April 10, 2008 Edition 2
Fiona Forde and Reuters
The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission has been moved to a secret location and
is now subject to national security, while it has emerged that high-ranking
army officers have been deployed to masquerade as war veterans during the
expected run-off campaign.
It is understood the state-run electoral body, which is in possession of the
presidential ballot papers, was moved early on Tuesday.
Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and independent
Simba Makoni, both of whom ran against President Robert Mugabe on March 29,
have been denied access to the electoral commission team and have been
unable to find out where it has been moved.
"Simba asked that some of his team be allowed access to the commission, but
he was refused," Kudzai Mdudazi, a member of Makoni's team, said last night.
The MDC was told that it did "not have the right to be present" for the
final count of the presidential votes. This was now a "state secret of
national security", the party was told.
Until Tuesday, the electoral commission had been using Rainbow Towers here,
site of the former Sheraton Hotel. There had been signs that its operations
were being wound down, although confirmation was not forthcoming until
"If the verification process is done in private, then nothing they say at
this stage can have any credibility as the results will have been so heavily
diluted," Mdudazi said.
Other sources think the regime's resorting to such extreme measures suggests
desperation in Mugabe's camp.
"Mugabe must have gone down badly if this is what they are doing," said one.
The source believes there will be a run-off, but is unable to say when.
"Zanu-PF will take as much time as they want," he said.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the ruling party's tallies of the
results showed a run-off would be necessary between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
"None of the candidates has been able to secure (the number of votes)
required to avoid a run-off."
Meanwhile, a number of well-placed sources claim senior army officers are
being deployed to hot spots around the country to masquerade as war veterans
during the run-off campaign.
According to a list of names released to the Cape Times, the head of the
Defence Forces, Constantine Chiwenga, is to direct the estimated 200
officers who are to mobilise support for Mugabe with the intention, one
source said, of "squeezing the space for the MDC".
Also listed are the officers who are to assist in the operation. They
include Lieutenant-General P V Sibanda and Major General Nick Dube.
Tsvangirai was in Botswana last night as part of a whistle-stop tour of the
region to appeal for urgent intervention.
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, chair of the Southern African Development
Community, has called an urgent summit of regional leaders for Saturday. It
is unclear whether Mugabe will attend.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: April 10, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe said Thursday it was prepared to brief an
emergency summit of southern African leaders on the situation in the
country, but did not indicate whether President Robert Mugabe would attend.
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said that although it was not normal
for another country — in this case Zambia — to call such a summit, "Zimbabwe
would appraise the regional bloc of political developments in the wake of
the elections," the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says its candidate, Morgan
Tsvangirai, won the March 29 vote outright, and accused Mugabe of delaying
the results so he can orchestrate a runoff and give ruling party militants
time to intimidate voters and ensure he wins a second election.
Tsvangirai embarked on a trip around the region Wednesday, beginning with
Botswana, to ask Mugabe's peers to push him to end the standoff. He met with
Botswana's President Seretse Ian Khama and hoped to travel to four or five
other countries before Saturday, opposition officials said.
His spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said Thursday that Tsvangirai would ask them
to "put pressure and counsel Mugabe to accept the verdict of the people."
"The issues are to help Zimbabweans realize or resolve their crisis. We have
done our bit and Mugabe was defeated," Chamisa said in a telephone
With no resolution in sight 11 days after the election, Zambian President
Levy Mwanawasa called an emergency summit of southern African leaders for
Saturday to discuss the crisis, Zambia's information minister said.
Mwanawasa had originally planned to send a delegation of former heads of
state to Zimbabwe but decided to hold an urgent summit instead because the
situation had grown so serious, Zambian state radio reported.
African leaders previously had deferred to South African President Thabo
Mbeki and his strategy of "quiet diplomacy" on dealing with Zimbabwe.
Mwanawasa has stood out as the only southern African leader to publicly
criticize Mugabe's policies, last year likening the country's economy to "a
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said regional leaders should push for
Mugabe's resignation at the summit.
"We don't know why the world has to wait until dead bodies start littering
the streets of Harare," he said.
Biti indicated the opposition would boycott any runoff.
"Morgan Tsvangirai won this election without the need for a runoff, and we
will not accept any other result except one that confirms that we won this
election," he said.
The High Court will decide Monday whether to grant an opposition request for
the election results to be released, lawyers for the MDC and the election
Mugabe has virtually conceded he did not win the election and appeared to be
campaigning for a runoff by intimidating his foes and fanning racial
Biti accused the ruling party of deploying senior army and police officials
across the country to "oversee the reversal process."
Desmond Mufunde, a newly elected MDC councilman from the rural Gweru
district, said soldiers attacked some people in his district last weekend.
"I still don't know what was the reason and why," he said. "We're trying to
establish what happened."
Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers' Union accused ruling party supporters of
forcing dozens of white farmers off their land and ransacking some of their
homes. Such seizures started in 2000 as Mugabe's response to his first
defeat at the polls — a loss in a referendum designed to entrench his
Farmers warned that continued chaos could endanger the wheat crop, vital to
a nation that has grown deeply dependent on food aid during the worsening
"The planting for wheat will be in a few weeks time and if it is not in,
we'll go starving again," said farm union spokesman Mike Clark.
Pressure continued to build on the government, with Australia adding to
calls from the United Nations, Britain, the European Union and the U.S. to
release the vote results.
Simba Makoni, a former finance minister who received less than 10 percent of
the presidential vote, according to independent tallies, said he was baffled
by the delay in releasing the results.
The U.S.-based National Democratic Institute said Wednesday that one of its
staff members was freed after being held by Zimbabwean authorities for six
Dileepan Sivapathasundaram, a U.S. citizen who had been working with local
groups who were monitoring election monitors, was detained at Harare's
airport as he tried to leave the country last Thursday, the nonprofit group
said. He has left the country.
Wednesday, 9th April 2008
Peter Oborne says that the post-electoral limbo leaves Mugabe with a series
of unpalatable options, the armed forces in disarray and Zimbabweans with a
sense of grim foreboding
On the night after the presidential elections 12 days ago, a British
diplomat, Philip Barclay, witnessed the count at the little outpost of
Bikisa deep in rural Masvingo. This part of Zimbabwe is Zanu PF heartland.
