Mugabe's incitement since 1980 has caused untold
suffering Newsfocus By Itai Dzamara
IN an address to the
Zimbabwe Defence Forces in the early 1980s, President Robert Mugabe once
said: "I call upon you to eliminate the remains of gangs of bandits in
Matabeleland North and South and parts of the Midlands."
led to a wave of genocide, perpetrated by the North Korea-trained 5 Brigade
in Matabeleland and the Midlands, which led to the deaths of more than 20 000
In 1985, in the wake of Zanu second election victory,
President Mugabe was at it again. 'Bvisai zvigutsa in our midst', said Mugabe
effectively calling for violence to be unleashed against Bishop Muzorewa's
UANC supporters. The statement caused untold violence and the destruction
of houses and properties belonging to UANC members and
At a very tense Zanu PF congress in December 2000, held
in the wake of the rejection of Zanu PF's constitutional proposals and its
poor showing in the June 2000 parliamentary elections, Mugabe incited his
followers to brutalise white commercial farmers whom he charged with
supporting and funding the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
which had swept almost half the 120 contested seats.
fear into the hearts of the white men. Make them tremble,"
The party faithful complied and the country was
soon up in smoke as marauding bands of so-called war veterans and landless
peasants besieged commercial farms and small holdings, beating up and killing
white farmers and their black workers and creating mayhem on the
Many of the white farmers fled into the cities because
neither the partisan police nor the army could protect them.
However, at the burial of former Zapu leader and Zimbabwe's first
vice president Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe confessed that the 5 Brigade
massacres (Gukurahundi) had been "a moment of madness".
is typical of the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde type of character displayed publicly
by the veteran Zanu PF leader who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist since
independence from Britain in 1980.
When it suits the occasion,
Mugabe pretends to be a responsible statesman, a magnanimous leader, oozing
fatherly love and tolerance, but when he feels under threat, he changes into
a bloodthirsty, war mongering leader.
Last Friday, in typical
war mongering fashion, Mugabe issued yet another threat against the MDC
during the burial of former higher and tertiary education minister, Swithun
Digressing from the business of the day, in what has
become a popular characteristic of his, Mugabe said: "Our law enforcement
agents must react promptly and with vigour to provide appropriate responses
to dangerous mischief makers."
This comment was in apparent
response to the just-ended but successful two-day job stay away organised by
Mugabe was also clearly miffed by the MDC's resultant
ultimatum which called on his government to restore the rule of law, among
other things, or face further mass action.
As soon as his
motorcade had left the national shrine, all hell broke loose, as Zanu PF
militia and soldiers went on the rampage.
They searched for and
provoked MDC supporters in the city and the suburbs and unleashed a wave of
terror in Highfield, Mbare and Kuwadzana. Within hours, too, the police and
the army were all over Harare's suburbs butchering innocent civilians caught
enjoying themselves in bars and night clubs.
Giles Mutsekwa, the
MDC shadow minister of defence and a former army official, believes those
going around beating up civilians while in armed forces uniform are not
attested members of the defence forces.
"They belong to a private
group of hooligans rounded up by Zanu PF to undergo orientation at the Border
Gezi training centres scattered all over the country.
reason behind this is to create a situation whereby the population perceives
the defence forces as enemies of the people, alongside the ruling party. We,
however, don't doubt the integrity of the defence forces. Unfortunately, due
to one man (Mugabe) who has equated himself with Adolf Hitler, the image of
the defence forces is being sacrificed."
Wayne Bvudzijena, the
spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) dismissed the allegation
that Zanu PF was using people in police uniform to beat up civilians willy
nilly, especially at night.
Said Bvudzijena: "We have received
reports of official harassment by members of the police. However, we have
established that these reports are coming from people who have the agenda of
distorting the situation in the country so as to justify their position that
there is no rule of law in the country."
However, when further
challenged, Bvudzijena claimed that the ZRP used force when
"Where it is necessary, we use appropriate force to
enforce the law," said Bvudzijena.
Christopher Bhunu, a
Kuwadzana resident who visited The Standard to narrate his ordeal at the
hands of people in army and police uniform said: "They forced themselves into
my house at midnight and accused me of having organised the mass action. They
ordered my wife and myself to lie on our stomachs and began to savagely beat
us until my wife fainted."
Lovemore Matombo, the president of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions described Mugabe's irresponsible incitement
of chaos as most unfortunate.
"We condemn the president's
speech, made at a time when we need to depolarise our society. Our major
concern has been lawlessness, especially state-sponsored lawlessness when the
army and police are used to harass the people."
Mugabe, once he has incited the people into violence, he retreats into State
House for days possibly weeks, when he will may be savouring the results of
Brutal Zanu PF youths to disrupt MDC demos By
THE governing Zanu PF party says it will counter
planned demonstrations by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) by
throwing thousands of its rural supporters into the cities.
According to official party sources, the idea was discussed and passed at the
National Youth Assembly meeting held at the Zanu PF headquarters last week
between President Robert Mugabe and the party's top youth
The MDC has given the government an ultimatum which
consists of 15 demands including a return to the rule of law and an end to
political victimisation. The ultimatum expires tomorrow.
opposition party has yet to announce what sort of action it will take but
sources within the party say it plans a huge street march, involving hundreds
of thousands of its supporters, to demand the end of Mugabe's
Zanu PF's trial run on how it would respond to the MDC
mass action was held last Monday when more than 5 000 supporters, including
some travellers caught in the melee, were ferried from Mbare to the city
centre to demonstrate against Harare executive mayor, Engineer Elias Mudzuri
of the MDC.
