Wednesday 11 April 2007
By Brian Ncube
BULAWAYO - President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party has begun
re-establishing torture camps to intimidate the opposition ahead of next
year's watershed elections that some analysts have said the veteran leader
and his party could heavily lose.
Impeccable sources told ZimOnline that Mugabe's securocrats had recommended
the resuscitation of torture camps from where ZANU PF youth militia and war
veterans would run a campaign of terror to shut out the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party from rural areas while also destabilizing
opposition support in major cities.
Rural areas form the backbone of ZANU PF support while major cities back the
The sources, who are members of ZANU PF and the security forces, said one
torture camp was already established in Bulawayo city's Mpopoma suburb at a
house owned by a senior member of Mugabe's Cabinet, whose name we are
withholding for legal reasons.
"At least three camps are planned for each major city and about four in the
rural areas that are considered to have a sizeable population of MDC
supporters," said a senior police officer, who declined to be named because
of the sensitive nature of the subject.
He added: "In Matabeleland North for example, Binga district alone will have
two camps, while Tsholotsho, Nkayi and Hwange will also have a camp each.
The camps should be fully operational by the end of June."
Human rights groups and churches have in past accused ZANU PF youths and
veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war of running torture camps
especially in remote rural areas where MDC supporters were beaten up,
tortured and sometimes murdered as punishment for not backing the ruling
party. ZANU PF denies the charge.
And ZANU PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa - while confirming
deployment of ruling party youths in rural areas - insisted the youths and
war veterans were being sent only to protect villagers from the "violent
Mutasa, who is also State Security Minister, said: "We want our youths and
the war veterans to protect the villagers from the violent MDC."
Mugabe's government accuses the MDC of waging violence campaign in recent
weeks including a spate of bombings in a bid to topple it from power.
The MDC denies committing violence and instead accuses government agents of
bombing police stations and a train in a bid to justify a crackdown on the
resurgent party that has seen dozens of its activist arrested and tortured
by the police.
ZANU (PF) secretary for youth Absolom Sikhosana said party youths were being
mobilized and sent out to campaign and not to commit violence or torture
members of the opposition.
"We are deploying them in various areas to campaign for the party but what
they will be doing there is a secret that should not be known to our enemies
within the opposition," said Sikhosana.
But sources said Mugabe and his party, uncertain about the outcome of next
year's combined presidential and parliamentary elections, were pushing to
re-introduce the same structures that human rights activists and independent
election observers say coerced the electorate to hand them victory in the
four major elections held since the emergence of the MDC in 1999.
The youths and war veterans, working with pro-ZANU PF traditional leaders,
will turn some rural areas into no-go areas for the opposition during the
run up to the 2008 ballot.
"There will be roadblocks on roads leading into rural areas where people
will be asked to produce ZANU PF membership cards before they can proceed to
visit villages," said a source who will be working with the youth militia.
Torture groups in cities will be used more to punish grassroots MDC leaders
and activists and cause them to flee their constituencies and in the process
disrupting the opposition party's campaigning network, said our source.
The disclosure that ZANU PF militants are reviving torture camps comes in
the wake of party commissar Elliot Manyika's public call two weeks ago on
youths and war veterans to prepare for a campaign of violence against the
opposition, which he said had to be "silenced at all costs".
But the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference on Easter Sunday called on
Mugabe to embrace democracy and conduct free and fair elections next year or
face popular revolt by an electorate that feels it has "nothing more to lose
because their constitutional rights have been abrogated and their votes
Mugabe and ZANU PF have ruled Zimbabwe since its 1980 independence from
Britain but critics say their controversial policies are responsible for an
economic meltdown, which has left the majority of the country's 12 million
people mired in poverty as unemployment rockets and inflation surges to
nearly 2 000 percent. - ZimOnline
Wednesday 11 April 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwean police officers last week stormed two white-owned
farms and ordered the owners to vacate the properties in what observers said
was a clear indication of ongoing lawlessness within the farming sector.
The police, led by a Senior Assistant Commissioner Chivangire, stormed
Portwe Farm in Inyathi district in Matabeleland North province and ordered
David Jourbert, to vacate the property as it now belonged to the police.
The police seized keys for the lodge and other buildings at the farm and
told the farm workers that they were now working for the state.
It was not clear why the police seized the property.
Joubert has since filed an urgent High Court application to force the police
to move out of the lodge. He also wants the police to return hunting rifles
that were illegally confiscated from the farm during an earlier raid last
According to court papers, Joubert wants the court to bar the police from
harassing workers and interfering with operations at the farm.
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri is cited as the first respondent while
Assistant Commissioner Chivingire is the second while Home Affairs Minister
Kembo Mohadi is the third respondent.
"The relief sought is the return of the keys to the farm buildings
confiscated by the second respondent and return of firearms unlawfully
confiscated by officers acting under the authority of the first respondent.
"Eviction of police officers employed by the first respondent from the
premises of the applicant whose presence on the applicant's property is not
lawful or necessary," reads part of the application.
In Masvingo, police invaded a farm belonging to Brian and Sally Alford in
Chiredzi district and claimed that it now belonged to former Masvingo
provincial governor Willard Chiwewe's daughter, who is in her 20s.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena refused to comment on the matter.
"That issue (farm invasions) is not is not within my jurisdiction. Why don't
you speak to the Minister of Lands, he might tell you exactly what is
happening," said Bvudzijena.
Efforts to contact Land Reform and Resettlement Minister Didymus Mutasa were
fruitless last night.
The new farm invasions come months after President Robert Mugabe's
government announced that it would not allow fresh farm invasions.
Zimbabwe, once considered the break basket of southern Africa, has grappled
with severe food shortages over the past seven years after Mugabe sanctioned
the seizure of white farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
Senior police and army officers as well as government ministers seized most
of the farms with most government officials owning more than one farm in
clear violation of the government's one-man-one-farm policy. - ZimOnline
By Blessing Zulu
10 April 2007
A U.S. State Department spokesman Tuesday rejected the contention by
Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu that his government's
crackdown on opposition officials and members is a response to domestic
terrorism, and further that the United States government was supporting such
alleged opposition activities.
"Unfortunately, the the only kind of terror-style tactics that...we've seen
have been those used by the government on the legitimate, peaceful political
opposition in that country," Deputy State Department Spokesman Tom Casey
Ndlovu said in an interview with VOA earlier Tuesday that "the U.S. is
sponsoring this activity...they are sponsoring terrorist activities, covert
operations against a legitimate, legally elected government, democratically
He was referring to several firebomb attacks in late March against police
posts, among other targets, which authorities cited as justification for a
March 28 raid on the Harare headquarters of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai, who was severely
beaten following his arrest on March 11.
In recent weeks suspected state agents have abducted and severely beaten
scores of MDC officials and members as well as civic activists in what the
opposition says is an orchestrated effort to crush the opponents of
President Robert Mugabe, who has announced his intention to run for another
term in office in March 2008.
The State Department's Case deplored the pattern of violence.
"It's shocking and appalling to see opposition leaders who are trying to
simply demonstrate their views or trying to organize discussions about the
political future of the country be savagely beaten by the security forces,
be hauled off to jail, be denied medical treatment and later as in some
cases be denied even the opportunity to seek that treatment after they've
been freed," Casey said.
Opposition sources said Tuesday that state agents have widened their
crackdown to target the families of MDC and civic activists who have gone
Intelligence sources told VOA that the operation has expanded to Bulawayo
and Masvingo from Harare and Mutare. They said the Central Intelligence
Organization, the military Zimbabwe Intelligence Corps, police and the youth
militia have established provincial bases around the country to extend the
crackdown on the opposition.
Sources said the official aim is to infiltrate the opposition and coerce or
persuade members to give them information about what officials call the
"Democratic Resistance Movement" that is alleged to have mounted the
short-lived firebombing campaign.