In all five presidential elections since independence in 1981 the people of
Bikisa had voted solidly for Robert Mugabe — and there was little
expectation of anything different this time.
Barclay reports feeling faint with sheer amazement when it became clear that
the largest pile of votes was for Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Just 44 people in Bikisa voted
for President Mugabe, against an overwhelming 167 for Tsvangirai.
Reports from other areas soon made it clear that Bikisa was not exceptional,
and that Mugabe had been voted out of power in a political earthquake. By
late in the afternoon on 30 March — the day after the election — the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, an independent body charged with overseeing
the poll, was in a position to make a cautious estimate of the result. It
judged that Morgan Tsvangirai had secured almost 60 per cent of the vote,
more than double that of Robert Mugabe with 27 per cent.
Sources say that when this news was brought to the President his first
reaction was genuine incredulity. He is now so out of touch, and so used to
winning elections, that he had felt confident of a comfortable majority.
Incredulity swiftly turned to anger, and Mugabe grimly ordered the Electoral
Commission to declare him the victor. This command was resisted by very
brave election officials. They received unexpected support, however, from
senior personnel within the Zimbabwe state security apparatus, fearful of
the public order consequences that would certainly flow from such blatant
fixing of the result.
At this stage South Africa’s President Mbeki tried to solve the problem.
Reportedly Mbeki also wished the result to be rigged, though not as
blatantly as Mugabe. He seems to have proposed that the ZEC should sharply
downgrade Tsvangirai’s share of the vote, sharply upgrade Mugabe to a more
respectable 40 per cent and dramatically increase the share of the vote
enjoyed by the renegade Zanu PF presidential candidate Simba Makoni.
Simba Makoni is Mbeki’s personal choice as the next president of Zimbabwe.
There is some evidence that he is also supported by the US state department.
A highly intelligent and well-educated man, Makoni was a member of the
Mugabe inner circle for many years, while maintaining warm links to foreign
observers and exercising care to evade personal responsibility for the worst
of the regime’s atrocities. He only stood for the presidency after being
given the green light by Mbeki earlier this year. Unlike Morgan Tsvangirai,
a former miner of incredible courage but with little formal education,
Makoni is the kind of politician who appeals profoundly to the bureaucratic
Mbeki, quietly backed by the United States, hoped to induce Mugabe to step
down and get Makoni to stand in his stead. This plan had definite logic.
Makoni, though he will never be forgiven by Mugabe for what the President
sees as an act of unspeak- able betrayal, retains the strongest links with
Zanu PF. This means that he would probably be acceptable to the senior
generals and policemen who hold the key to Zimbabwe’s immediate future, and
to whom Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change is utterly repugnant.
By the start of this week it was beginning to be clear that the Makoni
wheeze was not going to fly. The trouble is that — like many politicians
beloved of the official class — Mbeki’s protégé lacks mass support. The
failure of the South African intervention means there was stalemate in
Zimbabwe as The Spectator went to press. Basically, President Mugabe has
only three options, and time is running out very fast indeed.
The first of these is to mount a coup d’état, the solution which is
preferred by Mugabe’s inner circle. Significantly, it seems to be favoured
by General Constantine Chiwenga, commander in chief of the armed forces, and
by Air Force Marshall Perence Shiri, Mugabe’s blood relation and close ally.
It must be borne in mind that senior figures such as these do not merely
stand to lose power if Mugabe wins. They also face the prospect of being
brought to justice for the crimes of the Mugabe regime. It was Perence
Shiri, for instance, who led the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigades in the
Matabeleland genocide of the early 1980s.
The problem with the idea of a coup d’état is not really the international
condemnation that would inevitably result. The Southern African Development
Community (SADC) might not like it, but under the prostrate guidance of
Thabo Mbeki it would never lift a finger.
The true problem is different: there are real reasons to doubt whether
commanders like Shiri (whose Chinese Mig fighters were buzzing low over
Bulawayo in an act of naked intimidation when I was there two weeks ago)
have the support of their troops. There is overwhelming anecdotal evidence
that ordinary soldiers and policemen, even some members of the feared
Central Intelligence Organisation, have turned against Mugabe. The director
of intelligence, Happyton Bonyongwe, is said to be quietly supporting
Mugabe’s second option is to declare the recent elections null and order a
re-run. There is strong evidence that the President is preparing the way for
this. He is already taking revenge, for example, on the hapless Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission, several of whose members have been arrested over the
last few days. In a marvellous irony, they are being accused of rigging the
result against Zanu PF.
If the President calls a second election, it will be marked by all the
intimidation and horror which was to a certain extent lacking on 29 March.
Mugabe’s green bombers, his licensed torturers and murderers who bear close
comparison to Hitler’s Brownshirts, are already off the leash.
Finally, Mugabe could stand down. Here one key ingredient would be a
guarantee that he — and the scores of murderers and torturers who are linked
to him — can live the rest of their lives in the peace and tranquillity they
have denied so many others. Granting Mugabe immunity from prosecution is
hard to engineer and would be unpalatable for some. Others may judge it well
Meanwhile, everyone waits for the old man’s next move. I am told by a friend
who runs one of Zimbabwe’s very few remaining factories that the mood among
the workforce has changed very sharply over the last 48 hours. Hope has
turned to bemusement and then — on Tuesday morning — to a silent, pervasive
sense of terror, as if something horrible might be just about to happen.
April 10 2008 at 07:15AM
By Moshoeshoe Monare, Boyd Webb, Hans Pienaar & Fiona Forde
Tension rose in Harare on Wednesday night as troop numbers on the
street drastically increased, and Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa called
for an urgent summit of Southern African Development Community leaders.
The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been moved to a secret
location and placed under national security, while senior army officials
have been deployed to masquerade as war veterans during the anticipated
It is understood that the state-run electoral body, which is in
possession of the much-anticipated presidential ballot papers, was relocated
in the early hours of Tuesday to an unknown location.
Both Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni - who challenged Robert Mugabe
in the March 29 race - have been denied access to the ZEC team and are
unable to ascertain its whereabouts.
"Simba asked that some of his team be allowed access to the ZEC, but
he was refused," Kudzai Mdudazi, a member of Makoni's, team, told The
Mercury on Wednesday night.
In a similar move, the MDC were told that they "do not have the right
to be present" for the final presidential count, which is now a "state
secret of national security".