The gangs of demonstrators caused chaos in the city
forcing many people to stay in their offices for fear of being
The groups, including some people who later confessed
that they had been hijacked from Mbare Musika on their way to various rural
destinations, threatened Mudzuri with death, accusing him of failing to run
the city properly.
In the past week, scores of Zanu PF youths
from the Border Gezi and other training centres have thronged Harare and have
been holding rallies and demonstrations in Kuwadzana and
The youths are notorious for their brutal political
campaign tactics which have included rape and assaults in all the
constituencies they have been to.
At a Zanu PF's meeting a week
ago on Saturday the 29th, the party's deputy national youth chairman, Saviour
Kasukuwere, is said to have told Mugabe that the youths were ready to defend
him and his government by disrupting the planned MDC
"If the mass action proceeds, violence is likely to
break out in the cities because the Zanu PF youths are gearing themselves to
square up with their rivals in the MDC,'' said a source in Zanu
Kasukuwere told The Standard this week that the youths in Zanu
PF were ready for whatever action the MDC would take.
ready to engage them. If they want fire, we will fight fire with fire.
Tsvangirai must not try to topple our president unconstitutionally because we
will defend our party and president," said Kasukuwere
Chaos marks first day of by-elections By Our
THERE was chaos at most polling stations in the Highfield
and Kuwadzana by-elections on the first day of polling yesterday, as Zanu
PF supporters ran amok trying to intimidate voters and to influence the
Hordes of Zanu PF supporters in both constituencies
held gatherings near polling stations, in most cases less than the stipulated
100 metres away from the polling booths, where some of them beat drums and
sang revolutionary songs denouncing the opposition Movement for Democratic
At these polling stations, voters were being
invited by Zanu PF to register for scarce food commodities such as mealie
meal which could be seen piled up near by, a tactic used by the ruling
party's candidates to lure votes throughout the campaign period.
In one street near Mhofu School in Highfield, Zanu PF supporters virtually
sealed off both ends of the road, with about 1 000 lining up to receive
mealie meal from a huge truck.
Long ropes with the posters of Zanu
PF's bearded illiterate candidate, Joseph Chinotimba could be seen blocking
The Standard crew covering the by-election in Highfield
was yesterday harassed by a mob of Zanu PF youths who accused them of being
Reporter Itai Dzamara, was held hostage for about an
hour at the Zanu PF base near Mhofu Primary School in Highfield until he had
verified with the command centre at Cyril Jennings Hall that he was a bona
fide journalist, registered to cover the elections.
supporters also held gatherings near polling stations at Mhuriimwe High
School, Mbizi Primary School, Mhizha Primary School and Mhofu Primary
School-all in Highfield.
The ruling party's supporters checked the
identity of all vehicles moving around the suburb and when they discovered
The Standard vehicle, it was chased all over Highfield, sometimes by youths
in trucks, and pelted with missiles whenever it was spotted.
Youth and Zanu PF supporters were also gathered at the house of Chinotimba's
election manager, Dorcas Manyonda, where they were being fed and given bags
of mealie meal.
However, polling officials in both constituencies
described the voter turnout at the start of the polling days as "very
Jabulani Mbambo, the constituency registrar for Highfield,
yesterday said: "The turn out is very high. But we are still compiling the
figures. When we opened, queues had already formed and voters have continued
to trickle in to cast their vote."
* Meanwhile, police officers
yesterday watched helplessly as the ruling party's supporters held their
gatherings very close to the polling stations. It was quite apparent that
Zanu PF supporters had the freedom to behave in any manner they wanted
At the Kuwadzana 3 Primary School polling station, voters were
made to line up according to gender and some people said this could have been
an attempt to disenfranchise the male voters who are mostly MDC.
Anorld Mhini said: "The women are obviously getting favours. We have been
waiting here for over two hours and yet the female voters are barely
30 minutes in the queue."
David Mutasa of Zanu PF' squares up
with the MDC's national youth leader Nelson Chamisa in the by-election for
In Highfield, war veterans' leader and former Harare
municipal security guard Chinotimba, is pitted against the MDC's Pearson
Mungofa, independent candidate Egypt Dzinemunhenzva and former legislator and
self confessed socialist, Munyaradzi Gwisai.
The MDC won all the
parliamentary seats in Zimbabwe's major cities and towns in the 2000
legislative polls and has warned that any signs of electoral irregularities
in the weekend polls could ignite a violent backlash.
claimed on Thursday that thousands of people from outside the constituencies
had been irregularly registered to vote in the upcoming polls.
Mugabe cannot win free and fair poll
IT is obvious to the vast mass of Zimbabweans
that in a free and fair poll in the Highfiled and Kuwadzana constituencies,
Zanu PF cannot by any stretch of imagination-win.
economy crumbling, there is no way Mugabe can be the people's choice. Zanu PF
has irredeemably lost its moral authority and the confidence of most of the
It would indeed be a terrible tragedy and outrageous were
the Highfield and Kuwadzana voters-sophisticated urbanites to boot-to
allow themselves to be bought by a few litres of cooking oil, a few bags of
mealie meal, sugar and salt, and the biblical 30 pieces of silver, into
voting for Zanu PF in this weekend's crucial by-elections.
is no doubt that the governing party has left no stone unturned in its
efforts to win Kuwadzana and Highfield thereby taking a further step in
achieving its goal of turning Zimbabwe into a one-party state.
