by Simplicious Chirinda Saturday 12 April 2008
HARARE – Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi will lead Zimbabwe’s
delegation at a regional summit boycotted by President Robert Mugabe, the
Harare administration said on Friday.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairman, Zambian President
Levy Mwanawasa, called the emergency summit to discuss an election stalemate
in Zimbabwe that the opposition has said could lead to violence and
"The President is not going to Lusaka, but that does not mean that Zimbabwe
is not going to attend, it will be represented by the Minister of Foreign
Affairs and he is just as good as the President at the summit and will
represent the country," State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa told
Zimbabwe, also grappling with an acute economic recession and food
shortages, plunged deeper into political crisis after the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) withheld results of the March 29 presidential ballot that
Mugabe is believed to have lost to Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
A court will rule next Monday on an MDC application demanding an immediate
release of results of the presidential poll.
The opposition party has called for a nationwide work stoppage next Tuesday
to protest delays by the election commission to announce results, while
police authorities on Friday banned all public political meetings in Harare,
clearly afraid that simmering tensions because of the election stalemate
could boil over.
SADC leaders were expected to use the summit to exert pressure on Mugabe to
order the ZEC to release results and prevent possible violent conflict in
Zimbabwe that could spew a refugee crisis across the region.
Political analysts said by snubbing SADC leaders who have long shielded him
from international pressure, Mugabe was digging his own political grave.
"The rational of not going to the summit is probably driven by the fact that
SADC invited Tsvangirai to be part of the summit so that he and Mugabe can
give their sides of the story over the impasse in Zimbabwe,” said Eldred
Masunungure, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer.
But the move would only help heighten and regionalise Zimbabwe’s crisis,
He said: “What is more tragic is the fact that, more than ever before,
Zimbabwe is isolating itself from its political and geographical friends.
It's a path to self destruction by Mugabe.
“He will now have to fight on many fronts; if he continues rebuffing SADC it
will do the same in turn; (also) the African Union chairman (Tanzanian
President Jakaya Kikwete) is from SADC and what it means is that Mugabe will
be facing two continental bodies."
However, another human rights lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, said by boycotting
the summit Mugabe had ensured it would not achieve anything substantial and
said more leaders might also not turn up for the Lusaka meeting if the
Zimbabwean leader is not attending.
Madhuku said: “By not attending, he is trying to reduce the summit into
nothing. Mugabe is making a statement that he is not going to accept any
process that is designed to remove him from power.”
Tsvangirai, whose MDC beat the ruling ZANU PF party in a parliamentary poll
held together with elections for president, says he won sufficient votes to
takeover the presidency from Mugabe.
However, projections by the ruling ZANU PF party and independent observers
show that the MDC leader won with less than 50 percent of the vote,
warranting a second round run-off against Mugabe.
Although the MDC has said it will not agree to a run-off, the opposition
party is expected to take part in the second ballot if official results show
Tsvangirai winning but with less than 50 percent of the vote.
There are fears that an anticipated re-run of the presidential election
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai could spark serious violence between militant
supporters of the Zimbabwean leader on one side and opposition supporters on
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Tsvangirai was released from jail on ZW$500 million
bail pending trial on a charge of allegedly insulting police and interfering
with their work.
The lawyer, Innocent Chagonda, was arrested on Thursday after he had asked
the police to release a helicopter they impounded last month. Chagonda told
the police that he would sue them if they did not let go of the chopper that
was being used by Tsvangirai to fly to political rallies in the run-up to
the elections on March 29.
Police claim Chagonda insulted and threatened, and interfered with their
work. – ZimOnline.
by Own Correspondent Saturday 12 April 2008
JOHANNESBURG – South African National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete on
Friday expressed concern at Zimbabwe’s election stalemate, as pressure
continued pilling up on President Robert Mugabe to allow the release of the
results of a presidential vote he is believed to have lost.
"We are concerned that two weeks after elections there hasn't been a formal
official announcement," Mbete told journalists in Cape Town.
She however, said that Parliament would only make a formal pronouncement on
the Zimbabwe polls after receiving a full report from legislators who were
part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) election observer
Several key regional and international figures have urged the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release results, while SADC leaders meet in
Lusaka on Saturday for an emergency summit to discuss the stalemate in
Zimbabwe that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has warned could erupt in
violence and bloodshed.
However, Mugabe was not expected to attend the regional summit, state-owned
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported on Friday.
Harare officials had earlier indicated Mugabe would attend in order to brief
fellow SADC leaders on the situation in his country, where the opposition is
accusing him of staging a military coup to keep himself in power.
But Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga quashed prospects of Mugabe
attending saying the summit, where regional leaders were expected to
pressure Mugabe to release poll results, was called without consulting
Zimbabwe, also grappling with an acute economic recession and food
shortages, plunged deeper into political crisis after the ZEC withheld
results of the presidential ballot.
A court will rule next Monday on an application by Tsvangirai’s Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party demanding an immediate release of results of
the presidential poll.
Tsvangirai, whose MDC beat ZANU PF in a parliamentary poll held together
with the elections for president, says he won sufficient votes to takeover
the presidency from Mugabe.
However, projections by the ruling ZANU PF party and independent observers
show that the MDC leader won with less than 50 percent of the vote,
warranting a second round run-off against Mugabe.
But the MDC, which had initially indicated it would participate in a
run-off, said on Thursday it no longer wanted the run-off because it
believed Tsvangirai won with more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a
The opposition party also says the run-off will not be free and fair because
Mugabe has taken advantage of ZEC’s delay to issue results to prepare a
campaign of violence to intimidate Zimbabweans to grant him another five
years in office.
Meanwhile, police authorities banned all public political meetings in Harare
clearly afraid simmering tensions, because of the election stalemate, could
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told journalists: "We have banned
political rallies. We see no reason for rallies since we have had
LONDON (AFP) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Friday he was "appalled" by
signs that President Robert Mugabe was using violence in the wake of
elections in Zimbabwe.
"I am appalled by the signs that the regime is once again resorting to
intimidation and violence," Brown said in a statement, warning that the
patience of the international community "is wearing thin."
Brown said he could not understand why the results of the presidential
elections had still not been announced 13 days after the vote.
"The Zimbabwean people have demonstrated their commitment to democracy. We,
and the leaders of the region, strongly share this commitment," he said.
"We will be vigilant. The international community will remain careful to do
nothing to undermine efforts to secure an outcome that reflects the
democratic will of the people of Zimbabwe.
"But the international community's patience with the regime is wearing
Mugabe pulled out of a regional summit on Zimbabwe's post-election crisis
Friday and tightened his hold on power, banning political rallies and
sending riot police into the streets of the capital Harare.
While Mugabe's ruling party says there will be a run-off vote, the
opposition says its leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the election outright and
will not take part.
April 12, 2008
Richard Beeston, Foreign Editor and James Bone in New York
He has been accused of dithering over foreign policy, labelled a “hermit
prime minister” by one critic and is eclipsed on the world stage by more
forceful leaders. Yet Gordon Brown may be in a position finally to redeem
himself by playing a pivotal role in resolving one of the toughest crises to
face Africa in the past decade.
The Prime Minister sets off on a four-day trip to America next week, where
he will attend a meeting at the United Nations, visit President Bush and
deliver a speech in Boston.
Unlike previous prime ministerial missions to America the key event could be
the UN fixture rather than his date at the White House. It is here, in the
company of President Mbeki of South Africa, that senior British officials
hope progress may be made to hasten the end of the rule of Robert Mugabe in
Zimbabwe and begin the country’s long path to reconstruction.
Experts caution that dislodging the 84-year-old dictator and orchestrating a
peaceful handover of power is a huge challenge and one that notably eluded
Tony Blair and a succession of British foreign secretaries.
But there is a real sense in Whitehall that Mr Mugabe has at most weeks or
months left in office and that Britain can play a decisive role behind the
scenes to ensure that the great survivor of southern African politics does
not wriggle off the hook one last time.
Much will depend on high-stakes diplomacy this weekend.
Lord Malloch-Brown, the Foreign Office minister responsible for Africa, is
paying a discreet visit to Beijing where he will try to persuade China to
drop its support for the Mugabe regime.
In the past the Chinese, who have a veto on the UN Security Council, have
prevented Zimbabwe from being raised. They have insisted that the crisis is
an internal matter and does not constitute a “violation of international
peace and security”, the prerequisite for UN Security Council action.
Already under growing international pressure over Tibet, Darfur and Burma,
the calculation is that China is unlikely to take a stand over the crumbling
regime of Mr Mugabe.
The next challenge is to overcome the timid behaviour of Zimbabwe’s African
neighbours. This is being made easier by the refusal by Mr Mugabe to attend
an emergency summit on Zimbabwe being held in Zambia today by the 14-member
Southern African Development Community.
The African leaders wanted an explanation about the failure of the
Zimbabwean authorities to release the results of the presidential election
held two weeks ago or to set a date for a run-off. Without the presence of
Mr Mugabe a tougher position is likely to be adopted. His nonappearance will
also reinforce the impression that he is no longer in control of the
country, which some suspect may already have passed into the hands of the
security elite around him.
The recent violence, combined with the collapsing Zimbabwean economy, its
record inflation and the flight of millions of its citizens to neighbouring
states, will give Mr Brown the opportunity to argue that Zimbabwe requires
the attention of the UN Security Council urgently.
Getting the issue before the council could be a hugely significant first
step. The Security Council has the power to enforce international law,
authorise the use of force and dispatch peace-keeping troops.
Although Britain has succeeded before in pushing Zimbabwe on to the agenda,
to discuss brutal episodes in the rule of Mr Mugabe, no one will be under
any illusion that this time the council is being brought in to help to
administer the death rites to his regime.
But Mr Brown will need guile, persuasion and passion to carry the day when
Zimbabwe is expected to be discussed in the margins of the Security Council
summit on African Union-UN cooperation on Wednesday.
He will be accompanying President Mbeki, whose country currently holds the
rotating presidency of the Security Council. Although the head of a regional
superpower, Mr Mbeki has failed to confront Mr Mugabe over his destructive
policies. The “quiet diplomacy” of the South African leader has notably
failed to halt the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy.
After two hours of talks in London last weekend Mr Mbeki did give Mr Brown a
commitment that he would support action in the UN if no progress had been
made to end the crisis.
Even with the support of South Africa other Security Council members could
also block moves to draw up a tough statement against Zimbabwe because the
wording of any text requires unanimity.
Libya, formerly a close ally of the regime, which has pursued eccentric
policies in Africa, could block any critical statement against Harare. The
Libyans and others may also resent Zimbabwe’s former colonial power taking
such a strong position in deciding its future.
