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Zimbabwe inflation data postponed "indefinitely"


Wed 11 Apr 2007, 10:41 GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's state data agency on Wednesday postponed
"indefinitely" the release of March inflation figures, which were expected
to show prices rising to a new record high in the financially-strapped
African nation.

The Central Statistical Office (CSO) had indicated it would release the
politically-sensitive data on Wednesday, but a senior official told Reuters
it was still compiling the numbers.

"We are postponing indefinitely ... we are still making further checks," CSO
acting director Moffat Nyoni said.

Soaring inflation has become one of the hallmarks of a deep economic crisis
in Zimbabwe, once one of Africa's most prosperous and stable nations.
Inflation hit an annualized 1,729.9 percent in February, a record for the
nation and the world's highest.

Analysts had expected an even worse figure for March, which would have dealt
another blow to President Robert Mugabe's government, which is under
pressure to adopt political reforms to avert a mass uprising and financial
meltdown in the nation.

The veteran leader has made the battle against inflation the centrepiece of
his plan to reverse the economy's slide, but the effort has been undermined
by worsening data in recent years.

Mugabe's government has forecast inflation to slow to between 350 and 400
percent by the end of 2007, but analysts and the International Monetary Fund
predict a continued rise. The IMF sees the figure touching 4,000 percent by
year's end.

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MDC says hundreds of activists abducted in crackdown

Zim Online

Thursday 12 April 2007

By Patricia Mpofu

HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic (MDC) party and
civic society organisations on Wednesday reported an increase in the
abduction of activists as state security agents step up a controversial
crackdown on government opponents.

Spokesman of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said figures
compiled by the party showed that a total of 600 activists were either
abducted or wrongfully arrested over the past weeks and were also subjected
to brutality while in the custody of the police or other state security

"Of the 600, a total of 150 people were hospitalised (after being assaulted
or tortured while in custody). A number are still languishing in the country's
prisons and police stations on trumped up charges," said Chamisa, who
himself was severely assaulted with iron bars in broad daylight by suspected
state secret agents as he prepared to catch a flight to Europe at the Harare
International Airport.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said two of its members
were on Tuesday abducted at gunpoint by unknown people. The whereabouts of
the two CHRA members, Darlington Madzonga and another only identified as
Costa, remain unknown.

"The reasons for their abductions are yet to be established as well as their
whereabouts," said CHRA in a statement to the media.

Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi however rejected as lies MDC and CHRA
claims that their members were being abducted saying state security agents
were only arresting people suspected of bombing police stations and other
state establishments.

Mohadi said: "Police are not abducting people. These are lies. What is
happening is that we are arresting criminals that are petrol-bombing police
stations and other state establishments."

President Robert Mugabe and his government accuse the MDC of setting up a
military wing called the Democratic Resistance Committee which they say was
responsible for training saboteurs to petrol bomb ruling ZANU PF party
offices and police stations.

They say the bombing campaign is part of a wider plot backed by Western
governments opposed to Harare and meant to make Zimbabwe ungovernable and
eventually lead to the toppling of Mugabe from power.

The MDC has vehemently denied resorting to violence to topple the government
and say the recent bombings of police stations and a train were carried out
by state secret agents in a bid to justify cracking down on the resurgent

Chamisa said full and comprehensive statistics on MDC and civic society
activists abducted or wrongfully arrested by security forces would be
released at a Press briefing scheduled for today. - ZimOnline

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Mugabe, churches set for fresh confrontation

Zim Online

Thursday 12 April 2007

††††† By Nqobizitha Khumalo

††††† BULAWAYO - The Save Zimbabwe Campaign says it will this Saturday hold
a prayer meeting in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo hardly a month after
the police violently crushed a similar meeting in the capital Harare.

††††† The Save Zimbabwe Campaign, is a coalition of churches, students,
labour and opposition political parties that is fighting for democracy in

††††† The coalition said it will join hands with the Zimbabwe Catholic
Bishops Conference for the prayer meeting at St Patrick's Church in

††††† The meetings comes almost a week after Catholic bishops set themselves
up for confrontation with President Robert Mugabe's government after they
last Sunday called for a meeting to pray for divine intervention in the
country's seven-year old political and economic crisis.

††††† St Patrick's Church, which is presided over by Archbishop Pius Ncube,
has in the past seen fiery sermons by the Catholic clergyman, a vocal critic
of Mugabe's government.

††††† A spokesperson for the alliance, Reverend Ray Motsi, said the prayer
meeting will go ahead this Saturday despite fears of a crackdown by Mugabe's
feared state security agents.

††††† "This is a prayer meeting for peace and it will go ahead as planned at
a city church and we do not need to seek permission from anyone when we are
seeking God's help to stop our suffering," Motsi said.

††††† Political tensions are on the rise in Zimbabwe after state agents
brutally tortured Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and other opposition officials for defying a police ban on
rallies last month.

††††† Motsi said Zimbabweans had a right to express themselves.

††††† "We are bona fide Zimbabweans and everyone who will be at the prayer
meeting will be there to pray for God's intercession in Zimbabwe's problems.

††††† "We do not like breaking the law but if there is something wrong, it
is up to someone to speak against it and we are doing that," said Motsi.

††††† In a strong pastoral letter read in churches around the country last
Easter Sunday, Catholic bishops warned Mugabe, himself a devout Catholic, to
embrace democracy or face revolt by disgruntled Zimbabweans.

††††† The bishops said there was a lot of simmering anger against the
government over the erosion of their democratic rights saying oppression in
Zimbabwe had reached similar levels experienced under tyrannical Pharaohs of

††††† Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain, has
publicly defended the assault on Tsvangirai and other opposition activists
saying they deserved to be beaten for defying police orders not to go ahead
with last month's meeting.

††††† The MDC and church groups accuse Mugabe of ruining Zimbabwe's once
brilliant economy which is virtually on its deathbed with rampant inflation
of nearly 2 000 percent, the highest in the world outside a war zone. -

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Tandare family under siege

The Daily Catalyst
11 April, 2007

The family of slain Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activist and
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) Glenview Chairperson, Gift Tandare
are under siege from the notorious Chipangano (ZANU PF terror group).

According to reports, the terror group has threatened Tandare's family with
torture if they fail to disclose names of the NCA activists who went for the
burial of the late Tandare at his rural home in Mt Darwin. Tandare was shot
dead by police in Mabvuku on the 11th of March 2007 during a Save Zimbabwe
Campaign Prayer Session. He was buried on the 17th of March in Mt Darwin at
gun point by state agents.

Relatives are refusing to take the family in as they are fearing for their
lives. Members of the family spent the Easter holidays in hiding after they
were forced to flee from their homestead.

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MDC reports arrests of Bulawayo activists

Sunday Times, SA

11 April 2007
By Donwald Pressly

The Movement for Democratic Change's national executive member, Sibukile
Nkala, has been arrested in Bulawayo and has been brought through to Harare.

Another Bulawayo-based MDC executive member Temba Nyathi (not to be confused
with party official Paul Temba Nyathi) was also arrested and brought to

He was detained at the Matapi Police Station, MDC's spokesman Eddie Cross

The MDC pointed out that the Matapi Police Station declared unfit for human
habitation by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe last year.

The party also reported that at least 13 Harare MDC members were being held
at the Harare Central Police Law and Order headquarters.

They were arrested over the weekend and being charged with petrol bombing,
Cross reported.

I-Net Bridge

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Interview: Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi & Opposition Official Grace Kwinjeh

SW Radio Africa Transcript

The guests on the programme Hot Seat are an unlikely pair: Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and opposition official Grace Kwinjeh. Grace was among the group of opposition leaders who were arrested and tortured while in police custody four weeks ago. But despite overwhelming video and picture evidence showing brutalised activists, the minister denies this.

Broadcast Tues 10 April 2007

Violet Gonda: My guest on the programme Hot Seat today is Grace Kwinjeh the Deputy Secretary for International Relations in the Tsvangirai MDC. She was among the group of opposition leaders who were arrested and tortured while in police custody four weeks ago and sheís currently in South Africa for medical treatment. Welcome on the programme Grace.

Grace Kwinjeh: Thank-you.

Violet: Now Grace, before we start I just wanted to play for you and also for our listeners an interview that I did with Kembo Mohadi, Monday evening. I asked him to comment about the attacks that are taking place in Zimbabwe right now and this is what happened.

Kembo Mohadi: Hello

Violet: Hello, Minister Mohadi?

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Yes

Violet: Hello Minister, my name is Violet; Iím calling from SW Radio Africa

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Where?

Violet: From SW Radio Africa

Minister Kembo Mohadi: What can I do for you Madam?

Violet: Minster I wanted to find out from you or to get a comment from you about the allegations from the MDC that a lot of their activists are getting arrested and tortured in custody. And, as the Home Affairs Minister, I wanted to find out or to get your comment on this.

Minister Kembo Mohadi: No we donít arrest anybody and torture people here in Zimbabwe . We arrest criminals and even if they are terrorist criminals we donít torture them. The law takes its own course, if someone has got a case to answer he goes to Court and he is convicted. Those allegations are false.