Joseph Chinotimba, that former illiterate municipal guard-who once donned
straw hats but is now into designer suits-has openly boasted during his
campaign that those who vote for him will gain access to any of the scarce
basic commodities. Zimbabweans must not forget Zanu PF's fluent capacity to
Chinotimba has doled money out like Santa Claus, to
unemployed youths in Highfield and has promised them jobs once he is elected
into parliament-a blatant lie and vote buying tactic that would have earned
him immediate disqualification in a proper democracy.
Highfield voters-and indeed those of Kuwadzana where Zanu PF candidate David
Mutasa has been doing exactly the same as comedian Chinos-should ask
themselves these questions:
Who is responsible for the shortages of
basic commodities in this country in the first place?
destroyed industry and commerce and created record unemployment in
Who has pratically destroyed what was once a beautiful
and lovely country?
Who has made Zimbabwe such a pariah state in
the eyes of the international community that we can no longer borrow on
favourable terms or access foreign currency?
It does not take a
rocket scientist to answer any of these questions: Zanu PF has so destroyed
the economy of this country that infants and toddlers cannot even get a glass
of fresh milk to drink.
Zanu PF's haphazard and chaotic land
reforms have contributed to the mass starvation that is sweeping the country
and to the shortages of almost anything from mealie meal, meat, poultry,
sugar and milk, to apples and baby foods.
Zanu PF's amateurish
economic policies have destroyed what was once a sophisticated, vibrant and
industrialised economy and the result is all there for everyone to see:
millions of qualified but unemployed Zimbabweans, desperate to leave the
country at the earliest possible opportunity, and hundreds of company
closures or relocations to neighbouring countries.
Zanu PF has made
Zimbabweans the laughing stock of the whole world and now some of our
graduates and qualified professionals have to clean toilets in Europe and the
US for a living.
Now, the same Zanu PF dangles the carrot of
cooking oil, mealie meal, sugar and salt in the face of voters and says it
has finally found the formula for turning around the economy?
Who in their right mind can honestly vote for a party that lies
so openly to voters during elections; promises them the world and then turns
on them and pummels them into submission once they start to complain about
its failure to deliver?
Zanu PF has failed Zimbabweans dismally
in its 23-year-rule. Like an old car, it is now fit only for the scrap
The ruling party must pay a very high price for its
over-investment in the destruction of the country. And that high price is to
defeat it cleanly in this weekend's by-elections of Highfield and
The truth of the matter is that Zanu PF and its
"Mr-Know-It-All" President Robert Mugabe, has destroyed our lives while it
toys with all sorts of ill-conceived political and economic policies such as
socialism and the "one party state".
At the same time, Mugabe
boasts that he has presided over one of the best economies in the world. We
have heard pathetic things before from the President but this one really
takes the biscuit!
He also boasts that besides his many academic
qualifications (which some of us are beginning to doubt), he has degrees in
Why would a man who has been genuinely elected, boast of
his prowess in unleashing violence against his own people unless he knows he
did something nefarious to get elected into office?
in Kuwadzana and Highfield must know that they carry a heavy burden for the
rest of Zimbabwe.
Zanu PF is on a mission to turn this country into
a one party state and if it wins these two crucial by-elections, it will need
just three more seats to turn our nightmare into a reality.
must all use whatever power is at our disposal to stop the
devilish machinations of Mugabe and his party.
worked and sacrificed for independent Zimbabwe. There is nothing special
about Zanu PF. The ruling party is not synonymous with Zimbabwe.
12 hours left. In the heart of their hearts, the people of Highfield and
Kuwadzana know what to do: Send the Chinoses and Mutasas of this
What should be the penalty for raping a
country? By Chido Makunike
SOMETIMES, looking for the
common threads in small, seemingly unrelated events, gives a clear view of
the big picture that may not be so obvious from looking at the smaller events
The official stance of the Mugabe regime in the face
of the many self-created problems bedevilling it is that it remains strong
and united, with a clear agenda. Yet a look at virtually any sector of life
in Zimbabwe suggests a regime at the helm that is adrift, bereft of ideas and
confused. There is no longer any defining principle or ideology holding the
ruling clique together.
It is now merely a question of trying to
forestall growing local and international opposition, and making as much hay
as possible for the inevitable rainy day, in the process. Within the ruling
party, the latent divisions are coming out into the open as the many
opportunists who uncomfortably co-exist in it position themselves for a share
in the spoils of the post-Mugabe era.
The government of Mr
Mugabe is a master of confrontation and seems to thrive on it. If there is
anything it has learned to do well, it is control through physical force. The
MDC is merely the latest and most formidable opposition force to come face to
face with the ruling party's 'expertise' at ruthlessly dealing with even
fairly mild dissent.
In recognition of how the authorities do not
hesitate to use the slightest excuse to bludgeon and jail demonstrators, the
opposition party has felt it best to look for alternatives to large numbers
of vulnerable, unarmed marchers offering themselves up for state abuse in the
But how long, direct, incendiary confrontation between the
authorities and large groups of citizens, can be carried out without the risk
of real chaos and civil strife, remains to be seen. The MDC has been
criticised by some for a stayaway strategy that hurts an already moribund
economy or which may be too gentle an approach.
effectiveness or lack thereof of stay aways, it is clear they are a strategy
that the Mugabe government finds confusing and difficult to deal with. They
definitely hurt economically, and they expose to all the world the level of
restlessness and unhappiness in the population.
