Los Angeles Times
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai greets party supporters at celebrations
in Masvingo, Zimbabwe.
Six months after a brutal crackdown, activists are scattered and physically
broken, their movement 'a toothless dog.'
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 30, 2007
TEMBISA, South Africa - They were some of the toughest front-liners in
Zimbabwe's opposition, people who previously had been beaten and tortured by
state security forces and come through it stronger.
Now they are broken men.
Nhamo Musekiwa sits hunched like a frail old man in a chair on a small strip
of dirt in this township outside Johannesburg. The 34-year-old wears black
slippers and jeans that hang like an empty sack. He had to flee his country
after security forces "full of madness" nearly beat him to death in March,
along with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and dozens of others.
All he talks about is going home to his beloved Zimbabwe to continue the
struggle against President Robert Mugabe's regime and resume his work as
Tsvangirai's bodyguard. But the truth is, he can barely walk.
He struggles for breath as he tells his story in a pitch so low it is often
inaudible. Forty minutes of conversation exhausts him and he drifts off to
During an interview with The Times in May, Musekiwa had appeared robust and
strong, although he acknowledged having difficulty sleeping since the
beatings. By the end of August, he had shrunk into himself. His skin hung
off his bones, the flesh and muscle eaten away. His face was like a skull,
with deep hollows under sharp cheekbones and a protuberant chin.
"One month ago, I could not even stand upright," he said. "It just hurt."
For his wife, Edna, summoned to his Johannesburg hospital bed from Zimbabwe
shortly before then, the transformation was shocking. At that point, he was
expected to die of complications of a ruptured kidney, but somehow he
crawled back from the grave.
"Any day now, I'll be rolling into Zimbabwe," he wheezed. "I have no option.
That's my home. But I just get tired when I walk along these days."
There are others like him, some physically destroyed, others psychologically
shattered. This winter, which just ended in the Southern Hemisphere, you
would find them in a back room of a Johannesburg church rented by a
Zimbabwean anti-torture group, a huddle of gloomy men curled around a hot
plate that offered scant comfort against the bone-chilling cold.
Dozens of members have fled to South Africa in recent months, some of them
with severe injuries, leaving the opposition a shell of itself with the
presidential election six months away. Most of them are afraid for family
members still in Zimbabwe, but too terrified to go home themselves. Or too
The assaults and abductions in the lead-up to the March election are seen by
human rights organizations as a deliberate strategy by the Mugabe government
to cripple democratic opposition. The Human Rights Forum, which unites 17
Zimbabwean organizations, recently reported that 2007 looks to be the worst
year for political violence and torture since 2001.
"I know a couple of people who were beaten on March 11, and to be honest I
don't think they're quite the same people they were before," said Andrew
Meldrum, an American who wrote a book on his 23 years as a journalist in
Zimbabwe before his 2003 expulsion. "When you have had injuries to major
internal organs, we would say we'd need some time off, and they need time
"They're also frightened. I have seen many people who have left the country.
They're frightened that they could be at home doing absolutely nothing and
that they could be taken out and beaten again."
Negotiations between the ruling party and opposition over electoral reforms
are still going on and produced some symbolic compromises from the
government this month, with a deal that saw Mugabe's term cut from six years
to five. But many saw it as an indication of the ruling party's supreme
confidence of winning an election, rather than a sign it was willing to meet
opposition demands for the election to be free and fair.
Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe has endured a long descent into economic chaos, with
hyperinflation over 7,000% and chronic shortages of medicines, food, fuel
and other basic necessities. Mugabe blames the West and calls Tsvangirai a
puppet of white colonialists.
But to his supporters, Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic
Change, is simply known as the President, a reference to 2005 parliamentary
elections, widely viewed in the West as a sham, that saw Mugabe's party
returned to power.
"They got full of madness, and they just wanted to kill us," said Musekiwa,
describing the March beatings. He had been beaten several times before, but
never like this. "They said, 'There's only one president, and that's
Mugabe.' They beat me all over the body using different weapons: iron rods,
rubber batons, sticks, wooden batons and clenched fists and boots. They beat
us repeatedly until Morgan Tsvangirai was unconscious."
Then in May, the opposition headquarters in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, were
targeted, everyone in the building was arrested, and 22 computers as well as
documents and files were seized. Dozens of activists were jailed for
"terrorist" bombings of gasoline tankers, until a judge ruled in July that
police had concocted the evidence.
Meanwhile, abductions and assaults of opposition and civil activists
"You are talking about virtually hundreds of people who have fled into South
Africa," Tendai Biti, party secretary-general, said in a phone interview in
Zimbabwe. "This is deliberate and it's intended to cripple the MDC. The
people who fled did so because they were targeted, and they were targeted
because they were the most effective people.
"It shakes the confidence of your structures when the top-quality leadership
flees," Biti said. "It has a demoralizing effect. It takes years to recover.
Leadership doesn't grow on trees."
After the March beatings, one government official, Nathan Shamuyarira, said
of Tsvangirai, "If you ask for that kind of trouble, you'll get it."
Mugabe later said the opposition had deserved the beatings and that Western
critics could "go hang." The government routinely portrays those seeking to
oust his regime as criminals.
'Everyone is threatened'
The Johannesburg office where the Zimbabwe opposition members meet for
mutual support and comfort has a broken look itself. Some chairs have no
stuffing or the backs are busted, and the shelves are piled with
higgledy-piggledy papers and faded brochures. Many of the men are at loose
ends: They sleep poorly and wake late, then drift into the office
midmorning. They tell their stories in a subdued, matter-of-fact way.
Smangaliso Chikadaya, 33, the national youth organizing secretary of the
party, said he was tortured for five days, subjected to a simulated
execution, had electric wires attached to his genitals, was beaten on the
soles of his feet; a female security officer even urinated into his mouth.