Mr Brown will have to persuade world leaders that the debate over Mr Mugabe
and his failed reelection attempt is over. What matters now is the future
stability of Zimbabwe and the commitment of the international community to
help the peaceful transfer of power and the multibillion-pound effort needed
to rebuild the shattered country.
By David Gollust
11 April 2008
The United States Friday urged southern African countries to take a firm
stand for democracy in Zimbabwe at a weekend summit meeting in Zambia. The
State Department said there are credible reports of violence and
intimidation against opposition supporters in Zimbabwe's political crisis.
VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
The Bush administration has been openly critical of southern African states
for failing to use their leverage with President Robert Mugabe in past
political crises in Zimbabwe.
It is now urging the member countries of SADC - the Southern African
Development Community - to take a firm stand for democracy when leaders of
the regional grouping convene Saturday on Zimbabwe in the Zambian capital,
Briefing reporters,State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said it remains
to be seen what the summit will yield but said it is in the interest of the
SADC countries and the region to act on behalf of the Zimbabwean people.
"Each state and each group is going to have to, according to their own views
and the views of their own leverage and capabilities act. We believe that
the SADC does have leverage with Zimbabwe, and that they can use that
leverage to positive effect on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, who sadly
have suffered from the way that President Mugabe has decided to rule. The
economy is wrecked, and he has made a shambles of democracy in Zimbabwe," he
McCormack renewed the U.S. call on Zimbabwe's electoral commission to
release results from the country's presidential election, and not wait for a
court ruling in a lawsuit filed by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change to get the official figures.
In the parliamentary vote March 29th, the MDC wrested control from President
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party for the first time.
In the presidential vote MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangerai maintains he won an
outright majority, and is refusing to take part in a run-off with Mr.
The lack of presidential results has led to rising political tensions in
Harare, where the government has banned rallies and the opposition is
calling for a general strike.
Spokesman McCormack said the U.S. embassy in Harare has seen credible
reports of violence and intimidation being used against opposition
supporters, reminiscent of past tactics by Mr. Mugabe's forces.
He called the reports quite disturbing and said it is crucially important
that there be no further delay in the election results.
April 11, 2008, 08:30
Zambian High Commissioner and ambassador to South Africa, Leslie Mbula, says
tomorrow's Southern African Development Community (SADC) emergency summit is
necessary because of the growing concern over the delay in the release of
presidential election results in Zimbabwe. The announcement of the talks by
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa marks the first move by Zimbabwe's
neighbours to intervene since the elections were held more than a week ago.
Zimbabwe-based political analyst, Brian Kagoro, says this meeting is SADC’s
way of showing their commitment to democratic governance but also to holding
its members accountable and ensuring that SADC does not become another
'banana' region. Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies
(ISS), Chris Maroleng says it is expected that SADC will change its strategy
and Zimbabwe approach.
While Mugabe's ruling party says there must be a run-off, the opposition
says it won outright. A ruling on a legal bid by the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to declare the
result is expected on Monday at the earliest. President Thabo Mbeki will
lead the South African delegation.
As credible reports come to light of planned attacks on Zimbabwe’s rural communities by Zanu-PF aligned forces, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) has made it clear that senior Zimbabwean security officials can be held liable under international law for orchestrating such acts of violence.
The centre has also called on regional and international leaders to uphold their responsibility to protect doctrine by taking every necessary measure to stop such violence. Nicole Fritz, SALC director, said: ‘We’ve received information, some of it from sources inside Zimbabwe’s security establishment, indicating that youth militias, central intelligence operatives and war veterans are being deployed, under command of approximately 200 senior army officials, throughout the rural areas. The intention seems to be to use violence against and to intimidate voters prior to any run-off or rerun of the elections.’ SALC’s sources have also provided it with a detailed list of names of those officials tasked with orchestrating the attacks. ‘The level of detail in the information provided – names, dates, numbers,’ says Fritz, ‘speaks to a state-sponsored, pre-planned attack on Zimbabwe’s civilian population, indicating the commission of crimes against humanity.’
Full report on the Legalbrief Today site
HARARE, 11 April 2008 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe’s electorate is still anxiously
awaiting the official results of the two-week old presidential polls, but
the sudden closure of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) national
command centre has sparked "grave concern" over tampering and
The centre had been operating out of a hotel in the capital, Harare, where
the 29 March presidential, parliamentary and council election results were
to be counted and announced. Having only announced parliamentary and
senatorial election results, the ZEC secretly cleared out and locked the
rooms it had been using.
"It is of grave concern that the ZEC command centre can just be closed and
no communication officially conveyed to observers, party agents and
candidates who have been waiting impatiently for the Presidential results,"
the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN), a non-governmental
organisation promoting democratic elections, said in a statement on 9 April.
"Considering all the anxiety and confusion that has been caused by the
delayed announcement of Presidential results, ZESN expected the ZEC command
centre to be open and accessible to accredited observers until the
Presidential election results are announced," the statement said.
The ZESN said the closure of the command centre closed the door of
communication "between the electoral management body and interested
stakeholders" creating "an incorrect assumption that, the election process
The opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by
Morgan Tsvangirai won the parliamentary vote, unseating the ruling ZANU-PF
party that has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980. Within
days of polling the MDC, has claimed its leader also won the presidential
vote by the required 50 percent plus one vote, that if accurate, would
negate the need for a run-off presidential ballot against incumbent,
President Robert Mugabe.
ZANU-PF has already announced that it is geared for another round; the MDC
however says it will not participate in the run-off because it has already
Disappointed by the ZEC’s disappearance, Timothy Meki, a college lecturer in
Harare, told IRIN: "The peace that prevailed before and during the elections
gave us so much hope but what is happening now causes one to think if
holding elections in this country is worth it at all."
Meki said he feared the move would allow the ZEC "to doctor the results -
the next thing we will hear is that ballots and forms that are being used to
verify results are missing. How will the opposition manage to argue its case
that it won in the absence of those documents? Why should ZEC wait for a
court to tell to do what it set out to do in the first place?"
The ZEC’s new location, and ballot papers and other records, was still
unclear. In an interview with New ZIANA, a state-run news agency, ZEC’s
deputy chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said the body had only
scaled down operations and said there was no need to keep equipment at the
national command centre because the presidential results issue had been
taken to court.
The MDC petitioned the High Court to compel ZEC to immediately announce the
results but a judgement will only be made on 14 April. ZEC made a public
statement saying it would await the decision of the court to release the
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
UNITED NATIONS, April 11 (AFP)
UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned Friday that the crisis in Zimbabwe over the
disputed presidential election could deteriorate unless the impasse was
"The secretary general is concerned that the situation in Zimbabwe could
deteriorate if there is no prompt action to resolve this impasse," his press
office said in a statement.
Ban congratulated leaders of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) for "their timely initiative" to convene a summit of heads of state
in Zambia on Sunday to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe.
The 14-nation regional bloc called the summit in a bid to mediate with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has confirmed he will be in Lusaka.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, under pressure since the March 29 election
which the opposition insists it won, will be represented at the Lusaka
summit by four ministers, state radio reported.
Mugabe tightened his grip on power Friday, banning all political rallies in
The opposition, whom police said had been organising a rally on Sunday,
called on Zimbabweans to launch a general strike on Tuesday and to remain
off work until the result of the presidential election was made public.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member
organisation, Zimrights, express grave concern at the continued flagrant
delay by the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) in releasing the results of
the Presidential elections in Zimbabwe and request African leaders to react
now to help for a democratic settlement of the crisis in Zimbabwe.
The elections were held on 29 March 2008 up to 7pm when polling closed. The
counting of all votes was done at the polling stations. The results were
then pinned outside each polling station while they were also relayed to
Harare to the ZEC National Collation Centre for the results to be verified
and finally collated before being announced. The results of the presidential
elections should have been announced within 48 hours of the closure of the
polls. It has now been 14 days since Zimbabweans voted for a new president.
The results have not yet been announced. There is no coherent explanation
that is being offered by the ZEC for this unacceptable failure.
The Movement for Democratic Change has expressed public dismay at the delay
and approached the courts to force the ZEC to release the results. It
further alleges that its members and supporters especially in rural areas
are facing severe retribution and this is confirmed by independent reports
from human rights defenders. The courts have not been of assistance. For
some time now the judiciary in Zimbabwe has failed to inspire public
confidence that it can be the protector and guarantor of fundamental rights.
ZANU PF has launched a propaganda campaign claiming that their candidate
Robert Mugabe was the victim of an electoral fraud. The police have been
used to arbitrarily arrest and detain the civilian members of the ZEC. These
civil and part time members of ZEC have been charged with electoral fraud
prejudicing Robert Mugabe. They face possible sentences upon conviction of
up to 35 years’ imprisonment, yet some have been denied access to their
lawyers, whilst others are being barred from seeing the evidence to be used
against them which would enable them to form a proper defence. Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have advised that no less than 8 such non
military personnel of ZEC have been arrested and detained in the last 3
days. The prosecutors dealing with these cases have allegedly advised the
ZLHR lawyers that they are acting under severe political pressure from
“above”. The inescapable perception is that ZEC is being quickly converted
into a quasi-military institution and its credibility, along with that of
the electoral process, is almost irretrievably lost.
Reports from credible human rights organizations in Zimbabwe are that senior
military personnel have been deployed to lead paramilitary militias of war
veterans and the youth brigade to intimidate the population mainly in rural
areas in view of the call that ZANU PF is making for a Presidential election
run-off. Violence has already flared up in various parts of the country from
the pro-ZANU PF militias. On the other hand Zimbabweans have remained
remarkably calm under these very difficult circumstances.
The country has a newly elected parliament in which for the first time in 28
years ZANU PF has lost its majority. In the current political stalemate, the
country has a president whose presence in office is both politically and
legally challenged. The president has a constitutional duty to convene
parliament according to Zimbabwe law. Parliament cannot convene itself, yet
the current president Robert Mugabe is unlikely to convene a potentially
hostile parliament. He may be compelled to use disputed presidential powers
to extend his term in office or to pass laws to contain public anger as the
constitution allows a president to do so in the absence of parliament
sitting. Should he do so, he will sink the country into potential anarchy.
There is a dangerous political and legal vacuum in the country.