Violet: But Minister Mohadi these MDC leaders and activists have actually appeared in Court covered in blood. So how can you explain this?

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Ah no, when was that?

Violet: How can you explain this?

Minister Kembo Mohadi: When was that? When was that? When did they appear in Court covered in blood? That is a wrong statement. When was it?

Violet: The MDCÖ

Minister Kembo Mohadi: did you see them covered in blood?

Violet: Morgan TsvangiraiÖ

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Did you see them covered in blood?

Violet: MorganTsvangirai appeared on TV

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Ah no

Violet: He was seen on TV

Minister Kembo Mohadi: He was not even covered in blood. Thatís a lie. You come to Zimbabwe and witness this for yourself and donít be talking about things that you donít know. And we donít ban people from coming to Zimbabwe . Why do you have to listen to CNN and Sky News and BBC? Come to Zimbabwe and see for yourself and report correctly.

Violet: But Minister Mohadi you know thatÖ.

Sound of the phone line going dead

Violet: Hello? Hello? And we lost connection with the Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, but I called him back and this is what happened.

Violet: Minister we must have got cut off?

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Yes, I said come to Zimbabwe and report correctly man! We are bombed by the MDC, they are involved in terrorist activities and you donít report about that! Weíve got a lot of them in custody, weíve got a lot of them that are going on trial and have been remanded by our Courts. And they are possessing arms of war and you donít report about that. I say come to Zimbabwe and see for yourself man! We donít ban you from coming. You come to Zimbabwe you can see it for yourself other than to report from hearsay. I donít want to be talking to people that get these things from hearsay.

Violet: But thatís why Iím talking to you direct so that we can hear it from you

Minister Kembo Mohadi: No, no, no, you are talking to me directly over the phone. Come to Zimbabwe and report correctly!

Violet: But you know that SW Radio Africa is banned in Zimbabwe ?

Minister Kembo Mohadi: What ban? You come to me, Iím the Minister of Home Affairs and say you want to come and report then you, you you will cover the story that you want, other than talking. I donít want to be talking to you about rumours please; please can you please leave it alone

Violet: But thatís why Iím talking to you

Minister Kembo Mohadi: No, no, no, can you please leave me alone. Thereís nothing like that. Iíve told you that everything is false so what else do you want?

Violet: You have said that journalists can come to Zimbabwe , but how many journalists have been arrested?

Kembo Mohadi: Yeah why donít you come to Zimbabwe if you, you know who has been arrested?

Violet: Wasnít there a journalist Gift Phiri, an independent journalist who was arrested last week?

Kembo Mohadi: Who is that? Who has been arrested?

Violet: Gift Phiri is a journalist thatís actually at the Avenues Clinic right now

Kembo Mohadi: Ya but you come to Zimbabwe

Violet: Receiving treatment after he was brutalised by the police

Kembo Mohadi: No youíve got to, if you come to Zimbabwe youíve got to register, youíve got to report that you are a journalist, you are accredited. Donít just come and report when you are not accredited. Whether you are a freelance or what you get accredited man. We are a sovereign country here. You canít just come and do things as if you are on a picnic.

Violet: So are you sayingÖ?

Minis ter Kembo Mohadi: We must know what; we must know that you are in Zimbabwe and that you are reporting for that and that paper.

Violet: Minister Mohadi: there are several journalists whoÖ

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Rumour spreader, why do you, why, why Ö.

Violet: There are several journalists who have been assaulted

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Now there is no journalist that is in jail here in Zimbabwe, can you come tomorrow, fly tomorrow and then phone me, phone me on Wednesday because tomorrow Iím in Cabinet and fly in and come and identify a journalist that is in prison here or that isÖ

Violet: Gift Phiri is one journalist

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Ya you come and show me. There is no one of that sort, that isÖ

Violet: He was released just a few days ago

Minister Kembo Mohadi: No, no, thatís not true, thatís not true, thatís not true. Thatís not true.

Violet: So what is the truth?

Minster Kembo Mohadi: No, there is nothing. Iím saying thatís all false, we donít...

Violet: What about Edward Chikomba the ZBC cameraman who was murdered last week?

Minister Kembo Mohadi: He was murdered by who? Was he murdered by the police?

Violet: But is your government investigating to find out whoÖ

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Was he murdered by the police?

Violet : He was abducted in the same way that several opposition activists have been abducted

Minister Kembo Mohadi : Was heÖ Abducted by who? By who?

Violet: By members of the state security agency

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Abducted by who? Who? Oh no, can you tell me that? Can you come and

Violet: So is your government going to investigate to findÖ

Minister Kembo Mohadi: No come and look, ah please can you, if you donít want to talk to me stop giving me false accusations, ah please OK?

Violet: Minister do you understand thatÖ

Minister Kembo Mohadi: No, no, no I donít want to talk to you

Violet: Minister do you understand that Zimbabweans are frustrated with their daily struggles right now?

Minister Kembo Mohadi: Hey! Hey Hey Hey! Shut up!

Sound of the phone line going dead

Violet: But as a Minister, how can you even say that?

Sound of the phone line going dead again

Violet: And the Minister hung up again for the second time and when I tried to call him for the third time he would not pick up his phone. Now Grace, can you comment on this?

Grace Kwinjeh: I think itís such a tragedy for our country to have politicians of such a calibre. Politicians who do not think they have to be made accountable for their actions. Politicians who take journalists or the media for granted, who take the listeners of SW Radio Africa for granted. I think itís really sad but that is part of the whole problem we have in Zimbabwe now, of a ZANU PF leadership that does not think that it has to account to anybody; its own people, the region, or the broader international community. So everything they do is with impunity.

Violet: Right, now before we go to your experience or what happened to you, Minister Kembo Mohadi said that there are no journalists that are currently in detention and I gave him an example of Gift Phiri who was detained last week and he was tortured and he actually received treatment in a hospital in Harare . And then, is it not a fact that there is another journalist, Luke Tamborinyoka who is now the MDCís Media and Information Officer who is currently in detention right now?

Grace Kwinjeh: Yes, apart from Luke I can tell you that when we were arrested on the 11 th March we had two journalists with us. We had you know the photo journalist Tsvangirai Mukwazhi and another Reuters journalist who were tortured for the specific reason that they were journalists. There was nothing else, their torturers identified them as journalists who were taking pictures, who were reporting, and tortured them for that. So the brutal assaults on them, which I saw, which I witnessed, are something that you know I think itís laughable for the Home Affairs Minister to deny that exists. We know journalists are being hunted, haunted in Zimbabwe . We know that they are being tortured and we know that they are being killed.

Violet: And then also coming to Opposition officials and activists who are being arrested and tortured right now. Now you are one of them, one of the Opposition officials that was arrested just recently. Can you tell us what happened to you after you were arrested because the Minister denies that Opposition officials and activists were tortured in custody?

Grace Kwinjeh: We were tortured at Machipisa police station in the fence outside the cells for about four hours by different members of the State Agents. There were CIOís, there were officials from the Army, there were Riot Police and War Veterans. They all took turns to do whatever they could do to us, from beating us up with baton sticks to punches, to being danced on. Mrs Sekai Holland for instance had one official, a woman War Veteran, dance on her and call her Ďwhoreí and all sorts of things. So it cannot be denied that we went through such a horrific experience in the hands of State Agents at Highfields Police Station. And, after that, I was also tortured in the cells and there are witnesses to this in full view of police officials by army officials. That was on the morning of the 12 th of March. And, the Officer who was in charge there at Braeside Police Station, his name is Makore. So again, thatís something real that happened and there are witnesses. And, apart from the witnesses, we have wounds, visible wounds that we are being treated for.

Violet: Thatís what I wanted to find out from you

Grace Kwinjeh: Sekai Holland broke three ribs, broke an arm, broke a leg. I have internal head injuries, I have soft tissue injuries. And you know you saw Dr Lovemore Madhuku, you saw President Morgan Tsvangirai, Nelson Chamisa we know what happened to him, even after the 11 th March, what happened to him at Harare International Airport.

Violet: So in your case, what sort of treatment are you receiving? I understand you are in the same hospital with 64 year old Amai Holland, what treatment is she also receiving if you know?

Grace Kwinjeh: Well, a lot of treatment that includes a lot of therapy because what we went through this is really a nightmare and part of what we are receiving is therapy, de-briefing for us to get Ė to deal with the trauma. And, we are also receiving specialised treatment. For instance, for me itís the internal head injuries. In Zimbabwe you know they could only scan that I had a swollen brain but did not have the right technology to deal with these. So here again thereís the right technology for them to deal with the head injuries and the dizziness that Iím suffering from. Mrs Holland has had two operations so far and she still canít walk by the way. She is still bed ridden.

Violet: And in your article recently entitled the ĎWoman in Meí you said you did not cry or beg for mercy and that none of the other victims on that day when you were arrested on the 11 th March cried or begged for mercy or denounced the Party or in any way tried to negotiate a way out of being brutalised. Now, was this position planned beforehand?