"The MDC was almost paralyzed," he said. "Everyone is threatened."
An MDC administrator, James Mushandu, 30, said he was kept in a dark room
for days and beaten severely at Goromonzi police station, east of the
"That's where all hell breaks loose," he said. "There's where you have the
torture. There's no negotiating in that place. They said, 'No one is going
to give a damn about you.' I thought, 'I'm gone.'
"It's a well-orchestrated thing to make us run away from Zimbabwe," he said.
"It's left the MDC a toothless dog."
Like many other opposition activists, Musekiwa got his grounding in the
union movement in the late 1990s, when Tsvangirai, a former miner and
secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, organized
anti-government strikes. In 1999, the MDC emerged from of the union movement
as the first real political challenge to Mugabe, now 83, who has been in
power since independence in 1980.
A searing memory changed Musekiwa forever in the late '70s, during the
liberation war in the country, then still known as Rhodesia. He had to watch
as two dozen of the rebels fighting the minority white regime beat his
father to death, a farmer who supported the rebel cause but was a suspected
"He was tied to a tree. He only cried when he passed out. We were just
sitting in a half circle. We weren't crying, because they said, 'If you cry,
you'll go with your father.'
"I didn't cry when I buried him. We didn't cry until after the struggle was
over and we went and put a concrete tombstone there."
Musekiwa said that after the killing, the rebels checked his father's
papers, acknowledged that he had been innocent and apologized.
"I was so angry. That is why I never supported ZANU-PF," he said of Mugabe's
ruling party, which grew out of the rebel movement.
When the MDC emerged, spirits were high and activists such as Musekiwa
thought Mugabe would be unseated quickly because of popular dissatisfaction.
"I was optimistic," Musekiwa said. "I thought the struggle would be short."
In the weeks after the beatings, Musekiwa felt anger at Mugabe and those who
beat him. But now even that has faded.
"I am no longer angry towards anybody. During the first two weeks, I was
very cross," he whispered. "But with time I gradually learned to accept the
situation and to think about the field I am operating in, joining politics."
He even feels sorry for the thugs who beat him, because he knows they were
following orders, out of fear.
He says he has not lost hope.
"My spirit is not broken. In the struggle, you can be injured and stay
alive, or you can die. I'm happy to be one of those, because now you will
remember me as a hero.
"Even if I die, I will not die a painful death. I mean, my spirit will at
least say I played my part in Zimbabwe."
Los Angeles Times
Those who say Zimbabwe's president was once a hero are fooling themselves.
By James Kirchick
September 30, 2007
As Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, presides over what might be the most
rapid disintegration yet of a modern nation-state, it has become de rigueur
for journalists, politicians and academics to offer what has become a
near-universal analysis: Mugabe, who has ruled his country uninterrupted for
27 years, was a promising leader who became corrupted over time by power.
This meme was popularized not long after Mugabe began seizing white-owned
farms in 2000. Four years ago, in response to these raids, the New York
Times editorialized that "in 23 years as president, Mr. Mugabe has gone from
independence hero to tyrant." Earlier this week, Archbishop Desmond Tutu
said that "I'm just devastated by what I can't explain, by what seems to be
an aberration, this sudden change in character."
The characterization of Mugabe as a good man gone wrong extends to popular
culture as well. In the 2005 political thriller "The Interpreter," Nicole
Kidman played a dashing, multilingual exile from the fictional African
country of Matobo, whose ruler was once a soft-spoken, cerebral
schoolteacher who liberated his country from a white minority regime but
became a despot. Mugabe certainly understood the likeness; he accused Kidman
and her costar, Sean Penn, of being part of a CIA plot to oust him.
But this popular conception of Mugabe -- propagated by the liberals who
championed him in the 1970s and 1980s -- is absolutely wrong. From the
beginning of his political career, Mugabe was not just a Marxist but one who
repeatedly made clear his intention to run Zimbabwe as an authoritarian,
one-party state. Characteristic of this historical revisionism is former
Newsweek southern Africa correspondent Joshua Hammer, writing recently in
the liberal Washington Monthly that "more than a quarter-century after
leading his guerrilla army to victory over the racist regime of Ian Smith in
white-minority-ruled Rhodesia, President Robert Mugabe has morphed into a
caricature of the African Big Man."
But Mugabe did not "morph" into "a caricature of the African Big Man." He
has been one since he took power in 1980 -- and he displayed unmistakable
authoritarian traits well before that. Those who were watching at the time
should have known what kind of man Mugabe was, and the fact that so many
today persist in the contention that Mugabe was a once-benign ruler speaks
much about liberal illusions of African nationalism.
Mugabe's formative political education began in 1964, during a decade of
imprisonment for subversive activity against the white minority regime that
ruled Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia. While imprisoned, Mugabe earned
degrees in law and economics by correspondence courses from the University
of London and became a revolutionary Marxist. After he was released, he
helped lead a civil war against the government.
All the participants in the Rhodesian war used vicious tactics. But Mugabe
displayed a particular ruthlessness that ought to have indicated what sort
of ruler he might one day become. In 1978, four black moderates announced
that they had reached an "internal settlement" with the white regime, paving
the way for democratic elections. One of these leaders, Ndabaningi Sithole,
dispatched 39 envoys to meet representatives of Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo,
another guerrilla leader. The envoys were captured, murdered and, according
to Time magazine, "their bodies were then laid out by the guerrillas in a
grisly line at the side of the road as a warning to local tribespeople."