MDC officials say the state security apparatus staged the bombings itself to
justify the crackdown ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections
Tsvangirai faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa said 40 members are in detention
and that most of them have been tortured. National Constitutional Assembly
Chairman Lovemore Madhuku said many of his members are in hiding and out of
Opposition sources said police in Bulawayo arrested two Tsvangirai faction
members - deputy youth provincial chairman Bhekithemba Ndlovu and MDC
executive member Sikhulekile Nkala. Faction Vice President Thokozane Khupe
said she fears their lives could be in danger following reports they were
handed over to the CIO.
Sources said about 16 male Tsvangirai faction activists have been hiding
since before Easter weekend in the bush at Hopeley Farm, a settlement south
of Harare where the government dumped people displaced by its 2005 forced
eviction and demolition campaign called Operation Murambatsvina (Shona for
"Drive Out Rubbish").
But their families said they are terrorized daily by police and youth
militia members and accused of belonging to the so-called resistance
movement. Some told VOA that they have been severely beaten by official and
paramilitary security forces.
Tsitsi Mikitai, gender chairwoman for Harare for the National Constitutional
Assembly, a leading civic organization, was attacked in the Mufakose section
of Harare Monday and beaten by suspected state agents, opposition sources
Amnesty International said in its latest reporter that trade unionists
Edward Dzeka and Joyce Muwoni have gone into hiding after receiving
threatening phone calls from the police who told them to surrender for
questioning about "illegal" union activities. The group said Dzeka was
tortured after being arrested by the police in September.
National Constitutional Assembly Harare Regional Chairman Amos Phiri, now
gone underground, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that he was waylaid in the Harare satellite town of Chitungwiza by suspected
state agents who tried to abduct him, and who continued to threaten him by
A lawyer for the Tsvangirai faction said 33 MDC officers, staff and members
were being held by police on various charges, and that 19 of them, many of
whom were abducted or arrested in the past week, have been denied legal
Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama said two senior opposition officials and a
member were in court Monday for a bail hearing. MDC Mashonaland East
Organizing Secretary Pineal Denga, charged with possessing dangerous
weapons, was denied bail, according to Muchadehama.
The cases of Tsvangirai advisor Ian Makoni and member Ray Bake, in court
Tuesday, were deferred to Wednesday, Muchadehama said. The three men were
abducted, beaten and later arrested for alleged possession of "dangerous
arms." Also due in court Wednesday were 11 party staff members arrested
March 28 when police raided the Tsvangirai faction's Harare headquarters -
they will seek release on bail.
Muchadehama said another 19 faction officials and members, among them Paul
Madzore, member of parliament for Harare's Glenview district, and his
brother Solomon, were held by police who refused to let Muchadehama see
Muchadehama told reporter Patience Rusere that the charges against his
clients are frivolous and appear to be based solely on their opposition
By Tererai Karimakwenda
10 April, 2007
On Tuesday Giles Mutsekwa, the secretary for Security and Intelligence in
the Tsvangirai MDC, said police and military agents who are perpetrating
violence against their officials and supporters should remember that one day
they will be held responsible for their actions. Mutsekwa explained that the
MDC has contacts who are currently serving within the police and military
who volunteer information. When the time comes the lists being compiled will
be used to prosecute those police and military agents under international
Just last week a top United Nations official warned security agents in
Zimbabwe to be cautious and not shoot at innocent civilians. Philip Alston,
the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, released a statement
to the media in which he warned that systematic attacks against innocent
civilians were considered crimes against humanity and they would be
prosecuted under international law. Alston accused government officials of
failing to balance the peoples' "rights to political participation" against
the need to maintain public order. He said: "Full, independent
investigations must be undertaken as soon as possible."
Mutsekwa said the people being used by government to brutalise the
opposition are unruly thugs with very little training. He added that they
are motivated by money and have no morality left to defend. But this will
not protect them from prosecution. The MDC has been naming and shaming known
offenders by publishing their names in The Zimbabwean newspaper. Mutsekwa
said they will be exposed even more around the country and the world.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:42AM EDT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - The Catholic Church's sharp criticism of Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe could have a greater influence in persuading him to
discuss political reform than a mass of attacks from elsewhere, political
Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops accused Mugabe and his officials of running a
bad and corrupt government and abusing the political rights of Zimbabweans
in a pastoral letter posted in churches throughout the southern African
nation during Easter.
Neither Mugabe, a practicing Catholic, nor his officials have publicly
responded to the warning from Zimbabwe's Catholic Bishops' Conference that
radical reforms were needed to avert a mass uprising in the
"The pastoral letter presents a new challenge to Mugabe and will probably
help persuade him that he needs to be talking about electoral and
constitutional reforms, too, as pressure is mounting on him," said Eldred
Masunungure, a political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe in
"The Catholic bishops bring a new moral authority to the Zimbabwe crisis,
which Mugabe cannot simply dismiss offhand by suggesting that they are
supping with his Western enemies," he added.
Mugabe, who counts a number of Catholic priests among his friends, has
traditionally taken a hands-off approach to political critics within the
Catholic Church, the largest Christian denomination in Zimbabwe.
He has avoided direct confrontation with the bishops and spared them and
other Catholic leaders from the hardline tactics used to muzzle the
country's formal opposition, including the main Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party.
MDC officials were not available for comment on Tuesday, but over the years
the opposition has been urging Church leaders to speak up on the Zimbabwe
crisis, and to get involved in the search for a solution.
In their letter, which was the church's most strident attack on Mugabe's
ruling ZANU-PF party in years, the bishops pointedly condemned Harare's
violent March 11 crackdown on MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other members
of the opposition.
Tsvangirai was among dozens of anti-Mugabe activists who sustained serious
injuries after being arrested by police at an aborted prayer rally. Reports
of their beatings in police stations prompted outrage and protests from
Mugabe, who has branded the MDC a puppet of Western powers, accuses the
opposition of launching petrol bomb attacks on police stations as part of a
"terrorist campaign" to overthrow his government.
Although the Catholic bishops have deplored the violence and called for free
elections and a new constitution, they are not seen likely to back street
protests to end Mugabe's 27-year rule, which could give them more sway with
the government than those who are committed to a mass revolt.
John Makumbe, a Zimbabwean political commentator and Mugabe critic, said
local Christian leaders could play a large role in finding a solution to the
"I think after such a long silence, a criminal silence in my view, the
Catholic bishops have woken up to this disaster, and the other church
leaders will probably do the same soon and help sort out this crisis,"
The head of Zimbabwe's Anglican Church, Bishop Norbert Kunonga, has been
accused of failing to publicly condemn Mugabe and even of supporting his
government unconditionally. Anglican leaders, however, have said the church
is worried by the crisis and working to help resolve it peacefully.
But the churches' involvement could backfire if Mugabe believes that
religious leaders are taking their cues from clergy overseas, especially in
Britain, the former colonial ruler.
The Zimbabwe government last weekend highlighted a U.S. State Department
human rights report indicating that Washington was working with opposition
and civic groups "in an attempt to topple" Mugabe.
10th Apr 2007 12:33 GMT
By Chenjerai Chitsaru
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has always set great store for a dignified
demeanour, even when someone else would be embarrassed, crestfallen or just
For instance, after the results of the 2000 constitutional referendum were
announced, he appeared on public television, to concede defeat. There was an
element of disbelief in his posture. Also, under the veneer of calmness, one
sensed a raging fury: how could they do this to him?
There could have been a crack in his voice, although it cannot be true - as
some critics have always suggested - that it was noticeably tremulous. His
famous self-confidence stems from his history of almost always having his
Not winning the constitutional referendum must have come as a huge shock to
him. Yet he didn't go into hysterics, at least not publicly.