Grace Kwinjeh: Was this?

Violet: was this position planned beforehand that people would not cry and you knowÖ?

Grace Kwinjeh: No, everyone was, didnít know they would get tortured. You donít plan torture, none of the people there knew or felt or even could foresaw that we could get tortured. The least we knew was that we would be arrested. The torture and the shock that came with that torture was amazing but not crying really was this just extraordinary strength that just overcomes you. I think itís just something that comes from God you know because these people are really brutalising you, you know, they want to kill, you know the things that they are doing to you. But, itís amazing that of the people who were there, the more than thirty of us, none of the people, everyone just withstood the pain because they would take turns around people, especially around the leadership. If they call up Sekai Holland then they are beating her non stop, then Lovemore Madhuku, Grace Kwinjeh, Morgan Tsvangirai and so on. But you know you just get an extraordinary strength from God. You know something just makes you look at evil in its eye, and you just look at it and bear it and of course they did beat us up like that.

Violet: What did they use when they were beating you and can you identify the attackers?

Grace Kwinjeh: Yes, I saw two of them in Court when we were in Court later on, on the 13 th March. But they were using all sorts of weapons. I was beaten up, for instance parts of my ear came off, they were using a metal bar about a metre long. You know, a metal bar on my head. Thatís really attempted murder. And I couldnít even see that part of my ear was off until much later when they were secretly transferring us from Machipisa to Harare Central Police Station. So I was bleeding from the head, and I thought itís my head bleeding and then later I touched and I felt this thing sticking out of my ear and it turns out that part of my ear was off. So they were using all sorts of weapons even army belts and then kicks. You know the woman who danced on Sekai Holland was wearing these thick winter boots so you know this was something they had planned in advance. Itís hot in Zimbabwe right now, weíre in the height of summer and you know sheís in these thick, thick long winter boots, the ones you get in the United Kingdom with fur inside. And, she is dancing on Sekai, she danced on William Bangoís head. So

Violet : Did these people look like they were intoxicated because you can imagine Amai Sekai Holland is, as I said before, 64 years old, and you can tell that sheís a grandmother? Now you know when this woman, this other woman was dancing on top of her and beating her like this, did they look like people who were sober, you know, who really knew what they were doing?

Grace Kwinjeh: Itís not about them being sober but itís about it, I think, representing the kind of ZANU PF politics that we have to deal with in Zimbabwe . The level of intolerance, the level of brutality when a regime or a political party is challenged. You know what, the kind of venom you get from ZANU PF politicians, what you got now from Kembo Mohadi, that event there just crystallised all that, just shows you what ZANU PF is and what it stands for.

Violet: And also Grace you wrote in your article, and I quote and you said Ďand so, as is the case too often in Opposition politics, the attack on us women was more on our sexualityí. Now what do you mean by this?

Grace Kwinjeh: Yes because it was about our bums, the colour of my hair and different things, being called whores and so on or the husbands, the colour of husbands we have chosen to marry, as in the case of Sekai Holland. But none of the male colleagues were assaulted or insulted in that way. For them it was really political, so if they were beating up Lovemore Madhuku itís because heís leading NCA demos and etc. So, the attack on women, you know, the way rape is used as a weapon. Look at what is happening to women in Sudan for instance. Look at what happens in war situations, the way rape has often been used as an instrument. Itísthe way you know the ZANU PF thugs were using our sexuality against us.

Violet: So do you believe that you were brutalised and treated in this way mainly because you are a woman?

Grace Kwinjeh : Yeah

Violet: I mean do you mean thereís a campaign of violence directed against women by the Mugabe regime.

Grace Kwinjeh: Yes. But then, that kind of violence when they call you whores and so on, is also characteristic you know of the misogynistic nature of our environment. The intolerance against women, especially women who come out in leadership or in the public sphere, women who are challenging certain things about the society. And the only way the male colleagues can deal with you is by calling you Ďwhoreí, then you are finished, you have to shut up. And, unfortunately that kind of politics is not in ZANU PF alone but you find it even in Opposition politics, you find it even with fellow male journalists, you find it everywhere. The only way to silence a woman is by calling her a Ďhureí (whore) and on this day unfortunately it was in such a violent and brutal manner which was really terrible.

Violet: And you know, in a way violence against women goes against our culture and what boys are taught by their parents. Now, it may sound like a repetition but do you believe that the Mugabe regime has to use particular people like psychopaths or youths high on drink and drugs to commit acts of violence against women in this particular case?

Grace Kwinjeh: Yes, I think for them to perpetrate that kind of violence they have to be intoxicated by something and you could see after the four hours the heart beating. You could see later on at Harare Central Police Station for instance when some of them started to sober up, you could see that they were really afraid of what they had done. And thatís the unfortunate bit of it, that they are used at that moment and once that really Ė I feel sorry for the youth, the 16 year olds, 18 year olds, 20 year old youth who are involved in the militia who are given drugs and they carry out these acts of violence, these unlawful acts of violence and then later on they have to face the consequences.

Violet: So what was going through your mind when this was happening?

Grace Kwinjeh: Nothing. You just look at them. Nothing you know, nothing happens, you freeze, everything in you freezes temporarily. And for me, I was tortured on that day and then later on they came to torture me again in the cells. Nothing happens. You know, itís one of those moments that you just stop thinking and look at evil, like I said.

Violet: Now you have made enormous sacrifices, both physical and material, leaving your young family to fight for change in Zimbabwe . Do you wish now that you had taken an easier path?

Grace Kwinjeh: No, not at all, not at all. I think the struggle continues and I think many of the comrades who are in the struggle, many of the comrades I was told that those who are in remand who have been denied bail are actually in high spirits. Thereís something about it Violet, when you are there Violet and you are feeling it and going through it, thereís something about it that just gives you enormous strength and that just tells you that God is on your side. And so, I donít regret it at all, I think that itís really my fate or my destiny, I had to go, thatís why I had to go back to Zimbabwe, I had to be part of the leadership at this phase of our political history. And I think itís an important phase because itís going to lead us somewhere and I think thatís why the regime is panicking.

Violet: And just before you left for South Africa with Mai Sekai Holland you had been released, you know, to a hospital under Riot Police guard and then you were arrested again whilst trying to leave the country to go for urgent medical treatment in South Africa . How do you interpret the actions of the government then and were you very afraid when you were being denied that chance or that right to leave the country for treatment?

Grace Kwinjeh: Yeah itís scary, itís really scary. What they did is, we were in a MARS Ambulance, so they actually let us get all the way to the airport and it was at the airport that they turned us back. First we had stopped at Harare Central Police station where our lawyers were talking to them trying to negotiate that we had to leave and that there were no charges against us. If you remember that the State could not present its case to the Magistratesí Court so there were no charges, everybody was free. But then, we were told Ďno, that was not the caseí So we were brought back under police guard, we had to sleep with Riot Police in front of us with guns and having been tortured, you imagine that the people who tortured you are there in front of you and you are trying to sleep. So itís a very nasty traumatic experience which I hope never to go through again in my life. So we had them on 24 hour guard from Sunday up to Wednesday. And then on Wednesday when we managed to get a Court Order that we could leave the country that is when they left and on Wednesday night we managed to sleep well.

Violet Gonda: And Grace what about the issue of the way forward? What are your views concerning the regional initiative to bring the political parties together?

Grace Kwinjeh: I think thatís good for the political parties together. In any war situation, time comes when the warring parties have to get together and come up with a settlement. But, what needs to be understood are the basis upon which those parties are coming together and what they have to come up with. We have had the experience of 2000, weíve had the experience of 2002, weíve had you know numerous experiences where ZANU PF will pretend to be doing something, you know to be negotiating in good faith and yet on the other hand they are in reverse gear to whatís being discussed or what is getting agreed upon. So, I think that this time round, and the use of violence as a negotiating tool, I think that is wrong. Because what Mugabe is doing now, he is saying OK Iím going to abduct, Iím going to arrest, Iím going to kill as many people so by the time these folks come and people come round the table you are negotiating and three journalists get killed, not five. You are negotiating that 15 journalists get arrested not 30 and negotiating that the Opposition be allowed to hold rallies under POSA when we know POSA is wrong. So what they are basically doing is raising the tempo so that at the end of the day whatever we get as Zimbabweans, we are so desperate that we say yes this is what we want. But that is wrong.

We want what is basic. We want internationally accepted norms and standards of democratic practice. We donít want you know, mediocrity, the kind of mediocrity that weíve been having in Zimbabwe since 2000. Iím here in South Africa ; they are enjoying certain things freely like that. There is an article, for instance, in one of the newspapers today; there is a woman who is complaining that she got her passport after six weeks. This is a passport after six weeks; the public is outraged. In Zimbabwe having a passport has now become a privilege. So we are saying in Zimbabwe we want to live well like in other countries in the region and other countries internationally. But butchering us into succumbing is really wrong and I hope that President Mbeki this time round realises that no, we have to have certain solid understanding of what we want to achieve. Otherwise, like the efforts in 2000 and 2002 nothing much is going to be achieved.