The following year, in protest of the election that then-Premier Ian Smith
had organized with black leaders willing to lay down their arms, Mugabe's
organization released a death list naming 50 "Zimbabwean black bourgeoisie,
traitors, fellow-travelers and puppets of the Ian Smith regime,
opportunistic running-dogs and other capitalist vultures." During those
elections, Mugabe and Nkomo's forces killed 10 black civilians attempting to
vote. Mugabe's men also blew up a Woolworth's store and massacred Catholic
Mugabe was clear about his preference for authoritarian rule. Years before
taking office, asked what sort of political future he envisioned for
Zimbabwe, Mugabe expressed his belief that "the multiparty system . . . is a
luxury" and that if Zimbabweans did not like Marxism, "then we will have to
Today, with Zimbabwe suffering the highest inflation and lowest
life-expectancy rates in the world, it is fashionable to call Mugabe a
"caricature" of an African despot. But Mugabe became that caricature
immediately after assuming office. He confiscated about a dozen private
companies associated with the rival ZAPU party and expropriated farms that
were owned by associates of Nkomo (his erstwhile liberation ally), a
harbinger of what he would do to white farmers 20 years later. At a
political rally in 1982, Mugabe said about his own political party: "ZANU-PF
will rule forever."
In 1984, Mugabe imprisoned Methodist Bishop Abel Muzorewa, who had won the
1979 multiracial election boycotted by Mugabe, for 10 months without charge,
falsely accusing him of conspiring against Zimbabwe.
And over several years in the early 1980s, Mugabe executed what arguably
might be the worst of his many atrocities, a campaign of terror against the
minority Ndebele tribe in which he unleashed a North Korean-trained army
unit that killed between 10,000 and 30,000 people.
Yet, even in the midst of these various crimes, Mugabe never lost his fan
base in the West. In 1986, the University of Massachusetts Amherst bestowed
on Mugabe an honorary doctorate of laws just as he was completing his
genocide against the Ndebele. In April of this year, as the campus debated
revoking the degree it ought never have given him, African American studies
professor Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, who had been in favor of honoring Mugabe
two decades ago, told the Boston Globe: "They gave it to the Robert Mugabe
of the past, who was an inspiring and hopeful figure and a humane political
leader at the time." Similarly, in 1984, the University of Edinburgh gave
Mugabe an honorary doctorate (revoked in July of this year), and in 1994,
Mugabe was inexplicably given an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.
What explains the revisionist account of Mugabe? Partly, it is what might be
termed the West's "Orientalist" view of Zimbabwe. According to this
interpretation, it was only when Mugabe started going after whites that the
world began paying attention. The anti-white violence of the early 2000s
took no more than a dozen white lives and the lives of many more black farm
workers -- peanuts compared with the thousands of Ndebeles slaughtered in
The British media, which nurture a residual interest in a former colony
where many people of British ancestry still live, helped turn Mugabe into an
international villain when he began killing white people. In the eyes of
Westerners, tribal violence -- in which blacks kill other blacks -- is par
for the course in Africa, and, besides, Mugabe actually killed far fewer of
his people than many other African despots. That Mugabe did not immediately
ruin Zimbabwe's economy or force the whites out -- as Idi Amin did in
Uganda -- is a large part of why the West did not portray him as a villain.
By African standards, he really was not all that bad.
Still, this does not account for the overt whitewashing of Mugabe's horrific
past. Throughout the Rhodesian civil war in the 1970s, many in the media
attempted to portray Mugabe as akin to Nelson Mandela, the quintessence of
the heroic, international statesman. Months after his election in 1980, the
New York Times opined that "Mr. Mugabe has quickly established himself as an
African statesman of the first rank." The media already had its villain --
Rhodesia's intractable whites -- and portraying Mugabe as just another
African strongman bent on turning his country into a one-party dictatorship
would have complicated the story of good versus evil.
Mugabe was also a brilliant and eloquent spokesman for black African
grievances against colonial rule and for post-colonial aspirations of
independence and self-sufficiency. And it's true that after taking office,
he preached racial reconciliation rather than retribution, surprising many
whites. But a fully honest accounting also would have recognized Mugabe to
be, whatever his virtues, an authoritarian thug hellbent on acquiring -- and
attaining -- power at all costs. Mugabe's destructive behavior over the last
seven years has not been "an aberration" but is perfectly consistent with
the way he has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.
In 2000, at the start of Mugabe's seizures of white land, New York Times
columnist (and early Mugabe fan) Anthony Lewis admitted, on behalf of quite
a few journalists, diplomats and academics in the West, "how wrong we were"
about Mugabe. But he offered the qualification, "at least over time." Lewis,
and everyone else who ever feted Mugabe, was not just proved wrong about the
despot "at least over time." They were wrong the minute they endorsed him.
James Kirchick is assistant to the editor in chief of the New Republic and
reported from Zimbabwe last year.
Mail and Guardian
Angus Shaw | Harare, Zimbabwe
30 September 2007 12:22
A government report blamed constant power failures for a drastic
drop in wheat production, the official media reported Sunday. A two thirds
shortfall in wheat harvests was expected to worsen chronic bread shortages.
Most bakeries were closed during the past week as flour
deliveries dried up. Stores displayed signs that already erratic bread
supplies would not be available until further notice.
The government announced on Tuesday it was importing 100 000
tonnes of wheat, but has acknowledged the first shipment of 35 000 tonnes
were delayed at the Mozambique port of Beira as authorities sought hard
currency to pay for it.
The Agricultural Research and Extension (Arex) department of the
Ministry of Agriculture said power failures cutting off irrigation forced
wheat farmers across the country to abandon wheat crops during germination,
leaving a total current harvest of about 145 000 tonnes, two thirds short of
Yields of surviving crops were also down from a target of five
tonnes a hectare to two to three tonnes a hectare, said Arex in its latest
crop assessment report, the official Sunday Mail newspaper reported.