The experiences of post electoral violence and gross human rights violations
triggered by contested electoral processes, such as recently in Kenya, are
still too fresh for the African political leadership to maintain a policy of
indifference. There is a huge burden on the shoulders of African political
leadership to defend democracy and the peoples will on the African
In the circumstances, FIDH and Zimrights request the African Union, the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations to take
immediate steps to:
a.. Cause ZEC to immediately announce the true results of the Presidential
b.. Prevent Robert Mugabe and his military and security personnel from
tampering with the election results and stop the continued arbitrary arrests
and detentions of the non-military personnel of the ZEC.
c.. In the event that the results show no winner of 50% plus one vote,
then SADC should set up a Heads of State team that will mediate between ZANU
PF and MDC in order to:
a.. Set an election run off time line.
b.. Establish a credible, independent and impartial election management
body to replace ZEC whose credibility and reputation has been damaged beyond
repair that will implement the election run-off without fear or favour and
constituted by people acceptable to both ZANU PF and the MDC.
c.. Ensure that the election run-off is internationally supported,
supervised and observed and run under circumstances where Zimbabweans are
able to fully and effectively participate in their national affairs in an
environment of peace and tranquility, free from intimidation and political
violence and retribution.
d.. Set modalities for the duly elected and constituted parliament to be
immediately convened and be allowed to carry out their constitutional duties
without executive interference.
e.. Ensure that measures are in place to ensure that until the run-off is
held, Robert Mugabe is not allowed to rule by decree supported by the
April 11, 2008, 16:30
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai says he is in Botswana because he fears there is a military
campaign targeting him and his followers in Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai says he fled to Botswana out of fear for his safety, but also to
negotiate with Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders.
Tsvangirai has been visiting other southern African countries to win
He is hopeful that tomorrow's meeting of SADC leaders in Lusaka will resolve
the political impasse in Zimbabwe.
"The situation in Zimbabwe is dire. The … military has a rollout plan and is
already embarking on intimidation, violence against the people. It becomes
essential that I would become a prime target and therefore it’s important to
raise the alarm around the happenings in Zimababwe," says Tsvangirai.
Mugabe was once ready to engage with white Zimbabweans in a spirit of
cooperation. In the current climate, that all seems very far away
April 11, 2008 7:00 AM
In March 1995, Robert Mugabe came to Britain to attend the memorial service
for Guy Clutton-Brock. At St Martin in the Fields in London, he spoke
movingly of how my uncle Guy had been a vital part of the struggle for black
independence in his country. Mugabe called Guy a national hero and his
actions bore that sentiment out. One of the main reasons for Mugabe's
journey was to carry the ashes of my uncle, who had made known his belief
that Mugabe would be "good for his country", back to Zimbabwe and scatter
them at Hero's Acre. Guy was the only white man ever to be honoured in this
Mugabe had been one of the bright, passionate young Africans who had come to
know the tall, crisply-spoken white man with his double-barrelled name
through Cold Comfort Farm. This was an agricultural training scheme, set up
by Guy, where unemployed young black people could learn skills that would
enable them to farm their land effectively and become partners, not slaves,
in a system where black and white people lived and worked equally alongside
The journalist Trevor Grundy who knew Rhodesia at this time remembers Cold
Comfort Farm as "a first class agricultural training ground and a
psychological liberation centre that was an early staging post on the long
march from colonial oppression in Rhodesia to majority rule in Zimbabwe."
It was also a place where many of the Africans, among them the young and
then principled Didymus Mutasa (now Mugabe's savagely cruel right-hand man)
came to understand that "CB" was not aligned with the white regimes and
colonialism, but was a genuine egalitarian, would gather to talk and discuss
their intention one day to have independence.
What a difference just over a decade makes. I have no doubt that today's
Mugabe, fuelled by his towering hatred of white people, his conviction that
every one of them is the embodiment of a colonialist urge, would bundle Guy
in as part of the enemy. Yet when Guy helped write the constitution for the
African National Congress in Rhodesia, Mugabe was among those urging him to
be president - my uncle had demurred, laughing that a white man couldn't
have that role.
Ironic, too, that it was white rulers who imprisoned Guy periodically as a
"dangerous communist" and Smith who passed the citizenship act which enabled
him to banish Guy from the country in 1971.
So does it matter that Mugabe should turn against the white people
(including many besides the Clutton-Brocks - Eileen and Michael Haddon and
Terence Ranger are immediately familiar names) who believed in majority rule
and wanted to be part of making it work?
I believe it matters a great deal, symbolically as well as practically. It
matters because the price Zimbabweans are paying in poverty, fear and the
loss of any opportunities for their futures, is enormous. And all this under
their first black leader who had promised something so different. While it
is unarguably true that white people, when they have taken charge in
countries not their own, have inflicted equal distress in too many
instances - and certainly the Rhodesian white regimes have done so -
Zimbabwe appeared to have the opportunity to do something different.
Once the bitter white population, the die-hard "Rhodies", had left the new
Zimbabwe, Mugabe was left with a substantial core of white men and women,
some as determined to help build the dream as Guy had been, others who may
not have welcomed independence but who were prepared to play their part in
helping Zimbabwe succeed. There were plenty who understood that some kind of
managed land distribution was essential, and who were prepared to train
Africans in the farming skills they would need.
Mugabe saw this at first and welcomed the setting up of the British Zimbabwe
Society in 1981 just after independence, which Terence Ranger described as
"a society for people who love Zimbabwe and want humbly to be part of its
struggles ... we believe in a new kind of relationship between Britain and
Zimbabwe for a new era. One that would mark a break with the colonialist
past" and purge the country of "the distortions of colonial capitalism".
So here was a unique opportunity for Mugabe to manage a society which had
independence but which could also embody reconciliation, the possibility of
black and white people being united and bonded in friendship, a friendship
Mugabe had known with Guy. If Mugabe had gone this way not only would he
have fed and cared for his people better, but he would have passed on an
immeasurably precious gift of humanity to new generations of Zimbweans. He
could have enabled a much-needed breaking down of barriers for a global era.
Instead he has gone the way of the megalomaniac narcissist, determined to
show that he does not need the practical or spiritual input of white people;
that even those who were so clear he should be given the help he needed to
lead Zimbabwe, were ultimately his enemies. And driven by paranoia and fear
Mugabe has gone on to project his feelings about white people on to some
groups of black people. Because white farmers have been seen to support the
MDC, so MDC supporters who are black have become surrogate white people in
Mugabe's corrupted consciousness, outsiders who will undermine his right as
a "true" Zimbabwean to be in charge.
Perhaps, ultimately, we must accept it when even the most clearly on-message
white people are reviled when countries gain their independence. Colonial
rule has long and damaging roots in the countries where it has existed. But
to me this will not do. Mugabe, Mutasa and others, too, who now commit
whatever horrors they are commanded to in the name of Zanu-PF, accepted and
benefited from the involvement and love for them and their country of people
like my uncle. People whose skins may have been white, but whose actions
demonstrated how far their souls were from what the white people who wanted
to control Africa were after.
Mugabe has chosen to rewrite his own history and erase the complications of
having learnt that things are not so simple as all white people and all
westerners being the enemy. But when we choose to deny the decency and
humanity that has been shown to us, in its place comes a vicious cruelty. A
self-loathing that, as we have seen with Mugabe, is manifested in a wild and
wilful way and against his own people.
I find myself wondering if, these days, Mugabe goes and stamps on the place
he scattered Guy's ashes. Maybe not in reality, but certainly
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
He seems unlikely to make any concessions to the opposition if he wins
bitterly contested presidential poll.
By Sophie Haydock in London (AR No. 166, 11-Apr-08)
If Robert Mugabe retains the presidency in a predicted run-off election,
analysts say he will be more determined than ever to cling on to power.
The 84-year-old leader of ZANU-PF won’t be in any mood to offer any
concessions to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, despite
its majority in parliament, they say.
Indeed, if Mugabe secures the presidency, many expect the MDC to be rendered
virtually powerless - as the head of state controls the Senate, the upper
house of parliament, which has the power to block the lower house and
overrule legislation passed.
Some suggest Mugabe could even use his powers to dissolve the lower chamber
in order to secure his own party’s control of the assembly.
Results from the original March 29 presidential poll have not yet been
published by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, ZEC. However, observers
think it unlikely that either of the top two candidates will be awarded over
50 per cent of the vote, introducing the need for a second round.
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti announced on April 10 that his party was
not prepared to take part in a second round, arguing that its leader Morgan
Tsvangirai won the poll outright. Should they stick to this position, Mugabe
could run uncontested.
The results of the parliamentary poll issued by the ZEC show the MDC secured
a narrow majority in the lower house. They won 99 seats, with ZANU-PF taking
An opposition-dominated lower house could make life difficult for Mugabe,
but analysts believe he would use considerable means at his disposal to
enforce his will.
Brian Raftopoulos, analyst and director of research at the South
Africa-based NGO Solidarity Peace Trust, said that an MDC majority in the
lower house will not significantly change the balance of power if the
incumbent president stays in power.
“If Mugabe were to win a run-off, he would still have a great deal more
control than parliament. He [could even] dissolve parliament,” he said.
“Mugabe will do everything possible to retain power.
“Mugabe will try to whittle down the MDC majority and diminish the
opposition’s influence. He’s already contesting 16 parliamentary seats,
which would give Mugabe’s ZANU-PF the majority.”
Southern Africa correspondent for The Independent Basildon Peta agreed that
an opposition-dominated lower house won’t have much influence on the
“Any MDC majority would be totally meaningless if Robert Mugabe wins a
presidential run-off and remains in power,” he said.
“I don’t see how a narrow MDC majority in parliament can make life in any
way difficult for [him]. The MDC’s majority won’t be of significance until
Tsvangirai also becomes president.
“I don’t think Mugabe will make any concessions if he rigs the run-off. If
he cannot persuade parliament to vote in favour of any new legislation via a
simple majority, as required by the law, he will be more than happy to
ignore parliament and rule under the current legislation that heavily
“Mugabe will be assured of a majority in the Senate, which can override any
decision in parliament.”
The president revived the Senate with an election in November 2005, having
abolished it by a constitutional amendment in 1989. The decision to
re-establish it was controversial. Tsvangirai called for a boycott of the
election, arguing that the upper chamber is a meaningless body and the
ballot would be rigged anyway.
Peta points out that the Senate provides Mugabe with a powerful counter to
the MDC-dominated lower house.
“Even though the elected Senate seats [contested in the latest elections]
were split at 30/30 between the combined MDC and ZANU-PF, any incumbent
president is allowed to make extra appointments to the Senate. The 18 chiefs
and governors who automatically sit in the Senate will assure Mugabe of a
majority in that chamber, as these are all people who have traditionally
supported him,” he said.
Mugabe also enjoys sweeping emergency presidential powers which enable him
to bypass parliament and effectively legislate in so-called emergency cases.