Violet Gonda: Thank you very much Grace Kwinjeh.

Grace Kwinjeh: Thank you

Audio interview can be heard on SW Radio Africa ís Hot Seat programme (Tues 10 April 2007 ). Comments and feedback can be emailed to

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Press Freedom Falls Prey to Arrests And Torture

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

April 11, 2007
Posted to the web April 11, 2007


The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in Zimbabwe has warned
journalists of an increasingly hostile working environment after the
abduction and subsequent murder of a freelance reporter, and the arrest and
torture of two other foreign correspondents.

"The unlawful arrest and subsequent severe assault of photojournalist
Tsvangirai Mukwazhi while in police custody on 11 March 2007, and that of
Gift Phiri on 1 April 2007, behoves Zimbabwean journalists to be on high
alert as they conduct their lawful and professional duties," MISA said in a

"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
workers, given that Mukwazhi's whereabouts remained unknown until his
subsequent appearance in court three days later on 14 March 2007."

Mukwazhi was arrested while covering a prayer meeting called by civic
society organisations three weeks ago, when opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leaders were also detained. He was allegedly
severely tortured while in police custody, despite having the requisite
practicing certificate from the country's media regulatory authority, the
Media and Information Commission (MIC).

Phiri, an independent journalist who contributes to the British-based 'The
Zimbabwean' newspaper, was also arrested last week and severely tortured. He
was held in custody for nearly a week before being released but was
subsequently charged with practicing without a license and "writing

Last week, Edward Chikomba, a cameraman previously with the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation, the state broadcaster, was abducted from his home
in Harare and later found murdered, his body dumped by the roadside near
Darwendale, a township about 60km north of the capital, Harare.

Many journalists believe Chikomba was murdered for allegedly transmitting
the images of a bruised and battered Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of one of the
factions of the main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
to the international media, a charge the police have strongly denied.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena told IRIN the police sympathised with
the Chikomba family and were still investigating the circumstances
surrounding his abduction and murder.

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), which represents the interests of
the majority of journalists, also expressed the fear that there was a
deliberate government policy to harass and intimidate the media. ZUJ
secretary-general Foster Dongozi told IRIN that the organisation condemned
all forms of media harassment.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the abductions and torture of
journalists in the past few weeks. More frightening is the murder of
Chikomba, whose killers are yet to be brought to book," Dongozi said.

"We wonder if this is government policy to silence the independent media,
and we have already engaged the minister of Information and Publicity to
clarify the government position on the issue; journalists are worried and
wonder who is going to be the next victim of such barbarism. We are also
concerned about the continuing arrest and assault of accredited journalists
in the country," he added.

Information and Publicity minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told IRIN that the
pattern of harassment and intimidation seen in the past three weeks was not
a reflection of government policy. "Which country would allow such
lawlessness to prevail? It is not our policy, and we condemn all such acts."
He said his ministry was also investigating the incidents.

He expressed confidence in the police, and suggested that opposition
elements bent on tarnishing the image of the country could be responsible
for the wave of assaults on the media.

A number of other foreign correspondents have either been arrested or
threatened by government since the beginning of the year. In 2006, Reporters
Without Borders, a media watchdog, ranked Zimbabwe at 140 out of 168
countries listed in its Press Freedom Index, just below Equatorial Guinea
and Sudan.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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Living under "Operation Go to Sleep"

Photo: Kubatana
Police have increased patrols across the country
MHONDORO, 11 April 2007 (IRIN) - As early as seven in the evening there is no sign of life at the Mamina shopping centre in Mhondoro, a village 100km west of Harare, the Zimbabwean capital. Since the police crackdown on the opposition in March, an unofficial curfew has been in place across the country. Residents have complained of raids on shopping centres, particularly pubs.

A policeman who participated in the crackdown said the raids had been codenamed 'Operation Chirara' (Go to Sleep), and their superiors had told them the action was necessary to forestall unrest.

A month ago, Mamina was a hub of activity: in its numerous liquor stores loud music blared till late at night while local residents sat drinking with the workers from nearby farms.

"Since political disturbances flared up in Harare and elsewhere in early March there is virtually no night life here in Mhondoro," a resident told IRIN. "The police here have all but imposed a curfew on the people, and they are afraid to venture out after dusk."

In February the police imposed a three-month ban on political gatherings, and then cracked down on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) when it attempted to hold a meeting in Harare in March. An opposition party†supporter was killed and†MDC leaders were beaten up.

This set off a wave of violence: more opposition supporters were arrested and beaten up and there was a string of petrol bombings around the country. A resident claimed that since then the local police began raiding shops in Mhondoro, beating the patrons and forcing them to go home.

"They [police] would come in a truck and order everyone out, saying no one was supposed to be seen drinking after nine ... [people] would hurriedly leave this place as soon as it gets dark, because they are afraid of being assaulted," said a shop owner.

He is considering closing down his liquor outlet because of poor patronage. "I might only reopen after the elections next year." Zimbabwe is expected to hold both parliamentary and presidential elections by March 2008.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he was not aware of 'Operation Chirara' and the raids, and would investigate.

Photo: Kubatana
Zimbabwe has been tense since March, when police used teargas to disperse people ahead of a planned prayer meeting in Harare
Samuel Katanha, a teacher at a local secondary school, now resorts to taking a tipple at home after being assaulted by the police during one of their raids.

"One day they came and ordered everyone to lie face down. They used baton sticks to beat us and I made the mistake of challenging them ... The six of them turned on me and accused me of being big-headed because I was a teacher. They assaulted me all over the body and I suffered a broken tooth, but that did not deter them from arresting me and falsely accusing me of refusing to obey an order from the police," Katanha told IRIN.

His ordeal did not end there: when he visited the clinic, the nurse on duty told him that he needed to obtain a police report on how he sustained his injury, but the police refused to help him. "They told me to go and report to Raymond Majongwe [president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe] and that was when I decided to travel to Harare to see a private doctor, meeting my own transport and medical expenses."

''They used baton sticks to beat us and I made the mistake of challenging them''
At the beginning of the year, the union organised a strike to demand higher salaries, so the police and members of the ruling party now view Katanha with suspicion because, as a schoolteacher, he is considered a member of the opposition.

Tonderai Gwari, 31, who pans for gold in the nearby Ngezi River with his friends and always looked forward to an evening at the shopping centre with them, said the police were "being overzealous over nothing".

"I don't understand the brutal action by the police on fun-loving people. This area is a ZANU-PF [ruling party] stronghold and there are no chances that the MDC will win here. We have not witnessed any cases whereby people tried to cause disturbances, and we cannot be made to live in fear in an area where we were born and bred," he told IRIN.

Because of lack of transport and adequate manpower, Gwari claimed, the police were using youth militia and some war veterans to monitor shopping centres in the Mhondoro area, reporting individuals they suspected of being potential troublemakers.

He alleged that the militia had formed vigilante groups, which patrolled the area in the name of neighbourhood watch committees and told villagers that they would not receive food aid unless they were active members of the ruling party.

"Since there is drought this year, there are plans to form food-for-work brigades, whereby people will reclaim gullies and participate in road
construction, but these militia are saying that only active members of ZANU-PF will be considered," said Gwari.

Pedzisayi Ruhanya of Crisis in Zimbabwe, a coalition of more than 300 nongovernmental organisations, said the virtual curfews imposed on the villagers by the police were meant to intimidate the people because "the ruling party, especially from 2000, has depended mainly on rural areas for support, but the worsening economy is changing that; they are therefore not leaving anything to chance".

Describing the country as being in a "de facto state of emergency", Ruhanya said the police were denying people the right of freedom of movement by flushing them out of areas of entertainment without legal justification.

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Peace movement backs day of action for Zimbabwe

By staff writers
11 Apr 2007
In solidarity with an appeal for prayer from Catholic bishops in Zimbabwe
and the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, the peace movement Pax
Christi International is calling for prayer and action for the people of
Zimbabwe this Saturday.

Catholic Bishops have joined others in suggesting that the Zimbabwean crisis
is growing ever more serious, as "the suffering population becomes more
insistent, generating more and more pressure through boycotts, strikes,
demonstrations and uprisings, the State responds with ever harsher
oppression through arrests, detentions, banning orders, beatings and
torture. ...the situation is extremely volatile."

President Robert Mugabe also faces deepening opposition within his own party

Nonetheless, there are no signs of the 83-year-old leader relinquishing
power, despite mounting pressures at home and abroad.

African leaders have requested South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki to
assist in mediating the country's political crisis.

Zimbabwean Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo has also urged non-violent
direct action to bring about regime change.

A recent pastoral letter issued by the Zimbabwean bishops' conference called
for 'concrete action' to inspire hope, and proposed that that this Saturday,
14 April, be observed as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Zimbabwe.

Pax Christi International has likewise appealed for prayer and action
throughout its worldwide networks on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe,
calling for gatherings of prayer and actions of solidarity with Zimbabwe. It
is also urging letters and telephone calls of appeal to Embassies of
Zimbabwe in countries where Pax Christi Member Organisations are present.