"If the verification process is done in private, then nothing that
they say can have any credibility as the results will have been so heavily
diluted," Mdudazi said.
That the regime has resorted to such extreme measures is indicative of
its desperation, it is believed.
"Mugabe must have gone down badly if this is what they are doing,"
suggested a second source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Although the tactics paint the likelihood of an imminent Mugabe
"victory", the source still predicted a rerun as opposed to an overall
victory for the incumbent leader, but was unable to say when.
"Zanu-PF will take as much time as it wants," he said.
Meanwhile, a number of credible sources claim that senior army
officers are being deployed to hot spots around the country to masquerade as
war veterans in the anticipated run-off campaign.
According to a list released to The Mercury, the head of the defence
force, Gen Chiwenga, will direct the estimated 200 army officers, who will
mobilise support for Mugabe, "so as to squeeze the space for the MDC".
While Zimbabwe faced its 12th day without results, Tsvangirai was in
Botswana on Wednesday night as part of his whistle-stop tour of the region
to appeal for urgent intervention.
His visit coincided with Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa's call for
an urgent summit of SADC leaders, which is to be held in Zambia on Saturday.
Tsvangirai called on regional leaders to tell Mugabe to stand down
when they met at the summit, reports Sapa-AFP.
"We hope that Mugabe will be asked to stand down," the party's
secretary-general, Tendai Biti, said.
South African foreign affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said on
Wednesday night that only once an official invitation was received would the
government consider participation, and the composition of a delegation.
President Thabo Mbeki was on Wednesday night making his way home after
attending the India-Africa summit in New Delhi. He is expected to head for
Zambia this weekend.
Meanwhile, a judge wrapped up hearing an opposition petition demanding
the immediate release of the election results on Wednesday, and said he
would deliver his judgment on Monday.
"Conscious of the urgency of the matter, I should be ready for a
judgment on Monday afternoon," Judge Tendai Uchena told the high court in
Harare on Wednesday.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Mercury on
April 10, 2008
by Godfrey Marawanyika 1 hour, 53 minutes ago
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe faced mounting pressure Thursday
over presidential poll results as rival Morgan Tsvangirai ramped up his
charm offensive ahead of a regional weekend summit on the crisis.
While President Mugabe has lain low at home, Tsvangirai has launched a
diplomatic drive in recent days, visiting neighbours and pleading for help
in forcing out the result of March 29 elections he claims to have won
In an interview on Wednesday the opposition leader accused 84-year-old
Mugabe of a "de facto military coup", saying he was deploying troops around
the country to try and intimidate people ahead of a possible run-off
The Zimbabwe opposition's bid to build up pressure on Mugabe after the
disputed polls bore fruit on Wednesday as plans were unveiled for a weekend
summit to discuss the escalating crisis.
While Tsvangirai toured the region, urging leaders to prevent Zimbabwe from
sliding into chaos, the president of neighbouring Zambia said he would
gather his peers for talks on Saturday aimed at breaking the deadlock.
Twelve days on from polling, there has still been no word on the outcome of
the presidential election, with officials maintaining the line that they are
still busy collating and verifying the votes.
But the announcement by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, the current chair
of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), is set to
add to the pressure for the results to be finally unveiled.
Mugabe, who has presided over his country's descent from regional model to
economic basket case in the 28 years since independence, has often bridled
at any kind of outside intervention.
The former British colony now has a six-figure inflation rate, unemployment
is beyond 80 percent while average life expectancy stands at 37 years.
Stepping up his rhetoric ahead of the summit, Tsvangirai painted a grim
picture of the situation in the country in an interview with Time magazine.
"The military leaders in the establishment are trying to subvert the will of
"This is, in a sense, a de facto military coup. They have rolled out
military forces across the whole country, to prepare for a run-off and try
to cow the population. It's an attempt to try to create conditions for
Mugabe to win," he said.
Opposition hopes that the country's high court would order the electoral
commission to announce the results before the summit were dashed when a
judge said he would only decide whether to issue such a ruling on Monday.
If the commission announces that none of the candidates has won more than 50
percent of the votes, a run-off should be held under Zimbabwean law on April
But Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has
already called for total recount of the presidential vote and is contesting
enough seats to overturn its loss in the parliamentary poll held alongside
the presidential election.
Tsvangirai, 56, was expected to travel on to Zambia and Mozambique after
holding talks Wednesday with new Botswana President Ian Khama.
Thu 10 Apr 2008, 1:16 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE, April 10 (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe's government said on
Thursday it had no problem with Zambia's decision to hold an emergency
regional summit on Zimbabwe this weekend but made clear it had not sought
In the first direct regional intervention over Zimbabwe's election deadlock,
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said he had called the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) meeting for Saturday because of "deepening
problems" in Harare.
Mwanawasa, SADC's current chairman, gave no other details.
Concern has mounted among Zimbabwe's neighbours because no final result has
been announced yet from the March 29 poll, dashing hope of quick action to
turn round a ruined economy that has sent millions of refugees fleeing to
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which urged SADC
to ask Mugabe to step down, says the Zimbabwean leader is prolonging the
delay while he plans a violent response to his biggest defeat since taking
power in 1980.
SADC has been criticised in the past for failing to pressure Mugabe despite
the economic collapse in Zimbabwe, now suffering the world's highest
hyper-inflation, chronic shortages of food and fuel and a near worthless
"That's normal within SADC ... to call for meetings. We are neighbours and
that is the spirit of SADC to meet and consider anything," Information
Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu was quoted as saying by the state-run daily
"As far as we are concerned we have not asked for assistance. We are waiting
for (the electoral commission) to do its work, verifying the results because
it should announce the correct results, so we don't see any problem," said
He said the electoral commission was "in the final stages" of its work.
The Herald reported the government was prepared to brief SADC on
developments in Zimbabwe since the presidential, parliamentary, senate and
local government ballots.
On Wednesday, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said ruling ZANU-PF party
tallies of the presidential vote showed a run-off would be necessary between
Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Chinamasa said the electoral commission had ordered five constituency
recounts in the parliamentary ballot in which ZANU-PF lost control of the
chamber for the first time.
The MDC rejected a runoff and recounts, saying it would accept only an
outright Tsvangirai win as shown by its tallies.
Official results have not been released from the presidential poll.