Peta points out that Mugabe “recently used these powers to amend the
electoral act to allow police officers in polling stations – to help the
Patrick Smith, editor of the respected London-based newsletter Africa
Confidential, agrees that the MDC’s dominant presence in the lower house is
unlikely to curb Mugabe’s power.
“It seems Mugabe is determined to prevail and the Zimbabwe crisis will
rumble on,” he said.
Marian Tupy, policy analyst at The Cato Institute, believes the situation
may even worsen, “In the next four of five years, we will see the economic
crisis deepen even further.”
Smith, however, is more optimistic. “I do think a corner has been turned.
There will have to be some sort of arrangement, some kind of power sharing
between ZANU-PF and the MDC – some point of cooperation. Decisions are
overwhelmingly weighted in favour of the executive, but the two sides will
have to mould a compromise,” he said.
David Coltard of the MDC who gained a Senate seat in these elections said
his fractious party would have to unite if it was to pose any challenge to
“It was, in fact, the two factions of the MDC that won the majority of seats
in parliament. It’s important that they form a coalition agreement to ensure
an effective, functional majority,” he said.
The party split into two factions in 2005, when Tsvangirai chose to boycott
the Senate elections. Tsvangirai heads the bigger faction, with the other
led by Arthur Mutambara.
Some analysts believe the MDC must work hard to bury its differences and
show the electorate that it is capable of standing up to Mugabe, otherwise
it risks alienating its supporters.
“The MDC must be very careful. If they are seen by the people of Zimbabwe as
occupying a position of power, but are also seen as not being able to change
anything because of the blocking actions by Mugabe, then the people will
associate the MDC with failure,” said Tupy.
Smith remains hopeful that the opposition has some power to effect change.
“The MDC has a great deal of influence – they have the support of the
people. That counts for something, even if they don’t control the levers of
Raftopoulos agrees. “The MDC are the popular choice. Tsvangirai should be
given the opportunity to show what he can do. The voice of the Zimbabweans
should be heard – and should be respected.”
Sophie Haydock is an IWPR contributor.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Top brass pledges to back Mugabe to the end, but lower ranks seem less
committed to defending a regime that cannot feed them.
By Yamikani Mwando in Bulawayo (AR No. 166, 11-Apr-08)
As the impasse around Zimbabwe’s presidential election continues, analysts
say much now depends on which way the powerful security forces will jump if
they are asked to prop up President Robert Mugabe.
For the moment, it seems defence and police chiefs will maintain their
loyalty to the president and will do what it takes to keep him in power. But
rank-and-file soldiers and police have suffered from the country’s
precipitous economic decline, and appear less willing to go on blindly
With United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon the latest high profile
figure to express concern at the country’s post-election chaos, and the
Southern African Development Community scheduling an emergency weekend
meeting on the crisis, analysts are warning a “silent coup” is under way.
Over his 28 years in power, Mugabe has relied on the security forces to
maintain grip on power, and now he may be planning to use them to
effectively nullify the poll results. In the March parliamentary election,
official results show that the two factions of the Movement for Democratic
Change, MDC, have wrested control of the lower chamber from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF
party, while the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, ZEC, has stalled on
releasing the outcome of the presidential vote held the same day.
MDC Morgan Tsvangirai, who insists he has won the presidential election,
reportedly asked for a meeting with security and army officials to discuss
the transitional arrangements for Mugabe leaving office. Prior to the
election, defence chief Constantine Chiwenga, police chief Augustine Chihuri
and penal service head Paradzayi Zimondi declared they would “not salute” a
future president Tsvangirai.
Mugabe himself has also had meetings with the security chiefs who sit on the
Joint Operations Command, and with ZANU-PF’s ruling politburo. Senior
politburo officials including Didymus Mutasa – in charge of the country’s
intelligence services – are now said to have vowed to fight on in a run-off
presidential election, despite the fact that no official poll results have
As well as the regular forces, Mugabe enjoys wide support among militant
veterans of the 1970s war of liberation, who form a de facto paramilitary
While security chiefs have declared their loyalty to the beleaguered Mugabe,
rank-and-file servicemen appear to have their own ideas. Like civilians,
they have lost out from years of economic chaos and mismanagement. Many
soldiers now spend their time scrounging to feed their families.
Military officers who spoke to IWPR said they were not about to wield guns
and batons against unarmed civilians. Such resistance to using force could
hamper Mugabe’s efforts to deploy the armed forces to perpetuate his hold on
This week, a young professional soldier told IWPR that he was beaten up at a
Bulawayo army base after being accused of supporting the MDC. The man, who
has fled to South Africa and cannot be named for safety reasons, said the
assault took place after he resigned from the army in early April and
returned to barracks to hand in his uniform.
“I was locked up in a room, where I was thrashed all over my body and
accused of attempting to abscond so that I could join Morgan Tsvangirai’s
army,” he said, visibly shaken by what had happened. “After the beatings I
was given a new uniform and told to return to work. That was when I decided
I wasn’t staying any minute longer.”
Military experts say it is rare for a soldier to formally resign, but many
simply desert and leave the country.
Although the army is supposed to have between 30,000 and 40,000 personnel,
numbers have been falling as commissioned and non-commissioned officers
abscond. The authorities have also scaled down recruitment, citing
While the security forces might look monolithic from the outside, the armed
forces contain more than one element - the Mugabe loyalists from the
Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, ZANLU, the armed wing of ZANU
during the liberation war, and those originally from the Zimbabwe People’s
Revolutionary Army, ZIPRA, affiliated with the late Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU
There is some suggestion the division lives on under the surface, making
parts of the military more open to talking to the MDC than might be thought.
According to a former lecturer at the National University of Science and
Technology, it is significant that former ZIPRA officers have not joined
colleagues in speaking out robustly in support of Mugabe.
"It has always been noted that there are divided loyalties within the
Zimbabwean defence forces, if you look at the actual role being played by
[ex-ZIPRA] men who fought alongside Joshua Nkomo. Their silence on issues of
allegiance to the powers that be can mean a lot of things," said the
He noted that while former ZAPU politicians now in government had aligned
themselves publicly with the regime, “we don’t get the same from the ZIPRA
generals now serving under Mugabe. Why?"
The political crisis appears to have compounded the morale problems facing
the security forces.
Members of Police Internal Service Intelligence, PISI, told IWPR that they
had been monitoring political activity both in the police force and in other
security agencies, and morale had been low ever since the elections.
“We all know about the situation,” said one officer, who declined to be
named. “We are equally suffering, and it is known by many within PISI that
sentiment across the security forces reflects disgruntlement with the
Yamikani Mwando is the pseudonym of a journalist in Zimbabwe.
Saturday Nation, Kenya
Story by EMEKA-MAYAKA GEKARA
Publication Date: 4/12/2008 The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission makes Kenyan
poll chief Samuel Kivuitu look like an angel. It has not released results
two weeks after Zimbabweans went to the poll.
Unofficial results by both President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and
the Movement for Democratic Change show that the African strongman lost the
election to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mugabe’s group says the commission is in the final stages of
“verifying” the tallying to ensure it announces correct results.
Ironically, though the results have not been released, Mugabe’s party
says Tsvangirai’s victory fell short of the 50.3 per cent required for him
to be president and wants a runoff.
Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe of plotting to use violence as “a weapon to
reverse the people’s victory.”
This claim underlines Mugabe’s determination to extend his 28-year-old
stay in power. That is the first cause for concern. But even more disturbing
is the inaction — almost surrender — of the usually noisy international
community at a critical time in Zimbabwe’s history.
Many Zimbabweans expect the West to pressure the tyrant out of power.
The African Union, Britain, the United States, the European Union and
the United Nations have been calling for the release of the results, but
they have gone no further.
“We are concerned by the deafening silence in the region in the AU and
in the Southern African Development Community,” said Tendai Biti,
secretary-general of Tsvangirai’s MDC.
"I say to our brothers and sisters across the continent: Don’t wait
for dead bodies in the streets of Harare.”
Has the West given up on Harare?
A Zimbabwean friend says the international community has abandoned
Zimbabwe at the hour of need and seems more keen on the Kenyan crisis.
Diplomats and analysts say not much can be done to put any pressure on
the autocratic ruler.
Others say the West is avoiding broad sanctions that could hurt
already economically distressed Zimbabweans, and there is no sentiment in
Africa or elsewhere to use military power.
“We have worked closely with many in the international community to
try to bring pressure on the government in Zimbabwe to change its ways,”
says State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
“That has not had much effect.”
World leaders seem to have entrusted South African President Thabo
Mbeki with the task , but his administration says Zimbabwe is not a province
of South Africa and, therefore, he cannot ask Mugabe to step down.
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa who, as SADC chairman, has convened a
summit today to discuss the Harare crisis, but Zanu-PF considers the talks
“unnecessary since there is no crisis in Zimbabwe.”
This is appalling, but it is not lost on the world that the bloc has
been cheering on Mugabe and projecting him as a freedom icon as he continues
to tyrannise his people.
If history is anything to go by, the group is likely to continue with
its usual monologue instead of laying a dark carpet for the plunderer’s
All democratic forces should not sit on the fence as Mugabe plots
daylight election robbery in Zimbabwe.
South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance has urged Mbeki to
consider asking the African Union to send troops to Zimbabwe.
In 1998, Nelson Mandela as South Afrcan president, sent troops into
Lesotho to end protests over rigged elections and to prevent a coup.
ANC leader Jacob Zuma has called for the release of the results, while
former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has asked Mugabe to do the “right
The world should do everything within its powers to rescue the
disillusioned Zimbabweans and bar Mugabe from mutilating democratic
The Kikwetes, the Millibands and the Condoleezzas of this world should
troop to Harare.
Supporters demand publication of election results
Nelson G. Katsande
Published 2008-04-12 06:52 (KST)
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been branded a coward by his
former loyalists, the majority of whom are the rural folk. In the past,
Mugabe has relied heavily on the support of the rural people. But 28 years
later, the people who once adored him now scorn him.
Mugabe is believed to have lost the March 29 presidential election to
Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai by a wide margin. A
source within the high echelons of ZANU-PF told OhmyNews," ZANU-PF has
lionized Mugabe. No one dares to tell him to go."
"True, Morgan Tsvangirai outvoted him," he added.
Mugabe's home area, Zvimba, has become an MDC stronghold. And the
majority of elderly people who once worshipped him say even Ian Smith was
better than Mugabe. "If Ian Smith was alive today I would have voted for
him," said Mrs. Maruza.
In Mutoko, election campaign posters of Mugabe were either defaced or
burnt by angry supporters who felt the beleaguered leader had betrayed them.
