zimbabwe's suspension on Tuesday, said
the decision was based on a report from a group of 64 Commonwealth election
observers who concluded that the poll was seriously flawed and had not
allowed for the free expression of the wishes of the electorate.
independent observer groups also have said the election, which followed a
campaign marred by political violence widely blamed on the ruling party, was
rigged to ensure Mugabe's victory.
The suspension shuts Zimbabwe out of
all meetings of the 54-nation Commonwealth over the coming year and means it
will receive no new financial aid from the organisation except under
programmes aimed to restore political stability and the rule of
Full suspension would have halted all aid programmes and barred
Zimbabwe from competing in the Commonwealth Games this year. -
Zimbabwe: Hundreds at slain white farmer's funeral HARARE,
March 22 AFP|Published: Friday March 22, 11:01 PM
white farmers, including former Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith, and black
farm labourers attended a moving funeral today for slain white farmer Terry
Ford in Zimbabwe.
Ford was assaulted with axes and run over by a car
before he was shot five times at his farm near the capital overnight
Four of his assailants appeared before a magistrate court
yesterday and were not asked to enter their plea.
His son, Mark, who
lives in Australia told the funeral service at Highlands Presbyterian Church
in Harare said his father died for a "reason".
"He just wanted to live.
He lived by what he believed and he died by what he believed," said Mark
The church minister Peter McKenzie preached
"One of the saddest thing about bitterness is that the only
person it destroys is the person who carries it," said
President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) Colin Cloete
said the farmers were determined to stay in Zimbabwe regardless of the
violence targeted at them.
"People are pretty desperate, with lack of
direction, but are determined to stay and farm as much as they can," Cloete
told AFP in an interview after the funeral.
"The lawlessness is
absolutely unacceptable. There is no support for farmers out there so things
are very difficult, but we are determined to stay," he said.
In a show
of the determination to stay in Zimbabwe despite difficulties the white
farmers have faced over the past two years, the funeral ended with a song by
a prominent Zimbabwean international cricketer, Henry Olonga, called Our
The song advocates for peace and harmony.
Russell terrier Squeak, who was at his side until his death, was also at the
Zimbabwe's election should be judged by
its own high standards
Chris McGreal in Harare Friday March 22,
2002 The Guardian
There is only one measure by which to judge
Zimbabwe's election. It is not by "African standards" as Robert Mugabe and
his friends would have us do. It is not by the criteria laid down by a myriad
election observers from widely differing political cultures - from Japan to
Libya - with an array of tests for what constitutes a good election. It is by
Zimbabwe's own standards, after more than two decades of independence. And by
those, imperfect as they may have been, the election was a
disaster. Nigeria's president, Olusegun Obasanjo, recognised that the
election was fatally flawed when he agreed to suspend Zimbabwe from the
Commonwealth this week. So did Thabo Mbeki, if more reluctantly. But others
in Africa continue to defend Mugabe by pointing to the violence that plagues
presidential ballots in Kenya and the many shortcomings of a Nigerian
election. They remind us of the bloody run-up to South Africa's elections in
1994, and note the west has turned a blind eye to the rigging of Zambia's
Wasn't Zimbabwe's vote a model of tranquillity and
efficiency by comparison to elections in some other parts of Africa, they
ask? Why the double standard? It's a good question, and one asked by those
who stand to benefit from seeing Zimbabwe's tainted election accepted by the
wider world. Kenya's Daniel arap Moi is certainly not interested in scrutiny
of next year's presidential ballot in which he can be expected to fall back
on his routine strategy of using violence to divide and rule. But Mugabe's
opponents ask whether this is the standard by which Zimbabwe should be
Some of those dispatched to monitor Zimbabwe's election think so,
including the head of the Nigerian observer mission, Ernest Shonekon. He
knows a thing or two about stolen elections. When Moshood Abiola was deprived
of his election victory in 1993 by the Nigerian military, Chief Shonekon was
the frontman who took power on the army's behalf.
Some of the loudest
voices in support of Mugabe have come from South Africa. The deputy foreign
minister, Aziz Pahad, wondered what all the fuss was about - 120 political
murders was nothing compared with the thousands who died in the run-up to
South Africa's first free ballot. And hadn't they managed to pull off a free
and fair election?
Well, no. Much of the violence then was concentrated
in KwaZulu-Natal and the election results there were openly manipulated with
the consent of the African National Congress to ensure that Inkatha won the
province. That made sense in the South African political context of the time
because it went a long way to ensuring the political stability the country
enjoys today. But it is no reason to brush off a strategy of murder and
terror by the Zimbabwean government as small potatoes.