Mwanawasa's summit call came after Jacob Zuma, leader of South Africa's
ruling African National Congress, said the results must be released,
signalling a new more robust reaction than President Thabo Mbeki who favours
"I think the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should have announced results by
now," Zuma, who rivals Mbeki as the most powerful man in South Africa and is
the frontrunner to succeed him in 2009, told the Star newspaper in
Mwanawasa told reporters in Lusaka on Wednesday: "Because of the deepening
problems in (Zimbabwe), I felt that this matter should be dealt with at
Mwanawasa briefly broke ranks with other African leaders last year when he
called Zimbabwe a "sinking Titanic" before getting back in line under
Chinamasa told reporters ZANU-PF was gearing up for a Mugabe-Tsvangirai
run-off. He rejected MDC victory claims and said there was no need for
"Nothing has transpired during and after the election to disturb
international peace and security," he said, accusing the MDC of echoing
calls by its "allies" in Washington and London.
Mugabe's critics blame him for reducing the population to misery by
mismanagement that has wrecked the Zimbabwean economy. He says the West is
(Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Stella Mapenzauswa, Nelson
Banya, Muchena Zigomo, Shapi Shacinda in Lusaka; writing by Barry Moody;
editing by Ralph Gowling)
By Matthew Green and Alec Russell, Southern Africa correspondent
Published: April 10 2008 04:31 | Last updated: April 10 2008 04:31
Zambia on Wednesday called for an emergency meeting of regional leaders to
discuss the intensifying crisis in Zimbabwe as the country’s authorities
faced the first signs of pressure from their neighbours to release the
results of last month’s presidential election.
The announcement of a presidential summit of the 14-nation Southern African
Development Community on Saturday came after Jacob Zuma, the leader of South
Africa’s ruling party, shrugged off the region’s traditional reluctance to
confront Robert Mugabe’s autocratic regime.
“I think the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should have announced results by
now,” Mr Zuma told the South African Broadcasting Corporation. Keeping
Zimbabwe and the world in suspense was wrong, he said. “I don’t think it
augurs very well.”
His comments followed a meeting with Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s
opposition leader, who has embarked on a tour of the region to try to gather
support. The comments were widely seen as signalling Mr Zuma’s intention of
taking a more robust stance towards Zimbabwe than Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s
president, who has championed a policy of “quiet diplomacy”.
Mr Mbeki led an unsuccessful attempt by the SADC to mediate between the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the ruling Zanu-PF party last
year. His comments at the weekend that the situation was “manageable”
infuriated the MDC.
In the first formal intervention by the region, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian
president, said he had called an emergency SADC meeting about Zimbabwe
“because of the deepening problems in the country”.
Eleven days after the polls closed, the state-appointed Zimbabwe Election
Commission had on Wednesday night still not released the results of the
presidential election. The MDC is claiming victory for Mr Tsvangirai but
independent projections suggest he might have just failed to cross the
threshold of 50 per cent plus one vote necessary to avoid a run-off.
The MDC accuses Mr Mugabe of fomenting violence to intimidate his opponents
ahead of a second round and has urged African nations to intervene. However,
SADC leaders have been reluctant to criticise a fellow African head of state
and former anti-colonial hero, and western diplomats believe they will balk
at taking a tough line.
The MDC is hoping the courts will compel the ZEC to release the results. But
George Chikumbirike, a lawyer representing the ZEC, argued that judges
should not compel the commission to publish the tally.
“It would be dangerous in my view to give an order because it might not be
complied with ... because of outside exigencies, which the party [ZEC] will
be unable to control,” he told a judge.
JOHANNESBURG, April 10 (AFP)
A leader of Zimbabwe's feared war veterans, hardline supporters of President
Robert Mugabe, on Thursday denied the invasion of white-owned farms in the
wake of a poll dispute.
"There are no farm invasions in Zimbabwe," national chairperson of the War
Veterans Association Jabulani Sibanda told SABC radio.
Sibanda said war veterans had merely gone to investigate claims that whites
were preparing to "take back the land" after opposition Movement for
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai declared he had won the
President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF has been fanning the flames of the
land issue in a bid to discredit Tsvangirai, whom they typecast as a
pro-Western stooge planning to resettle the whites.
The Commercial Farmers Union on Wednesday announced that more than 60
farmers had been driven off their land, in a reminder of President Robert
Mugabe's controversial land reforms which started in 2000.
"We've got over 60 farmers who have been evicted," Commercial Farmers Union
president Trevor Gifford told AFP. "They have been chased away and left
Gifford said a first black farmer had also been forced off by the so-called
war veterans, pro-Mugabe activists who were at the forefront of the
widespread seizure of white farms earlier in the decade.
However Sibanda said "anyone that had been thrown off the land, it is not by
"Some went to farms to investigate the groupings of white people. There is
no one that has been thrown off their land. War veterans are disciplined."
He warned against white people planning to take back farms given to blacks
during the land reforms.
"The people of this country, they are prepared and ready to protect their
country if there is an invasion, an invasion of any kind," he said.
10 April 2008
We are deeply concerned about the precarious situation Robert Mugabe has put
Zimbabwe in after his humiliating loss at the polls.
His loss of the parliamentary election is a clear sign that the
freedom-loving people of Zimbabwe want to see the back of the despot and his
Instead of accepting the will of the people and gracefully conceding defeat
after 28 years of misrule, the megalomaniac Mugabe is resorting to his handy
bag of devious tricks to cling to power.
His bizarre demand for a recount of the presidential ballot, even before the
results are known, is typical of Mad Bob. So is the brazen act of arresting
It does not require a rocket scientist to deduce that he lost even the
presidential election and now wants to tamper with the results.
These unseemly acts, plus the slothfulness of the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission that has yet to announce the presidential results 12 days on,
point to even more bad news for the long-suffering Zimbabweans.
The genocidal Mugabe’s demonstrable propensity for cruelty, as shown in
Matabeleland in the 1980s, raises genuine fears that he would rather resort
to mass murder than relinquish power.
Hence the arrest of journalists to prevent the truth being known.
The SADC and the AU must prevail on Mugabe before it is too late.
SOUTH Africa should use its powerful position in the United Nations Security
Council to put the Zimbabwean election saga on the international body’s
agenda, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said yesterday.
Zille, who is currently in New York, said in a statement she would meet
South Africa’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dumisani Khumalo, to
discuss the unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe.