People have vowed to boycott his future rallies and have called for his
Then there are those who had always been skeptical of Tsvangirai's
leadership skills. His party, the MDC has been rocked by divisions. But
after the March 29 elections, they have renewed their support for
Strangely, another losing presidential candidate, Simba Makoni, is now
trying to play "mediator." He appeared in a recent British media newscast
talking about "a unity government" between the opposition and the incumbent
ruling ZANU-PF. Most urban dwellers doubt his intentions. Scores of people
who spoke to OhmyNews prior to the election still believed Makoni allegiance
was to ZANU-PF.
But it is the non-release of presidential election results that has
angered the people. Sensing overwhelming defeat from Tsvangirai, Mugabe has
called for an election runoff. "It is cowardice to call for an election
runoff before announcing the results," said Munodawafa, a ZANU-PF youth
leader in Mashonaland province.
It is feared the results will never be announced and remain a guarded
secret within Mugabe's ruling elite. It is believed there are a number of
people within the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission who are prepared to blow the
whistle on the election outcome if assured sanctuary in neighboring
The Zimbabwe police have banned all political rallies and vowed to
employ all means necessary to ensure Mugabe hangs on to power. Bright
Matonga, Mugabe's junior minister, has now swallowed his words. He has
previously been quoted as saying Mugabe will respect the wishes of the
people and the outcome of the election results.
But almost two weeks after the presidential poll, Matonga just like
Mugabe, now dodges the limelight. What everyone hopes for now is that Mugabe
will finally come to his senses and respect the wishes of the people.
Mail and Guardian
11 April 2008 06:00
Don't be fooled by the language of democracy being prostituted in our
The current impasse in Zimbabwe is not about flawed counting or a delayed
election outcome. Neither is it about an election run-off, a photo finish or
an election rerun. These are legitimate electoral terms in better
democracies. None applies here.
The story of Zimbabwe this week is nothing less than that of a stolen
election. The people of Zimbabwe have been cheated -- in front of all our
On March 29 they went out and voted in their millions. And they voted to
change a government and so to alter their lives, which have sunk from among
the best in the developing world to the lowest among nations.
By a sizeable majority they voted in the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change and chose its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to run a new and hopeful
And -- 21 days later -- after giving a decent period for counting and
negotiating, it is fair to make the assessment that Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe has degenerated into a thief.
His handpicked Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has moved the recount of the
votes to a secret venue closed to the scrutiny of all parties but the one
that liberated the country and will now not set it free for a second
This weekend -- at an emergency session -- members of the Southern African
Development Community will probably hear a lot of mumbo-jumbo from Mugabe,
who is likely to declare that colonial powers (who else?) in the United
States and Britain bought off ZEC vote-counters and that both he and the
independent Simba Makoni were robbed.
It is patent codswallop, the work of a gangster, the term Mugabe often
unleashes to insult those who disagree with him.
If the new ways of peer review on our continent have any substance, if
democracy has any future in Zimbabwe, then there must be only one message to
Mugabe and to Zanu-PF from Zambia this weekend: it is time to GO! The people
Apr 11 2008 8:20AM
ZIMBABWE is at risk of losing food worth millions of rands
because of the latest round of farm invasions, says Deputy Foreign Affairs
Minister Aziz Pahad.
Pahad said most of the affected farmers were about to
harvest their crops when their farms were invaded by so-called war veterans.
SA diplomats in Harare met Zimbabwean Commercial Farmers’
Union president Trevor Gifford last week and subsequently forwarded a
diplomatic note to the Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign Affairs after two
South Africans were told to leave their property. “(The note was) to plead
for the protection of our farmers in Zimbabwe,” Pahad said.
Militia loyal to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe have
evicted around 60 farmers, including one black farmer, says Gifford. And the
number of families could number “in the hundreds” by the weekend.
Around 300 white farmers were still on the land, down from
around 4500 eight years ago, when Mugabe kickstarted the country’s
disastrous land reform programme. — Sapa
11 April 2008
SOUTH African business has caught the scent of change in Zimbabwe.
Re-searchers have been commissioned, dusty project plans for that country
have been taken off the shelves and new opportunities are being scrutinised.
Long aware of the negative effect Zimbabwe has had on investment confidence,
businesspeople are understandably cautious about committing publicly to new
investment there until the political situation changes, but they give the
unmistakable impression that, with the right government in place, they’d be
ready to run with new opportunities in Zimbabwe soon.
Zimbabwe is hardly a great investment destination, even if an
investment-friendly government were in place. Decades of government
mismanagement have crippled the economy, taking it from one of the most
powerful in Africa to one of the poorest, with inflation well above 100000%,
unemployment at 85%, a high rate of HIV/AIDS infection and an inability to
feed its people.
It may be decades before the Zimbabwean economy recovers, but the Brenthurst
Foundation notes that postconflict countries in Africa have been able to
bounce back quite quickly once violence and impasse have ended. For example,
economic growth averaged 7,2% a year for the two- to 10-year postconflict
periods in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Uganda.
The service sectors in these economies bounced back fastest, led by
construction, hotels and restaurants. The agricultural sectors recovered
more slowly, while the manufacturing sectors were the slowest to rebound,
but nevertheless generated the fastest growth over the medium term.
A benefit of reconstructing the Zimbabwean economy, as opposed to, for
example, Sudan’s, is that Zimbabwe’s economy is diversified and there are
opportunities in all these sectors.
The country will require extensive assistance to get its industries and
infrastructure back into operation, while a reversal of the emigration of
skilled people is unlikely in the short term, even with a normalisation of
government policies, the foundation says.
Nonetheless, some businesses continue to make money in Zimbabwe. For
example, Impala Platinum’s (Implats) 86,9%-held platinum mining subsidiary,
Zimplats, broke its production records last year and a two-year expansion
project, including conversion from open-cast to underground mining, is under
way. This will eventually create 1200 full-time jobs.
Implats’ annual report says that Zimplats’ gross profit jumped to R854,6m in
the 2007 financial year, from R317,6m a year previously. Hyperinflation is
tackled by paying employees every two weeks and adjusting their salaries
regularly, and paying for power and imported supplies in US dollars. The
socioeconomic climate affects Zimplats’ staff turnover, but the expansion
has improved morale.
Asked about mining opportunities, Deutsche Bank mining analyst Tim Clark
says these are “fairly big, really good”.
He says many mining groups, local and international, including SA’s African
Rainbow Minerals, have recently been “sniffing around” Zimbabwe for new
Mining is a significant part of the Zimbabwean economy and there are
substantial nickel and platinum group metal deposits along the Great Dyke
complex running almost through the centre of Zimbabwe. There are also coal,
gold, chrome, copper, zinc and diamond deposits. In addition, there may also
be opportunities from shareholdings in existing operations, says Clark.
Many other South African companies continue to maintain businesses in
Zimbabwe, often unbundling their operations to reduce risk to the parent
Old Mutual Zimbabwe, owned by its London-listed parent, but which operates
as a separate legal entity, says its Zimbabwean operation has been
successful in preserving its financial capability and will grow if the
economy turns. “We remain one of the few financial institutions providing
value for money to our customers under pretty challenging circumstances,”
the group says.
The Brenthurst Foundation says that reconstruction of the commercial
agricultural sector, traditionally the key driver of the economy, is
essential for an economic turnaround.
Rehabilitation of this sector will depend on getting commercial farms to
produce again, which in turn will hinge on policies to attract private
sector investment. The reinstatement of market forces will require allowing
market-related foreign currency exchange rates, interest rates, wages and
retail prices, and transparently reviewing and invigorating property rights.
Asked if there will be investment opportunities in Zimbabwe’s agricultural
sector if there is a change of government there, Absa agricultural analyst
Ernst Janovski says: “People are waiting for the change to take place. The
opportunity is massive.”
He says some specific opportunities include the revitalisation of the
country’s maize, tobacco and sugar production.
SA is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner but the nature of the trade is
sporadic and depends on Zimbabwe’s ability to repay. For example, the value
of SA’s motor parts and vehicle exports to that country varies every year,
from R697,8m in 2006 to R1,22bn in 2002 and R485,9m in 2003.
South African Institute of Foreign Affairs governance and resources head Tim
Hughes says high commodity prices and, more broadly, a global food crisis,
will help to stimulate interest in Zimbabwe’s mineral and agricultural
potential once normalised economic policies are in place.
In the early stages of a change of government, the opportunity to acquire
assets in these sectors at “bargain basement” prices would also stimulate
interest, with South African and Asian investors likely to lead the pack.
“There is a real possibility of a relatively quick, sharp, positive bounce
of the Zimbabwean economy, but the sustainability may depend on how soon the
pledged economic aid and reconstruction packages diminish.” Hughes says the
experience worldwide is that there is a big difference between pledged aid
and investment, and that which is actually delivered.
April 11, 2008
by Justin Raimondo
Two years ago, when I was in Kuala Lumpur as a guest of the Perdana Peace
Forum, I had the singularly unpleasant experience of meeting Robert Mugabe.
Well, "meeting" him is hardly the word: rather, I espied him, sitting
directly across from me, at the opening banquet of the conference. Turning
to the person next to me, I asked: "Isn't that guy sitting over there Robert
Mugabe?" My friend squinted, and replied: "Sure looks like it."
The table was loaded down with lots of really good food: Malaysian fare,
with all its wonderful color and variety. But I seemed to have lost my
appetite rather suddenly.
"You mean I have to eat at the same table with that murdering despot?" As is
my wont, I was speaking rather loudly. Mugabe looked up, and straight at me.
I felt like giving him the finger, but, instead, I got up and exited the
room. Better not to make a scene quite yet.
I was upset. I had no idea Mugabe would be attending – he showed up
uninvited – and if I had I would never have agreed to come. Yet there I was,
8,000 miles from home, already committed to speak to the conference, and,
although Mugabe was nowhere listed as a speaker or official guest, word of
his presence would soon get out. What to do?
As exhausted as I was from the 15-hour flight, I was quite prepared to get
on a plane, and head home – and that's exactly what I determined to do if
the conference organizers could not be dissuaded from allowing Mugabe's
participation. As it was, Mugabe was seated right next to the prime mover of
the conference, ex-Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, and Mugabe was
constantly whispering in his ear, much to the former's apparent annoyance.
There was something distinctly reptilian about the African tyrant's visage
and general demeanor: at any moment, I fully expected him to flick a
foot-long tongue at a passing fly.
