|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Mr Smith told BBC Television's HARDtalk programme: "His own people have turned against him."
"His country has really hit the bottom. The people are suffering, the poor people are getting poorer every day. We think his days are numbered."
He's brought a lot of discredit to the party
He said that support for Mr Mugabe, who came to power with his pro-independence Zanu-PF party in 1980, was weakening from within his own ranks.
He explained: "The executive of the present political party have said they want the top man out.
"He's pulling them down, he's brought a lot of discredit to the party and they would like him to move out."
"If the pressures build up he might accept that the best thing he can do is get out."
In April 2002 Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth for 12 months over alleged discrepancies during presidential elections.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change - MDC - and their leader Morgan Tsvangirai rejected the result. They claimed that the vote which returned President Mugabe to power had been rigged.
Mr Smith believes that the MDC should be in power, adding: "The majority of the black people today are on the side of the MDC... I like them and support them."
Mr Smith, who was the prime minister of Rhodesia from 1964 until 1979, has often accused the British Government of betrayal for the way they handled the country's transition to full independence - which ultimately led to his own downfall.
"I certainly wouldn't do that again through experience. We were dealing with some British politicians who, I regret to have to say, who were absolutely devious."
But Mr Smith, who once vowed that whites would rule for 1,000 years, refuses to accept any blame for the problems that Zimbabwe faces today.
He said: "We built a fantastic country, one of the best countries in the world."
And he said he would be prepared to appear before any truth and reconciliation commission, similar to the one set up in South Africa.
He added: "Fortunately my conscience is clear - I've got nothing to hide and that applied to Rhodesia, and our whole history indicates what I'm saying is correct."
From ZWNEWS, 8 May
Two more MDC supporters killed by suspected Zanu PF activists
Two MDC supporters, one of them a polling agent in the March 9 and 10 presidential election, have been killed by suspected Zanu PF militia. Jenus Ngamira, an MDC activist in Bindura, was allegedly murdered by Zanu PF militia led by Munyaradzi Timoti in Chipadze Township of Bindura in the early hours of last Sunday, while his brother Christopher Ngamira was seriously injured and is recovering in hospital following an attack by the same group. After the incident, Timoti rushed to his home to put on his Zanu PF militia uniform before surrendering himself to Bindura Police Station. Ngamira was buried in Bindura yesterday. In Gokwe, the remains of Tiperson Madhobha, an MDC polling agent in the March 9 and 10 presidential elections who was abducted by Zanu PF militia on 10 April, were found in a river last week. A police officer who identified himself as Sergeant Chikuni confirmed that the remains of Madhobha had been found and that arrangements for a postmortem were underway.
From O’Dwyers’ PR Daily (US), 3 May
D&M collects $400K from Zimbabwe
Dickens & Madson Canada, the firm that spread news of an alleged assassination plot against Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, has a contract worth $225,000 from his government. The firm has received $400K from Zimbabwe due to heavy travel-related expenses, says its president Ari Ben Menashe. The parties have not as yet issued formal amendments to the contract. Menashe claimed that Morgan Tsvangirai, who lost to Mugabe in the presidential race earlier this year, was behind the plot. Menashe distributed a grainy video said to be of Tsvangirai discussing the plan to off Mugabe just prior to the election. Tsvangirai denied being part of any plot, and dismissed the video as part of a smear campaign. D&M's contract includes a provision that allows a $20,000 bonus, if by yearend: "Zimbabwe is generally perceived internationally as being a peace loving and progressive member of the international community. The pariah state label currently attached to Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Government should have disappeared and one measure of success would be that Zimbabwe would have become eligible and acceded to the United States African Growth and Opportunity Act by the end of the contract for the bonus to be payable." The BBC has called Menashe a controversial figure linked in the 1980s to the Iran-Contra arms scandal.
Comment from ZWNEWS, 8 May
By Michael Hartnack
One law for state toadies, another for critics, and none for the hungry
It would show a failure of compassion more than of news judgment if I did not preface whatever I write from Zimbabwe about press freedom with a reminder that last night children in our rural areas cried themselves to sleep with hunger. Many of them were from families not even allowed to queue to buy mealie meal because the adult members were suspected of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Although the International Committee to Protect Journalists rates Zimbabwe among the 10 most dangerous countries in which to be one, whatever our troubles as we celebrated World Press Freedom Day on May 3 pale compared with this raw fact of human suffering. We in the media are only deserving of our readers' concern as long as we are trying to get these facts across. When the day comes that these columns deliberately confine themselves to jolly chats about the Zimbabwe cricket team, or the westward spread of terrestrial bulbuls' habitat, something will have gone horribly wrong.