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Zim to get SADC rescue package - report


††††April 11 2007 at 03:13PM

Harare - A senior official from Southern Africa's key economic bloc
was due in Zimbabwe Wednesday to identify what will be needed for an
economic rescue package for Harare, state radio reported.

Prega Ramsamy, the executive secretary of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) was tasked with coming to Zimbabwe to undertake
a study on the country's deteriorating economic situation by an
extraordinary SADC summit held two weeks ago in Dar es Salaam.

That summit was also convened to hear President Robert Mugabe's
version of the politically-charged events in his country, which last month
saw dozens of opposition officials and civic rights activists detained and
beaten by police.

At the summit President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa was chosen to
mediate between Mugabe's ruling party and the two main opposition factions
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The southern African leaders also called on Western countries,
including Britain, the United States and the European Union to lift their
targeted sanctions against Mugabe and dozens of government and ruling party

Mugabe's government blames the country's economic crisis, marked by
the world's highest inflation rate of more than 1 700 percent and shortages
of fuel, food and foreign currency, on the targeted sanctions.

The SADC economic rescue package is aimed at cushioning the country
from the negative effects of the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by
the US, Britain and their allies as punishment for the land reform
programme, Wednesday's radio report said.

Western countries dismiss Harare's charges that their punitive
measures are behind Zimbabwe's economic meltdown, blaming it solely on
disastrous policies pursued by the government.

These include a programme of white land seizures launched seven years
ago that has drastically reduced agricultural production, once the country's
economic mainstay. - Sapa-DPA

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African family must face up to its fools

Business Day

11 April 2007

Mangosuthu Buthelezi


THE Zulu people have a saying which I believe crisply captures what is
happening in Zimbabwe today: "Akukho silima sindlebende kwabo". It
translates as "Even a fool whose ear is disproportionate to the other ear is
not regarded as such within the family". I find it interesting that African
leaders all seem to subscribe to this saying: that for the sake of "African
solidarity" we should not allow those regarded as "outsiders" to criticise
one of our own. I experienced this first hand whenever the issue of Zimbabwe
came up for discussion at Southern African Development Community meetings as
minister of home affairs.

I remember one such discussion in Angola after the US had made it clear that
President Robert Mugabe would not be welcome at a meeting of, I think, the
G-7. The general reaction in that meeting of the council of ministers was
that the US had no right to make such a ruling. I gingerly raised the issue
of the help we needed for the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(Nepad), which we expected from countries such as the US. I enquired whether
my African brothers did not think that such people had a right to express
their views, if we expected them, at the same time, to help us.

During the tea break some foreign ministers congratulated me for raising the
issue in the manner I did. Yet not one of them did so in the plenary

In fact, in the next plenary session in which I wanted to speak, my
colleague, the foreign minister, told me I had to tell her first what I
wanted to say, as she was the leader of the South African delegation.

Mugabe, in view of the above, might be justified for believing that he
enjoys widespread support among ordinary Africans. The man and his record
are, of course, far more complex than the one-dimensional African
Hitleresque caricature: hero turned villain. Boasting impeccable struggle
credentials, Mugabe is still something of a folk hero to many Africans. It
is difficult for observers in the west to comprehend the conundrum this
presents Mugabe's fellow African liberation leaders in terms of censuring

The entire Mugabe phenomenon, cemented in stereotypes as it is, is baffling.
Some in our ruling party and outside of it lead us to believe that the
fiercest opposition to the Mugabe regime comes from the west, its alleged
stooges in the Movement for Democratic Change and the dispossessed white
farmers. Few black South Africans would acknowledge that the main victims of
the regime's misrule have increasingly been ordinary black Zimbabweans.

It seems a lifetime since Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, former president of
Tanzania, recalled to me how he plaintively told Mugabe at his inauguration
in 1980: "You have inherited a jewel. Don't do what I did in Tanzania. Don't
destroy it!" If only Nyerere's form of socialism, ujamaa, was the worst that
would have happened to Zimbabwe over the next quarter of a century.

In fact, for a time it seemed that Mugabe's peculiar domestic mix of
doctrinaire socialism and semi-free enterprise economy could work as it
brought relative prosperity and social progress in the form of health care
and education to the black population in the 1980s.

Since our northern neighbour slipped into chaos in the late 1990s, Mugabe's
tottering government has been buoyed by considerable populist support of the
rawest kind. As the latest issue of The Economist put it, "many Zimbabweans,
paradoxically, both despise and admire him". And not just Zimbabweans. That
is why I think, in this context, it is wrong to single out President Thabo
Mbeki for blame.

Mugabe has skillfully justified his authoritarian misrule within a discourse
of legitimate redress for colonial injustice and imperialism.

These sentiments have resonated across Africa. Large numbers of Africans
feel marginalised by the global economy and its mighty supranational
institutions and remain wedded to the Marxist narrative of the liberation
struggle. I watched Mugabe receive rousing plaudits from many African
delegates at the World Development Summit in Johannesburg in 2002 - the same
conference at which he launched a scathing attack on Tony Blair and Britain's
colonial past.

Two years later, at Mbeki's inauguration, he received an equally rapturous
welcome. I have seen this spontaneous outpouring of affection for a bankrupt
African leader before. I recall watching the heady welcome that Idi Amin,
the former Ugandan dictator, received from crowds of Kenyans when he arrived
at the Nairobi Hilton as chairman of the Organisation of African Unity in
the 1970s. I remember on one occasion being rebuked by some of my fellow
black leaders in The Sowetan for daring to speak against the self-styled
"King of Scotland". This, particularly, leads me to recall the Zulu saying
that I quoted at the beginning.

And so it is with Zimbabwe today. Many senior African National Congress
officials are genuinely concerned about the crisis, even though few of them
would care to admit it in public.

And this is it. This is where we all have blundered. This is where lies
our - South African - complicity in the failure of Mugabe's regime. We have
let the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorate so fast and so far without as much
as a word of concern.

Yet, all along, at home we have celebrated human rights, promoted
reconciliation and respected the rule of law and the political opposition.

Given these obvious double standards in my own country, as an African I feel
I am obliged to take some of the blame for Mugabe's belief that he is right
to hang on.

Let's look beyond the denialist Mbeki. He is not the only one to blame. We
are all culpable.

?Buthelezi is an MP and president of the Inkatha Freedom Party. This is an
edited version of his latest online letter.

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Mbeki must condemn state violence

New Zimbabwe

By Mary Revesai
Last updated: 04/11/2007 20:11:00
THABO Mbeki, the man chosen by the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) as its trouble-shooter on the escalating Zimbabwean crisis does not
inspire confidence in view of the spectacular failure of his "quiet
diplomacy" over the last five or so years.

This time around, he is reported to be keen to move swiftly to ensure free
and fair elections in Zimbabwe next year.

He is reported by the South African press to have declared; "In reality we
don't have enough time. The Zimbabweans have got eleven months to do
everything that is necessary to ensure those elections are free and fair and
that the outcome of those elections will not be contested by anyone."

He is reported to have appointed Sydney Mufamandi, South Africa's provincial
and local government minister to lead the mediation effort.

But if Mbeki's peace-broking is to be conducted ethically, he needs to
abandon some of the self-limiting assumptions that have hamstrung his
efforts over the past five or so years.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will be taken for
another ride if it does not insist on clear terms of reference from the word
go. Under the cloak of "quiet diplomacy" Mbeki displayed incredible levels
of muddled thinking which led many observers to conclude that he was not a
neutral referee in the matter but an active collaborator of the Zimbabwean

Since 2000 when the Mugabe regime embarked on the violent and haphazard
seizure of land from white farmers, the Zimbabwean problem has been
characterised by a war of words in which all sorts of denunciations and
claims have been made to distort or deny realties on the ground.

The Mugabe regime's intransigence has been anything but diplomatic and
quiet. For Mbeki to have expected to succeed in that poisoned atmosphere
without speaking out and making a concerted effort to establish the truth
independently was a recipe for the unmitigated disaster his mission
eventually proved to be.

Tragically for the opposition and Zimbabweans at large, Mbeki does not seem
to have learnt any lessons from past experiences. He is already talking
about getting the MDC and the ruling Zanu PF in the midst of the escalating
state-sponsored violence in which opposition activists continue to be either
brutally tortured or abducted and murdered.

It is difficult to understand how he expects the opposition to participate
in the talks when its members continue to be killed and maimed. Mbeki's
first act after accepting the mantle of mediator on behalf of SADC should
have been to break his self-imposed silence and condemn the on-going
state-instigated violence. He should have made it clear that state violence
had to end so that the groundwork for his mission would be undertaken in a
peaceful and conducive atmosphere,

In the past, Mbeki has defended his reluctance to condemn the Mugabe
regime's excesses and abuses by claiming that the 83-year old octogenarian
would have told him off. Lately he has indicated that before the
extraordinary SADC summit in Dar es Salaam three weeks ago, he did not have
a mandate to tackle the Zimbabwean crisis and that whatever he did was only
on the basis of South Africa being Zimbabwe's neighbour.