Zimbabwe is facing daily power failures caused by shortages of
spares, replacement equipment and coal. Breakdowns have plagued the western
Hwange coal mine atop the biggest quality coal deposits in Southern Africa
estimated to contain 500 years of reserves at present consumption.
The country imports nearly 40% of its power from its neighbours.
The state power utility warned on Friday it increased load shedding by 50%
after Mozambique reduced its electricity exports over an outstanding debt of
In the worst economic crisis since independence in 1980, there
are acute shortages of hard currency, food, most basic goods and fuel.
The United Nations World Food Programme estimates at least three
million people, a quarter of the population, will need emergency food aid
before the next harvests of corn, the staple food, in April. UN officials
said hunger in some districts is now "acutely serious".
Planting of irrigated tobacco seedlings that began this month
was also hard hit by power failures, the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, a black
farmers group, said on Friday. Many farmers reported their seedlings had
wilted and died.
Zimbabwe was once the second-largest tobacco exporter in the
world after Brazil. Cigarettes have disappeared from shops and on the
thriving black market fetch at least 10 times the government's fixed price.
By weight, local wild marijuana has become cheaper than
cigarettes on the illegal market, where even the Canadian Mohawk cigarette
brand has appeared, said to have been smuggled in from the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
Earlier this month, Arex warned cotton farmers to destroy
harvested fields to prevent the spread of cotton blight. It said many
growers stopped the necessary practice of slashing down old stalks because
of shortages of seeds and other supplies to plant anew.
Newspapers were also in short supply on Sunday. The state
newspaper company and the sole independent Sunday paper have cut print
operations because of shortages of paper and materials and falling
advertising on consumer goods no longer available in stores.
The independent Standard sold out on the streets before 9am,
vendors said. - Sapa-AP
September 30 2007 at 02:53PM
By Peta Thornycroft
The last few white Zimbabwean farmers are being thrown off their land.
Surrounded by soldiers from the Zimbabwe National Army clicking
automatic weapons, Charles Lock, 45, handed them his security gate keys and
drove down the dusty road from his farm for the last time.
That was two weeks ago.
In every commercial farming district, scores of white farmers and
thousands of their workers are going through similar distress amid a sudden
escalation of President Robert Mugabe's seven-year ethnic purge of
commercial farming districts.
As of today, any white farmer still living and working on his farm is
trespassing on state land. The previous deadline in February was extended as
it was mid-season and the government needed revenue from the tobacco that
was being grown.
In advance of this deadline, about 50 white farmers have been under
enormous pressure. Some have been arrested or manhandled, others constantly
harassed or their workers forced to stop land preparation for summer crops.
Most farmers have been summoned to appear at magistrate's courts in
towns around the country to be charged and then have their cases postponed
to a later date. In September alone, five or six from Harare South have
thrown in the towel, packed up and quit.
"I may have been forced off the farm but I will continue to fight in
the courts," said Lock. "I have five court orders allowing me to stay."
He is not the only one. Other farmers also have files full of court
orders which have been ignored.
Lock was "allowed" to continue farming after his first court
appearance in 2003, when he proved that he had already given his own 2
500-hectare farm to the government and moved to his father-in-law's farm,
Karori, in the Headlands district, about 125km south-east of Harare.
He gave two-thirds of that farm away as well.
Lock has only 376ha left but still managed to produce a good income
from tobacco, maize and horticulture in the past three years.
Then, last year, Brigadier-General Itayi Mujaji, a veteran of the war
of liberation and a senior officer in the Zimbabwe Army, arrived at Karori
and said it had been given to him.
Both vice-presidents, Joyce Mujuru and Joseph Msika, as well as the
local Manicaland governor, all intervened to say Lock should be allowed to
The military, however, is in control of Zimbabwe. Soldiers were sent
to the farm. Mujaji claims they are his bodyguards and that he is entitled
to them as a senior commander.
Lock went back to court and on September 7 Judge Charles Hungwe
ordered Mujaji and his wife Pauline to be arrested for contempt of court or
leave the farm and take the soldiers with them.
That order also carried a warning to Philip Sibanda, the army
commander, and Augustine Chihuri, the police commissioner, that they would
be considered accomplices if junior officers disregarded court orders.
It made no difference, and Lock was driven off the farm at gunpoint.
"They came with their guns and fired a few rounds. I was forced to pay
158 workers retrenchment packages. The soldiers drove them and their
families off in the space of 24 hours. They vanished. The farm school is
"I had to move my four farm managers and their things off. When I
returned, my house had been looted, my equipment had been looted. I was
alone then and I had to go."
Lock went back to court this week to demand that police arrest Mujaji
and his wife for disobeying the previous court order.
Mujaji is indignant that Lock is persisting with the matter.
"I will only leave Karori if the minister of lands [Didymus Mutasa]
orders me to. He is senior to the courts," said Mujaji.
Lock and his family, including four young children, are now staying
with friends in Harare.
He knows that, despite Judge Hungwe's commitment to justice, his
victories so far are pyrrhic.
He knows Mujaji is likely to win in the long run.
Then, he says, he will try to take his case to a new regional court,
the Southern African Development Community's tribunal, in Windhoek, Namibia.
It has a mandate from its 14 member-states, including Zimbabwe, to
adjudicate cases for people who believe they have exhausted due process in
their home countries.
"Does anybody out there care? Will this ever end?" wonders Lock.
Hendrik Olivier, director of the now small Commercial Farmers' Union,
said: "Every one of the remaining farmers has complied with the government's
wishes to downsize and hand over most of their land for resettlement. Our
members continue to produce."