His wrath was to be displayed in all its raw nakedness in the aftermath of
the referendum - he literally pulled out all the stops, in the land
invasions. He would not lift a finger to halt the marauding war veterans, as
they rampaged through the white commercial farms, killing and pillaging.
He even maintained his dignity as he publicly defied the judiciary in this
famous set-to, which presaged the transformation of The Bench, which was
turned - as some critics said - into The Mugabe Bench.
Yet, as with most things in every field of human endeavour, there comes a
time when Nature, Providence or The Fates will not yield.
For Mugabe, the time has now come: his fate is almost sealed. There is now
very little chance that he will leave office with his dignity intact.
Certainly, there is grave doubt that he could depart in a blaze of glory.
Even before the 2008 elections, his party has played its notorious "tamba
wakachenjera" games to prepare for his safe return to power, and then an
equally safe retirement.
There is so much indignity in all these preparations, only Zanu PF can fail
to see - or can convince itself to ignore - how humiliating and undignified
all these political shenanigans really are.
For a start, Mugabe had announced publicly that he would step down after his
term of office ended in 2008. Then, into already weird scenario crept a new,
sinister element: a Mugabe ploy to prolong his presidency.
The so-called harmonisation of the presidential and parliamentary elections
for 2010 was seen, by his supporters and his detractors, as something less
than a wholesome, patriotic act to save money.
Most of them saw it for what it was: another Mugabe strategy to prolong his
stay in power. Officially, the party will protest vehemently: Mugabe had
only the interests of the country at heart.
Now, the "harmonised" elections are to be held next year and - wonder of
wonders (or horror of horrors?) Mugabe will be sole the Zanu PF presidential
candidate, again. How anyone can detect even an iota of dignity in all this
is a difficult to imagine.
There may not be clear evidence of chicanery in all these goings-on, but if
there is any element of dignity at all, it is not the sort you can detect
with the naked eye - or even with a microscope.
At the end of it all, Mugabe's friends and foes have conspired to ease him
out of power without openly declaring that if it will get rid of him once
and for all, they are quite willing to sacrifice their dignity in the act.
For Mugabe himself, a great stickler for making an entrance or an exit with
maximum dignity, there can be nothing edifying in any of it. At some stage,
he is bound to respond with something like "This is disgraceful!"
Admittedly, his exit would be not be graceful. He may not be the victim of a
coup or anything that despicable, but there is no way his exit could ever
described as dignified.
Two of his contemporaries in the region, Kenneth Kaunda and Hastings Kamuzu
Banda, left office with little of the dignity they had anticipated to garner
as the "founding presidents" of their countries. They both lost power in
elections rated by independent observers as "free and fair".
Kaunda compounded the indignity by protesting at the results, initially. He
was not only sounding like a sore loser, but as if he didn't think anybody
else could inherit his mantle ...except Kenneth Kaunda.
We all know what happened to Kamuzu Banda.
Both men were fortunate. In North, Central and West Africa, many leaders
have left office, literally, in coffins. In this region, it is the death of
Samora Machel which rankles with many old timers who remember the nobility
of the sometimes very people who waged the struggle against colonialism.
By the time his plane crashed as he flew back to Maputo, Machel had begun to
chart a new political course for his country which his predecessor as
Frelimo leader, Eduardo Modhlane, might have admired.
Still, it is difficult not to blame his death on the apartheid regime.
Seretse Khama of Botswana died of natural causes while in office. His
successor, Sir Ketumile Masire, served his allotted terms as president and
retired in dignity.
Festus Mogae has not threatened to prolong his presidency, as two other
presidents once did - Bakhili Muluzi of Malawi, and Sam Nujoma of Namibia.
Both suffered serious loss of dignity as they campaigned to prolong their
terms. If may not occur to Zanu PF or indeed to Mugabe himself, but among
many Zimbabweans, they too have forfeited much of their dignity with all
those unseemly attempts to keep one man in power, even if it is clear that
he should leave office, for the sake of the country.
Another factor of the Mugabe dossier, which Zanu PF may find unattractive to
embrace wholeheartedly is this: first, as prime minister and then as
president, Mugabe has not been entirely an asset for Zimbabwe. Long before
sanctions became the most convenient scapegoat for his economic policy
failures, his regime had already made monumental blunders.
It is amazing that the disastrous effects of the lavish concessions to the
war veterans are rarely mentioned as having signalled a path to economic
doom for the country.
Also, in spite of strenuous attempts by Mugabe and Zanu PF to glorify the
land reform fiasco as a milestone in the campaign to promote economic
self-sufficiency, there has been no endorsement of this hare-brained theory
from most hard-nosed economic analysts.
For the people of Zimbabwe in general, is Mugabe viewed as having brought
real relief to their lives from the ravages of colonialism?
Even among the so-called beneficiaries of the land reform programme, are
there to be found many former landless peasants who now own thriving farms
on which they and their families live their lives more satisfactorily than
they did before 2000?
If it is only the so-called "resource-endowed" who have benefited from the
land redistribution programme, what was it really all about?
In fact, if the statistics by independent non-governmental organisations are
to be taken at their face value, the gap between rich and poor in Zimbabwe
has widened tremendously since 2000.
Most of this is unrelated to sanctions; an element that ought to be
considered is the rapacity of the Zanu PF leaders, most of whom now have
more than one farm, as we have been repeatedly told by their fellow leaders.
Incidentally, Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,
struck a distinctly independent and courageous note in Gweru recently. He
criticised the government for its "implementation inertia".
He also singled out the scandal in diamond-infested Marange in Manicaland
where Mugabe's colleagues are reported to be profiting from the illicit
trade in the precious stones.
Gono said this could not be blamed on sanctions. He did not mention what was
to be genuinely blamed on the sanctions. Gono himself is sounding more and
more as if he wants to jump off the bandwagon, which seemed to be headed for
a precipice of one sort of another.
His own dignity can hardly be described as being intact. If he was not the
midwife of the aborted turnaround programme, then he was certainly one of
The social contract he promised as a panacea to most of our problems looks
as if it was still-born. It's incredible that a recent newsitem on State
television told us that not many of the people expected to participate in
the social contract knew much about it or how it would work in practice.
Which all brings to the dignity of all the people involved in both the
genesis of our economic crisis and its probable resolution. Some may salvage
their dignity; others might profit from being associated with people who
were against the programmes
which brought us to this crisis in the first place.
One man who will not be able to hang on to his dignity, as he exits the
scene, is Robert Mugabe. He lost his opportunity when he reneged on his
promise to leave after 2008. Now all he can hope to reap is the whirlwind of
From The Financial Times (UK), 10 April
South Africa is the destination for the flood of people desperate to escape
Robert Mugabe's rule
Beit Bridge - Tariro Mbudzi spent his last night in Harare penning a
farewell note to his father. It was not an easy letter to write. Barely 17,
Tariro was expecting his school leaving exam results any day. His family
assumed he would be there to receive and hopefully celebrate them. Instead,
he had decided to leave his home and join the flood of fellow-countrymen
fleeing the economic shambles of Zimbabwe for the region's powerhouse, South
Africa. "I took three hours writing it," he recalled. "I ended by saying:
'If God loves me I'm going to help you take care of the little ones [his
younger brothers and sisters]. And please make sure they go to school.'" The
following morning before dawn he caught a bus south. Just 24 hours later, he
was clambering over the barbed wire fence at the frontier, his attaché case
with a spare set of clothes flapping in his wake. Behind him his friend Obey
Sithole grunted as his T-shirt snagged. Then suddenly they were both over
and across the dusty road that snakes along the frontier, all the while
looking out for the South African military patrols that face the impossible
task of stemming the exodus from their northern neighbour. Even at the
height of apartheid when an electric border fence was often switched to
lethal mode, the northern frontier saw a steady flow of people across the
Limpopo river marking the border in search of money in the continent's El
However, in the past few years as the Zimbabwean economy, under President
Robert Mugabe's increasingly dictatorial rule, has headed into freefall, the
dynamic has dramatically changed. Rather than migrating back and forth, most
Zimbabweans are staying. They are also more desperate. This year even more
than before the flood appears to be gathering pace. "The situation is
escalating," said Colonel Johan Herbst, of the Limpopo border command. "In
the past Zimbabweans came for jobs. Their families stayed behind. They came
over neatly dressed, and with a food parcel. That has changed. Their
condition has deteriorated. They are shabbier, some haven't eaten for days,
and we find women and children in bigger numbers." Although thirsty after 24
hours on the road, Tariro and Obey are not as desperate as many of the
Zimbabweans who sneak across the frontier. But they have no intention of
returning home. "I will stay for as long as it takes to change my life,"
said Tariro. "Maybe I can be a garden boy. It's too tough in Zimbabwe. My
teachers earn just 800,000 Zimbabwe dollars (about $45) a month. How can
people survive like that?"