Yet, because they
involve people staying off the streets rather than flooding them as in other
forms of mass protest, the government finds it difficult to know who to hit
out at. Not being too sophisticated a government, bringing out the riot
police and the army to beat up and arrest people on the streets is what it
enjoys and is good at.
Peaceful protest that makes it difficult to
do this is completely perplexing to the Zanu PF government. You can't very
well go into people's homes and beat and arrest them just for not going to
work. What the authorities have been reduced to doing is beating up people
indiscriminately after the stayaway, but this is more their usual bullying
and venting of frustration than anything else.
response to all this repression, there are more voices in the opposition who
are itching for physical confrontation as much as the police and other
authorities seem to be. This may be a sign that despite the best efforts of
opposition leaders to keep protests as peaceful as possible, we are going to
see increasing acts of violence from their frustrated members, tired of
always meekly being at the receiving end of official abuse.
police will increasingly find it difficult to control this without using even
more repressive methods, that will in turn result in a spontaneous mass
uprising that no one will be able to control. This is the price the Mugabe
government is likely to pay for so effectively blocking off and criminalising
most forms of mild, peaceful protest.
It seems true that there are
more acts of violence from opposition elements, whether or not they operate
as party members or independently. But it is also true that these elements
have been bred by the authorities' policy of shutting off, by repressive
legislation and the State's own long-running preemptive violence, other forms
of protest that are taken for granted in countries with more confident,
enlightened and sophisticated governments.
latest attack on the private press last week, revealed a lot more than may
have been intended. He said he did not read the "rubbish press" but had
people in government who did, for the express purpose of letting him know
what was said about him. This would seem to explain why he so often seems
completely clueless and out of touch with the day to day concerns of the
average Zimbabwean! He apparently only reads the press that regurgitates his
own propaganda to him.
It is a fatal flaw for a politician,
particularly one as besieged as he is, to ignore what those who disagree with
him have to say. It may be even more tragic that he gets this information
grudgingly and second hand, and therefore filtered by the biases, fears and
agendas of those who pass it on to him.
As much as he may hate
what is written about him in the private press, ignorance of it can simply
not be a strength in his efforts to counter it. As uncomfortable as it may be
to listen to detractors, critics and differing viewpoints, one can simply not
make informed and enlightened decisions without doing so. Mugabe's confession
and the poor and deteriorating state of the country is ample proof of
Godfrey Nzira, the infamous, rapist quasi-religious cult
leader, has been sentenced to more than three decades in jail by an
enlightened magistrate for abusing many members of his so-called church.
While it is neither uncommon nor surprising for megalomaniacs to attempt to
control the minds of their followers for their own evil ends, it never ceases
to amaze that so many people are willing to sheepishly go along with this.
The mind control that made many of Nzira's followers protest that their "God"
could not be jailed for raping many of his followers, and destroying the
lives of many more, is the same type of voodoo that citizens of some
countries allow to be exercised over them by political rapists.
I think it is entirely consistent that Nzira's cult and Zanu-PF felt very
comfortable together. The revelations of how Nzira virtually enslaved many
members of his cult, with the willing participation of many other members,
have heavy political overtones in Zimbabwe. Readers will not have any
difficulty making the many connections.
As horrific as those
revelations were, I have no doubt they were just the tip of the iceberg. Now
the real dirt is going to hit the fan as the remaining cultists splinter into
factions amidst bitter recriminations and all kinds of counter
Many of Nzira's cronies who benefited from his many crimes
will now attempt to distance themselves from his filthy legacy. Nzira in
his confident, deluded arrogance never considered that there would be a day
of reckoning for him, not just in the by and by of the afterlife, but
right here on earth.
I predict we are going to see a repeat of
the whole sordid business in Zimbabwe, but this time in the political
I wonder what the penalty is for raping a country.
Analogies between troubled countries
overthetop By Brian Latham
Harare-Political analysts have said
there are strange analogies between a troubled central African country and a
rapidly disappearing Middle Eastern country.
countries are ruled by very angry leaders, one is difficult to see because it
is covered by a thick cloud of black smoke and the other is difficult to see
because no one can be bothered to look at it.
revelation was made obvious when hundreds of torture victims in the troubled
central African regime suffered in silence while their counterparts in the
troubled Middle Eastern nation were given food parcels after coalition forces
had finished bombing them.
Sadly, the coalition forces bombed by
the other coalition forces were not given sweets or food. Instead, they were
given a pine box, a flag and a free flight home.
people in the troubled central African country were viewing the troubled
Middle Eastern country with unrestrained glee. Analysts said it was a common
phenomenon. Victims of violent dictatorships generally get vicarious pleasure
watching other bloodthirsty rulers receiving their come-uppance.
Meanwhile right-thinking political analysts told Over The Top that the French
government had contributed to the unfolding disasters in both troubled
While the foul smelling Europeans had actually started
the war in the troubled Middle Eastern country with their perfidious
behaviour, they had also added significantly to the woes of the troubled
central African regime by undermining democracy, analysts said.