John Worsley-Worswick, spokesperson for the pressure group Justice for
Agriculture, says: "The military are heavily involved now. The war veterans
and ordinary people won't help move farmers off the land, so the military
"We always knew that eventually the government would go for a final
push, and here it is," he said.
"We tell farmers being harassed that they should try to avoid arrest
and be in close communication with their lawyers to ensure they get to court
for bail and remand."
About 4 000 white farmers grew the export crops that produced 40
percent of Zimbabwe's foreign currency.
Most of the 11 million hectares of prime farmland seized by the
government in the past seven years now lies fallow.
Zimbabwe is now dependent on cereal imports and emergency food aid.
The United Nations says it will be feeding about 4 million people -
about one-third of the population - by April next year, mostly in southern
Zimbabwe and in some drought-stricken areas in the east. - Foreign Service
This article was originally published on page 5 of Sunday Independent
on September 30, 2007
Independent on Sunday, UK
Published: 30 September 2007
How brightly, but how briefly, the fire of moral indignation blazes! The
crisis in Burma was headline news in Britain for almost the whole of last
week - already, this weekend, we sense that the heat is lessening. The whole
world may be watching Burma, as Gordon Brown warned the junta, but already
its eyes are glancing elsewhere.
Just as, before last week, the great moral issue of foreign affairs was the
appalling misery to which Robert Mugabe had subjected the people of
Zimbabwe, and the pusillanimous attitude to him of the European Union.
Before that, the most visible stain upon the conscience of the world was the
slow genocide in Sudan.
As we praise our sister newspaper, The Independent, which was first to
report the wave of protest that threatens the grip of the military in Burma,
we are bound to ask searching questions too about what will happen when the
caravan of global condemnation moves on.
As Joan Smith points out in her trenchant analysis today, the flurry of
diplomatic activism by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary achieved
almost precisely nothing last week. Gordon Brown broke off from conference
business in Bournemouth to warn the Burmese military that "the age of
impunity is over". He wrote letters to the UN and the EU. Mr Miliband flew
to New York for a meeting of the UN Security Council. But China and Russia
vetoed a proposal for sanctions; while the EU, the Association of South East
Asian Nations and the British Government have done nothing more concrete
than urge restraint on the Burmese authorities. Only the US has actually
done anything, tightening its own sanctions.
That does not mean, of course, that Mr Brown was wrong to warn the Burmese
regime. On the cold-war principle of never being sure what one's adversary
might do, the mere threat of consequences for human rights abuses could have
held the generals back from an even more brutal crackdown on the protests.
But, as became quickly clear last week, effective international pressure on
the Burmese regime can come only from China. In that sense, the situation is
analogous to that of Zimbabwe, where Mugabe's survival depends on South
The question then becomes how best to bring these powers, long regarded as
secondary players in international diplomacy, to assume their
responsibilities. Propping up the Burmese junta is only one of a list of
charges against China. The occupation of Tibet is the longest-standing.
There is the persecution of the Falun Gong. And there is China's use of its
UN veto (with Russia, again) to obstruct more vigorous action to protect the
people of Darfur.
Of course, we cannot fight all these battles at once. Indeed, on its own,
Britain cannot fight any of them. But we have to try our utmost, as Mr
Brown's school motto had it. We have to work with patient diplomacy to build
the alliances to make sanctions - and military action if necessary - work.
We must not allow Tony Blair's disastrous involvement in Iraq to discredit
the idea of humanitarian intervention altogether.
Part of the driving force behind Mr Blair's foreign policy was the laudable
desire to end tyranny around the world. One of the weaker arguments against
the Iraq intervention - when there were so many strong ones - was that we
should not act against Saddam Hussein if we did nothing about repressive
regimes in Burma, North Korea or Zimbabwe. It was an argument with which Mr
Blair was rightly impatient: "Let's get rid of them all - I don't because I
can't, but when you can you should." Unfortunately, just because you can
does not mean you should. The rest, including Mr Blair's premiership, is
Now, with a new Prime Minister and a new Foreign Secretary, we have the
chance to learn the lessons of the past decade. "The lesson is that it's not
good enough to have good intentions," David Miliband declared ingenuously
from the conference platform last week. Another lesson was that, "while
there are military victories, there never is a military solution".
Fortunately, perhaps, for him and Mr Brown, there are no sensible military
options in Burma, Zimbabwe or Sudan. Meanwhile, intensive diplomatic effort
seems to be paying dividends in North Korea.
When it comes to putting pressure on South Africa to act in Zimbabwe, the
situation is complicated by Mugabe's playing of the anti-colonial card. In
the case of China, however, it happens that there is something that Beijing
wants from the West that could be withheld: our participation in next year's
Olympic Games. It is surely time at least to ask the question: should we
take part in the Olympics while the Chinese leadership shows such disrespect
for universal human rights?
From The Sunday Independent (SA), 30 September
Zimbabwe has told foreign-owned companies unhappy with a controversial
"company seizure" law approved this week "to pack their bags and go". The
new Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill approved by parliament this week
compels all foreign-owned companies to sell at least 51 percent of their
equity to black Zimbabweans or risk losing their trading licences.
Last-minute appeals by international firms like the South African-owned
Stanbic Bank for the shelving of the law were ignored by President Robert
Mugabe's government.Jerry Vilakazi, chief executive officer of Business
Unity South Africa, expressed serious fears for South African investment in
Zimbabwe after approval of the new law. In response, Paul Mangwana,
Zimbabwe's minister of indigenisation, said disenchanted foreign companies
were free "to pack their bags and go."