After the banquet, and during it, I made my opinion of Mugabe unmistakably
clear, and lobbied the other speakers to appeal to the conference
organizers, and threaten a walk-out if necessary. Most agreed with me on the
general subject of Mugabe: only George Galloway disdained to join the rest
of us in opposing the presence of a man whose name has become a synonym for
African despot. Galloway, asked his opinion on the matter, scowled and
declared that it wasn't our place to criticize Mugabe – only George W. Bush
and the "imperialists" were fair game. However, everyone else – former
Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, former UN assistant secretary-general
Denis Halliday, former UN assistant secretary-general Hans von Sponeck,
Daniel Ellsberg, and anti-nuclear-arms activist and writer Helen
Caldicott. – were quite disturbed by Mugabe's presence, and made this very
clear to the Perdana organization. The result was that an event at which
Mugabe was supposed to speak was canceled, and – a day before the Zimbabwean
President fled the scene in a huff – I had a run-in with his "bodyguards,"
who thought they could intimidate me. Boy, were they mistaken!
It was actually kind of funny, albeit a bit on the scary side, when three or
four of these thugs – big, ugly-looking brutes to a man – suddenly sat down
at my table at a luncheon and tried to push their weight around. Those poor
guys soon found themselves an unwilling audience for a lecture on the basic
principles of libertarianism, and why their country is an economic basket
case. Since they couldn't just start clubbing me to death right there in
plain sight – although I don't think they would have hesitated had they
found me on the streets of Kuala Lumpur – they faced the choice of either
retreating or allowing themselves to be bored to death. They wisely chose
the former course.
At any rate, the whole subject of Mugabe comes up now because he's in
trouble on his own turf, with his ruling ZANU-PF party apparently defeated
in the recent election, in spite of the widespread violence and intimidation
engaged in by Mugabe's militants – or, perhaps, because of it. Although a
165,000 percent inflation rate may also have something to do with it.
Yet Mugabe clings to power, while his thugs have taken possession of ballot
boxes and his government refuses to release the official results, although
everyone knows he and his party were trounced. The campaign of violence
embarked on by ZANU-PF has intensified, and the opposition has accused
Mugabe of pulling off a de facto coup.
In his long and bloody career as first and only President of Zimbabwe, the
84-year-old Mugabe has engaged in a systematic campaign of murder, racist
demagoguery, and wholesale looting to maintain himself and his cronies in
power. Not since Idi Amin has such a bloody-minded sociopath and mass
murderer arisen out of the dark heart of Africa. The United States, which
doesn't mind supporting the continent's worst dictators, from Hosni Mubarak
in Egypt to Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia, won't touch Mugabe with a ten-foot
pole. Indeed, listening to the Voice of America in Mugabe-land can get you
in trouble with the secret police. The US, the EU, the UN, leaders of
neighboring countries – all have expressed varying levels of disapproval as
Mugabe's international stock has plummeted to new lows.
Yet he has always managed to retain at least one ally, through thick and
thin, one that remains loyal even now, and that is the government of Israel.
They have been a steady supplier of military equipment, including riot
control tanks and water cannon, which has been used to suppress the
democratic opposition and keep the country under his iron grip. Links
between Mugabe and Mossad, Israeli's intelligence agency, go back years.
In 2002, one Ari Ben Menashe – employed by Israeli military intelligence
from 1977 to at least 1987, in spite of the Israeli government's denials of
any connection – shot what was purported to be covertly filmed videotape of
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai supposedly discussing a plot to
assassinate Mugabe. This was triumphantly broadcast on Zimbabwe state
television on the eve of elections, followed by a fresh wave of repression
aimed at pro-democracy activists. The tape turned out to have been doctored,
but the broadcast accomplished its task: providing a momentary rationale for
Mugabe's reign of terror, which continues to this day.
So well-known is Israel's unstinting support for Mugabe that the democratic
opposition has accused the government of bringing in computer "consultants"
from the Mossad to manipulate voter rolls. (Which certainly surprised at
least one Israeli software producer.)
What in the name of all that's holy is Israel, a democratic state founded by
socialist idealists, doing supporting one of the most reviled despots on
earth – one who, furthermore, is no friend of Israel, at least officially.
The answer may be found in certain Israeli-based economic interests, which,
in turn, could have an inordinate influence on that nation's Africa policy –
specifically in the case of Zimbabwe and the "Democratic Republic of the
Unfortunately, Israel's policy in regard to Zimbabwe is not the exception
that proves the rule: it is business as usual.
The moral depravity of Israel's African policies are highlighted by the
close cooperation that existed between Tel Aviv and the apartheid regime of
South Africa. Israel provided the expertise, experience, and technology, as
well as other covert military aid, which enabled white Pretoria to hold off
the African National Congress for as long as it did. And, as Jimmy Carter
and others have pointed out, Israel has replicated its former ally's policy
toward black South Africans in the occupied territories.
In reviewing the facts, it is hard to come up with a single despotic
government that hasn't received some sort of aid or assistance from the
Israelis: Colombia, where "former" Mossad agents train government
anti-terrorist units and right-wing paramilitaries – El Salvador, where arms
and expertise provided to successive right-wing juntas helped stabilize
these US-supported regimes – Guatemala, where "former" Israeli military and
intelligence officers provided security for the notoriously repressive
Guatemalan military dictatorship – and the pattern is repeated throughout
South and Central America.
The list goes on: Iran, under the rule of the Shah Reza Pahlavi, was the
scene of the notorious SAVAK's worst crimes: the Iranian secret police
reportedly were schooled in techniques of torture by the Mossad.
What is it with the Israelis? Why do they have a predilection for murderous
tyrants? What seems, at first, like a pattern of sheer moral perversity may
be broken down, in specific cases, into discrete economic, strategic, and
diplomatic objectives. Yet one has to be astonished – and more than a little
horrified – at the complete amorality that guides the Israeli government's
actions around the world.
This record of Israeli support for dictators and despots worldwide is,
perhaps, part of the reason for that country's growing unpopularity on a
global scale: however, in the US, where the Israel lobby wields inordinate
power in government and the media, it's quite a different story. Here,
support for Israel is in the 70 percent range – a testament to the
supposedly nonexistent power of the Lobby, and the relative ignorance of and
indifference to world affairs exhibited by most Americans.
~ Justin Raimondo
Presenter: David Williams Guest: Tim Hughes
Summit TV speaks to Tim Hughes from the SA Institute of International
Affairs about the developing crisis in Zimbabwe
DAVID WILLIAMS: Welcome to Face to Face. I’m talking to Tim Hughes
from the SA Institute of International Affairs an expert on Southern African
politics. Zimbabwe is in the news at the moment - that’s what we are going
to talk about. Tim, can I put it to you that the Zimbabwe election - there
was hope that maybe this would make a difference, but a false dawn?
TIM HUGHES: Possibly. We expected a lot once we had the parliamentary
results and the local elections as well - and the senatorial results were
quite encouraging too. Of course the real crux of power is the presidential
results - and those have been blocked as you know by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) and more particularly by Zanu-PF. Right now it’s up in the
air and it’s before the courts - so this is the real test I think for the
constitution and constitutionality. Whether or not we’ve made a significant
breakthrough in Zimbabwe - this is going to be the test.
DAVID WILLIAMS: The jargon is “free and fair” and we’ve experienced
this in South Africa and the processes that you need to put in place. But an
election isn’t just the vote - it’s the campaigning, it’s the communication,
it’s the media, it goes right through to the count and the announcement -
the sense is that regardless of the paraphernalia of elections that Zanu-PF
is trying to steal this election?
TIM HUGHES: It could never be free and fair given the structural
conditions. Even the conditions set out by the SADC norms and standards -
the guidelines that were agreed to in August 2005 and signed by Zimbabwe -
were not met despite the negotiations that went on from the Tanzanian
mandate given to President Mbeki. You have no free press - as you know there’s
no real freedom of association and freedom of movement - plus you have
perhaps three or four million people outside the country effectively who are
effectively disenfranchised. You had the crack-down on the opposition last
March as well - therefore the conditions for a free and fair election were
not met. We have to say, however, it was a lot freer and fairer, a lot less
violent, and somewhat more transparent than we’ve seen since 2000
particularly given the results being posted on the outside of the polling
DAVID WILLIAMS: This is maybe where President Mbeki - who has had a
really rough press generally about Zimbabwe - it’s said that one of the
things he tried to get in place that’s happened was the posting honestly of
the result in a particular constituency, which then can be added up to give
you a national picture. Is that what’s happened?
TIM HUGHES: Absolutely. There were some significant negotiated
concessions made by Zanu-PF over the past year. We’ve had the example in
other countries where elections have been posted immediately. Ghana in 2000
is a very good case in point - you remember the transition from Jerry
Rawlins to John Kufuor - that was facilitated by exactly that point, those
results being posted on polling booths and cellphone technology sending
those results through to a central counting station and those results being
broadcast on FM radio. So the result was out there - you could actually
agglomerate it. So we’ve had this sort of demonstration effect. This is what’s
happened in Zimbabwe. The problem is we didn’t have this sort of effect with
the presidential elections - these are now being recounted as you know.
There seem to be postal votes they’re trying to find. We’ve had the arrest
of electoral officers - five or seven of them. Clearly it looks like
President Mugabe is looking to either try and reduce Morgan Tsvangirai to
below 50% - or boost himself to ensure there would be a “legitimate” run-off
in the eyes of Zanu-PF.
DAVID WILLIAMS: Also the delay - the longer the delay the more you
think: “What are they doing with these papers that they have in their
hands?” Surely the essence of a free election is that the result must be
announced as soon as it’s counted?
TIM HUGHES: It’s almost a case of justice delayed is justice denied -
and this is certainly the case in the election too. I know people in
Zimbabwe that knew their particular electoral results - senators - on the
Sunday. They knew it the next day. Even though the election results were
only posted something like a week later they knew the results down to one
ballot paper. What we have now is a crisis within Zanu-PF. We know the
politburo met on Thursday - there’s a crisis within the ZEC - and it’s
emerging into a potentially very severe crisis for Zimbabwe particularly if
it turns violent. This is where I think we need to see South Africa, we need
to see SADC and the AU coming to the party actually in the way that Jacob
Zuma did when he met Morgan Tsvangirai and said: “We have to move quickly to
declare the results - we have to move to legality. The process is
all-important.” That was very encouraging.
DAVID WILLIAMS: What we have maybe is a reasonably fair election - in
the sense that it’s produced a result. It’s the refusal of the incumbent
authority to accept it…
TIM HUGHES: Precisely. I think they either miscalculated as a party -
or perhaps even more significantly were unable to manipulate the result the
way they’ve done since 2000. It’s just the case that perhaps they don’t have
the resources to manipulate the result as effectively as they have done. In
terms of the security forces - the distribution of largesse - I think there’s
a sentiment within elements of Zanu-PF, the security forces and the
intelligence services that they don’t want this to continue. People are
arguing that in fact Mugabe asked people to remain loyal to him - but many
senior people within Zanu-PF are disaffected by Mugabe and in fact left him
politically some time ago.