It is to
Zimbabweans' credit that 120 recent political murders are not as meaningless
as Pahad suggests, particularly in a country which endured a liberation war
in the 1970s and then the massacre of 20,000 people in the Matabeleland
rebellion two decades ago, when Mugabe's forces put down the only real
challenge to his authority before now.
Others have said that those
foreign observers who condemned the elections are hypocritical because they
have failed to make similar criticisms of ballots in Russia, eastern Europe
or Italy. Perhaps so. Italian politics is remarkably corrupt. Does that mean
that when we encounter corruption in British politics we should let it go?
Voters of any country have the right to be outraged if the loser is declared
the winner in their elections.
The point missed by those who defend
Zimbabwe's election is that its shortcomings are not the result of
under-development or the inability of the system to cope which is implied in
talk of "African standards". It did not happen after a civil war. It did not
happen in apartheid's death throes. It did not happen because the country is
so fractured by religious and ethnic divides that blood- letting is part of
the political discourse. It happened because Mugabe was not prepared to
accept defeat. His government set about to subvert the will of the
There were certainly problems in past elections, particularly
in Matabeleland in the years after the massacres. Sometimes there was
violence against opposition candidates and supporters. But until Mugabe was
faced with a real challenge to his power, elections were transparent and
largely untainted by rigging. Political gatherings were not banned, nor
was criticism of the president. The voters' roll included just about
everyone who lived in the country and was over the age of 18, including
non-citizens. Above all, people did not live in terror of an election. That
is the standard by which many Zimbabweans want Mugabe's claim to victory to
WHAT CAN YOU DO??? Zimbabweans are living
in fear for their life now. The people are suffering from starvation
because President Mugabe has NOT allowed crops to be planted and their
currency has collapsed. Please visit http://www.zimbabweprotest.freeservers.com Images
from the London protest outside the Zimbabwe High Commission link to various
websites about what is happening in Zimbabwe today. If your heart is
touched by what you read, please SPEAK OUT. Your voice is important, so
please e-mail church leaders, government officials and organizations that
MDC appeals for help to end violence Dumisani Muleya/
THE besieged Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is
calling for international intervention as mobs loyal to President Robert
Mugabe step up their retribution against the party's supporters.
includes murder, abductions, beatings and destruction of
The MDC said in a statement this week the international
community should help stop Zanu PF violence after the hotly-disputed
"We call on Sadc leaders and the international
community to urge the ruling party and government to restrain their
supporters and abandon their agenda of violence," it said.
MDC's anguished appeal for intervention came as fresh violence swept across
the country. In Muzarabani communal lands, 83 houses belonging to 34 families
were burnt after the election.
On Wednesday, newly-elected MDC
councillor for ward 32 in Glen View, Last Maengahama, was beaten up at around
2am by thugs in riot police gear. During the evening of the same day MDC
national youth executive member Philip Mabika's house was
The MDC complains its members are being "hounded and hunted
down, kidnapped, tortured, and killed" by Zanu PF
"Tafireyinyika Gwaze, our polling agent at Rukwenjere
polling station in Mutoko in the just-ended presidential election has died
after being abducted and tortured by Zanu PF militias," the opposition party
"Gwaze was picked up by the militia from a bus in which he was
travelling after the poll on Tuesday last week. He was taken to a nearby
torture camp where he was savagely beaten the whole night and released the
following day. He died from multiple injuries and wounds
The MDC also said another party activist, Owen Manyara,
died on Sunday after a brutal assault by Zanu PF thugs.
was assaulted by Zanu PF militia at Nyamaruro Growth Point in Mt Darwin for
supporting the MDC."
It said houses belonging to its polling agents
in Muzarabani, David Karamba and Charles Madziwana, were burnt down in
Mahwenda village by Zanu PF mobs last Friday.
"In Bindura, Zanu PF
militia have taken over House Number 2016 in Chiwaridzo Township, which
belongs to Clemence Masawi, who is our activist," the
"Zanu PF militants, among them Newton Hakata, Sydney
Mavhangira and one only identified as Konde, broke into the house and turned
it into a torture base."
The violence is systematic and
"In Chinhoyi, Biggie Matare, our Hurungwe East
coordinator and Cosmos Nheya, our polling agent in the election, were
severely assaulted by Zanu PF militias and sustained life threatening
injuries," the opposition said.