Another similarity lay in the fact that Mr Sadly Insane, the barking mad
leader of the troubled Middle Eastern country, was imposed on his people with
considerable American assistance. Meanwhile, the most equal of all comrades
had come to rule over the troubled central African nation with
not insubstantial British assistance. Both troubled leaders now detest
their former friends, dismissing them as the homosexual sons of
Still, the same analysts said the similarities between the
two troubled nations ended there. While democratic western forces were more
than happy to liberate the troubled Middle Eastern country, it was
unlikely they'd lift a finger to liberate its central African
It was decided that the only people who could liberate
the central African nation were the central African people, against heavy
pressure not to liberate themselves from leaders of a confused southern
This was because their country had no oil and no
foreign currency to buy desperately needed weapons of mass
Still, a spokesman for the ministry of disinformation
assured Over The Top that it did have weapons of mass destruction. "The
weapon is code named Dzaku Dzaku and how it works is we get thousands of
illiterate youths, dress them in army and police uniforms, fire them up with
green tobacco and let them loose. Like most weapons of mass destruction, they
are indiscriminate," he said.
Asked if this new weapon had a
biological, chemical or nuclear component, the spokesman said: "Well, they
are a health hazard."
Residents where these weapons had been based
said they agreed that they did pose a health hazard and complained that the
noise and smell emanating from their secret bases-which are well known to
almost everybody-could well pose biological and chemical hazards, if not
Still, foreign diplomats interviewed by OTT said
that while they appreciated that Dzaku Dzaku was indeed a weapon, it was
hardly formidable and certainly not smart. "As dumb weapons go, it has to be
the dumbest we've seen in a long time," said a western diplomat who declined
to be named in case someone pointed a weapon at him.
Zimbabwe: Spiralling human rights crisis in
elections run-up - UK Government must act Amnesty International is deeply
concerned that politically motivated violence and arbitrary arrests will
continue to increase in the run-up to and during the Zimbabwean by-elections
this weekend (29 and 30 March).
The human rights organisation is
concerned at the spiralling human rights crisis in the country and is asking
the UK government to raise the issue at this week's EU ACP
(African-Carribean-Pacific) meeting (1-3 April) and to demand immediate
action from the international community.
Amnesty International is
concerned about reports that ZANU-PF officials are using food aid to buy
votes in Highfield and Kuwadzana, the two high-density suburbs where the
by-elections are set to take place.
The Zimbabwean government stands to
increase its power and ability to stifle opposition if it wins these
by-elections. Victory this weekend, and in a further three by-elections whose
dates are yet to be confirmed, would give the ruling ZANU-PF party two thirds
of the seats in Parliament and the ability to alter the
Amnesty International said:
violence and arrests have increased dramatically in a spiralling human rights
crisis. Public order legislation is being used to harass and arrest critics
of the government.
"There is no hope for a peaceful future in Zimbabwe
unless the international community intervenes immediately. It must demand
that the Zimbabwean government ends human rights violations, guarantees
freedom of expression and allows fair distribution of food
State-sponsored intimidation of government opponents has been
a.. More than 250 people have received hospital treatment for
torture injuries following the recent mass stay-away organised by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the run-up to the
elections. b.. There are accounts of uniformed Zimbabwean National Army
(ZNA) soldiers visiting the houses of victims in groups of up to 50,
and subjecting them, and sometimes other family members, to beatings
with batons, whips and chains. Many were taken away for prolonged
The Zimbabwean government has
continued to use restrictive legislation, such as the Public Order and
Security Act (POSA), as a vehicle for intimidating and arbitrarily arresting
real and perceived opposition members, independent media workers and human
According to the Zimbabwean Human Rights NGO Forum,
during the month of February 2003 alone, there were 122 incidents of unlawful
arrest and 118 reported violations of freedom of expression, association and
To date, the month of March has seen a very marked increase in
arrests and torture, a trend yet to continue in the run-up to the
by-elections. During 2002, there were over 1,000 reported cases of torture
and at least 58 political killings.
The MDC issued an ultimatum to the
government on 20 March to meet several demands, which include restoration of
the rule of law, depoliticisation of the police force and army, and
disbanding of the youth militia. The deadline is 31 March.
The MDC has
warned that failure by the government to meet its demands will result in
further mass action. Incidents of politically-motivated violence and
arbitrary arrests continue and will likely increase in the days and weeks
that follow 31 March.
Voting begins in two key Zimbabwe by-elections Voters in
Zimbabwe have waited patiently to cast their ballots in by-elections in two
key suburbs of the Zimbabwe capital, as political tensions ran high between
the main opposition and President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.
Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF)
has vowed to win back the two seats in the suburbs of Highfield and
Kuwadzana from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
AFP reporter saw dozens of voters queuing outside polling stations
in Kuwadzana township.
State radio reported that around 3,500 out of
more than 46,000 registered voters had cast their votes in the suburb by
"Everything's quiet and peaceful," the spokesman of the
state-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), Thomas Bvuma,
Mr Bvuma said hundreds of people were queuing up outside polling
stations in Highfield before voting started at 7:00 am local time (05:00
By mid-morning there were still long queues of people he
The state's ZIANA news agency reported a two-kilometre long queue
of people outside a polling station in Highfield, where people had waited
since 3:00 am to vote.
State radio said that the situation "remains
calm" and that no incidents of violence had been reported.
Saturday, Mr Mugabe and his wife Grace went to cast their vote in
the president's home constituency of Highfield, where ZANU-PF is
being represented by firebrand war veteran Joseph Chinotimba.
have been running high ahead of the two-day poll.
The Opposition has
already accused the government of irregularly registering thousands of
non-resident voters in the two constituencies in order to rig the
It says there are also plans by the ruling party to hand out
scarce food supplies to people in the suburb in packages smeared with
indelible ink, thus disqualifying potential voters.
People with ink on
their hands are deemed to have already voted.
The Opposition said ZANU-PF
youths were handing out bread to voters at a polling station in Kuwadzana
after they had cast their ballots.