Worse than readers not being told what is happening would be not being told that they are not being told. Two years ago I had, with great regret, to resign as correspondent for a South African newspaper that I had served under its different names for 16 years. My initial 1999-2000 reports of farm invasions, of queues for petrol and diesel, and the crisis in the tourist industry, were dismissed as "scare stories" by recently-appointed middle-level staff who exercised nightly control over what was being published. They had developed an "in" with the Zimbabwean establishment through a South African-based businessman who is now on the USA's banned list for visas, because the State Department view him as a front man for President Robert Mugabe. Through him, staff developed the practice of telephoning the private numbers of Zimbabwean government figures, reading over what they had received from me and asking for advice. The persons they telephoned would never have taken calls from me formally requesting comment. Old friends on the newspaper sympathised with my repeated protests, but were frightened to intervene.
From the point of view of the reader, this form of censorship (for such it was) was far more pernicious than that we experienced at the Rhodesia Herald when I worked there for two years after Ian Smith's 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence. The newspaper was a subsidiary of South Africa's Argus Group until passing into state control after 1980 independence. Under Rhodesia's Emergency Powers, every article and photograph had to be passed by a censor. However, when an article or part of an article was banned, a blank space was left to show readers the censor had been at work. For example, on September 20, 1966, any news of a visit by the British Commonwealth Secretary Arthur Bottomley was banned. The following day, most of the front page was white space.
We handful of correspondents for foreign media here have been warned by our sources that the government "plans to pick us off, one by one" which explains the arrest last week of Andrew Meldrum, a United States citizen who is correspondent for the British newspaper The Guardian. He and two reporters from the local Daily News were held overnight in police cells and advised they would be prosecuted under the newly-passed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act for "abuse of journalistic privilege by publishing a false report". The facts are that both the Movement for Democratic Change and the independently-owned Daily News reported the alleged beheading of a 53-year-old woman, Blandina Tadyanemhandu, by militia. Police had ample time to respond to requests for comment, but instead issued a statement solely to the state-run Herald that they had evidence no such murder took place.
The following day, curiously, state broadcasting announced it had "discovered" that the source of the allegations, a 63-year-old man calling himself Enos Tadyanemhandu, was an imposter with a lengthy criminal record. The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, another government mouthpiece, was able to detail an amazing history of wrongdoing going back more than 20 years, and exact amounts the man had extracted from the MDC to assist his supposed funeral expenses for his wife. "Tadyanemhandu" is Shona for those who "eat with the enemy". There is thus prima facie evidence the MDC, and the journalists, were led into a well-prepared trap. New legislation provides a two-year jail term for publishing a false report, or five years for arousing hostility to the government. At the weekend, police told the Herald's sister newspaper, The Sunday Mail, they plan to discredit many of the reports of atrocities over the past two years which include the murder of more than 200 opposition supporters and 10 white farmers. Either they never took place, or were mere "drunken brawls over women", claimed a spokesman. The perniciousness of the current offensive against independent journalists here highlights the selective requirements for truth: the most monstrous lies are encouraged on one side, while on the other errors due to deliberate fraud and refusal of co-operation by the authorities can be made to constitute a criminal offence.
Any person opposing the government is immediately branded an ex-Selous Scout or a traitor, depending on their race, and they have no hope of legal redress. Moyo told Parliament I served in the Rhodesian Army "Psychological Action" unit, and have been covertly continuing its tactics in the guise of a foreign correspondent since 1980. I never served in the army, having the misfortune to be conscripted into the air force - as a reserve dog handler. A group of 100 lawyers on Sunday published a counter-attack on government attempts to vilify those defending free speech. "Those who assert this right are invariably threatened with the prospect of legislation, or worse," said the lawyers, recalling former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay's forced early retirement, in the face of death threats. Mendacious slurs against Gubbay and other white judges, and the president of the Law Society, Sternford Moyo, came as the new Supreme Court under former government minister Godfrey Chidyausiku showed "significant departure from the culture of upholding the Bill of Rights", the lawyers said.
In Zimbabwe there seems to be one law for the state and its toadies, another for its critics in the media, and none for the hungry child.