Tariro and his friend were rather fortunate. Many refugees remain for weeks
stranded in the border region before being picked up and sent back by the
South African authorities. But within days the pair had travelled by road
and melted into the mass of Johannesburg's townships 340 miles to the south.
Official estimates suggest that up to 3m Zimbabweans live in South Africa.
That sounds high given that Zimbabwe's population is fewer than 15m. But it
does not surprise Johannesburg residents who have become used to highly
qualified Zimbabweans working as gardeners and waiters. Nor does it surprise
residents of Diepsloot, an informal settlement outside the city, with a high
density of Zimbabweans. "It used to be just men, now it is women too," said
Dorah Mafifi, a South African resident. "There are too many of them. What
can we do?" That is a question that is vexing the South African authorities
amid public concern that the incursion has fuelled crime and xenophobia.
Tariro offers no comfort: the flood, he says, has barely begun. "To tell you
the truth almost everyone in Zimbabwe sees South Africa as their saviour and
wants to come here to start again."
BULAWAYO, 10 April 2007 (IRIN) - An overcrowded bus makes its way out of
Botswana's capital, Gaborone, headed for Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo,
its roof laden with groceries, electrical goods and textiles destined for
sale or consumption.
Most of the 75 passengers, all Zimbabweans, are "regulars" who travel to
neighbouring Botswana every three weeks to shop or trade. They have a common
purpose: surviving in Zimbabwe, which has the world's highest annual
inflation rate - more than 1,700 percent - shortages of basic essentials and
an unemployment rate of 80 percent.
Anania Sibanda, a cross-border trader, carried more than 40 litres of
cooking oil and sugar, which she would sell at double the official price
back home. "This is how I have survived in the last seven years, in fact,
since the economy started collapsing in 2000," she said.
"I order cooking oil because it's not there in shops in Bulawayo; sugar has
also become a cash cow because people buy it like hot cakes when I reach
home. Despite the high cost, the few people with money still buy in bulk
because these commodities are unavailable in shops."
Onius Mhlanga, who described Zimbabwe as a "place of death", said he had to
ensure that he got home every fortnight "give groceries to my family, or
they will starve".
Mhlanga is a dried vegetable vendor in Gaborone. "I started hawking here [in
Botswana] two months ago, but business is very slow. In a good week I make
at least 200 pula, which is about Zim$600,000 [about US$25 at the parallel
market exchange rate, where US$1 buys Zim$25,000] ... I am told there is no
sugar back home, so I bought some for my family, including maizemeal and
cooking oil. It's a bit cheaper here, I am told."
A passenger listening to Mhlanga's story interjected with his own. "Just
this morning, I was speaking to my wife and the first thing she told me was
that the price of bread has gone up from Zim$3,000 [US$0.12] to Zim$7,000
[US$0.28]. She said she has just heard that petrol prices have also gone up
from Zim$13,000 [US$0.52] to Zim$ 20,000 [US$0.80] a litre. Her list of
price increases and goods that are in short supply seemed endless, so I had
to stop her and ask for better news instead. Sadly, there seemed to be
As the bus entered Plumtree, on the border between Botswana and southwestern
Zimbabwe, where all passengers had to declare their goods, the atmosphere
grew tense and tempers soon flared.
"Some of you have a habit of hiding other goods and making false
declarations, most of you Zimbabweans. You had better not try that today,
because we will catch you," yelled a customs official as he checked the
contents of passengers' bags.
"They [officials] say we are thieves and that we should go back home and
fight ... instead of coming to steal from them," said Mhlanga.
The queues of Zimbabweans laden with goods entering their country are as
just as long as the ones of those leaving. All are tired and irritable.
No statistics on the number of Zimbabweans entering Botswana are available,
but according to the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration,
more than 38,000 Zimbabwean migrants are being returned annually from
"What you see at the borders is just a tip of the overall effects of the
economic malaise we are going through ... Those who have the means to travel
now live in buses and trains as they head to Botswana and South Africa so
that they can order things for resale and live another day," said Eddie
Cross, an economist and advisor to the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
"The government wants us to believe there is no crisis, but the crisis is
there for all those who care to see. They say inflation is at 1,700 percent,
but a closer look at the national dynamics will reveal that it is much
higher than 2,000 percent already. But the worst is yet to come - give it a
Social and political commentator Felix Mafa told IRIN that the people of
Zimbabwe had not yet seen anything in terms of economic disintegration. "It
is true to say people are desperate now, but think of what the situation is
going to be like in December. We have already celebrated the dullest Easter
holidays because no one can afford [anything]."
While the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) is concerned over the most
recent assaults on media freedom in Zimbabwe, what is most shocking for the
FXI, according to a recent press statement, is the "grossly inadequate
response of the South African Government to the growing crisis in Zimbabwe".
Recently Edward Chikombo, Zimbabwean cameraman for the Zimbabwean
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) was murdered and journalist Gift Phiri from
the South African-based The Zimbabwean newspaper was tortured, and Time
magazine's Alexander Perry was convicted for reporting without
accreditation. It has been speculated that Chikombo's murder may be linked
to the smuggling of film footage of a badly-beaten Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Censorship in Zimbabwe has repercussions in South Africa as well, says the
FXI, and demonstrates the interlinked nature of the media freedom climate in
the Southern African Development Community (SADC). If pictures of the
growing repression in Zimbabwe do not reach the SA public, and SA-based
international correspondents are prevented from reporting on Zimbabwe, then
it is "our media freedom as South Africans that is being violated too".
The press statement continues: "South Africans will be unable to hold its
own government to account for its foreign policy choices on countries such
as Zimbabwe. South Africa simply cannot afford the luxury of 'quiet
diplomacy' in the face of such brutality, it amounts to a tacit endorsement
of censorship that affects the whole region."
The South African Government's approach towards foreign policy betrays
shocking double standards for a country that was liberated from the yoke of
apartheid partly because other countries took a principled stand against the
apartheid regime, says the FXI.
"Many in the SADC region struggled and died to free South Africa. Yet we
return these sacrifices with mealy-mouthed protestations about Zimbabwe
being left to sort out its own problems, peppered with an occasional
condemnation of the Zimbabwean government's conduct. In the same way that
the defence of human rights was at the core of these countries' foreign
policy, human rights should be at the core of South Africa's foreign policy
too, and should govern how the government conducts itself in all
international forums, and in relation to all repressive regimes."
The FXI does a great deal of work in the SADC region, and travels to SADC
countries all the time. The FXI hosts the Southern African Journalists'
Association (SAJA), which has two Zimbabwean affiliates (the Zimbabwe Union
of Journalists (ZUJ) and the Independent Journalists of Zimbabwe (IJAZ). The
FXI also undertakes work around access to information with economic justice
organisations in the region. As a South African civil society organisation
with strong working relationships in the region, the FXI distances itself
from the grossly inadequate response of the SA Government.