Mangwana, who will set timeframes for when foreign companies will have to
comply with the law, told journalists in Harare that his government did not
care if foreign companies left Zimbabwe if they were unhappy. "If they don't
want [the law] they can go. We don't care," Mangwana said. "If they feel
that we went into the bush [liberation war] for them to enjoy our wealth
then they can leave. We are talking about the total liberation of this
country. I have no apologies for that." Vilakazi said he hoped that "a
political commercial framework" would be found to enable South African
businesses to continue operating in Zimbabwe without being hindered by the
new law, which now awaits an almost automatic approval by the lame senate
before Mugabe signs it into law. Mangwana will be vested with sweeping
powers to withdraw the licences of any companies that fail to comply with
the new law.
Wilfred Mlambo, an analyst and Zimbabwe-watcher, said it was truly tragic
that such sweeping powers had been vested in an "irresponsible minister" who
seemed to have no clue about how a modern economy functioned in an
increasingly globalised world. "I cannot frankly see how Zimbabwe will now
survive after the passage of yet another insane law that has virtually
destroyed any prospects for increased foreign investment ." he said.
Mangwana dismissed any criticisms of the powers vested in him under the new
law, saying such powers were in fact necessary for him to be effective in
overseeing the implementation of the new law. "Why should a minister oversee
such a process and not have real powers?" he asked.
Apart from targeting the well- established businesses already operating in
Zimbabwe, the bill also requires majority equity to be given to black
Zimbabweans by "every business that is being transferred, merged,
restructured, unbundled or de-merged, and in any new investments of a
prescribed value". Mangwana is empowered to approve or reject any
transactions which don't meet the terms stipulated in the law. Government
critics say the new tough empowerment law virtually amounts to expropriation
of businesses. Although the government has promised to establish a fund to
finance blacks in buying majority equity in the foreign companies, no one
believes that the bankrupt Mugabe government will ever be able to raise the
resources to achieve this. Critics say companies would ultimately be forced
to relinquish the equity for a song as they would be under pressure to
comply with the law or risk losing their licences.
They cite the example of white farmers who were promised compensation for
improvements on their seized land. Most of the farmers ended up giving up on
their claims, as such compensation was never forthcoming. Critics accuse
Mugabe of introducing the tough law as another avenue for rewarding cronies
ahead of elections next year, in the same way that he had used land reforms
to reward his supporters by awarding them huge farms seized from whites. The
land seizure programme is widely blamed for Zimbabwe's current economic woes
as it destroyed the mainstay agricultural sector. But Mangwana said the land
reform process had succeeded in giving land to its rightful owners, and its
"success" had informed the new law to give blacks majority equity in all
foreign firms in Zimbabwe. Mangwana said all foreign firms, including those
listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, would have to comply with the new
law. He warned companies against "fronting", saying all transactions would
be investigated to ensure that they were legitimate and that blacks were not
simply being used as fronts.
Dear Constituents and Friends,
I have received a flurry of calls and letters in the past couple of weeks about MDC supporting the 18th Amendment, expressing all shades of opinion but mainly requesting an explanation of what exactly is going on! This is understandable, since our position appeared to come like a bolt from the blue, and I can well understand that some of you are either angry or confused, or both, because of lack of information. You are perfectly correct – it is my duty as your MP to inform you of what is going on, and to hear your opinions on these matters, so that I can represent you fully.
What a pity that
Our support for Amendment 18 is predicated on our clear understanding that this will be the last “piecemeal amendment” to the national Constitution, and that it is merely the first step in a process of resolving our national crisis and putting an end to the suffering of all Zimbabweans. This is the first result of the SADC-led talks between ZanuPF and MDC to be made public, since absolute secrecy about the substance of the negotiations has been a key requirement by the mediators. The reason for this is to keep public pressure off the two sides so that real progress can be made. You may agree or disagree with this requirement, but it is a requirement both parties have sworn to respect.
As both Chinamasa and Ncube indicated in Parliament during the debate (and I commend that Hansard to your attention) discussion is still going on concerning a new constitution, electoral changes and various other serious concerns which need to be addressed to bring our nation out of the dire situation in which we find ourselves. The mediators have given their guarantee that they will not allow either side to renege on agreements reached. So while we remain suspicious and distrustful, we do have a guarantee to rely upon, should things start to go wrong. Nor are our negotiators, Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube, as naïve or duplicitous as many would have you believe.
However, just suppose for a moment that ZanuPF goes back on its word and reneges on the agreements, are we better off or worse off with Amendment 18 than we were before it? Admittedly, we don’t really need 80 more MPs or a bigger Senate, but it is still an improvement to have all members of the House of Assembly elected rather than giving Mugabe the power to appoint 1/5 of the members as at present. Likewise the fact that the Electoral Commission will be more independent (with Parliament now having a say in appointment) and that delimitation will now be done by that commission rather than the present Delimitation Commission means we are better off, not worse off. A further advantage is that wards cannot now be split into two or more constituencies. Residents of Mabelreign will remember their outrage in 2005 when they discovered half of them had been “demoted” to Dzivarasekwa constituency!
Meanwhile the SADC negotiations are still under way, so I ask you to try and be positive and have faith, and to watch for the outcome of these negotiations. Certainly you can send any input you want considered to me for onward transmission to our negotiators, and I will ensure that it reaches them.
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill
It is unfortunate that ZanuPF still pursues its mad policies despite the negotiations, but of course, we cannot expect them to sit back and fold their arms quietly while MDC moves forward! It is natural for them to continue trying to grab whatever they can, all the more so when they see the writing on the wall. Thus the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill was bulldozed through the House of Assembly this week, despite the best efforts of economists, the business community and others to make them see the insanity of taking such a step when our economy is already on its knees. What I find most objectionable, and highlighted in the debate, is that the Bill is essentially racist, and will create two classes of Zimbabwean citizen, a black class who can control large companies, banks etc, while the lesser white Zimbabwean citizens will be excluded from equal opportunity because of the colonial past! MDC MPs debated hotly against certain aspects of this Bill, but were outnumbered in the end, of course.