But an AFP photographer in Kuwadzana
said he witnessed no signs of food handouts to the electorate.
has said there could be a "violent backlash" against the government if voters
perceive the election to have been rigged in favour of the
Mr Mugabe has urged his supporters to relegate the MDC
to the "electoral scrap heap".
He accused the Opposition party,
popular among Zimbabwe's urban dwellers, of being imposed by foreigners and
not a genuine expression of the people's will.
The by-elections were
won by the MDC in parliamentary elections in June 2000.
vote is being held after the death of former MDC lawmaker for Kuwadzana and
the party's spokesman, Learnmore Jongwe.
The popular young legislator
died in prison last year while awaiting trial on a charge of murdering his
Prominent Zimbabwean socialist Munyaradzi Gwisai, the former MDC
lawmaker for Highfield, was expelled from the party for going against its
Drastic plunge in tobacco output expected By
THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB)
has this year trimmed the number of selling teams stationed at the country's
three auction floors, reflecting the drastic plunge in the output of the
country's former prime foreign currency earner, it has emerged.
In an interview with Standard Business Duncan Miller, the president of the
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA), said TIMB-which regulates the marketing
of the golden leaf-had halved last year's number of selling teams owing to a
decline in output.
This is contrary to the gospel being spread of a
crop harvest of 200 million kg's by Lovegot Tendengu, the Zanu PF-aligned
president of the Farmers Development Trust, and fortified by other party
loyalists eager to hoodwink Mugabe into believing the land grab exercise is a
The tobacco marketing season commences on 23 April with a
meagre 85 million kgs expected to go through the country's three auction
floors which have been reduced to mere shells.
A total of 165
million kgs was sold last year at an average price of 226 USc/kg, down from
the previous year's 202,5million kgs. Last year, the opening of the sales
floors was delayed until May after a growers' revolt over low
Calm and normal trading only returned after the
introduction of a support rate by former finance and economic development
minister, Simba Makoni.
"If we have 200 million kgs, why is it
that this year there will be three selling teams only?" queried
At the peak prior to the disruption of commercial tobacco
production, the TIMB had seven selling teams in the 2000/1 selling season
which had the capacity to sell 7 000 bales a day.
year, two selling teams were allocated to each of the country's three auction
floors, namely Zitac, Burley Marketing Zimbabwe (BMZ) and Tobacco Sales Floor
(TSF), giving a total of six teams.
TIMB general manager, Stanley
Mutepfa, confirmed the reduction in selling teams at the auction floors
saying deliveries would be low at the start of the selling
"Initially, we will start with three sales and then deploy
necessary sales teams as and when required. It is all to do with efficient
utilisation of selling space and buying," said Mutepfa.
shrinkage in the crop expected to pass through the sales floors means
Zimbabwe will only sell half the daily volume it sold last year because of
the halving of the sales team.
The sales period, which last year
ran from 7:30am to lunchtime, is likely to start at 8:00am to around
The foreign currency shortage will persist as this
year's tobacco earnings are likely to be well below last year's US$375,9m
(about $20,7bn at the official exchange rate).
Prior to the
haphazard land grab which had the blessings of the aging Zanu PF leader,
Robert Mugabe, tobacco was Zimbabwe's single largest foreign currency earner,
accounting for about 28% of the country's exports.
"The industry is
never going to be the same unless we build the crop up to 200 million kgs. We
have thrown away the advantages we had and we are now competing with small
producers like Malawi and Zambia," said one agricultural
Analysts said the decline in tobacco output this year
85 million kgs was going to give even more headaches to Mugabe
as he constantly searches for new avenues to raise hard currency.
THE University of Zimbabwe will stay closed for longer
following the death of Swithun Mombeshora. The late minister of higher
education was negotiating with the Association of University Teachers (AUT)
on their demand for a 50% salary increment at the time of his
Members of AUT who spoke to The Standard said they will only
return to work after government has acceded to their demands.
"We made our position very clear from the beginning. We will only return if
they grant our demand of a 50% increment," said a member of AUT.
Levy Nyagura, the acting chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, said the
UZ Council held a meeting where decisions were made and then communicated to
"Council met last week and reached some decisions
which we communicated to every lecturer. We await their response and on
Monday, we will establish a firm position on the way forward," said
"I cannot disclose the decisions now except to say that
they evolve around the provisions of the disposal order issued by the
ministry. However, I should emphasise that we are working hard to ensure the
reopening of the institution as soon as possible."
of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare issued an order directing the
lecturers to return to work by 13 March but they refused to comply with the
The lecturers vowed not to resume teaching until they were
awarded the 50% return allowance against their basic salaries. The strike
began on 24 February.
Some lecturers who spoke on condition of
anonymity said the decisions referred to by Nyagura did not address their
demands and would only serve to delay the reopening of the
When Mombeshora died last week, he was in the midst of
trying to solve the impasse.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National
Students Union (Zinasu) has threatened to protest against the closure of the
university and thus risks a showdown with the state and its law enforcement
agencies, which are currently on stand by to severely crush any forms of
Zimbabwe lacks political will to fight Aids
scourge By our own Staff
THE Zimbabwean government has not
yet fully committed itself to the war against HIV/Aids despite
well-documented evidence of the devastating effects of the killer disease,
participants at a workshop organised by Futures Group International
The workshop, held in Nyanga was entitled "Responsible
Reporting on HIV and Aids", and it sought to equip reporters with skills for
reporting about Aids.