History no excuse
According to the FXI, Zimbabwe undoubtedly carries a colonial legacy from
the Lancaster House agreement, concluded with the British Government in
1980, that has profoundly disadvantaged the liberation cause in Zimbabwe.
However, says the FXI, this historical fact should not be used as an excuse
to justify internal repression, that the Zimbabwean government, and the
Zimbabwean government alone, is responsible for.
More specifically, the FXI believes that Zimbabwe's Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AAIPA), and the Public Order and Safety Act
(POSA), should be repealed, as they cast a pall over freedom of expression
in the SADC region. They also violate internationally accepted standards of
freedom of expression. The FXI will support all efforts on a cross-border
basis to have these acts repealed.
[10 Apr 2007 11:31]
April 10 2007 at 09:26AM
By Mauricio Langa
For some Zimbabwean nationals, flocking into South Africa is the only
way to flee a country where the economy is declining and political
repression occurs on a daily basis.
Once in South Africa, the "kwerekwere" - a derogatory term used to
refer to foreigners - engage in a host of different activities to support
and fend for themselves.
While regarded as unwelcome visitors by many, their affinity for the
arts and crafts has boosted a potentially lucrative tourist-related trade
For Charles Tom, 38, a Zimbabwean refugee living in Durban since last
year, life was not as easy as he expected it to be, but he said it was
comparatively much better than his life in Zimbabwe.
"It is very difficult here - my friends and I survive through making
(metal) craft work and sculptures," he said.
He added that things were made even worse as a result of the high
rental fees at their workshop in Umgeni Road, from where they operate.
"We pay a rental fee of R40 a day," he said.
Apart from the daily rental fee, Tom and his fellow countrymen have to
work even harder to pay for their monthly rent, food and transport.
"Every month I have to pay at least R1 900, and this amount includes
rent, transport and food," said Tom.
Tom also has to save to send at least some money home to assist his
family. He says he tries to send at least R1 500 every month.
And while Tom and his friends may have escaped the violence of
Zimbabwe and other strife-torn countries, crime has continued to touch their
"I have been a victim of a robbery where I lost all my money,
cellphone and other items," said an emotional Tom.
"They (criminals) take advantage of us because we are refugees and
Tom said in order to survive comfortably he needed to sell at least 20
items every month.
"When I get orders for a number of items it is a big sale - most of
the time I sell six items a month, and each item costs in the region of
R350," he said.
However Tom said that while life was better in South Africa, he hoped
to go back home once the situation changed for the better in Zimbabwe.
"Home is always home," he said.
This article was originally published on page 2 of Daily News on April
PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 46/010/2007
05 April 2007
UA 83/07 Fear of torture
Trade unionists Edward Dzeka and Joyce Muwoni have gone into hiding, after
threatening phone calls from the police, who want them to come in for
questioning about "illegal" trade union activities. Edward Dzeka was
by the police in September and reportedly tortured. Amnesty International
believes he and Joyce Musoni would be at grave risk of torture if arrested.
Edward Dzeka and Joyce Muwoni are local organisers for the General
and Plantations Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) in the farming town of
Chegutu. Edward Dzeka is also the district chairperson of the Zimbabwe
of Trade Unions (ZCTU). They went into hiding on 3 April after receiving
threatening telephone calls from people who said they were officers of the
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
ZRP and CIO officers reportedly accused the trade unionists of organising
workers in Chegutu town and on the surrounding farms to take part in the
national job "stay away" demonstration organised by the ZCTU on 3-4 April.
and CIO officers called at the GAPWUZ offices on 4 April asking where the
trade unionists were, and later went to look for Edward Dzeka at his home in
Some of the ZRP and CIO officers allegedly threatening Edward Dzeka and
Muwoni are known to the trade unionists. They are believed to be targeting
trade union leaders following the national job "stay away" demonstration.
Edward Dzeka had been arrested with 10 other trade unionists on 13 September
2006 for organising peaceful protests for the ZCTU. The 11 trade unionists
reportedly tortured by ZRP offiers at Chegutu police station. They have been
charged under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and freed on bail.
Amnesty International understands that Edward Dzeka and Joyce Muwoni are
threatened solely for exercising their rights to freedom of association and
assembly by organising a peaceful demonstration as part of their work for
GAPWUZ and the ZCTU. The rights to freedom of association and assembly are
guaranteed under Section 21 of Zimbabwe's Constitution, Articles 10 and 11
the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and Article 22 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Zimbabwe is a
Trade unionists in Zimbabwe operate in the face of severe repression. They
cannot freely organise peaceful protests and risk being arrested and
by the ZRP and CIO.
On 13 March ZCTU officers Gilbert Marembo and Michael Kandukuti were
by ZRP officers who had arrived at the ZCTU offices with a search warrant
allowing them to seize all "subversive material" found on the premises. The
officers were from the Law and Order Section of the Criminal Investigations
department based at Harare Central police station. The assault was witnessed
lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Police later seized fliers
the planned job "stay away" demonstrations.
On 13 September 2006 in Harare, ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo, Secretary
General Wellington Chibebe and First Vice-President Lucia Matibenga were
arrested while attempting to engage in peaceful protest about deteriorating
social and economic conditions in Zimbabwe. Other ZCTU members were arrested
Harare, Beitbridge, Bulawayo, Mutare and other urban centres. The day before
the protests, in an apparent pre-emptive action, police also arrested a
of ZCTU leaders at their homes and offices in Rusape, Gweru, Chinhoyi and
Kariba. (See UA 247/06, 14 September 2006, AFR 46/017/2006.)
AI Index: AFR 46/010/2007 5 April 2007
10 April 2007
HARARE - Cash-strapped Zimbabwe was forcing all motor vehicle importers to
pay excise duty in foreign currency, the state-run Herald reported
Finance Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has ordered that the ruling - which
will cover all luxury goods - take effect immediately, according to the
"Payments of customs duty and value-added tax on the importation of any item
of goods designated as luxury items shall be payable in US dollars, euros,
or any other currency denominated under the exchange control," Mumbengegwi
was quoted as saying.
The general rate of duty for cars ranges between 60% and 80%.
Previously, importers paid duty in local currency, making it relatively
cheap to import.
According to central bank figures, Zimbabweans have been spending an
estimated $400000 a day importing an average of 80 used vehicles from
Britain, Dubai, Japan, Singapore and the US.
The authorities pegged the local dollar at 250 to the US dollar in August,
but on the unregulated market a US dollar costs about Z$14000.
The used-car industry has become a boom business sector in Zimbabwe.
In addition to duty calculated against the cost of the car, freight charges
and insurance, importers have to pay surtax and value-added tax.
"Many people, especially those who had already paid for vehicles, will be
hard hit by this policy shift," an importer said.
Zimbabwe is in the seventh year of a recession characterised by four-figure
April 10th 2007
A Zimbabwean soldier has been charged with murder for allegedly shooting
dead a suspected border jumper in the south of the country, reports said
Tuesday. Bernard Mpofu was arrested after he shot and fatally injured
Happyson Dube on March 27 at a checkpoint near the country's Beitbridge
border post, reports the state-controlled Herald newspaper.
Dube was travelling on the back of a vehicle that failed to stop at the
checkpoint. As a result, Mpofo allegedly opened fire at the occupants of the
open-backed vehicle, hitting Dube in the head, the paper said.
Dube, who had a bullet lodged in his head, was then rushed to Nottingham
Estate Clinic where he was pronounced dead on admission, the paper said.
The soldier, who appeared before a Beitbridge magistrate on Thursday, was
remanded in custody to April 17 for trial.