Appeal to supermarkets and food shops to give priority to sick and elderly
Meanwhile the so-called Price War continues
unabated, not so much the price war itself now - prices are still increasing on
a daily basis! - as the disastrous and predictable consequences of empty
supermarket shelves, huge queues for basic food items and a thriving black
market. I appeal to all those who own or
know owners of supermarkets and food shops to give priority to the elderly and
sick, whenever a basic item comes into stock.
Please let them go to the front of the queue, always, so that they do not
have to endure unnecessary pain and exhaustion.
It is a convention in
United front against ZanuPF for 2008 elections
My MDC-Mutambara formation is still trying to persuade the other formation of the critical need for a united front to fight ZanuPF in the 2008 election. Indeed, Mutambara is still prepared to back Tsvangirai as Presidential candidate in such a united front. Sadly, certain members of the Tsvangirai formation are against this idea, and continue to call for their side to go it alone “to prove to the Mutambara group that they have no following, and to bury them during that election.” This is extremely short-sighted and selfish, when our entire nation is bleeding to death. We cannot afford a divided opposition and a split vote next year. It is our hope that their leadership will soon see reason, but it is also important that anyone with connections in that group lobbies them to agree to a united front with all other democratic forces, including ourselves. We owe this to all those who yearn for positive change, and to those who have suffered and died trying to bring about that change.
Trudy Stevenson MP
Harare North Constituency
30th Sep 2007 07:54 GMT
MISA-ZIMBABWE Position on Constitutional Amendment Number 18 and the SADC
MISA-Zimbabwe takes note of recent changes made to the Zimbabwe constitution
by the two main political parties in Zimbabwe . MISA-Zimbabwe also takes
note of the SADC initiated talks between the MDC and ZANU PF.
We believe that if these talks are held with sincerity and participation by
all interests groups, Zimbabwe 's many challenges might be resolved.
MISA-Zimbabwe expresses concern that the recent changes to the Zimbabwe
constitution have been prematurely celebrated as marking a new era in the
fortunes of Zimbabwe.
We, therefore, question and caution that the Zimbabwe crisis cannot be
reduced to a constitutional debate. And neither will the recent
constitutional changes solve the fundamental problems affecting Zimbabwe.
More still need to be done to change a political culture, characterised by
serious repression as a result of bad laws, violence, fear and intimidation.
We remind ZANU PF and the MDC that the challenges Zimbabwe face are
multifaceted and cannot be resolved by the two parties alone, more so in
All organised groups, religious bodies, business and political parties have
an interest in the present circumstances and future of Zimbabwe. It is in
this regard that mechanisms have to be found for all players to be involved
in the constitutional reform process as well as contribute to any process in
which the future of Zimbabwe is under discussion.
For this reason, we remind ZANU PF and the MDC that any future processes on
issues of the constitution should be all encompassing and also that the
crisis of governance we face should be addressed more broadly beyond
MISA-Zimbabwe further cautions colleagues in civil society not to take
absolute positions that might be detrimental to an amicable settlement to
the Zimbabwe crisis.
The SADC initiative, flawed as it is, presents a starting point to
pressurise politicians for inclusiveness and a broad discussion on the
challenges facing Zimbabwe . As MISA-Zimbabwe we believe that repressive
laws including AIPPA, POSA, Broadcasting law, Interception of Communications
Act among many others should be repealed and the rights of the media and
free expression guaranteed constitutionally.
We remind colleagues that apart from bad laws Zimbabweans needs to relook at
their political culture and value systems. As MISA-Zimbabwe we take note
that the bombings that the Daily News suffered were a heinous criminal act
that cannot be explained in constitutional terms, but in terms of a
political culture of impunity, hatred and inculcating fear.
For this reason we urge that we look at the challenges we face more broadly.
Civil society has an obligation to remain true to the principles that we
But at the same time we should reflect on our actions and positions so that
we do not miss opportunities to be part of a solution to the Zimbabwe
Long live Zimbabwe!
Statement delivered by MISA-Zimbabwe chairperson Loughty Dube at the Civil
Society meeting in Bulawayo, 29 September 2007.
Tyranny and Disease
The Destruction of Health Care in Zimbabwe
September 28, 2007
Healthcare in Zimbabwe has collapsed under the misrule of the Mugabe regime, according to a new report released today by Africa Fighting Malaria and Bulawayo’s Archbishop Pius Ncube. With life expectancy possibly as low as 30 years and with the public health system all but destroyed, Zimbabwe faces a humanitarian disaster.
Most people living with HIV have little or no access to treatment or any medical assistance and adult mortality has risen alarmingly in recent years. The number of orphans and vulnerable children increases on a weekly basis with over 30% of children considered vulnerable. Food shortages, hyper inflation, in excess of 80% unemployment and many households headed by grandparents mean that there is little prospect children will enjoy a healthy and normal childhood.
The incidence of TB has risen faster in Zimbabwe than in the rest of Africa and with erratic and limited TB treatment, drug resistant TB is likely to spread, threatening neighbouring countries as more and more Zimbabweans flee. Malaria control is haphazard and few have access to effective malaria treatment; though this is one area where the South African government has provided practical assistance that benefits ordinary Zimbabweans.
Malnutrition, unsafe water and sanitation and the pitiful state of hospitals, often lacking basic supplies such as antibiotics and painkillers, threaten even the healthiest Zimbabweans. The situation, according to Archbishop Pius Ncube “is utterly disgraceful and has put Zimbabwe back to the dark ages. Mugabe tries to blame anyone and everyone for the current crisis,” he continues, “but it is Mugabe’s greed and demented desire for power that has driven so many Zimbabweans to their early grave.”