Presentations by experts demonstrated that
despite the high level of Aids awareness, the rate of HIV continues to shoot
up as the scourge preys upon Zimbabweans.
The government and
non-governmental organisations appear uncertain as to how many lives the
disease has claimed, though they say between 2 000 and 3 500 people die of
Aids-related illnesses every week.
Isabella Matambanadzo, the
director of Zimbabwe Women Resources Centre and Network, explained why the
country has failed to reduce the Aids menace to the same level as that of
fellow African countries such as Uganda and South Africa.
said: "The lack of political commitment has badly exacerbated the effects of
Aids on our society. This is unlike Uganda and South Africa where the
governments are very much at the front-line of fighting Aids.
"Here, it is so difficult, especially for women, most of whom are unable to
acquire the anti-retroviral drugs. And if they do find them, they cost an arm
and a leg."
Anti-retroviral drugs can prolong the life of
HIV-positive people and the Zimbabwean government says it might start to
distribute them for free this year.
Matambanadzo also blamed
religion and culture for "suppressing and subjugating" women whom she said
were the most vulnerable to the pandemic.
"African women carry the
burden of the global epidemic: eight in every 10 women infected with Aids are
African. Religion and culture have been very powerful in shaping gender
relations, often forcing women to submit to the whims of men, including
agreeing to unsafe sex," she said.
Zimbabwe is at the epicentre of
the pandemic, which has infected an estimated 25,3 million people in
sub-Saharan Africa, and has killed over 22 million people world-wide since it
was first detected in June 1981.
The Aids onslaught has been
particularly severe in rural Zimbabwe and has worsened the country's
political and economic problems.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists
President, Matthew Takaona, urged reporters to persistently press the
government into fully engaging itself in the fight against Aids.
Mashakada's band gets taste of army brutality
By our own Staff
AS the Zanu PF government tightens its grip on
power, musicians and revellers are increasingly being caught up in what has
become an orgy of police and army brutality.
musician, Cephas Mashakada, was forced to seek refuge in a cold room as armed
soldiers indiscriminately assaulted revellers at a Mereki night club in
Warren Park D recently.
Mashakada was performing at the popular
Brooklyn Club when armed soldiers abruptly pounced on revellers who were
clubbing the night away.
"We were enjoying Mashakada's music and
having some drinks when more than 10 soldiers descended on us and started
beating up everyone. The beatings were so severe that big men cried like
children in front of women who were also crying," said John Chimanga, one of
Some of the victims who showed Standard Plus the
bruises they had sustained all over their bodies, but refused to be named for
fear of reprisals, alleged that the soldiers descended on the nightclub at
around 4.00am and immediately went beserk.
A woman who works at
the nightclub is said to have received serious head injuries which required
The soldiers had reportedly been called in to
quell the commotion at another night spot, Real Night Club, which is close to
the popular Pfukwa nightclub in the same area. This was after a policeman was
allegedly beaten by patrons at about 9.00pm for throwing a teargas canister
into the club.
It was not long before two truckloads of soldiers
arrived to punish the culprits. After arriving at Real and being told that
the culprits had gone on to Mereki Shopping Centre, the soldiers beat up the
clubbers and then proceeded to Brooklyn.
Mashakada had just
finished his show and was enjoying a drink when all hell broke loose. He
quickly hid in the cold room and remained there while everyone in the club,
including some of his band members, were thoroughly beaten up.
The soldiers also forced the patrons to chant slogans denouncing the MDC
while they were sprawled on the floor. Mashakada is said to have come out
later, when the coast was clear.
Contacted for comment, Mashakada
panicked and pleaded with this paper not to write the story fearing it would
get him into serious trouble.
"Yes, it happened, but please let the
matter rest because it's too risky to talk about it. I will jeopardise my
livelihood if I ever comment because these people will stop at nothing and I
will never sing again if they ever hear about it.
safety yedu sevanhu vemagitari nokuti iko zuro chaiko hakuna kumborarwa kuno
(kuChitungwiza). Zvinotipinza pa-tight tikada zvokushambadzira mumapepanhau.
Regerai arohwa aende kunomhangara (We are doing it for our safety as
musicians because Chitungwiza residents hardly slept last night. We will be
in serious trouble if we tell the papers what is going on. Let those who are
beaten up go and report for themselves)," a nervous Mashakada
Cases of police and army brutality have reached unprecedented
levels since the successful MDC stayaway and ahead of this weekend's
by-elections in the Kuwadzana and Highfield constituencies.
Mashakada is currently riding the crest of a wave with the success of his
2002 offering, Shingiso. He has a number of gospel and social-commentary hits
to his credit with his long-time group, Sounds Of The Muddy Face.
Zimbabwe by-election starts, intimidation
alleged March 29, 2003, 10:30
underway in Zimbabwean by-elections today with voters complaining of
intimidation by militants loyal to President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF
ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) have exchanged allegations of violence during campaigning in
Harare's Kuwadzana and Highfield constituencies which rights groups say left
hundreds of people injured ahead of the vote. Today over 500 people queued at
one polling station at 8 am, an hour after voting started, complaining that
the process was moving too slowly and charging that ruling party supporters
were jumping the queue.
"We have been here since 5 o'clock
but we still haven't voted because latecomers are going ahead of us and
police are not doing anything to stop it," one man told reporters. "ZANU-PF
youths are also milling around at the gate, asking people about their party
affiliation and generally being intimidating," added one woman, who said she
would flee the volatile township soon after voting to escape possible
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC candidate for Kuwadzana,
told reporters that he would lodge a formal complaint. Polling officials and
police at the station said they had no authority to comment to the media.