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans try to flee Zimbabwe's economic meltdown
every year by crossing illegally into neighbouring South Africa.
Last year South Africa is reported to have deported more than 100,000
illegal immigrants back to Zimbabwe.
© 2007 DPA
On the 18th of April 2007 Zimbabwe is supposed to be celebrating 27 years of
independence. The thought of independence to any person is that of
happiness. It is the thought of being satiate at least in one's mind. Such
satiate state would come as a result of the basic freedoms as enshrined in
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Zimbabwe's struggle for
independence was premised mainly on the need for creating a just society
which recognised the aspirations of the majority black people for long
disenfranchised by the colonial and later the UDI systems. Indeed Section 20
of the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe enshrined the UDHR.
27 years later Zimbabweans are worse off in comparison with the rest of the
world. 27 years later the opposition leader in Zimbabwe is beaten for daring
to challenge the status quo, 27 years later in Zimbabwe Gift Tandare is
killed for attending a prayer service in a country that is predominantly
Christian, 27 years later innocent youths are brainwashed to the extent that
they see nothing wrong in raping their grandmothers, mothers and sisters and
bashing their own fathers and brothers, 27 years later the country's
intelligence sleeps on the job and sees the country's resources plundered,
the Reserve Bank swindled but pays attention to beating the country's
Parliamentarians and professionals and encourage brain drain. 27 years later
Zimbabwe's agriculture is in a shambles, industry is not producing,
Zimbabweans are hungry, thin, wasted, abused and eating only once a day
nutrients-deficient food. 27 years later the gap between the poor and the
rich is widening and there is tension. 27 years later journalists are being
murdered with impunity. Richard Mujeri, Gaudencia Munemo, Rodwell Mupungu
and many others are on the CIO hit list for having relocated to the United
Kingdom where they have decided to exercise their Constitutionally provided
right to criticise.
27 years later Zimbabwe is nowhere near being free, the streets and prisons
are the same as you can not talk anymore, one need to censor yourself to do
so. Somewhere in Chitungwiza, young Rumbidzai whose mother was born in 1980
with the hope of a free Zimbabwe goes to school hungry and does not know her
future in a country whose leader has transgressed her mother's childhood,
youth and is now leaning towards being the sole leader even in her own teen
years and youth years. Somewhere in Binga Chief Siyabuwa, marginalised by
the racist and illegal UDI government is still being marginalised by his own
black government. Clearly this is not the Zimbabwe we expected.
The MDC UK and Ireland is in pain for what is happening in Zimbabwe. As the
MDC we are the true defenders of the Revolution. We have remained advocating
for the sanctity of the aspirations of those who gave their lives to this
struggle. The MDC UK and Ireland subscribes to the UDHR as indeed are the
values of the MDC back home, we value the freedom of all Zimbabweans and as
such we have decided that on Wednesday 18 April 2007 we will all congregate
in London where we intend to march in through selected Embassies. Our
struggle for a new Zimbabwe has now become something we need to demand as a
matter of urgency. We are not happy that the international community
continues to be lukewarm when it comes to Zimbabwe. As the MDC UK and
Ireland let us all attend to effectively demand our country back. The
International Community is virtually doing nothing except waiting to see. We
will express our anger at the independence that we never had.
LETS ALL ASSEMBLE AT TRAFALGAR SQUARE IN LONDON AT 1000HRS ON 18 APRIL 2007
AND MARK THE DAY TO PROTEST OUR DISAPPOINTMENT WITH THE INTERNATIONAL FOR
FAILING US TO ENJOY THE INDEPENDENCE WE ALL GAVE SO MUCH TO ACHIEVE!
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tichaona Sibanda
10 April 2007
There are reports that Simon Mann, the British mercenary who is a close
friend of Margaret Thatcher's son Sir Mark, is close to death in a filthy
prison cell in Harare. He is due to be released from prison on May 11th.
The 53 year-old Mann, a former Old Etonian and SAS officer, was tortured by
Robert Mugabe's notorious state security agents. Sources revealed last week
that he is now suffering from multiple organ failure.
Reports said he is also going blind and has a life-threatening intestinal
condition caused by poor diet. Mann was a security consultant before his
arrest and is serving a seven-year sentence for his alleged part in an
attempt to oust Equatorial Guinea dictator, Teodor Obiang Nguema.
The Equatorial Guinea dictator wants Mann extradited to his country to face
further charges stemming from the attempted coup plot.
On Monday Amnesty International said it was monitoring Mann's condition and
attempting to obtain further information. Mann has admitted being involved
in the arms trade in Africa, but always denied his alleged part in the
foiled coup. He has maintained that weapons found in his possession at
Harare airport in 2004 were destined for a private company guarding diamond
mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The mercenary has also maintained that any confession he made was beaten out
of him. Mark Thatcher, an old school friend, was convicted in 2005 by a
court in South Africa, which ruled that he had helped finance the coup
attempt. Thatcher also denied any involvement, but was given a suspended
four-year prison sentence and fined £265,000.
Mugabe is believed to have been planning to hand Mann over to Equatorial
Guinea in exchange for oil. The tiny former Spanish colony is Africa's third
largest producer and Zimbabwe is in desperate need of fuel.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
ZIMBABWE CONSERVATION TASK FORCE
10th April 2007
RELOCATION OF "TUSKER"
Those of you who are regular visitors to Charara will probably remember a
mischievous elephant with one tusk who is resident there, hence his name
True to his nature, he has apparently been misbehaving again. Although he
has never killed anyone, he has been known in the past to toss tents into
the air, just for the fun of it. Campers have to guard their breakfast
because when he smells the food, he has been known to lumber into a camp
site and help himself to a snack. On one occasion, he wanted to come into
the Charara camping area, probably for breakfast, but was too lazy to walk
through the gate so he simply knocked the wall down and walked in.
Last weekend, however, he tried to trample a tent which was occupied by
campers and National Parks now feel he has overstayed his welcome. We have
been told that they intend to shoot him before he kills someone so we have
offered to relocate him to Matusadonna instead.
We have a supply of M99, the drug needed to tranquilize him and we have a
veterinary surgeon who is prepared to do the darting, monitor the whole
operation and administer the reversal drug once Tusker arrives in
Matusadonna. Ian Harris of Kariba Ferries has very kindly donated the use of
the Sea Horse to carry Tusker across the lake provided we supply the diesel.
We need about 500 litres of diesel to get to Kariba and back and for the
ferry. We are urgently appealing to anyone who can help with either the
fuel, or the funds to buy the fuel. Any assistance would be greatly
appreciated. Contact details below.
Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
Tel: 263 4 336710
Fax/Tel: 263 4 339065
Mobile: 263 11 603 213
Tuesday 10 April 2007
The struggle against white rule in Zimbabwe in the 1970s galvanised a
generation in the hope of a new Africa. Now the country has become a byword
for repression. Leo Zeilig traces the death of a dream
On 18 April 1980 the Union Jack was pulled down, the Zimbabwean flag raised
and Bob Marley and the Wailers played live to thousands. Zimbabwe was
The victory over the Rhodesian regime of Ian Smith was celebrated around the
world. Prime minister Robert Mugabe was the incarnation of the struggle that
had bought Zimbabwe's freedom.
Zimbabwe emerged out of the authoritarian and racist state established by
the British a century previously. In 1890 the territory was marked out and
handed to the imperialist adventurer Cecil Rhodes, who controlled the area
for his British South Africa Company.
The following 40 years witnessed the mass expropriation of land from peasant
farmers, the repression of any resistance, and forced labour in mines and
factories. Thousands of Africans were forced off their land and herded into
"communal lands", or reservations.
In 1962 the Rhodesian Front, a right wing party headed by the racist
Ian Smith, won power. Smith declared independence from Britain in 1965, in
what was called a Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
The decision to declare independence was made in the context of the growth
of resistance in Rhodesia and rising politicisation.