“I will make the case that South Africa must use its position as rotational
president of the United Nations Security Council to put the prevention of
conflict in Zimbabwe firmly on the UN’s agenda,” Zille said.
As the current president of the Security Council, South Africa had a unique
opportunity to influence the UN to take action.
“However, according to the Security Council’s programme, Zimbabwe is not
even on the agenda for April – the month that South Africa holds the
rotational presidency,” Zille said.
Her proposals to Khumalo would include the establishment of a UN field
mission to Zimbabwe, and dispatching a UN peacekeeping force to Zimbabwe if
full-blown conflict erupted.
“There are legitimate fears that President (Robert) Mugabe is preparing a
bloody intimidation campaign to ensure that he wins a run-off election.
“In light of these developments, and mindful of events in Kenya earlier this
year, it is crucial that international multi-lateral organisations such as
the UN and the African Union take pro-active steps to prevent bloodshed in
Zimbabwe,” Zille said.
Given South Africa’s dismal record in speaking out against human rights
abuses, Khumalo had a duty to salvage the country’s image by pushing for the
Zimbabwean issue to be put on the council’s agenda, Zille said.
“Our failure to stand up for human rights in Myanmar, Sudan, Zimbabwe,
Belarus, Cuba and the Democratic Republic of Congo has led UN Watch to call
us ‘the chief human rights villain’.
“South Africa now has the opportunity to silence critics of its foreign
policy by using its position on the UN Security Council to urge UN action in
Zimbabwe,” Zille said. — Sapa
Medecins sans Frontieres
Information dated 10.04.2008
MSF's ability to care for more people in need is hindered by the lack
of trained health workers, restrictions on which staff can prescribe ARV
drugs, and stricter administrative requirements for international staff to
work in the country.
Rampant unemployment, skyrocketing inflation, food shortages, and
political instability has continued to wrack Zimbabwe. Up to three million
people are believed to have fled to neighbouring countries in recent years
among a population of 12 million.
The national health care system, once viewed as one of the strongest
in southern Africa, now threatens to collapse under the weight of this
political and economic turmoil with the most acute consequences potentially
for the 1.8 million Zimbabweans living with HIV/AIDS.
Currently, less than one-fourth of the people in urgent need of
life-extending antiretroviral (ARV) treatment receive it. This translates
into an average of 3,000 deaths every week. And the prospects for a further
scale up of the national AIDS program are dim.
Trained medical professionals are leaving the country, the government
program for HIV/AIDS treatment is oversubscribed, and the lack of ARV
supplies has stifled further expansion. Patients often face obstacles to
reach hospitals or clinics because of high fuel and transport prices.
Through programs in Bulawayo, Tsholotsho, both in Matabeleland North
province, Buhera, Manicaland province, Epworth, Mashonaland East province,
and Gweru, Midlands province, MSF provides free medical care to about 29,000
people living with HIV/AIDS - 16,900 of whom are receiving ARV treatment.
MSF's ability to care for more people in need is hindered by the lack
of trained health workers, restrictions on which staff can prescribe ARV
drugs, and stricter administrative requirements for international staff to
work in the country. At the same time, Zimbabweans are feeling the health
impact of degraded or nonexistent water-and-sanitation systems.
In recent weeks MSF has been addressing cholera cases in Mudzi, in
Mashonaland East province, where about 250 patients have been treated so
far. In Kariba, Mashonaland West province, MSF has provided medical material
and training to local health personnel in order to help respond to a cholera
MSF is currently working with a little more than 400 field staff in
Zimbabwe and has been present in the country since 2000.
LATE yesterday street vendors in Zimbabwe said that “war veterans” loyal to
President Robert Mugabe were threatening to kill people who voted for the
opposition. One vendor was too terrified to go to her village for fear of
Mugabe’s rampaging gangs of “green bombers” – unemployed, ill-educated,
indoctrinated youths who, since 2001, have terrorised rural folk.
Earlier this week the youth militia fanned out across four provinces,
surrounded farms and forced about 60 mostly white families out of their
A black farmer accused of voting against Mugabe was also evicted and his
workers’ houses burnt and employees intimidated.
Meanwhile, signs of the 84-year-old tyrant’s “iron fist” are reportedly
everywhere – from the “figure portrayed on ubiquitous election posters ...
to, by association, the tanks, water-cannons, rocket-launchers and armoured
personnel- carriers menacing city streets”.
All this as the lunatic leader’s campaign for re-election supposedly “swings
back into action”. One can only wonder who Mugabe expects to take such an
“election” seriously. The notion of free and fair hardly comes to mind when
one considers a geriatric dictator whose reign of terror is enforced by
thugs, a man who has plunged a country into lawlessness and ruin and who
appears to have lost the plot so badly that he thinks nothing of scotching
election results right in front of a watching world. In a country where
voters get death threats, the climate is hardly democratic.
How ironic that despite his vows to never allow Zimbabwe to be re-colonised,
Mugabe done precisely that. He has given his country over to anarchy. His is
a colony of lawlessness, one that is now imploding.
Faced with the human suffering on our doorstep, Zimbabwe’s neighbours cannot
continue to stand back and coyly whisper the sweet nothings of quiet
Pussy-footing around Mugabe for years has proved worthless. And anyway, his
overblown ego does not deserve “a dignified exit”. His injury has not just
been to the people of Zimbabwe, but to the region.
And yes, while it is right to say that Zimbabweans need to show courage
against this tyrant, it is also necessary that in the same way that foreign
countries helped the ANC during its liberation struggle, South Africa stands
up for the people of Zimbabwe in their time of need.
Yesterday, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa called a weekend summit of
southern African leaders to discuss the post-election crisis, and DA leader
Helen Zille was attempting to get South Africa to use its position in the UN
Security Council to prevent further conflict in Zimbabwe.
Good for them. These are at least tangible steps. It is precisely at such a
time, when facing a dragon, that the tangible, decisive steps of true
leaders are needed.
IT HAS been a momentous week in Zimbabwe’s longstanding and agonising drama.
Only twelve days ago, Zimbabwe’s beleaguered people were preparing to vote
in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on March 29 2008 –
and in so doing, face down the might of a Zanu-PF regime using every
available trick to manipulate the process and the result in order to
preserve it and its leader, Robert Mugabe, in power.