But now that he has been mandated by SADC to oversee the process, he should
not be allowed to conduct a covert operation where no-one knows what he is
doing and saying. If he is the best man for the job, as SADC seems to think,
he cannot be allowed to be a timid messenger as was the case in the past.
The Zimbabwean crisis involves life and death issues that demand calling a
spade a spade.

Mbeki cannot pretend not to know that the Mugabe regime has
institutionalised violence as a survival strategy. He was present when
Mugabe gloated about the battering of opposition leaders in Dar es Salaam,
making it clear that his regime was not being falsely accused of
perpetrating these atrocities. The point that should be made is that if
SADC'S motives for intervening in Zimbabwe are honourable and sincere, its
mediator should insist on the cessation of state violence against the
population NOW.

There is no point in focusing on the outcome of the elections in about a
year's time when the "rigging" of the polls and tilting of the playing field
in Mugabe's favour is already underway through torture, abductions and
murders designed to terrorise the population well in advance. There has been
no let-up in Mugabe's reign of terror since the people of Zimbabwe voted
"NO" in a constitutional referendum in 2000. Despite this, SADC and other
bodies that have sent teams to observe parliamentary and presidential
elections have declared these free and fair on the basis of the conditions
prevailing in the few days leading up to the actual voting.

This has always been a dishonest approach designed to let the Mugabe regime
off the hook. SADC should take things more seriously this time not only
because it is the right thing to do but to save lives. The period between
now and the holding of elections next year threatens to be the bloodiest and
most dangerous for Zimbabweans. If not stopped, Mugabe, who has his back
against the wall, is prepared to go for broke in his last ditch attempt to
impose his will on the electorate and the nation.

If Mbeki is allowed to conduct his peace-broking mission under the same
murky conditions as before, SADC will go down in history as having
facilitated the deadliest charade in its history.

The crisis in Zimbabwe is about human rights abuses and ruthless crushing of
dissent affecting the population everyday. Zimbabweans would feel betrayed
by Mbeki once again if he continues to keep his SADC and African union light
under a bushel by not condemning and calling on Mugabe to end his reign of
terror now.

Mary Revesai is a New columnist and writes from Harare. Her
column will appear here every Tuesday

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The Catholic Church Can Save Zimbabwe

Publius Pundit Filed under: Africa

"The structures of sin [are] rooted in personal sin, and thus always linked to the concrete acts of individuals who introduce these structures, consolidate them and make them difficult to remove. And thus they grow stronger, spread, and become the source of other sins, and so influence people's behaviour."

Pope John Paul II wrote the above in 1987 on the cusp of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Western leaders of liberty Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were driving home a campaign to hasten the evil empire's demise from abroad, but the Pope had something unique that they couldn't have hoped to match: a direct connection with the more than 90% of people who were professed Catholics. Besides the fact that he himself was Polish, the church itself could connect with people in a way that even the ideas of freedom coming from Western leaders never could. Religiosity can transcend borders, fear, and even death itself.

What matters most is that by the 1980s, Catholicism and the church's organizational structure had completely permeated Polish civil society. The Pope's message of resistance -- his identification of the inherent evil in the totalitarianism of the Soviet-sponsored state -- passed through the ears of the cardinals, from their mouths to the ears of the archbishops, and so on to the ears of the laity. For example, significant support had been given to the Solidarity movement, which was crucial to filling its ranks.

The Church was also instrumental in preaching non-violent struggle; using its organizational structure to ensure compliance with this tenet. Father Jerzy Popieluszko, the unofficial spiritual adviser to Solidarity who became a martyr following his murder by state security officers, constantly urged millions of believers not to be goaded into violence. Doing so would only recreate the same structures of inhumanity that they currently lived under, whereas mass non-violence would ensure a peaceful transition from oppression.

Do not struggle with violence. Violence is a sign of weakness. All those who cannot win through the heart try to conquer through violence. The most wonderful and durable struggles in history have been carried on by human thought. The most ignoble fights and most ephemeral successes are those of violence. An idea which needs rifles to survive dies of its own accord. An idea which is imposed by violence collapses under it. An idea capable of life wins without effort and is then followed by millions of people.

The fight against foreign communist occupation was one such wonderful and durable struggle, and it succeeded in transposing that regime with new, democratic one based on respect for human rights and dignity. This was able to occur precisely because of the doctrine of non-violence. Its adherence by both the leaders and people of the new Poland created a new structure from which opportunity and freedom could flow rather than corruption and destruction. An idea capable of life grew out of the people who had created the new structure.

Even the security services, whose very nature was based on the violent protection of the previous regime, would not fight the millions of countrymen, neighbors, and families who stood in their way. The price of participation had become too high, and it dissolved away.

In Zimbabwe, where President Mugabe has ruthlessly oppressed his own people, religiosity has begun to take on an increasing light in the social sphere. Whatever is left of civil society takes place very often in the sanctuary of the country's churches. With nearly a quarter of the population identifying with Roman Catholicism, and many more clamoring for spiritual leadership against oppression, the church is in a significant position to lead the people of Zimbabwe in their quest for freedom.

Church involvement in Zimbabwe has been going on for quite some time already. But as the country reaches the height of its crisis, its organizational outreach has also sought new levels.

Over the Easter holiday, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, which includes the nine archbishops and bishops of the country, released perhaps the most condemning pastoral letter since the struggle for independence. Titled, "God Hears The Cry Of The Oppressed", it was posted to congregation bulletin boards, distributed roundly, and read aloud all over Zimbabwe, with people scrambling to know its content. In the letter, the bishops call Mugabe's regime exactly what it is, using the same quote by Pope John Paul II above. Additionally, it relates the current struggle to another that all Zimbabweans know dearly: the one for independence.

Black Zimbabweans today fight for the same basic rights they fought for during the liberation struggle. It is the same conflict between those who possess power and wealth in abundance, and those who do not; between those who are determined to maintain their privileges of power and wealth at any cost, even at the cost of bloodshed, and those who demand their democratic rights and a share in the fruits of independence; between those who continue to benefit from the present system of inequality and injustice, because it favours them and enables them to maintain an exceptionally high standard of living, and those who go to bed hungry at night and wake up in the morning to another day without work and without income; between those who only know the language of violence and intimidation, and those who feel they have nothing more to lose because their Constitutional rights have been abrogated and their votes rigged. Many people in Zimbabwe are angry, and their anger is now erupting into open revolt in one township after another.

The people are growing in their revolt. Even the security forces, loyal to Mugabe only because of the paychecks, are torn in their actions. Underneath the oppressive regime is the development of an alternative structure to supersede it. This structure must continue to be nurtured and led, with a focus on mass non-violence, so that Mugabe's replacement does not follow his lead.

For this reason, the Catholic Church at the highest levels should become involved. Generally, it has yielded to protecting its flock, which at times has meant forgoing resistance under the threat of a severe crackdown. At other times, such as in Poland, it has resisted when its flock comes under the great pressure of totalitarian or atheistic ideas.

The time for that resistance is now. In his "Urbi et Orbi" Easter address, Pope Benedict XVI spoke all too briefly of the impending crisis: "Zimbabwe is in the grip of a grievous crisis and for this reason the Bishops of that country in a recent document indicated prayer and a shared commitment for the common good as the only way forward."

More can be done. The mantle of Pope John Paul II needs to be taken up. Pope Benedict is in the position to endorse the bishops of Zimbabwe, aid them, and speak to them and their congregation directly. He can fly in, preach resistance to a huge crowd in the middle of Harare, and even Mugabe wouldn't be able to touch him. (If he did, he'd really be in trouble).

The international community cannot be relied on, or trusted, to pressure Mugabe to leave power and dismantle his regime. Many countries driven by the ideology of freedom, such as the United States, simply do not have enough influence and organizational structure with the people of Zimbabwe. Other governments that are much closer and influential, such as South Africa, have proven that they do not feel the moral imperative to act on the behalf of simple human dignity alone; only proving that its leadership is of a similar kinship. Denying him would be denying themselves.

The considerable influence, not to mention moral and spiritual authority, of the Catholic Church and its leaders may be the only thing standing in the way of Mugabe. At this critical point in the country's history, these brave souls who are already in the thick of this struggle for freedom need all of the support and guidance that they can get. It is only right, indeed only moral, that the church's doctrine of resistance to oppression not lay solely on the square of the shoulders of the laity, but on those of pontiff as well.

There need not be martyrs, just the belief in the eternal righteousness of human liberty and the desire to see it made. In this, the church can help Zimbabwe save itself.

Sokwanele says:

This is an interesting article, Robert - especially the idea of this: "[Pope Benedict] can fly in, preach resistance to a huge crowd in the middle of Harare, and even Mugabe wouldn't be able to touch him." What a truly amazing day that would be!

The history of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe under Mugabe is possibly more loaded than most realise.

In the early 1980s - a mere two years after Mugabe took power - the Catholic Church played a critical role in gathering testimony from victims tortured during the Gukuruhundi and from the relatives of the many murdered. As many as 20,000 CIVILIANS were killed in Mugabe's post-independence political purge. When you think that the figure believed to have died during the civil war leading to Independence was around 30,000, an additional 20,000 civilian deaths at the hands of a liberation 'hero' after independence is breathtaking.