Smith ruled with an iron fist. His government killed thousands of so-called
terrorists and herded rural Zimbabweans into concentration camps to cut them
off from the nationalist freedom fighters.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was among a group of radical nationalists that formed
the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) in 1963. He showed his personal
commitment to the struggle - he spent the decade from 1964 in a variety of
prison camps and jails.
By the end of 1978 the united nationalist armed forces were somewhere
between 35,000 and 40,000 strong. The government's forces were engaged on
approximately six fronts, with martial law imposed throughout the whole
In 1980 liberation had been won. Mugabe was the radical voice of Zimbabwean
freedom, promising before independence that "none of the white exploiters
will be allowed to keep an acre of their land".
He vowed to end the massive inequalities in Zimbabwean society where more
than 80 percent of industrial production was controlled by foreign capital
and only 4,000 mostly white farmers controlled 70 percent of the most
In the early 1980s the new government increased spending on health and
education. Enrolment increased in primary education from 1.2 million in 1980
to more than 2.2 million by 1989, and in secondary schools from only 74,000
to 671,000 in the same period.
Arthur Mutambara, now a leader of the MDC opposition, remembers how he
worshipped Mugabe, "He was my hero, I used to idolise him. I was sold to the
socialist agenda and Zanu was our party of revolution."
But independence in Zimbabwe had been won on strict conditions. The 1979
Lancaster House agreement that led directly to independence guaranteed that
the property rights of the white majority would be safeguarded.
Mugabe left the farmers untouched. They were now not the "colonialists" and
"imperialists" but rather useful allies to the regime.
The compromises, delays and ultimately the failure to confront the issue of
redistribution were representative of Mugabe's general approach.
He preached reconciliation with his old enemies, "If yesterday I fought you
as an enemy, today you have become a friend. If yesterday you hated me,
today you cannot avoid the love that binds you to me and me to you."
As one person observed, "Despite its Marxist-Leninist rhetoric the Zanu-PF
government tried to preserve the largely white-owned productive structures."
The old structures of state repression remained intact.
Zanu massacred black opponents in Matabeleland, in the south of the country.
It has been estimated that between 1981 and 1988 between 10,000 and 20,000
"dissidents"' were killed.
The main trade union federation, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU), was packed with Mugabe's friends.
However, by the mid-1980s the economy had begun to stagnate. From 1986 per
capita GDP declined rapidly. Loans from the World Bank were accepted by the
government, causing foreign debt to rise from £400 million in 1980 to £1.5
billion in 1990.
The government introduced the first full Economic Structural Adjustment
Programme (ESAP) in 1991.
Following similar - and similarly disastrous - programmes in most of Africa,
the World Bank and the IMF insisted on the removal of import controls,
changes to what was regarded as "restrictive" labour legislation and
widespread public sector reforms.
The effects of these reforms were devastating. The year after the
implementation of the ESAP saw an 11 percent fall in GDP. In 1993
unemployment reached a record 1.3 million from a total population of about
New militancy was born out of the attacks. The old leadership of the ZCTU
was replaced by a new one. In 1988 Morgan Tsvangirai - a mine worker and
activist - became general secretary of the ZCTU.
In 1996 Zimbabwean society exploded. In August there was the first national
government workers' strike. Tens of thousands came out on strike against job
losses, bad working conditions and government corruption. As the strike
continued it developed clearly political aims.
An elected committee of rank and file trade unionists directed the strike.
Flying pickets moved from workplace to workplace arguing with workers to
join the movement.
The following year saw more demonstrations and strikes than at any time
since independence. As Tendai Beti, a leading activist at the time,
remembers, "You could smell working class power in the air."
University students, informal traders and workers recently made redundant
joined the struggle. Brian Kagoro, a student leader in 1997, recalls, "You
now had students supporting their parents on their grants, because their
parents had been laid off work. As poverty increased you had a convergence
of these forces."
Former fighters from the guerrilla war against the Rhodesian state became
galvanised by the mass upheavals. These war veterans denounced Mugabe.
The ZCTU repeatedly sought to lead and direct the mass movement. Rank and
file activists, often organising in labour forums - where large groups of
workers met to discuss politics - rushed ahead of union bureaucrats in
organising strikes and demonstrations.
From 1998 a recurrent theme of the labour forums was the demand for the ZCTU
to form a workers' party.
Finally in September 1999 the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was born,
and Morgan Tsvangirai became the movement's first leader. The MDC was formed
directly out of the ZCTU, promising redistribution of wealth to the poor.
The mood in the country was jubilant.
The party almost won the parliamentary election in 2000, winning 57 of 120
elected seats. The fact that it came close to toppling such a violent regime
after having only existed for 16 months is an indication of the extent of
the changes that were sweeping Zimbabwean society.
The MDC retained a working class base, but various NGOs, academics,
businessmen and lawyers had added their voices to the calls for a new
opposition. So the demands for a new party carried a contradiction.
On the one hand they came from the labour forums and the streets, who wanted
an end to privatisation, anti-union laws and the power of big business.
But on the other hand pressure was mounted by the middle class and some
sections of business who were threatened by the movement they now sought to
Mugabe was attacked by the masses, but he had also angered the global
powers. The IMF and World Bank shunned the regime, arguing it had caved in
too easily to "sectional interests".
Mugabe realised that the regime had to move quickly, and government rhetoric
began to lambast "Western racism".
Land was key to this reorientation. The government sanctioned the occupation
by war veterans of white-owned farms.
Before long Mugabe had outmanoeuvred the opposition in his party and won
most of the regime behind his new "left wing" stance. He remarketed himself
as a leader of the fight against imperialism and globalisation.
But his partial withdrawal from structural adjustment was a cynical move
forced on him by popular resistance and working class struggles.
The reality for most Zimbabweans has been a continuation of the
same policies while the regime mouths platitudes about "foreign powers".
Privatisation continues and the cost of fuel and food rises, while land is
redistributed mainly to a coterie of Mugabe's cronies.
Over the past three years Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor, has rolled
out an unforgiving programme of neoliberal reforms that have slashed
subsidies to the poor, while resuming debt repayments to the International
Monetary Fund. Mugabe has given the governor his full support.
Millions face a daily struggle to survive, as unemployment has reached 80
Morgan Tsvangirai has repeatedly threatened to remove Mugabe by
extra-parliamentary activity if he refuses to go legally. But the path to
this action has been blocked by a combination of repression and economic
The regime has unleashed a wave of terror, which has helped to paralyse the
Madzewo Chimuka, general secretary of Zimbabwe's Graphical Workers Union
(ZGWU), explains, "Though we organised two national strikes in 2004, the
environment was incredibly difficult. We had about 50 workers who were
severely beaten by police."?
The MDC remains the repository of hope for the majority of Zimbabweans, who
see the party as the only way of ridding the country of Mugabe.
Behind the party is the support of a generation of working class militants,
who formed the movement in 1999 and stand firmly with it.
Canwell Muchadya, president of the ZGWU, expresses the difficulties for
the opposition today. He said, "There is no rule of law and no jobs in
Zimbabwe, so for the opposition to say to workers, 'Come, let's fight' is
very difficult because people will respond, 'I will be beaten by the police
and lose my job'."?
Real improvements for Zimbabwe's workers and peasants will not come from the
authoritarian neoliberalism of Mugabe. Nor will they come from the policies
of George Bush and Tony Blair, those false friends of freedom who claim to
want democracy in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe can be removed by a coup in his own party, by pressure from the West,
or by a movement from below.
The fight is to achieve that final option, where workers and peasants
mobilise and shape the fall of Mugabe in a way that benefits the majority
rather than the imperialist world order.