There was much to suggest that this time, the precedent of a fraudulent
election would be repeated. After all, the evidence of the 84-year- old
tyrant’s iron fist was everywhere – a figure portrayed on ubiquitous
election posters and present by association in the tanks, water- cannons,
rocket-launchers and armoured personnel-carriers menacing city streets.
In the traditional Mugabe stronghold of the countryside, too, the regime’s
commitment to extend its hegemony was manifest in rampaging gangs of “green
bombers” – the unemployed, ill-educated, indoctrinated youths who, since
2001, have terrorised the rural population with vicious beatings and rapes.
Twelve days on, Robert Mugabe is still there, Zanu-PF rule has not ended –
and the official results of the presidential election have still not been
declared. But the political landscape looks very different, thanks to the
bravery and commitment of Zimbabwean voters. For the weight of their choices
eventually forced an admission that the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) had won the majority of parliamentary seats, and forced the
regime to announce a second round in the presidential election – a tacit
admission that the “old man” had failed to receive the popular backing he
needed for an unwarranted claim of victory to be persuasive.
The people’s hopes for change thus led them to vote in such numbers that
even Mugabe’s minions were unable to rig the poll in the way they had done
before. The weapon of democracy – of one-person-one vote – that had been won
for Zimbabwe in the wake of the liberation struggle in 1980 was put in the
service of Zimbabweans against the masters who had so disappointed them.
The quarter of Zimbabweans who had fled the country shared in the collective
moment, as they followed the event via the Internet, TV, radio or mobile
phones from around the world. The diaspora – forbidden to vote, but equally
desperate for change and good news, also had a huge economic as well as
personal and emotional stake in what was happening at home. It was their
remittances that have enabled the Mugabe regime to stay afloat, even in the
face of an almost complete collapse of the country’s once-vibrant
agriculture, mining and manufacturing industries, and an unprecedented
inflation-rate of 100 000 percent that makes even daily transactions
calculable only in millions of Zimbabwe dollars.
The country’s economic meltdown has inflicted devastating consequences on
Zimbabweans’ health and capacity to function as normal citizens. The bare
statistics – unemployment at 80 percent, the price of a loaf of bread at R8
(Z50 million), around 45 percent suffering from malnutrition (with 30
percent of children in rural areas suffering long-term malnutrition), and a
life-expectancy of 34 for men and 37 for women – can only indicate the depth
of the crisis consuming the country.
This background of deep economic and social trauma and cautious political
hope explains why the days since the election have seen Zimbabweans
experience such a kaleidoscope of emotions. The delay in announcing the
results was first greeted as confirmation that Zanu- PF had suffered – and
knew that it had suffered – a decisive loss. But as the days wore on and the
organs of the regime were clearly calculating how best to adapt to the
situation without acknowledging defeat, the sense of optimism has begun to
give way to foreboding.
The partisan Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) contributed to the shift of
mood by delaying the announcement of the results of the house of assembly
election, and then releasing them at a glacial pace. It took until the
evening of April 2 – for the final batch of carefully orchestrated
parliamentary results to be declared. The ZEC promised presidential and
senate results by the following evening, but at the last minute postponed
the announcement, citing “logistical problems”.
The opposition MDC was finally confirmed by the ZEC as having won a majority
in the house of assembly of 99 seats – with Zanu-PF on 97, Arthur Mutambara’s
breakaway faction of the MDC on 10, and one independent. The MDC also made
its own tally and released the figures. At that stage, many Zimbabweans
tentatively began to rejoice. But heavy-handed police soon put a stop to
public displays of celebration.
By April 2, Zimbabweans were growing restive at the lack of official
confirmation of what everybody already knew: the MDC had won. The
international community demanded that the ZEC release the results. Even the
“friendly” observers from the southern African community, the African Union,
Iran, Russia and China – handpicked by the Mugabe regime – began to express
reservations about “irregularities” and delays in the vote-counting process.
Until this point, Robert Mugabe himself and his senior officials had been
quiet. It was evident that they had been stunned by the extent of the
anti-government vote. In the void, wild rumours had begun to circulate –
that Mugabe had fled to Malaysia, that the service chiefs were going to
stage a coup. Both were dust in the people’s eyes – for suddenly the
leadership came out with guns blazing, accusing the MDC of “attempting a
coup” in prematurely announcing the results.
A key image in the shift in the people’s mood arrived on April 3, when
Mugabe appeared on state television bidding farewell to the African Union
delegation – looking fit and cheerful. The much-reviled Minister for State
Security, Didymus Mutasa, announced a politburo meeting for April 4. Mugabe’s
spokesperson, George Charamba, warned the MDC of “consequences” for its
having released unofficial election results. Deputy Information Minister
Bright Matonga started talking of a rerun of the presidential election
(within 21 days, as the law demands – even though the results of the actual
vote had not even been announced yet.
At this point, other rumours abounded – that police had been instructed to
collect their weapons from armouries countrywide, that “war veterans” had
been called on to gather and report for duty. This time, there was more
substance to the whispers – for it was becoming clear that a regime
fight-back was underway. The politburo meeting decided to call for a second
round of voting in the presidential contest, and to mobilise the state’s
security forces (official and unofficial) to help ensure that Mugabe and
Zanu-PF got the “right” result this time.
These political tactics were, to veteran Zimbabwe analysts and
Mugabe-watchers, as familiar as they were chilling. The similarities with
2000, shortly after Mugabe lost a referendum on constitutional amendments
that he himself had proposed, are uncanny. Then, immediately after the
results had been announced, he had appeared on state television looking
subdued and reconciliatory. Soon after, gangs of war veterans and ruling
party thugs were invading commercial farms, killing and beating white
farmers and their workers, torching staff accommodation and slaughtering
farm animals. The lesson, in 2008 as in 2000, is that a politically wounded
Mugabe can be as or even more dangerous than a complacently triumphal one.
The cycle of events in the days since the election thus fits the pattern of
Zimbabwe’s recent political history. The ungrateful voters have backed their
president into a corner, and his response is to fight even more viciously.
His two-pronged strategy is to deploy the fused party- state institutions
and the threat and/or reality of force to ensure that his re-election can be
made official. His vicious militia, together with the police and army, will
attempt to terrorise the population into voting for him; and his minions in
the ZEC can be relied on to fix the ballot if and when the tally again needs
to be corrected in his favour.