Results are expected on Monday. The violence has coincided with a crackdown
on the MDC after it led a two-day strike against Mugabe's 23-year rule last
week, one of the biggest protests in recent years.
won the Kuwadzana and Highfield seats in the 2000 parliamentary elections but
they fell vacant with the death of one legislator and the expulsion from the
party of another. The MDC, which accuses Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party of
rigging the 2000 polls which it narrowly won, says the governing party is
seeking to manipulate the weekend polls, including inflating the voters' roll
with 19 000 "ghost" names.
ZANU-PF officials have not
commented on the allegations, but the ruling party has in the past dismissed
allegations of electoral irregularities as an MDC excuse for its poll
defeats. Mugabe (79), won re-election for another six-year term as president
in controversial polls last March condemned as fraudulent by both the MDC and
some Western governments. - Reuters
women were abducted at gunpoint in Johannesburg and brutally assaulted by
suspected agents of the Zimbabwe government who tried to smuggle them back to
Zimbabwe this week.
The incident comes amid claims that President Robert
Mugabe has now deployed his notorious youth militia known as Green Bombers -
who have been attacking government opponents in Zimbabwe - to target his
opponents in South Africa as well.
The three women, who participated
in a well-attended march against Mugabe in Johannesburg on Human Rights Day
last week, said they suffered a night of terror and sexual harassment before
they were dumped in the border town of Musina after their abductors were
stopped by SA border officials.
Amanda Dube, Norma Sibanda and Nozipo
Moyo said two of their five abductors had also participated in the Human
Rights Day march organised by the Concerned Zimbabwean Citizens Abroad
(CZCA). The abductors held posters denouncing Mugabe's abuses but the women
suspect they were in fact agents who had come to spy on the opposition
After the march ended, the abductors followed the three women
back to their flat in Hillbrow to establish where they lived.
Wednesday, they came back and abducted the women at gunpoint and forced them
into two Pajero 4x4 vehicles with Zimbabwean number plates and a
The three said they were later handcuffed and blindfolded
in the vehicles after they refused to show their abductors the homes of CZCA
leaders who had organised the protest march. The women said the abductors
made it clear they would suffer the consequences of participating in
"As we drove throughout the night, we stopped at
bushy areas and were beaten heavily with clinched fists and electric rubber
wires... At times I travelled in the boot of the small car," said Dube, who
claimed they had been sexually molested.
The women said they only
avoided being smuggled into Zimbabwe because the vehicles were stopped at a
police roadblock in Musina and South African police officers discovered them
and asked their abductors why they were hiding the three in the
A police official in Musina who was at the scene but refused to
have his name used, corroborated the womens' story, saying they later showed
bruises on their bodies to prove they had been badly beaten.
leader Jay Jay Sibanda said he had no doubt the people were Mugabe's agents
on a mission to harass opponents in SA.
He had received threatening phone
calls from people urging him to stop organising anti-Mugabe protests, he
"Our protests are meant to raise awareness of the problems in
Zimbabwe among South Africans... We are not a political party."
incident happened barely a week after Zimbabwe cricketer Henry Olonga went
into hiding in South Africa claiming that Mugabe's government had deployed
its spy agents to arrest him. The Zanu-PF has established a branch in
Nathan Shamuyarira, the Zanu-PF spokesperson, has denied that
either Zanu-PF or the government had deployed agents in SA. - Independent
Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe defended
himself on Saturday against international outrage over his violent crackdown
on the opposition in his country.
"It is now time for law and order to
have the upper hand and we will not seek the approval of outsiders to enforce
law and order in our country," he was quoted as saying in the
state-controlled daily Herald.
Mugabe's remarks to a meeting of his
central committee on Friday came amid massive condemnation over what human
rights organisations described as "the worst campaign of violence yet seen -
short of mass killings - against civilians by the country's security
"After all, some of the foreigners have been aiding and abetting
the creation of instability and disorder here and are thus part of
the lawlessness we have witnessed," he reportedly said.
remarks were also seen as a rebuff to South African president Thabo Mbeki,
who earlier this week said Pretoria had told the Zimbabwe government that "we
would not agree with actions that deny the right of Zimbabweans to protest
Reports by doctors and civil rights bodies
revealed that at least 250 people had to be treated in hospital in the last
week for severe injuries inflicted by soldiers rounding up supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
followed last week's massive support for a two-day national stayaway called
by the MDC to protest against the collapse of the rule of law that has
brought the country into its worst ever political and
The MDC has given Mugabe until Monday to respond to
an ultimatum to restore the rule of law or face peaceful mass demonstrations
to remove him.
On Friday, Zimbabwe's justice minister Patrick Chinamasa
also dismissed repeated statements by Mbeki that the government had agreed to
amend what has been described as draconian security laws that violated
'The racial high-handedness of the white
commonwealth has once again been demonstrated' He said the government
would not change the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), used by the regime
to quash virtually any form of public criticism of, or demonstrations against
"We cannot amend Posa when we are under an onslaught from
institutions which are causing mayhem and anarchy in the country," Chinamasa
was quoted as saying in the privately owned Zimbabwe Independent.
cannot loosen up and let the MDC and other puppets of the United States and
Britain run around bombing bridges and shops.
"Get it from me, Posa will
not be amended. We are not doing that and we make no apologies."
on Saturday, Mugabe attacked the "white" member of the Commonwealth troika
consisting of South Africa, Nigeria and Australia over