One of Mugabe's biggest critics - definitely hist most outspoken bluntest critic - is the Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube. He recently said he was ready to face bullets if necessary to remove Mugabe from power. A fearless, incredible man.

During the Gukuruhundi, curfews and movement restrictions were placed over the areas where the 5 Brigade operated so many people didn't know what was going on. The Catholic Church, through priests, mission staff and doctors locked within the curfew boundaries of rural Matabeleland, were caught up witnessing and recording some of the most barbaric crimes ever committed against Zimbabweans. They recorded events, noted troop numbers and movements, and did what they could to protect people and bring an end to the atrocities. Given the level of isolation and extreme sadistic cruelty, I am in awe of what these decent people tried to do for ordinary people.

The brutality was carried out by a special section of the army, 5 Brigade, directly answerable to Robert Mugabe and whose training , by the North Koreans, was organised BEFORE Mugabe took office (he knew what he was going to do).

A report into the atrocities was written jointly between the 'Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace' and the 'Legal Resources Foundation'. It's called 'Breaking the Silence" and it was published in 1997. A full version was recently made available on the web via David Coltart's website here.

I would encourage anyone who wants to understand exactly what kind of man Robert Mugabe is to read this report.

I'm going to post a link back to your article via the comments section of our blog.

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10 dead in Zim bus crash


April 11 2007 at 06:55PM

Harare - At least 10 people were killed and around a dozen injured on
Wednesday when a bus overturned in southern Zimbabwe, state television

A police spokesperson told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation that
six people died on the spot while four others died on the way to hospital
after the accident in in the Mashonaland east province.

Survivors said the bus was heading to the capital from the border town
of Beitbridge when it veered off the road and overturned outside the town of
Featherstone, 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Harare.

Other passengers said the bus, which was carrying mostly cross-border
traders, was overloaded.- Sapa-AFP

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Zimbabwean Government Taxed Over Levying Duties in Hard Currency


††††† By Carole Gombakomba
††††† Washington
††††† 10 April 2007

A new regulation issued by the Zimbabwean government requiring import duties
on vehicles and other luxury goods to be paid in hard currency is drawing

Experts say it runs counter to the national constitution which says the
Zimbabwe dollar is legal tender for all purposes. Economists say the new
rule, which took effect Friday, signals government desperation to bolster
official foreign exchange receipts.

Economist Godfrey Kanyenze of the Labor and Economic Development Research
Institute in Harare said the government needs to devalue its currency again,
noting that it is ironic for Harare to trumpet its sovereignty when it
demands that local taxes be paid in British pounds, U.S. dollars or South
African rand.

Economist John Robertson told Studio reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Harare has penalized itself with an unrealistic
exchange rate.

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Zimbabwe Ruling Party Could Foil South African Mediation, Analysts Caution


††††† By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
††††† Washington
††††† 10 April 2007

In the two weeks following the Southern African Development Community summit
that appointed South African President Thabo Mbeki mediator of the Zimbabwe
crisis, the headlines have been dominated by news of the Harare government's
crackdown on political and civic opponents rather than peace overtures and

Many analysts express skepticism as to Mr. Mbeki's chances of success based
on the results to date of his approach of "quiet diplomacy" with President
Robert Mugabe, but say they intend to give the South African leader the
benefit of the doubt - for now.

One argument in favor of more decisive action by Mr. Mbeki, they say, is
that the crisis in Zimbabwe has become a more apparent liability for South
Africa, which has seen a key export market shrivel while a wave of
Zimbabwean emigrants floods south.

But analysts warn that Mr. Mbeki could face many pitfalls in dealing with
Harare and Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party which is loath to relinquish
power, and that if he fails it is likely be because of a lack of commitment
by the ZANU-PF leadership.

Despite reports that top figures in the ruling party were anxious to see Mr.
Mugabe step down, ZANU-PF endorsed him as its presidential candidate in
March 2008.

Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe sought the views
of two Zimbabwe-watchers about the possible outcomes to Mr. Mbeki's
mediation: Glen Mpani, a student of democratic governance at the University
of Capetown, South Africa, and Brian Kagoro, a Nairobi-based human rights
lawyer and activist.

Mpani said Mr. Mugabe and his party are likely to resist Mr. Mbeki's

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SA doctors plead for Zimbabwean opposition

Business Day

†11 April 2007

Chantelle Benjamin


SOUTH African doctors have called on President Robert Mugabe's government to
stop human rights abuses and intimidation of doctors in Zimbabwe, following
reports of medical staff being prevented from treating injured opposition

Their message came as Catholic bishops in Zimbabwe took the unprecedented
step of using their annual Easter message to urge Mugabe to end oppression
and leave office through democratic reform or face a mass revolt.

The plight of doctors and nurses struggling to survive on their salaries
amid growing inflation and a lack of medical supplies has been highlighted,
but doctors recently reported that they were being prevented from treating
citizens regarded as "politically unacceptable" by the Zimbabwean

This emerged during recent attacks on members of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in which about 600 people were injured.

The South African Medical Association (Sama) said in a statement that
"doctors must be allowed to ... practise medicine without the fear of

"The allegations relating to denial of access to health care are serious
since this is a fundamental human right and entitlement of every person,"
said Sama chairman Kgosi Letlape.

He urged Zimbabwe to uphold the United Nations Charter and the Universal
Declaration on Human Rights, to which the country is a signatory.

The Catholic church also joined the chorus of voices calling for an end to
the violence in Zimbabwe, where several thousand people gathered in Harare
alone to attend Mass on Sunday.

The majority of Zimbabwe's Christians - including Mugabe - are Catholics.

The bishops' letter, which was entitled "God hears the cries of the
oppressed", said: "Many people in Zimbabwe are angry, and their anger is now
erupting into open revolt in one township after another.

"In order to avoid further bloodshed and avert a mass uprising, the nation
needs a new people-driven constitution that will guide a democratic
leadership chosen in free and fair elections." With Sapa-AP

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Zim gets maize boost from Malawi

Wed, 11 Apr 2007

Malawi, swamped with surplus maize from two bumper harvests, will export
400&nbsp000 tonnes of the staple to cash-strapped Zimbabwe, the head of the
state-run strategic maize reserve agency said on Wednesday.

"Malawi has had two good years of bumper maize harvest and is in surplus of
about 1.1 million tonnes," Nasinuku Saukila, general manager of the National
Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) told AFP.

"Zimbabwe has been shopping around for maize. We will be exporting 400 mega
tonnes of maize following a demand from that country.

"The general picture in the region is that there is a problem and there is
demand for our maize and we will export on first come first served basis,"
the NFRA chief said.

Saukila said maize exports this year would give "local farmers and traders a
steady market for their surplus maize."

Millions of Malawians depend on maize for their food needs, which is grown
on small plots.

"Maize traders were looking for a market and if we buy from them, it will
have a multiplier effect as rural farmers are also likely to benefit,"
Saukila said.

The poor southeastern African nation, which annually needs two million
tonnes to feed its 12 million people, had a maize surplus of 500&nbsp000
tonnes last year and is set for a bumper harvest in 2007 of three million
tons, a 22 percent increase.

Good rains to thank for surplusl
The surplus is due to subsidised fertiliser and prolonged periods of
rainfall, agriculture experts say.

Malawi, where food security is a pressing issue with about 60 percent of the
people living below the poverty line, met its food needs for the first time
in seven years in 2006 with a harvest of 2.2 million tonnes.

Famine threatened up to five million people in 2005 following drought and
the government spent over $100-million to import more than 400&nbsp000
tonnes of food to avert hunger.

Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of the region, recently announced it would
need to import hundreds of thousands of tonnes of maize.

Harare blames the shortfall on lengthy drought but critics say its
agricultural policy, including depriving hundreds of white commercial
farmers of their land, is largely at fault.


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Imports keep Zimbabwe inflation hot

Business Report

April 11, 2007

Harare - Zimbabwe's annual rate of inflation was expected to touch the 2 000
percent mark when the latest figures are released by the central statistical
office on Wednesday.

Inflation has been on a roller-coaster ride since December 2004 when it shot
up to 622.8 percent and now stands at 1 729.9 percent - the highest rate in
the world.

Victor Zirebgwa, an economist with the financial thinktank Techfin Financial
Research, said all indications were that the upward spiral would continue.

"We expect inflation to be between 1 900 - 2 115 percent," Zirebgwa told

"The pressure is coming from imported inflation because most of the basic
goods we use in the country are imported.

"The importation of goods has a negative bearing because most of the money
used to buy these goods is sourced from the black market."

The IMF has warned that inflation could end this year at over 4 000 percent.

Central bank governor Gideon Gono last month compared Zimbabwe's inflation
rate to the AIDS pandemic and warned it cannot be tackled by government
alone. - AFP

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Zim Aids drug prices soar in financial crisis

11th Apr 2007 17:31 GMT

By Ian Nhuka

BULAWAYO - The price of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in Zimbabwe has almost
quadrupled in the past three months, it has been learnt. The cycle of
increases was pushing the life-prolonging drugs beyond the reach of many
ordinary people.