"Another MDC activist, whose name is
yet to be confirmed, was abducted. These cases have been reported to Karoi
Police Station and Inspector Matorofa, a war veteran, is handling the
Three MDC supporters were killed last weekend in Chipinge,
allegedly by soldiers. On Tuesday, an MDC activist, Ernest Gatsi, died in
Guruve Hospital after being assaulted by Zanu PF supporters while Lawrence
Kuvheya was killed in Chikomba district.
Over 110 people have so
far been killed in politically-motivated violence. Thousands of people have
been affected. The ruling party has been accused of being the major sponsor
of the terror.
Last week, Zanu PF activists killed MDC supporter
Funny Mahuni at a torture camp in Mbizo township, Kwekwe, as violence swept
through the Midlands city.
In Marondera, three people including a
farm security guard, Darlington Vikaveka and farm manager John Rutherford as
well as MDC activist Munyaradzi Mupazviripo, were last week attacked by
ruling party mobs.
Masvingo mayor Alois Chaimiti was besieged in his
office and threatened with death last week.
ZIMBABWE'S commercial farming sector was
this week gripped by fear as a terror campaign to force farmers off their
land was stepped up following President Mugabe's re-election.
is seen as a direct response to his call to intensify farm seizures a white
commercial farmer, Terrence Ford of Gowrie Farm in Norton, was bludgeoned to
death on Monday by suspected Zanu PF supporters and
The suspects have been living on his property since
farm invasions began in 2000.
Yesterday, four suspects - Harrison
Jambaya, Joseph Siyabweka, Harrington Kawanzaruwa and Costa Mahunza - were
remanded in custody at the Norton Magistrate's Court in connection with the
brutal murder of Ford whose death is thought to have helped persuade
Commonwealth leaders meeting in London to suspend Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Independent understands the police are also looking for senior war
veterans' leaders operating in the Norton area in connection with
In another incident a security guard, Darlington Vikaveka,
was beaten to death at a farm near Marondera.
Commercial Farmers Union
president Colin Cloete has confirmed an increase in incidents of violence on
the commercial farms countrywide.
"Incidents of harassment, trashing and
looting, forced evictions and extortion as well as political retribution have
reached alarming proportions," he said yesterday.
"A large proportion
of the incidents seem to be retribution against farmers who were exercising
their democratic right to support the political party of their choice, which
in the cases reported is the MDC, although some of the farmers attacked have
no political affiliation," he said.
"A total of 66 farmers who were
resource persons for the opposition party were arrested with some due to
appear in court at the end of April. Charges centre on the use of radios
which farmers have been using well before 1980 under licence," Cloete
The new invasions are also affecting farm workers who face an
"In the last two weeks, on at least 14 of the farms
affected, the workers are under threat of eviction from their farm villages.
A minimum of 600 farm workers are affected prejudicing the lives of
approximately 3 000 family members," Cloete said.
The failure by the
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to act on time had worsened the situation, he
"The lack of a definitive police response is playing into the hands
of opportunists. The problem seems to be at district level where officers
seem to be slow and in some cases unwilling to react to farmers' calls for
Their hands seem to be tied," said Cloete.
this week takes the toll of slain commercial farmers to 10 since farm
invasions began in 2000.
Mashonaland East province heads the list with
four murders in 2000. The four are David Stevens on April 15, Stewart Allan
Dunn on May 7, John Weeks on May 14, and William Botha on July
Matabeleland North has two cases: Martin Olds murdered on April 18
2000 and his mother Gloria murdered on March 4 2001.
There are also
two cases in the Midlands Province: Henry Swan Elsworth on May 7 2000 and
Fenwick Robert Cobbet on August 6 2001. Following the recent murder of Ford,
Mashonaland West now has two cases as Tony Oates suffered the same fate on
May 31 2000.
The mayhem on the farms will perpetuate the food shortages
affecting the country as hundreds of farms have now been abandoned in the
wake of the violence.
"At least 50 farmers have been illegally
evicted, with some given an hour's notice," Cloete said. "According to
reports, over a dozen homes have been trashed and looted, including Ruzawi
Club in Mashonaland East," said Cloete.