Will it work? It has worked before. But this time, it could backfire.
Zimbabweans are heroically patient, but they have also had a glimpse of hope
and freedom – two of the most potent forces on the planet. They know that
their first-round vote made the regime wobble; they know that a clear
majority of them wishes to see the end of a regime that has inflicted such
misery. If they do indeed repeat their first-round decision and vote
massively for Morgan Tsvangirai, they may find too that many of the police
and army rank-and-file will join them at last. After all, the regime’s foot
soldiers also have to queue for hours to buy the basic provisions of life,
and to rely on begging or bribery to feed their families.
The best outcome then would be for Robert Mugabe to retire with as much as
grace as he has left, and accept the offer of a protected retirement – at
home or in exile. But the “old man’s” intransigent character – and political
persona that so identifies his wishes with the interests of Zimbabwe that he
is blinded to the damage he has wrought – may impel him to defy the people’s
wishes and fight to the end. This would indeed be a tragic outcome that
would make Zimbabwe’s much-needed internal reconciliation even more
difficult. In that event, the polarised attitudes and lack of forgiveness
that would ensue could consign Mugabe to a far less comfortable fate: being
handed over to the international court in The Hague, to answer for crimes
The Zimbabwean people have spoken – and Mugabe has refused to listen. Now,
under circumstances of extreme and dangerous pressure, they are being asked
to raise their voice again. It is an occasion for the world to stand with
Zimbabweans in what is for them both a moment of democracy and a time of
Wilf Mbanga is founder, editor and publisher of The Zimbabwean, an
independent newspaper based in England and circulated widely in southern
April 10, 2008, 07:45
Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa says the electoral commission
has accepted a Zanu-PF request for a recount of votes in five parliamentary
constituencies. The ruling party is trying to overturn the result of the
March 29 polls in which it lost control of parliament for the first time
Chinamasa says the commission has rejected seven appeals and nine are
pending. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has a two-seat
majority in Parliament. However a breakaway faction of the party has won
another 10 seats and one has gone to an independent candidate.
Meanwhile, youth militia - allegedly loyal to Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe - are reportedly behind the forced removal of around 60 farmers off
their land since the weekend. The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union says the
latest wave of farm grabs moved into high gear on Monday and Tuesday as
groups of war veterans fanned out across four provinces, surrounding farms
and ordering families to leave.
Zambia steps in to help resolve crisis
Brian Smith - who has been farming for 27 years - has gone into hiding in
Harare after he and his family were kicked off his land. Smith says most of
the farmers who were evicted had not even voted in the polls.
The MDC's bid to build up pressure on Mugabe after disputed polls are
bearing fruit as plans are unveiled for a weekend summit to discuss the
escalating crisis. President of neighbouring Zambia Levy Mwanawasa says he
will gather his peers for talks on Saturday aimed at breaking the deadlock.
President Thabo Mbeki has confirmed that he will also attend the summit.
The Nation (Nairobi)
10 April 2008
Posted to the web 10 April 2008
Robert Mugabe was once revered and idolised by his people, but now, he is
increasingly an object of ridicule not only in his own country but
He is shunned for his autocratic rule and crackdown on those who oppose is
Currently, Mr Mugabe is hopping from one reason to another to continually
deny Zimbabweans the right to know the outcome of a presidential poll held
12 days ago.
Mr Mugabe, who is contesting his sixth election and has ruled Zimbabwe since
Independence from Britain in 1980, has alleged that the election results
were manipulated by Electoral Commission officials and now wants both a
re-count and a run-off.
Some political analysts have pointed out that what makes the octogenarian
President's claims strange is that he has refused to declare the basis for
his asking for a re-run while the commission has not released the outcome of
For instance, Zimbabweans would want to know the percentages involved in the
dispute to also put into perspective, the alleged rigged votes being
referred to in the State media.
Zanu PF, this week, claimed that at more than 5,000 of President Mugabe's
votes were tampered with, and so far, four Electoral Commission officers
have been arrested for taking part in the alleged rigging.
Parliamentarians too, have started making claims of rigging in a move
expected to complicate and worsen an already exasperating situation.
On its part, the opposition MDC claimed a landslide victory, which means
they got the over 51 per cent of votes warranted by the country's
constitution for anyone to become President, while Mr Mugabe is understood
to have managed something above 40 per cent.
At the moment is tense
The situation in the country at the moment is tense with the electorate
getting more and more impatient although not entirely surprised by Zanu PF's
But, the security forces are not taking any chances, and have enforced an
unofficial curfew, starting at 10 pm until 6 am in residential suburbs, in
fear of an outbreak of violence.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has meanwhile, started seeking audience
with regional leaders as he appeals for their support in solving the
Zimbabwean crisis. On Monday, the MDC leader met with African National
Congress president Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg, South Africa and he is
expected to go to Tanzania next, and then Zambia on a similar mission. Mr
Zuma has urged Mr Mugabe to "respect the will of the people" by releasing
the results "no matter the outcome".
Meanwhile, Zanu PF has responded by unleashing its former freedom fighters,
on the few remaining white-owned farms.
The "war veterans", whose farm invasions started soon after the formation of
the MDC in 1999 as punishment for the farmers' support of the opposition
party, have since announced their intention to complete the takeover of the
farms, and although police have warned against the invasions, these continue
unabated in every corner of the country. "This is not an isolated incident,"
declared war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda on Tuesday. "We are taking
over every single farm that still remains with the whites from now onwards."
In a turn for the worse, complications surrounding the presidential results
have fuelled the unprecedented increase in the prices of food stuffs, fuel,
transport and clothing.
In fact, prices continue to skyrocket by the day, with the majority of the
people now no longer in a position to afford a single, decent meal a day.
Political analysts have, however, said Zimbabweans should brace for even
more bone-biting suffering as it is now clear that with the two parties
dragging each other to courts, the election saga might go on for weeks,
before any solid ruling is made, hence also prolonging their anxiety and the
survival of the fittest economics currently employed in the country.
While the majority of Zimbabweans are still eager to vote in the event of a
run-off, political analysts have not ruled out the possibility of
intimidation, torture and violence as a way of punishing constituencies that
did not perform to Zanu PF's expectations in the disputed polls.
Dr Farai Mhaka, a political analyst, said re-doing the voting exercise is
going to cost the Government a fortune and further worsen the plight of
"One of the critical issues is that the ruling party was defeated for the
first time ever, in an election.