Resultantly, scores of patients are dying since they can no longer
afford to buy the life-prolonging drugs, said Benjamin Mazhindu, head of the
Zimbabwe Network for People Living with HIV and AIDS (ZNNP+). In January, a
month's course of ARVs cost around Z$80 000, but a†
survey conducted yesterday revealed that the drugs now cost a staggering
Z$300 000.

Interviewed yesterday, Mazhindu painted a bleak state of affairs for
the country's estimated 1,8 million HIV positive people. Although he could
not disclose figures, he said, "it was common cause that a good number of
our members are dying since they cannot continue taking their drugs because
of high prices."

Noting that the majority of his organisation's members are out of work
because of ill health and as such lack money to buy the drugs, he made an
impassioned appeal for government to scale up treatment and for employers to
provide the therapy to their workers.

"Like I said, it is not a secret that the country is losing scores of
people who could otherwise have been productive if the drugs were cheaper.
My appeal to the government and employers is for them to work out mechanisms
to provide workers with the drugs, because as it is they are not beyond the
reach of many of them," said Mazhindu.

Of the 1,8 million people living with HIV and AIDS in the country, only
about 65 000 are provided with subsidised ARVs by the Government. This means
that about 1, 73 million have no option but to buy the costly medication,
rely on handouts from non-governmantal organisations or simply go without
it, literally marking time. Foregoing the medication or stopping it
mid-stream is very common in the country as people's incomes continue to be
eroded by soaring inflation.

An average worker earns about Z$400 000 per month. However, the prevailing
economic crisis, manifesting itself in the world's highest inflation of 1
700 percent and blamed on President Robert Mugabe's ruinous policies, has
made health services inaccessible to the majority poor.

"Only a few us of are accessing drugs from public health institutions.
That coupled with the high prices of the drugs at pharmacies means just a
few of us have access to treatment," said Mazhindu, who spends Z$600 000 on
ARVs per month. In January, pharmacists in Bulawayo raised the price of ARVs
from an average of Z$30,000 to about Z$80,000, saying the review was an
inevitable response to the country's economic woes, which has seen inflation
surge to more
than 1, 700 percent, and foreign currency shortage bite.

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Hitschmann's Application for Bail Thrown Out Again

The Herald (Harare)

April 11, 2007
Posted to the web April 11, 2007


FOR the fifth time, former Rhodesian soldier Peter Michael Hitschmann's bid
to have his freedom back failed at the High Court after his application for
bail was thrown out.

Hitschmann had sought bail pending trial arguing that there were changed
circumstances to warrant the court to release him after his trial failed to
resume in Mutare during the just ended High Court session.

But Justice Alfas Chitakunye on Thursday last week found no merit in the
argument by Hitschmann's lawyer Advocate Eric Matinenga and dismissed the

Making his ruling, Justice Chitakunye accepted the prosecution's contention
that Hitschmann, who is currently on trial, was not suitable for bail saying
were he granted bail, he could abscond in view of the strong evidence
against him.

Hitschmann is on trial for allegedly keeping dangerous weapons and
attempting to assassinate President Mugabe and other Zanu-PF officials in

He was arrested in Mutare together with four MDC members and four serving
police officers following the discovery of an arms cache on his premises.

The prosecution, however, dropped charges against the police officers and
the MDC members but said the case could still be pursued by way of summons.

At the time his trial was adjourned last year, the High Court -- on circuit
in Mutare -- advised Hitschmann's lawyer to apply for bail if the trial
failed to resume during the first term of the High Court session which began
in January.

However, the term ended last Thursday without continuation of the trial,
prompting Hitschmann to make a fresh bail application.

The trial is now expected to resume in July during the second term of the
High Court circuit for Mutare.

Ms Fortune Kachidza of the Attorney General's Office appeared for the State.

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Crisis in Zimbabwe


††††† [Analysis] As situation deteriorates, is there a solution?

††††† Ambrose Musiyiwa

†††† Published 2007-04-11 12:05 (KST)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Deputy Director Siddharth Tiwari described
the state of the economy in Zimbabwe as "tragic" and "grim."

"It has faced three, four, five, six years of continuous output decline, a
rise [in] prices at these rates over several years, increase in poverty, a
decrease in public services, increasing HIV/AIDS rates. It is a tragic
situation, frankly, and prospects are grim; they are not bright," he said.

The prospects are so grim that nearly a third of the country's 12 million
people have fled, some to escape the poverty and others to escape the way in
which President Robert Mugabe's regime deals with dissent. Since coming to
power in 1980, the regime has routinely destroyed or appropriated political
opponents' homes and possessions and "redistributed" them to ZANU PF
officials and supporters. Dissidents risk losing lives, homes and

Operation Murambatsvina, the government's controversial urban slum clearance
program, created over half a million internally displaced persons and
destroyed the livelihoods of close to 10 percent of the population. Eighty
percent of the country's population is unemployed. The IMF estimates that
the rate of inflation, which currently stands at over 1,700 percent, could
reach an unprecedented 4,000 percent this year. The average life expectancy
in the country has dropped to 37, possibly the lowest in the world.

The infrastructure is crumbling. Basic food commodities, transport, foreign
currency, fuel and power are in short supply. Water treatment plants break
down frequently and outbreaks of cholera in urban areas are claiming many
lives every year. Nearly a quarter of the population is dependent on food
aid in order to survive.

These concerns have led to waves of industrial action, political
demonstrations and protest marches. If it is not college and university
students, it is women's rights groups, the constitutional reform movement,
trade unions, or one or both factions of the main opposition political
party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) who are taking to the

Each wave of protests is dealt with ruthlessly. It starts with public
threats of violence by senior government officials and the deployment of the
country's secret police, the Central Intelligence Organisation, to harass
organizers, civic leaders and political opponents in an attempt to instill
fear, to prevent the planning of protests, and to stop planned protests from
going ahead.

On numerous occasions activists like Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ) Secretary General, Raymond Majongwe, have been harassed and severely
assaulted by the police for organizing peaceful protests. Others -- like
civil rights activist and Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) national
coordinator Jenni Williams -- have been told by the country's security
agents that they will pay with their lives if they continue organizing and
taking part in demonstrations and protests. Some activists, like University
of Zimbabwe student leader Christopher Giwa, have died in accidents
involving military personnel, prompting speculation that their deaths were
nothing short of political assassinations. No public inquiries into their
deaths were ever held.

The free hand and impunity with which security agents harass, detain and
torture ordinary citizens, trade unionists, civil rights activists and
members of opposition political parties is not the only problem. The
Government has introduced a battery of repressive legislation such as the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) of 2002 and the
Interception of Communications Bill of 2006, which is expected to be passed
shortly, in an attempt to curtail citizens' rights to organize, express
their grievances or protest against the way in which they are being

Critics of the regime have to contend with being placed under constant
surveillance by the country's security agencies. They also risk being placed
under a travel ban: in 2005, the country introduced laws allowing government
agencies to withdraw passports from people who threaten the country's
national interests and security. People on the government list whose
passports are to be withdrawn include opposition political party officials
Paul Themba Nyathi and Grace Kwinjeh; human rights lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa
and Gabriel Shumba; and journalists Geoff Nyarota, Nqobile Nyathi, Lloyd
Mudiwa, Basildon Peta and Caroline Gombakomba.

However, in spite of bans on demonstration and political rallies and in
spite of the repressive laws and the heavy-handedness with which security
agents deal with dissent, industrial action and protest marches are going to
continue until a solution is found to the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Lord Hamilton of Epsom recently asked, "If it is right to invade Iraq to get
rid of the tyrant Saddam Hussein, who was making life hell for the citizens
of Iraq, why is it not right to invade Zimbabwe to get rid of the tyrant

Such a move would be unfortunate.

It would only serve to make the situation worse for the ordinary man, woman,
and child in Zimbabwe and would further undermine the democratic process in
the country. It would give credence to Robert Mugabe, who accuses the MDC
leadership of being puppets of the West and who has repeatedly said that the
crisis in Zimbabwe is because of efforts by Britain and the U.S. to
overthrow his government. As has happened with Saddam Hussein in Iraq,
invading Zimbabwe to get rid of Mugabe would turn him into a martyr and
would lead to the unnecessary deaths of innocent and unarmed civilians.

The solution to the crisis rests with the people of Zimbabwe.

For a number of years now, independent newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube has
been calling for a "third way" -- sentiments that have been echoed recently
by the International Crisis Group in its March 2007 report, "Zimbabwe: An
End to the Stalemate?."

In an interview with Chipo Chinembiri (Institute for War and Peace
Reporting, Dec. 13, 2005), Ncube said, "We should find the middle ground --†
that is, we should find the good people in Zanu PF and good people in the
MDC. We should find good people from across the board to speed up our
nation's aspirations. Let's start afresh."

It remains to be seen whether this third way will be found any time soon.

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