Zimbabwe seeks massive food imports in shattered economy
HARARE, Zimbabwe, March 22 — Zimbabwe announced plans Friday to
import huge amounts of food to stave off starvation caused by drought and
the agricultural chaos following the occupation of white-owned farms by
ruling party militants. Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said the
government was seeking 200,000 tons of corn, the staple food, from Kenya,
Brazil and Argentina. Over the next 18 months, the country will need to
import 1.5 million tons of corn, state radio reported. The fertile,
southern African nation was once considered the breadbasket of the
region. Now Zimbabweans wait in food lines in hopes of getting bags
of increasingly rare corn meal. In November, the government ordered
200,000 tons of corn valued at $25 million from neighboring South
Africa. The main labor federation, meanwhile, conceded the failure of
its national strike to protest state-backed intimidation surrounding
this month's disputed presidential elections. The few businesses
that had observed the strike reopened Friday, which was to have been the last
day of the three-day protest, said Lovemore Matombo, head of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions. He said new security laws hindered strike
organizers and ''heavy-handed'' threats by the authorities and bias in the
dominant state media stopped workers joining the action. ''We did
not do a great job. We admit that. This particular battle might not have been
won, but it is a lesson for the future,'' Matombo said. At a meeting
next month, leaders of the federation will consider possible further action
to protest political violence that has left at least 150 people — most of
them opposition supporters — dead since 2000. Early Friday, hundreds
of white farmers and black farm workers attended the funeral of Terry Ford,
51, who was shot in the head in an execution-style killing Monday at his farm
west of the capital, Harare. ''It is a time of loss and great tragedy.
It is not a time to give up and throw our hands in the air,'' Pastor Peter
McKenzie said as he officiated the funeral. Ford was the tenth
white farmer killed since the often-violent farm occupations began two years
ago. Ruling party militants, with tacit government backing, have demanded the
farms be redistributed to landless blacks. Mark Ford, 28, told the
mourners that his father ''just wanted somewhere to live and
farm.'' ''He lived by what he believed, he died by what he believed,''
he said. Squatters occupied the farm in 2000, forcing him to take on
teaching work at a nearby Christian school. Noami Raaff, Ford's
fiancee, held the couple's Jack Russell terrier, Squeak, in her arms. The dog
had huddled by Ford's body for several hours after his murder. The
farm occupations, along with floods and droughts, have decimated the
country's harvest as its agriculture-based economy collapsed. Last
year, Zimbabwe produced 1.54 million tons of corn, down from 2.1 million tons
in 2000. Harvests of tobacco, the main cash crop, also are expected to
be down this year, by as much as 30 percent. Foreign loans, aid and
investment have dried up. Mining has been plagued by shortages of equipment
and fuel and tourism, the third-largest hard currency earner, has fallen by
80 percent. Emergency food distribution by the World Food Program to
500,000 people facing starvation resumed Thursday in south and western
Zimbabwe, U.N. officials said. The distribution was halted a week
before the March 9-11 presidential elections so as not to ''coincide with
political concerns,'' the WFP said. Official election results showed
President Robert Mugabe winning 56 percent of the vote to 42 percent for
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who claimed the election was tainted and
has called for a new vote. Mugabe, 78, led the nation to independence
from Britain in 1980 and had faced little dissent until recent years, when
the nation's economy collapsed and political violence became
rampant. Some foreign election observer groups said the election was
held under unfair procedures that favored Mugabe.
HARARE, March 22 — Zimbabwe's government on Friday
earmarked more white farms for seizure in defiance of rising international
pressure against President Robert Mugabe after his controversial election
The government published in the state-owned Herald
newspaper a list of 388 farms for seizure -- including ranches owned by South
Africa's wealthy Oppenheimer family, which has huge mining interests in
southern Africa. ''Notice is hereby given...that the President
intends to acquire compulsorily the land described in the schedule for
resettlement purposes,'' read the advertisement. It did not give a
time frame for the seizures, but owners have until April 22 to lodge
objections. The announcement comes on the heels of the southern
African nation's one-year suspension from the 54-nation Commonwealth this
week after its election monitors said the March 9-11 presidential election
was neither free nor fair. On Wednesday, opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai appeared in court on treason
charges. A barely heeded three-day strike called by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to protest against violence collapsed on the
final day, Friday, with workers claiming that fear of reprisals and harsh
laws had driven protesters back to work. ''The environment in which
we are operating is so cruel...we are going to evaluate the weaknesses and
what we could have avoided,'' said ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo.
The United States on Thursday warned African countries they could lose U.S.
aid if they did not take a stand against Mugabe's re-election, rejected by
many observer missions as fraudulent. Analysts said the government was
trying to keep the land issue at the top of its political agenda amid
mounting pressure for an election re-run. The land reform programme formed
the core of the ruling ZANU-PF's election campaign.