Leo Zeilig is the co-author of The Congo: Plunder and Resistance and Crisis
in Zimbabwe, International Socialism Journal issue 94, Spring 2002. Both are
available at Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop. Phone 020 7637 1848 or go to
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if
you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.
Mail and Guardian
Thomas Hartleb | Johannesburg, South Africa
10 April 2007 06:10
Africa needs to rely less on donors and pump more money
into its public health systems, Botswana's Health Minister said in
Johannesburg on Tuesday. "We are trying to get Africa not to rely heavily on
donors. We must devote at least 15% of our budget to health. A few of us
have done that," said Professor Sheila Tlou.
She was briefing journalists following the opening of the
third ordinary session of the African Union Conference of Ministers of
The chairperson of the African Union's commission,
Professor Alpha Konare, said African countries have to make sure they get
better prices for their raw materials, stop the "ruinous wars" that prevent
health strategies from being carried out, and stop money from flowing out of
the continent illegally.
The gathering, held once every two years, aims to develop
an integrated health strategy for Africa.
"I'm convinced that if we can better harmonise our
programmes, we can save money," Konare said.
If no policy changes are made, Africa's health will be in
a decade where it is at present. "Last year we made new commitments to make
resources available, but when I look at the tools being implemented, I see
no positive developments," he said.
The commissioner for social affairs of the AU, Bience
Gawanas, said that on average between 3% and 10% of government spending in
AU countries goes towards health. In 2001, a commitment was made that this
be at least 15%, she said.
A pharmaceutical manufacturing plan is one of the
conference's agenda items. Most of the AU's 53 member states are "heavily
dependent" on imported medicine.
Gawanas said the plan emerged from the belief that Africa
has the capacity to produce both the required quality and quantity of drugs.
"I'm very confident that we are moving closer to a more collective approach
to the issues."
South Africa's acting health minister, Jeff Radebe, said
he thinks it is possible for Africa to manufacture its own medicines. He
called for uniform policies and standards as well as standardised
institutional arrangements for drug distribution.
On Africa's continuing malaria problem, he believes a
"concerted effort" can eradicate it. The World Health Organisation has noted
that South Africa's use of the controversial pesticide DDT "could go a long
way" towards eradicating the problem, said Radebe.
Other programmes the conference will be asked to approve
included ways of dealing with tuberculosis, traditional medicines, violence,
and the scarcity and exodus of health workers.
According to a Global Burden of Disease report,
road-traffic accidents are the eighth leading contributor to the burden of
disease in sub-Saharan Africa, and the third in North Africa.
The staffing of Africa's health systems has hit crisis
levels. Just 3% of the world's health work force is in Africa, while the
continent suffers from 25% of the world's burden of disease.
On the margin of the conference, civil society groups said
the eight-year African health strategy under consideration lacks clear
"We note with dismay that the document has little direct
reference to the clear and ambitious targets which were already defined in
the Brazzaville, Abuja and Maputo declarations [in 2006]," said Regis Mtutu,
of the Treatment Action Campaign.
In a statement signed by 53 NGOs and civil society groups,
they demand that African leaders prioritise implementing the Plan for
Achieving Universal Access to HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, 2007-2010.
They acknowledge that it is detailed and well thought out, and cuts across
all agenda items.
Since the 2001 Abuja declaration, only Botswana and The
Gambia have fulfilled the commitment that 15% of government spending go
towards health. It was also recommended that at least 2% of national health
budgets be spent on community participation and empowerment.
Miano Munene, of the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, said
the strategy does not cover diseases that arise during cross-border
conflicts in countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia.
A representative from Nigerian's Youth Network on HIV/Aids
said more than 90% of funding for anti-Aids campaigns comes from foreign
governments and NGOs.
"What are African governments doing with their own
resources? They need to look for ways to finance the fight against the
HIV/Aids pandemic," said Azubike Nwokoye.
Gcebile Ndlovu, from a Swaziland-based NGO supporting
women with HIV/Aids, said the health ministers' meeting should acknowledge
that the biggest HIV/Aids burden in Africa is borne by women and that they
are particularly vulnerable to the disease in conflict-ridden areas.
The Treatment Action Campaign's Mtutu made no apologies
for singling out Zimbabwe. "It seems to be getting worse both politically
and economically and we see this as a health crisis," he said. -- Sapa
Wednesday 11 April 2007
By Patricia Mpofu
HARARE - A leading regional media watchdog has expressed fear for the
safety of Zimbabwean journalists, warning of "unknown dangers that lie
ahead" after a recent government crackdown on opponents that saw at least
two journalists arrested and heavily assaulted by the police.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) predicted more trouble
for journalists as crisis-riddled Zimbabwe approaches potentially
history-making presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008, which some
analysts have said President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party
"The traumatic events of the past two months should also serve as a
harbinger of the unknown dangers that lie ahead for journalists and media,"
Prominent freelance photojournalist Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, film
producer Tendai Musiyazviriyo and reporter Gift Phiri had to be admitted in
hospital for treatment for injuries suffered after they were severely
assaulted while in police custody.
Mukwazhi and Musiyazviriyo were arrested on the same day last month
that the police arrested and severely assaulted opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, his secretary general
Tendai Biti and other senior leaders of the party after breaking up a prayer
meeting the party had organised with churches in Harare.
The media body said what was more worrying in the case of Mukwazhi was
the fact that he is officially registered with the government's Media and
Information Commission (MIC) but his accreditation card could not save him
Phiri, who is chief reporter of The Zimbabwean newspaper that is
published from London, was two weeks ago seized by the police in broad
daylight at a Harare shopping centre and taken to Harare Central police
station where he was brutally beaten, said MISA.
MISA said Phiri's narration of his ordeal at the hands of his
interrogators at Harare Central police station was reminiscent of events in
Nazi Germany, Pol Pot's Cambodia "the only difference being that this is the
Zimbabwe is widely regarded as one of the harshest places in the world
for journalists. For example, journalists can be sentenced for up to 20
years in prison for denigrating President Robert Mugabe in their articles.
Journalists also face up to two years in jail for practising their
profession without being registered with the MIC while newspaper companies
are also required to register with the state commission with those failing
to do so facing closure and seizure of their equipment by the police.
At least four independent newspapers including the biggest circulating
daily, The Daily News, have been shut down over the past four years for
breaching state media laws.
But violations against the media and journalists peak during election
times, a cause for worry among local journalists as the country prepares for
next year's polls that political analysts say could turn out to be the most
significant since the country won independence from Britain 27 years ago. -
Wednesday 11 April 2007
HARARE - A senior opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
official, Piniel Denga, who is facing charges of masterminding last month's
petrol bomb attacks around the country, was on Tuesday denied bail by a High
Justice Tedious Karwi dismissed Denga's bail application saying the charges
the MDC official was facing were "serious".
Alec Muchadehama, who is representing Denga, confirmed that the opposition
official had lost the bail application.
"The application for bail has been dismissed by Justice Karwi and we are
appealing against the ruling," said Muchadehama.
Denga, who was arrested last month together with several other MDC
activists, is being accused of masterminding several petrol bomb attacks
against a police station and other state institutions around the country.
The police alleged that they had found 54 sticks of dynamite and 24
detonators during a raid at Denga's home in Harare two weeks ago. Denga is
denying the charge.
Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa has over the past two weeks denied bail to
Denga three times arguing that the situation in the country was still
volatile following the bomb attacks.
If convicted, Denga faces a 10-year jail sentence.
Meanwhile, the High Court on Tuesday postponed the bail application filed by
nine MDC activists who are also being accused of petrol bombing police
stations around the country.
Lawyer, Alec Muchadehama said state prosecutors had requested for the
postponement saying they were still not ready for the case.
"We expressed our disappointment over the matter. Last week, the same thing
happened but if that happens again, we will ask for a default judgment,"
said Muchadehama. - ZimOnline