The tacit and often explicit support that the Mugabe government has received from almost all African countries has exacerbated the situation, according to the study. Richard Tren, director of Africa Fighting Malaria, considers that “the slow and painful destruction of Zimbabwe could continue for years as long as the political elite in Africa support Mugabe and turn a blind eye to the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.”
Every election in Zimbabwe is preceded by a dramatic escalation in state-orchestrated violence and already the months leading up to the 2008 elections demonstrate the government is acting brazenly and with impunity. Reported human rights violations between January and July 31, 2006 totaled 3,468; the reported violations over the same period in 2007 have increased by almost 90% to 6,527 incidents.
The government’s most savage mass attack on the opposition to date took place on Sunday March 11, 2007 when officials, supporters and church groups were gathering for a Save Zimbabwe prayer meeting. More than 200 opposition members sustained appalling injuries and many were subsequently denied medical treatment at government hospitals. Those with the most serious injuries had to be flown to South Africa for emergency surgery.
It is against this backdrop that the authors of the report call for strong and firm pressure on Zimbabwe’s neighbours from donor nations and other countries that support democracy and good governance. Among the authors recommendations include a boycott by countries and individuals of the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa because of the Mbeki government’s support for the Zanu PF government.
Roger Bate, fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, considers that “this will send a strong message to political leaders in Africa. It is not acceptable to support a regime that disregards the value of human life in such a way. African leaders expect donor nations to pay for AIDS, TB and malaria treatment in Africa yet they treat the one man that has done immeasurable harm to healthcare as a hero. It is illogical and inconsistent to continue to provide aid to these nations.”
Individuals, sports teams and governments from around the world hastened the end of Apartheid in South Africa with cultural and sporting boycotts. The time has come for similar tactics to rescue Zimbabweans from their current misery and it is clear that boycotting South Africa, because of its strategic importance to the Mugabe regime, is key to securing peace and prosperity in Zimbabwe.
Richard Tren Africa Fighting Malaria, Washington DC
Email: email@example.com; Tel: +1 202 420 1837
Roger Bate American Enterprise Institute, Washington DC
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: +1 202 828 6029
Link for report: http://www.fightingmalaria.org:80/pdfs/Zim_Health_Sept_07.pdf
About AFM: Africa Fighting Malaria is a non-profit health advocacy group founded in 2000 and based in South Africa and the United States. Our mission is to make malaria control more transparent, responsive and effective. We conduct research into the social and economic aspects of malaria and raise the profile of the disease and the issues surrounding its control in the local and international media. AFM strives to hold public institutions accountable for funding and implementing effective, integrated and country-driven malaria control policies and to promote successful private sector initiatives to control the disease.
From Fars (Iran), 29 September
Tehran - Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi called on Iran
to make investments in his country's industrial and agricultural sectors and
transfer the know-how for the manufacture of agricultural machineries and
pesticides. Mumbengegwi made the remarks in a meeting with his Iranian
counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki on the sidelines of the 62nd UN General
Assembly meeting in New York, a statement released by the Foreign Ministry's
Information and Press Bureau said. During the meeting, Mottaki described the
two countries' relations as good, and assured that Tehran would expand its
ties with Zimbabwe in the form of mutual cooperation and developmental aids.
The Zimbabwean foreign minister, for his part, noted domestic developments
in his country, and said, "Due to Zimbabwe's deep dependence on Britain and
the problems posed by London to reforms in my country, our government is
entangled with many problems, including the sharp increase in prices and the
lack of raw materials for our manufacturing factories. Under such conditions
we expect Iran to make investments in our industrial and agricultural
sectors and transfer the know-how for the manufacture of farming machineries
and pesticides," he continued.
30th Sep 2007 07:46 GMT
By Nyasha Nyaira
BRADFORD - Human rights activists, representatives from the British labour
unions and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members and
supporters yesterday demonstrated over the situation in Zimbabwe after a
prayer meeting for the country and its people was held at the Anglican
People came out in large numbers for the prayer meeting at the Cathedral as
Zimbabweans in the area teamed up with other activists apparently irked by
reports on the British media in the past week of the worsening situation
back in Zimbabwe.
Alexander Chipatiko, the branch chair of the MDC in Bradford, who helped
organise yesterday's protests said:
"It has been sickening to the core to watch our brothers and sisters back
home suffering in the way they are. Heraing over the phone is different from
seeing them being unable to buy any food, using dirty water to survive,
border jumping to get a life elsewhere, risking their lives. Things have to
change and it is us Zimbabweans everywhere who can help our country by
making sure the issue remains high on the agenda and in people's minds."
He said the aim of the prayer meeting and the protests was to ask the
international community to work with the southern African Development
Community (SADC) in trying to find a quick solution to the 10-year crisis in
"People are dying everyday but some leaders in Africa and elsewhere still
support the man who is responsible. Zimbabweans are dying everywhere - even
in their new chose countries because of stress and issues related to the
situation in their country. We need to unite to rid ourselves of Zanu PF and
Robert Mugabe," said Chipatiko.
One protester, Edith Mambondiani said: "Hospitals in our country are now
virtually death beds - people go there to die rather than be saved because
there are no doctors, no medication, no equipment and the situation repeats
itself in every sector. Let us come out in our numbers when such protests
are called so we can pray for our country. We are tired of all this, it has
After the prayer meeting the protesters went into the town centre where they
had a petition destined for the House of Commons signed by over 200 people.
In the petition they want the British government to follow through its
threats to tighten the noose around Mugabe and his colleagues so democracy
can be restored in Zimbabwe.
Pressure, they said, should be maintained on Mugabe and his Zanu PF