TO HELL WITH THE
COMMONWEALTH ''They are essentially saying 'to hell with the
Commonwealth.' The government is clearly unrepentant and we are going to see
worse trouble, with pressure growing for a new election,'' said John Makumbe,
a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. ''They
will need to keep the land issue alive so that they can use it in case there
is an election re-run. More farmers are going to be driven off their
land.'' The MDC and farmers say Tsvangirai's supporters have
been increasingly targeted in a retribution campaign since the
78-year-old Mugabe's controversial victory. A black farm guard has
been beaten to death, 25 farmers assaulted and 50 chased from their farms in
the past 10 days, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) said on
Thursday. ''Incidents of harassment, trashing and looting, forced
eviction and extortion as well as political retribution have reached alarming
proportions since the...election,'' CFU president Colin Cloete said in a
statement. The CFU, which represents mostly white farmers, backed
Tsvangirai in the election. The opposition leader had promised to stop the
illegal seizure of white-owned farms and to implement a negotiated programme
to advance black land ownership. Mugabe -- who says it is immoral
for the 4,500 white farmers to occupy 70 percent of the country's best farm
land -- vowed at his inauguration to press ahead with the land reform
programme. The government wants to seize at least 8.3 million hectares
(20.5 million acres) of the 12 million hectares (29.6 million acres) in
white hands. It has so far listed about 6,000 farms, representing about 90
percent of commercial farm land, for seizure, but not all have been taken
yet. Mugabe, who came to power when the former white-ruled Rhodesia
gained independence in 1980, sees his land seizure programme as a belated
drive to correct imbalances in land ownership created by previous
BEWARE of South Africans bearing gifts. They could have
On Monday President Thabo Mbeki, accompanied
by his Nigerian counterpart Olusegun Obasanjo, tried to interest Zimbabwe's
leadership in something dear to the hearts of South African politicians, a
government of national unity. Deputy President Jacob Zuma had already
introduced the subject last Thursday during his brief visit to Harare. He
didn't get very far. Nor did Mbeki and Obasanjo. But their agenda is
Both leaders are concerned about Nepad, their New Partnership
for Africa's Development project, which stands no chance of success if
President Mugabe continues to behave as a delinquent ruler with little regard
for the lives or welfare of his citizens.
Nepad is premised squarely
on good governance and an attractive investment climate. Zimbabwe has
neither. The South Africans have put an economic rescue package in place but
it hinges on political stability. That was the point of Mbeki and Obasanjo's
visit this week.
The government-of-national-unity proposal is designed
both to secure a political consensus and head off further measures against
Zimbabwe by the international community. It is in fact a fine-tuning of an
initiative the South Africans have been touting since April 2000.
government of national unity is not in itself objectionable. But it will have
to be a genuine coalition of interests functioning within a
specific time-frame ahead of internationally-supervised elections. It cannot
be a process by which Mugabe's rule is legitimised by co-option of certain
MDC leaders with a view to neutralising the opposition as happened in 1980
Zimbabwe has an unfortunate history of "unity" between major
parties which has suffocated democracy. It mustn't happen again.
and Obasanjo said in London they intend to remain "engaged" in the search for
a solution to Zimbabwe's crisis. This says a great deal about Mugabe's claims
to legitimacy based on his election "win". His absolutist approach to
governance has now met its match in the MDC's rejectionism. The MDC would
appear to have a whip hand in the diplomacy now under way. Together with
civil society, they should use it to set out their democratic case.
all means let's try to rescue the country from the mess Mugabe has created.
But only if the instigator of violence and economic sabotage is removed.
Under no circumstances should his damaging and discredited regime be salvaged
by MDC participation in it, especially now the Commonwealth has in effect
declared the electoral outcome invalid
However, with Mugabe's departure
the way would be open to negotiating a power-sharing transitional arrangement
with an agenda of economic recovery. A government of national unity would be
conceivable only if an independent electoral commission acceptable to all
parties is established. Only if free and fair internationally-supervised
elections are scheduled within a specific period. Only if the police force is
returned to professional conduct and criminals are prosecuted. Only if the
judiciary is politically decontaminated. Only if repressive laws passed this
year are repealed. Only if the public media is open to all.
the conditions all parties supporting democracy should be able to subscribe
to and they represent a fitting response to Obasanjo's suggestion on
Wednesday that a coalition government should be concerned with
"unity, security...and the essential issue of the
Significantly Obasanjo said at the same time that fresh
elections were now possible to contemplate, if not just yet.
contributes to Mugabe's isolation. His refusal to entertain reform blocks
economic recovery. As that leads to a rapidly deteriorating situation so he
will find himself increasingly unpopular.