DAVID WILLIAMS: What’s most likely to happen? Are we going to have
TIM HUGHES: One certainly hopes not. That’s the least likely scenario
in many respects. I think at that point you would have to see the
intervention of SADC and other leaders.
DAVID WILLIAMS: By civil war I mean where Zanu-PF is actually split?
TIM HUGHES: I think that’s most likely. I think what’s happening now
is really about the future of Zanu-PF - it’s about a transition for Robert
Mugabe, it’s about the terms and conditions of that transition, it’s about
securing Zanu-PF. I’d venture to suggest that Zimbabwe would look a lot
better with a unity government. I do not personally favour an MDC government
alone. We need elements of Zanu-PF in a unity government. We also need
checks and balances on an MDC government.
DAVID WILLIAMS: It sounds a bit like the US coming to Iraq and saying
“all the previous government has to go” but that’s not practical because
they’re running things…
TIM HUGHES: It’s not practical. It’s not desirable as well. You don’t
want those security elements - thugs in many respects - you don’t want those
with the intelligence, those that have the knowledge about corruption, about
the parallel financial systems, etcetera. You want to build a cabinet that
brings in both factions of the MDC - there’s massive talent in the Mutambara
faction of the MDC. You do need some talented people in Zanu-PF to actually
galvanise that country in a way that it hasn’t been united since 1980.
Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe
BRIEFING FOR MEDIA AND DIPLOMATIC CORPS
ZIMBABWE: ARE WE TOWARDS A NEW BEGINNING OR
IS IT A BLOCKED TRANSITION?
14 April 2008, Sheraton Hotel, Pretoria, 11 am
Zimbabweans went to the polls on 29 March. From that moment onwards, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF has been denying the people of Zimbabwe a future by avoiding to publicise results of the Presidential Election. It is apparent that the major objective of Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF is to orchestrate mechanisms to stay in power rather than respecting the will of the people.
Current news from people on the ground is unsettling. The lack of transparency has opened up potential for election fraud on the part of the government. The use of violence by police and army and other government controlled paramilitary elements is increasingly likely. The regime is set to use every conceivable means to stay in power.
What are the issues?
· What is the public mood toward the election results? Will the regime additionally manipulate the election process and results? Will there be a run-off or is it necessary to have it?
· How likely is a Government of National Unity or transitional government?
· Is a peaceful transition of power possible? What role should SADC play in this deadlock?
· What are the sentiments simmering from the grassroots? Are the security forces with the people or not?
· Is there a possibility of upped violence by the regime?
· Is Mugabe living dangerously or is the pro-democratic movement in real danger of being smashed?
Speakers: A panel of speakers from Zimbabwean civil society as follows:
Lovemore Madhuku, National Constitutional Assembly
Wellington Chibebe, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (to confirm)
Bishop Levee Kadenge, Christian Alliance
Elinor Sisulu,Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
Irene Petras,Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
Gordon Moyo, Bulawayo Agenda
Abel Chikomo, Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Gibbs Dube, Journalist
Venue: Sheraton Hotel
643 corner of Church and Wessels Street,
(Secure parking is available underground, vouchers obtained from reception)
Time: 11h00 Arrival, Speakers will be available for interviews
11h30 Panellists discussion)
12h00 Questions and answer session
13h00 Briefing adjourned, Speakers will be available for interviews
RSVP: Colleta Ngwenya tel: 011 312 1183, 076 613 1655, email: email@example.com
For more info:Davie Malungisa tel: 011 312 1183 073 964 9585, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nixon Nyikadzino tel: 011 838 9642 073 849 6205, email: email@example.com
ABC Radio April 10
FRAN KELLY: Well, let’s talk about Zimbabwe now and this notion of helping to shape a stronger, rules based order for the modern world takes us straight there. We spoke to Sekai Holland yesterday, she won a Senate seat in these elections for the MDC and she was pleading for the international community to help, asking why Zimbabwe isn’t being discussed in the UN Security Council.
Has the world response been too weak?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well, I think the international community hasn’t been paying enough attention to Zimbabwe. I think there is a good development this morning and that is that of the development from the South African development community with the Zambian President calling an extraordinary summit of the Development Community on the weekend.
The key states in the South African development community so far as Zimbabwe is concerned are South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania. I’ve become very quite pessimistic in the last couple of days about what’s accuring in Zimbabwe.
I think now its quite clear that Mugabe ZANU-PF, his forces, his regime are getting right back to their old tricks, they’re either going to try and steal the election in a second round run-off, or they’re going to try and rort the poll and not even bother with a second round run-off.
It’s absolutely essential in the first instance that the African Unions states and the South African Development Community states start putting the pressure right on Mugabe to get the election result out there. And then if there is a second round run-off to make sure that we’ve got an effective team of international observers starting with the African states, but we stand ready, able and willing to assist and the United Kingdom have made that same point.
FRAN KELLY: And then our determination to be a more active—what is it—middle power, are you actively making calls on this, internationally trying to agitate?
STEPHEN SMITH: I’ve spoken to my South African colleague, I’ve spoken to my Tanzanian colleague, the Prime Minister spoke to President Mbeki in London when they were there for the Progressive Leaders meeting with Gordon Brown, and when I’ve made those calls I’ve made the point, that one of the reasons that I’m making the calls is because Australia has a renewed interest in Africa.
I think Africa is an area which we have sadly neglected in the recent period. There is, having said that, a long standing interest in the Australian community in firstly Rhodesia and Zimbabwe. There are actually two expatriate communities in Australia. You’ve got a Rhodesian community and a Zimbabwean community: people who came to Australia when Ian Smith was still the Prime Minister, and you’ve had people who have come to Australia following majority rules. So there is a keen interest, but its effectively not in our patch it’s a bit further away than the Asia-Pacific, but there are long standing contacts between South Africa and Zimbabwe. We have a responsibility in my view to make our voice known and we have been doing that strongly and robustly both publicly and with the relevant nation states.
April 6, ABC TV Insiders
STEPHEN SMITH, FOREIGN MINISTER: Good morning, Barrie.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Can you bring us right up to date, what's the very latest that you're hearing out of Zimbabwe?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well, I spoke to our Ambassador in Zimbabwe in the last hour. On the streets, things remain pretty calm, people going about their business, but there is a tension when people start to contemplate what now might happen.
I think people are now coming to the conclusion that Mr Mugabe and Zanu PF are making it clear they're proposing to contest the second round. We're still of course waiting for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to public the presidential results. But it looks as though where we're heading is for a second round, and I have to say I'm becoming increasingly concerned that it looks as though some of the old approaches may well be emerging that we're now worried about if there is a second round, intimidation and there not being a full, free and fair election with complete participation from the Zimbabwean people on a free basis.
So I am now starting to worry about the dangers of intimidation, when it comes to a second round, if that's what unfolds in the next few days.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Could it be that the crackdown has already started?
STEPHEN SMITH: There have been some worrying incidents, and it looks like potentially some untoward conduct developing.
I think the international community is trying to make it clear, and we've seen overnight the conversations from the Progressive Leaders meeting in London that if there is to be a second round on the basis of an objective assessment of the result, then that has to be full, free and fair.
I've made the point previously that that should be the subject of international observers. And last night in Perth, I spoke to my South African counterpart, the South African Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Dr Dlamini-Zuma, and while there is a limit to what I can indicate from that conversation, I think it's clear to say that South Africa is very focused on these issues. They're of course the most important member of the African Union or South African Development Community when it comes to Zimbabwe.
President Mbeki did some good work in improving the arrangements for the election, and I made the point to my South African counterpart that we need to make sure if it goes to a second round that it's full, free, and fair and we do have a very healthy complement of observers on the ground.
The South African Development Community observers are still there, pending the announced result of the presidential election. I think the international community has to look very, very closely at beefing up those observers if we do go to a second round, because as I say, I'm becoming increasingly worried with some untoward developments that Mr Mugabe may be trying to steal the election through intimidation, if it goes to a second round.
BARRIE CASSIDY: You mentioned still no presidential results. Were the South Africans able to shed any light on that? When can we expect those results to start flowing?
STEPHEN SMITH: The South African Foreign Minister, like us, was waiting patiently but I made the point, as I have publicly and as I did earlier in the week, to my Tanzanian colleague, that we think, Australia thinks, it's very important that those results are out as quickly as possible.
I notice overnight Mr Tsvangirai himself holding a press conference in Harare, making the point that those results have to be out there but also making the point that he thinks more African Union and potentially even United Nations people have to be on the ground to ensure freedom and fair participation in any second round. So I think we've really got to put the weights on here as best we can to make sure that Mr Mugabe doesn't get away with resorting to his very bad brutal habits of old.
BARRIE CASSIDY: And if Mr Mugabe was to lose that run off, would it be appropriate for the new government to offer him a quiet retirement in return for a peaceful transition?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well, the last thing we want in Zimbabwe is an outbreak of violence or military enforcement or actions. Now, what occurs to Mr Mugabe if he ultimately loses a presidential election or if there's a transition to a new government, in the first instance is a matter for the Zimbabwean people, and the Zimbabwean government and the Zimbabwean Parliament. That's in the first instance a matter for them.
In our case, we're looking more broadly, and we've made the point as the United Kingdom government has made the point, that if we do get a Zimbabwean government that respects the will of the people, that does want to do good works for its people, then obviously, we're in the marketplace for development assistance and trying to reconstruct or rebuild Zimbabwe. The British in particular have made it clear that in the right circumstances, they'll put on the table a substantial offer, because what we have to do here is on the basis that we get a government that reflects and respects the will of the people. We've now got an international responsibility to seek to rebuild the Zimbabwe economy, and rebuild the Zimbabwean nation with very many of its people now living effectively in abject poverty, let alone the taking away of any of their freedoms or human rights.
2 April 2008
Radio Interview with Alexandra Kirk, World Today ABC
Subjects: Zimbabwe, PM visit to Japan, Fiji
ALEXANDRA KIRK: Mr Smith, good afternoon.