"They might be aware that even a run-off will not save them and what they
want is to buy time and wind up their unfinished businesses for just a few
weeks," Dr Mhaka said.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Robert Mugabe began his political life as a freedom fighter, a guerrilla
leader whose successful struggle against the racists of the so-called
Rhodesia gave him the right to be called the father of his nation. To
celebrate this momentous event, Bob Marley sang at the independence of
Zimbabwe where he is still remembered after 28 years. The qualities which
people most admired in Mugabe were his intelligence, humility, and
In the brutal prisons of Ian Smith, Mugabe gained several degrees by
correspondence courses, a feat beyond the ability of most of his countrymen
and women outside. He dressed modestly, ate the food of the people, and
lived in a house that did not alienate the people with its gratuitous
luxury. He applied his intelligence to organising his society so the people
who were deprived by the racist inheritors of British colonialism could
receive education, health care, and economic opportunities.
Twenty-eight years after Independence Mugabe is not even a shadow of the man
he was in 1980. People all over Africa and the diaspora, who once worshipped
his talents and modesty, now regard him with contempt. He now lives in a
25-bedroom mansion on 44 acres in an expensive suburb, which allegedly cost
£8 million. People who have been inside speak of marble, granite, ornate
chandeliers, expensive furniture. His tailored suits now make him look like
Mugabe's intelligence became a liability when he started to believe that he
was the brightest man in existence, without whom his country could not
function. Instead of using it to make the lives of his people better, he
sent out tanks and cannon to silence them. When his hungry people tried to
replace him, he rigged elections as shamelessly as his counterparts in
Nigeria and Kenya. With his complete disregard for human life he was even
more ruthless than Babangida, Abacha, Obasanjo and Kibaki.
One of the virtues of intelligence is the ability to analyse action in order
to assess its effectiveness in achieving goals. When intelligence
degenerates into seeking enemies and rewarding sycophants it becomes a
weapon against oneself.
The people of Zimbabwe fought a war to liberate the land which had been
conquered by Europeans. But when ZANU raised the issue of reform in the
Lancaster House talks, the Americans and British said that land should not
be taken from whites and given to blacks, but be bought at market prices if
the whites were willing. Since the guerrillas had no money, Kissinger and
Thatcher promised to provide funds.
The Anglo-Americans who had been the strongest opponents of Mugabe, however,
broke their promise because they saw nothing wrong with Europeans owning
most of the fertile land. They had supported Vorster and Smith, thought
Apartheid brilliant, and thought Mandela and all the other "communists"
should hang. Even worse, Mugabe did nothing to force the Anglo-Americans to
fulfil their pledges.
For almost two decades the people were deprived of the land which they had
fought to liberate. Mugabe did not seize European-owned land until he was
politically cornered by opponents who tried to articulate the needs of the
people. And when he did, it was a disaster. Instead of resettling farmers on
the millions of hectares of unused land, he seized working farms which were
the backbone of the agricultural economy. And instead of giving the land to
people who could work it, he gave it to family and cronies in politics,
business, the military and security forces who abandoned it.
Economic mismanagement meant that funds from the rich minerals of the
country were not invested in education, health, roads, industry or public
housing. People had to queue for bread in a land which once fed its
neighbours. Put perhaps nothing exemplified Mugabe's failure more starkly
than the 100,000 per cent inflation which forced poor Zimbabweans to queue
to buy food with millions of dollars which weighed more.
Mugabe's condemnation of the Anglo-Americans as the source of his problems
is so crude that it lacks credibility. It is true that Britain created the
murderous colonial system which made Europeans gods and Africans sub-humans
on their own continent. But this did not prevent South Africans or even
Kenyans from letting some of its people enjoy a better life. South African
leaders made errors but the racists cannot snicker, as Ian Smith did, that
Mandela and Mbeki had destroyed their country.
If Mugabe were as intelligent as he thinks he is, he should accept the will
of the people and step down. But when an intelligent man refuses to use his
brains, he's the biggest fool of all.
Patrick Wilmot is based in London. He's a writer and commentator on African
affairs for the BBC, Sky News, Al-Jazeera and CNN. He's a visiting professor
at Ahmadu Bello and Jos Universities in Nigeria.
Dallas Morning News
12:00 AM CDT on Thursday, April 10, 2008
If former South African leader Nelson Mandela represents the best of
post-colonial Africa, surely Robert Mugabe, the merciless despot ruling
neighboring Zimbabwe, is its worst.
The dictator Mugabe, who has run Zimbabwe since taking power from the white
minority government in 1980, appears to have lost the recent election. Yet
there are widespread fears that Mr. Mugabe is trying to steal this election,
as he more or less stole the last one, in 2002.
Mr. Mugabe, now 84, was once the future. Brilliant and well educated, he led
the guerrilla fight against racist rule and became the new nation's leader.
Mr. Mugabe inherited a nation rich in resources and an agricultural
In no time, Mr. Mugabe began practicing thuggish politics against his rivals
and changed the laws to solidify one-man rule. He has ruthlessly suppressed
challengers, denouncing opposition figures as lackeys of white colonialists.
When citizens began to fall on hard times as a result of Mr. Mugabe's
misrule, he blamed white farmers, expropriated the farms and redistributed
the land to his cronies.
Now, Zimbabwe is one of the worst places in the world. The World Health
Organization says the southern African nation has the world's shortest life
expectancy. The economy is destroyed, with inflation running at over 100,000
percent annually. Once the region's breadbasket, Zimbabwe now depends on
international food aid to survive.
The United States has an interest in African stability; the continent's
poverty, violence and corruption makes it vulnerable to extremists, hence
the establishment last year of the U.S. military's new African Command. But
there's not much we can do for Zimbabwe.
Yet the nation's regional neighbors could help, as opposed to their standing
by for years as Mr. Mugabe has bled his nation dry, refusing to criticize
the hero of anti-colonial resistance. Tendai Biti, a spokesman for the
democratic opposition in Zimbabwe, begged African nations to intervene in
the current crisis, pleading, "Don't wait for dead bodies on the streets of
South Africa should lead regional efforts to save the nation and its people
from the madman Mugabe. Zimbabwe's continued suffering is southern Africa's
shame – and its peril.