The consequences of his
political recidivism and scorched-earth policy are now being felt. Mbeki and
Obasanjo cannot ignore the knock-on effects. By delivering Mugabe to the
court of international judgement on Tuesday his own closest allies have dealt
him a fatal blow. His obduracy in talks on Monday and the murderous rampage
of his supporters gave them no room for manoeuvre.
This means in a space
of little under a week, South Africa's attempt to recognise the election
outcome and persuade the victor to be accommodating has been transformed into
a completely different ballgame in which the restoration of democracy has
become the chief goal, backed by the international community.
will come as a shock to the South Africans. But we are grateful to them for
the way things have turned out!
Johannesburg - The Congress of SA Trade Unions on Thursday
demanded of the various observer missions that monitored the recent
presidential elections in Zimbabwe that they produce facts to support the
conclusions drawn in their reports. The ANC ally said none of the conflicting
reports on the election provided a convincing argument to back their
conclusions. "In order to convince Cosatu and the South African population at
large that the SA Observer Mission and other missions did not go to Zimbabwe
with preconceived and fixed positions to legitimise or to condemn the
election results, the respective missions are challenged to give us concrete
facts and scientific evidence to back up their arguments," the trade union
federation said in a statement. "Cosatu believes that the presence of
observers did contribute to the improving of the environment and ensuring
restraint," the statement said.
Cosatu has argued that it would be
difficult to hold free and fair elections in Zimbabwe taking into account the
political environment since the 2000 parliamentary elections. "Cosatu
consistently called for decisive interventions by the international
community, in particular SADC, to ensure a free and fair election. The fact
that most of the international community chose to ignore our pleas and act
only on the eve of the election made it too late to reverse the accumulated
damage," the labour organisation said. "On the face of it, there is
compelling evidence that the electoral process was fraught with
irregularities, violence and intimidation, a biased media, and in some
respects bias on the part of the police in some parts of the country. The
legislative framework did not allow for a level playing field. The
uncertainty created by court ruling, the defiance of the ruling and the last
minute introduction of regulations resulted in massive confusion
and inadequate preparations by the electoral authorities."
heavily involved in the pro-democracy struggle in Swaziland, Cosatu also
undertook to engage itself in Zimbabwe. For that reason the organisation said
it fully backed a three-day general strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions "in support of their fight for basic trade union and human
rights". Cosatu deplored the action of police "who forced their way into a
private meeting of the ZCTU Executive Council on 14 March, in contravention
of the International Labour Organisation's Convention 87 which gives workers'
organisation the right to organise freely without interference." The
federation condemned the harassment of workers by government militias and the
police, "which the ZCTU say has intensified since the 9-11 March election.
Cosatu also is concerned at the threat by the Zimbabwe government to
deregister the ZCTU and its proposed 'anti-terrorist' law, which would make
socio-economic, and political strikes illegal".
Zimbabwe has been suspended from the Commonwealth group of
nations for one year following last week's controversial election. A troika
of leaders, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Prime Minister John Howard
of Australia, and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, delivered
the organisation's verdict after considering it election monitors' report.
The Commonwealth is right to take this stand. A fortnight ago, at its heads
of state summit meeting, it was agreed that sanctions of any sort be held
back pending the election itself. It was rightly deemed premature to judge
the country before the poll was carried out. But the circumstances
surrounding the voting process have been widely seen to be undemocratic. It
is not the first time the group has suspended nations - Nigeria and South
Africa have been themselves been out in the cold as recently as less than ten
years ago, while Pakistan, where a military government took power, and Fiji
where a coup overthrew an elected government, have been the latest
suspensions. But Zimbabwe is the first case of a fraudulently conducted
election. The country failed the standard set, ironically enough, in its own
capital, as the 1991 Harare declaration committed all Commonwealth countries,
regardless of their political or economic conditions, to certain basic
principles. Democracy, human rights, judicial independence and sound economic
management are some of the ideals Zimbabwe has failed to live up to. The
Commonwealth has sent out strong signals that to belong, one must meet basic
group standards. After all, which club with a dress code would consistently
tolerate shabbily dressed patrons? But if and when Zimbabwe reforms, they
should be readmitted. The ball is now in Harare's court.
SO what happened to all those 21 heads of state who
were due to attend the inauguration? They seem to have lost interest. Instead
President Mugabe had to comfort himself with five - all cronies from the
South Africa, Botswana and Zambia sent vice-presidents while
close allies like Angola and Libya could only manage "high-level
representatives" - even after the ceremony was postponed a day to enable
their leaders to get here.
The Herald's "Special Correspondent" had to
resort to making the best of a bad job.
"Rarely, if ever, can the
inauguration of a victorious Sadc leader have attracted 10 Sadc countries,
including Zimbabwe, and representatives from the Arab world, central and West
Africa," he claimed.
We didn't get the bit about Zimbabwe being among
those "attracted". Who was Zimbabwe's representative at the swearing-in? Or
was this another case of Zanu PF inflating figures?
It was interesting
to note that there was a master-of-ceremonies present to guide the
proceedings. This would appear to be a novel development. Aren't MCs usually
associated with quiz shows and beauty pageants? We have never seen one before
at an inauguration ceremony.
This one seemed to be rather inept, not
knowing who was supposed to take an oath of office. And there seemed to be
much emphasis in the official media on the president's written speech as
distinct from his off-the-cuff remarks.
Are we missing something here?
Could the distinction have something to do with that rare animal, the gnu
(government of national unity), which Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo
appear to be foisting on the victor?
Which raises another issue. If
everything is fine and dandy with Mugabe's re-election and he is now master
of all he surveys, why the frantic diplomacy from those he counts as
pan-Africanist allies aimed at getting him to first share power with the
opposition and then step down? With the exception of outbursts from Jonathan
Moyo about dead horses, the Zimbabwean public is being deprived of vital
information by the government media about why these diplomatic shuttles are
necessary in the first place.
We were amused to see Thabo Mbeki resisting
Mugabe's attempts to embrace him on arrival at Harare airport. We have noted
this before. He keeps Mugabe at arm's length obliging the Zimbabwean leader
to do a funny little push/pull dance with his reluctant partner.
would be useful to know who the author is of a dishonest police
report published in the Herald last Saturday. Police statistics, it claimed,
showed that MDC supporters committed 176 politically- motivated crimes last
year while Zanu PF supporters were responsible for 157. During the election,
it said, the MDC was involved in 570 incidents while Zanu PF was
held responsible for two.
The police said the MDC contravened the
Public Order and Security Act more because it treated the legislation with
disdain and wanted to create an impression that it was being
"The birth of the MDC brought pronounced political violence
to the Zimbabwean political scene," the report said. "This can be understood
from the perspective that the MDC leadership comprises people who in their
years at university have been militant in their approach to national
It would be difficult to find a more partisan and unprofessional
document. It explains fully why the police have forfeited the public's
confidence. First of all its figures tell us nothing at all except that the
police have acted in the interests of the ruling party to arrest opposition
members under draconian new security laws while refusing to act against
criminals belonging to Zanu PF.
The Public Order and Security Act is
almost certainly unconstitutional and gives the police sweeping powers that
are incompatible with democratic norms. The Act has already been abused to
ban over 80 opposition rallies during the election campaign.
statement that "the birth of the MDC brought pronounced political violence to
the Zimbabwean political scene" looks as if it was written by Zanu PF's
publicity department, not a law enforcement officer. It ignores the over 100
victims murdered by Zanu PF thugs. It ignores the documented incidents of
abductions and torture of MDC supporters. It ignores the trail of violence
and mayhem unleashed by Zanu PF's militia on farms. It ignores the setting up
of illegal roadblocks and the confiscation of ID cards. It is a disgraceful
report that should be treated by the public with the contempt it
Reports on the just-concluded election by the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network, the Commonwealth, the United States, and Sadc parliamentary
forum have all sharply criticised the police for either being complicit
in violence or failing to prevent it.
The Commonwealth Observer Group
said "very often the police did not take action to investigate reported cases
of violence or intimidation, especially against known or suspected supporters
of the MDC. Indeed, they appeared to be high-handed in dealing with the MDC
and lenient towards supporters of Zanu PF. This failure to impartially
enforce the law seriously calls into question the application of the rule of
law in Zimbabwe."
That statement should be framed and put up in Wayne
If anyone had doubted the political loyalties of the
Zimbabwe Mirror they need look no further than its coverage of the election
results last week. "Africa stands by Zimbabwe" was its patriotic heading last
Friday. And inside was page after page of stories such as "Mugabe's victory
legitimate" and "A victory for sons and daughters of the soil".
not going to quarrel here with the right of the Mirror's publisher to declare
his loyalty to Mugabe's moth-eaten cause in this clumsy way. Or his right to
gloat in "told you so" terms about the futility of "an
orchestrated international media campaign and voracious but also highly
intolerant globalisation programme" design-ed to "condition the perceptions
of voters" in a way that would "qualify the national independence and
sovereignty of African countries".
It all just goes to show how much
the MDC was out of touch, the paper suggests.
We could apply the same
logic to the Mirror. How did its targeted readership market vote? Were people
living in Zimbabwe's cities (and let's not pretend that "sons of the soil"
buy it) prepared to swallow the Mirror's redundant junk about sovereignty and
pan-Africanist solidarity? Did they agree that the country's problems can be
ascribed to an "orchestrated international media campaign"? No. They rejected
these Zanu PF delusions wholesale.
It would be difficult to find a paper
more out of touch with voters in the parts of Zimbabwe where it expects
people to buy it. But good luck to them anyway. "Let a thousand flowers
bloom, let a thousand views contend," or whatever Mao said!
World's Dateline has been devoting considerable time to discussion of the
Zimbabwe election. Most of the programme's contributors have been sharply
critical of the process. Others have been more indulgent.
Polly Toynbee, for example, while not approving of rigging, advised viewers
to be mindful of "where Mugabe is coming from".
We all understand where
Mugabe is coming from. We just don't think that's a justification for where
he's taking us! SW Radio Africa's Tererai Karimakwenda put that point
exceptionally well on the same program- me last Sunday. George Shire, Zanu
PF's London-based apologist, was yelling at every- body to understand that
Mugabe should be judged by African standards, not Europe's.
told him it was insulting to have Africans judged by a standard that was
different from those applied else- where. He was calm and forthright
on Mugabe's electoral rigging and the refusal of ZBC to admit other voices,
a point Shire refused to respond to. Instead he kept repeating that there
were nine independent papers in Zimbabwe.
Where are they all? And why
does the existence of privately owned papers give the public broadcaster the
right to exclude views other than Mugabe's?
It has been instructive to
see the scorn heaped on the South African observer mission in his or her own
country. They didn't get away with their crude whitewash, if their media
coverage was anything to go by.
We accept that the group reflected the
diversity of South African society, including some enlightened individuals as
well as a few political recidivists.
One of the latter was spotted at
Harare airport on Wednesday watching the final results coming through on a TV
monitor. When it was announced that Mugabe had won, he punched the air with
his fist and shouted "Yes"!
A female member of an Italian film crew
nearby asked if they could record his joy. But he threatened to hit her if
she tried. A wonderful advertisement for the SA observer mission and for his
Muckraker was interested to see the list of organisations
falling over themselves to congratulate "Cde RG Mugabe" (all were required to
use the same formula it seems) on his election theft. The Traffic Safety
Council of Zimbabwe " joined the nation" in congratulating him.
term (sic) the traffic jungle together", their ad said in what many will take
as a reference to the havoc caused by his presidential motorcade.
joined the rejoicing as did the City of Harare and Municipality
of Chitungwiza, evidently abusing ratepayers' money before their Zanu
PF administrators are booted out.
Zesa, Arda, Noczim, the Tobacco
Industry Marketing Board, POSB, Campfire, Sable Chemicals, the Minerals
Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, ZimRe, Dairibord, Tel*One, the Postal and
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and GMB, all felt compelled to offer
their congratulations. Then there were individual boot-lickers like Augustine
Chihuri, Ignatius Chombo and Aeneas Chigwedere who are no doubt relieved that
their patron has been returned.
We can readily understand why costly and
inefficient parastatals should tender their best wishes. Their parasitic
relationship with the public would have been severed if a reformist president
had been elected. But do they have to waste our money to advertise their
slavish loyalty to a discredited dictator?
If voter attendance at
rallies is a reflection of a leader's popularity then Mugabe is a very
peculiar one indeed. We were constantly told and shown on ZTV people
thronging his rallies in the run-up to the election. Invariably crowds were
estimated at between 20 000-30 000. By the end of the hectic campaign Mugabe
had notched up an incredible 51 rallies against Morgan Tsvangirai's eight.
Surely we would expect Mugabe's victory at the election to have been in the
ratio of almost 6 to 1. But 1,6 million against 1,2 million doesn't seem to
be anywhere near that. What happened?
Veteran correspondents have
commented on the similarities between Jonathan Moyo and his onetime
predecessor PK van der Byl. Both are tall, supremely arrogant, ideologically
suspect, and hostile to the press. Van deer Bill held the Information
portfolio for many years before being appointed Minister of Foreign
It was Ian Smith's worst move. Van deer Bill immediately
alienated South Africa, Rhodesia's last friend, by his cool contempt for
their leaders and refusal to budge on policy. It didn't help that he was a
refugee from the Nat government there.
Muckraker's guess? Mayo will
follow in Van deer Bill's footsteps. The Foreign Affairs ministry