STEPHEN SMITH: Afternoon Alex.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: Do you believe that the Opposition has won both the parliamentary and the presidential polls in Zimbabwe?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well, they have certainly done very well. Obviously I am not in a position to verify their victory but certainly Mr Tsvangirai and the Opposition are very, very confident that they've done very well. The individual polling results that have been published by the Democratic Zimbabwe movement certainly are very, very encouraging and supportive, which is why we've been saying that the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission should publish the results. Publish them as a matter of urgency. The last result I saw for the parliamentary election was effectively 85/85. That shows the opposition doing very well but we haven't yet seen a result for the presidential election.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: You've said that the military isn't motivated, you don't think, to rescue President Mugabe this time round. So in your judgement, is Mr Mugabe likely to mount a coup to hang on to power?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well, I was very careful in what I said and I'll repeat it which is we have to take this step by step. Currently the various reports and commentary seems to be that the military is not motivated to move in. But we've seen Mr Mugabe use both electoral rorts and military force before. So in the first instance, certainly whatever outcome occurs, we want it to be a peaceful, peaceable outcome. We don't want there to be violence or the use of military force.
Secondly, we are obviously very concerned, as we have been for the last few days, about Mr Mugabe seeking to steal the result. Not by use of force but by rorting the counting of the vote and the announcement of it. Which is why we keep saying the weights have to remain on the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to publish those results as quickly as possible.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: But you have no power to do that?
STEPHEN SMITH: Which is why I've been either speaking to David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, making that same point with which the British are in screaming agreement and wanting to speak to some of the Southern African Development Community nation states like South Africa, Zambia and we are making arrangements to speak to those foreign ministers in the course of the day.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: There were reports that foreign diplomats had been asked to attend a conference with the Government today. Has Australia's ambassador in Harare, John Courtney been invited?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well, I spoke to our ambassador late last night. That wasn't part of his report to me. He made the point, as others have, that it is very difficult to get a clear picture of what is effectively occurring behind the scenes. It is very much, I think, a bit of moving feast. The international community needs to keep the weights on, as I put it. It is now the early hours of the morning in Zimbabwe so there are lots, lots of rumours, lots of speculation.
What do we know with certainty? We know the Opposition has done very well. We know that Mr Mugabe is not the retiring type. This is not a bloke who is going to volunteer to retire overnight. So the weights have to be put on him to respect the will of the Zimbabwean people to not rort it so that we can see in Zimbabwe a government which respects the will of the people but in some respects, more importantly, wants to do good works and good deeds for its people - starting with its economy.
2 April 2008
Television Interview with Tony Jones, Lateline ABC
TONY JONES: As we said, the Australian foreign minister, Stephen Smith, has tonight been on the phone to his counterparts in three neighbouring countries of Zimbabwe, as well as the Australian embassy in Harare. He joins us now from our Parliament House studio.
Stephen Smith, thanks for being there. And can you start by giving us the latest you're hearing from Australian diplomats in Harare.
STEPHEN SMITH: Well this evening, or late tonight, in the last hour, I've spoken to our ambassador in Zimbabwe. I've spoken to our mission in South Africa, and earlier tonight I spoke to my counterpart, the foreign minister in Tanzania. And we've got calls out for South Africa and Zambia, but just some logistical arrangements have made that a bit difficult.
Starting with the information we're getting in terms of what's occurring on the ground, it's mid morning to late morning in Harare and Zimbabwe as we speak. I'm told that things are calm and people are going about their usual business. So it's a bit improved from earlier reports. But when people are asked about the outcome or what might occur, there is some tension or nervousness.
There's not necessarily a great deal more to report than what I advised the media earlier today. We're expecting that in the next hour or so, the Opposition party, the MDC will release their own assessment of the booth by booth, or the polling station by polling station results. This is obviously geared to put pressure on the Zimbabwe election commission to more quickly release it's own results.
The most recent results published by the Zimbabwe electoral commission effectively had Mr Tsvangirai’s Opposition party on about 90 seats, Zanu-PF slightly behind, and other parties, a half a dozen or so. So if you compare that with the most reliable and authoritative NGO, the Zimbabwe Democracy Now, they've got in the parliamentary sense, 99 for Mr Tsvangirai, 96 for Zanu-PF, and a dozen for other parties. So there's a rough equivalence there.
What it does tell us is that Mr Tsvangirai has done very, very well. But we're yet to see any results so far as the presidential election is concerned. Which is why we continue to seek to put the pressure that we can, from afar, on the electoral commission to release those results and make sure that the results are an accurate reflection of the will of the Zimbabwe people.
TONY JONES: Are you disturbed at all to hear that the State run newspaper in Harare, the Herald, is actually saying that it has the presidential results and that neither of the candidates has got more than 50 per cent, therefore there will have to be a run-off election in three weeks time.
STEPHEN SMITH: Well I suppose given the history of Zimbabwe under the brutal Mugabe regime, the State run newspaper having access to that information wouldn't necessarily surprise. But as I've said, we've got to take this step by step. It's quite clear the Opposition have done well.
Now whether an accurate reflection of the poll, of the count, is an absolute majority for Mr Tsvangirai, or a run-off for a second round, and we'll have to leave that judgement for a bit further down the track. That is a significant dent to Mr Mugabe's authority. There's no doubt about that.
And David Coltart made that point, and I thought, made it well. That there has been seen now to be a significant denting of that authority, and we just hope the response to that is a peaceful and peaceable one. One which accepts the outcome, and where we don't see violence or the use of rigging or more seriously, military or other force to try and steal the election or thwart the will of the people.
TONY JONES: Okay. As we said earlier, you're attempting to speak to the three SADC foreign ministers, you've spoken I think to the foreign minister of Tanzania, I think that's what you said...
STEPHEN SMITH: Yes.
TONY JONES: What are you trying to achieve with those phone calls? Do you want some form of intervention from those three countries to put pressure on Mugabe?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well what I wanted to do was to firstly, as I did with the United Kingdom foreign secretary last night, just register Australia's significant interest and concern in Zimbabwe. We have a long standing interest in Zimbabwe from unilateral declaration of independence, Rhodesia days and from majority rule, post-Lancaster house. And there is a small but significant Rhodesian and Zimbabwean expatriate community in Australia. And it's in the Commonwealth, it's part of our patch. And we should...
TONY JONES: Well it was in the Commonwealth - it's not right now.
STEPHEN SMITH: Well it was in the Commonwealth, with Pakistan it's out. But part of our public policy aspiration is to get it back in. Which of course means a full and free election and respecting the result. But what I wanted to do was to register our interest. But also to get a feel for what the South African Development Community States and the African Union States were thinking.
Tanzania, who I spoke to, my colleague Foreign Minister Membe. Tanzania of course chairs the African Union, but Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, generally regarded as the three significant Southern African Development Community States, and African Union States, who are best placed to put pressure on or influence events in Zimbabwe. And we know that President Mbeki, for example, was very influential in an improved conduct of the election.
TONY JONES: Alright, what did Mr Membe tell you tonight?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well of course it's for South Africa, and Zambia, and Tanzania to let their own views be known. But without saying anything inappropriate, I think it's accurate to say that firstly the concerns that are shared by the international community which we've seen expressed. We've seen them expressed by Australia, the United Kingdom and others, that we want, that there is a desire to see an accurate reflection of the will of the Zimbabwe people reflected by the election results. That it's desirable for those results to be published sooner rather than later. But most importantly, it's desirable for those results to accurately reflect the actual votes cast.
And I think it's also true to say there is considerable concern and worry that if we're not careful, that if the outcome isn't effectively, properly counted and respected, that we could very quickly see Zimbabwe descend into unrest, disorder and violence. Which of course the last thing we want to see.
TONY JONES: Indeed, and on that score, Desmond Tutu tonight is actually calling for a Southern African peace keeping force to be sent in to Zimbabwe now. To make sure there isn't any post-election violence, or electoral violence as a result of the tensions that are developing there.Do you think that's a good idea?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well can I make this point. I think in the first instance, there is the immediate responsibility of the African neighbours to be doing what they can to ensure that there's a quick outcome and a respecting of the election result. If, for example, there is on the basis of the objective evidence, a requirement or a need or an electoral outcome which sees a second round, then that should certainly be the subject of very intense international scrutiny in terms of election observers. And yes, I think the African States should contemplate a show of support to ensure that that second round is fully participated in, is free and is fair.
TONY JONES: Are you talking about peacekeeping? Do you think a peacekeeping force on the ground in Zimbabwe would be a good idea during this election to make sure things stay under control?
STEPHEN SMITH: I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself, Tony. As I say, firstly we're seeing at the moment on the basis of the latest reports, yes there is a military or a police presence in, for example, Harare, but at this stage the disposition seems to be to stand off rather than to be taking an active or partisan approach or role. Now that could very quickly change. We certainly don't want it to change.
The most desirable outcome is a respecting of the election result in a peaceful and peaceable way. And if that takes a second round, if the objective evidence requires a second round in accordance with the electoral process, that should be full, free and fair participation. That should certainly require international observers and in the first instance if there is a need to contemplate, if you like, a greater show of strength, then I think the primary responsibility for contemplating that rests with the African States. And I think that would be the most appropriate starting point. But we're a fair way from that I think Tony.
TONY JONES: Quick final question. You may have heard in the piece earlier Mugabe's Deputy Minister for Information, Bright Matonga, welcoming what he calls a change in attitude from the new Australian Government? Has someone told him there's been a change in the Australian Government's position on Zimbabwe?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well, half tongue in cheek, Tony, people obviously haven't been showing him my transcripts which have been pretty rugged on my view of a brutal regime.
TONY JONES: Does this make you wonder what our diplomats are actually telling him on the ground, our Ambassador? Are we telling them the concern that there is in Australia and that, in fact, you are deeply worried about the past rigging of elections?
STEPHEN SMITH: Tony, you can be in absolutely no doubt what our people in Zimbabwe and as well what our people in South Africa are saying in terms of our attitude and our view. We're dealing here with a brutal regime of long standing which hasn't respected democracy, which hasn't respected human rights, which has essentially presided over a massive falling away of the economy and living standards of the Zimbabwean people.
We stand ready, willing and able to work with any government which will reflect the will of the people. But most importantly, work towards improving the livelihood of the Zimbabwean people. And I regret to advise the information minister Tony, that is not the Mugabe regime.
TONY JONES: We'll see if he reports that tomorrow. Stephen Smith, we thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us tonight.
STEPHEN SMITH: Thanks very much Tony, thank you.
Media Inquiries: Foreign Minister's office (02) 6277 7500
2 April 2008
STEPHEN SMITH: Thanks for turning up. I just want to make some remarks about Zimbabwe, then I'm happy to answer your questions on that and any other issues.
Firstly, earlier this morning I spoke to our High Commissioner in Zimbabwe to get an assessment from the Australian perspective, of the things on the ground in Zimbabwe. I'm told that things are calm, tense, but calm. No indications at this stage of any violence which is very welcoming.
I think it's true to say that it is difficult to get a clear assessment of events as they are unfolding. Certainly you would experienced that, given the media access restrictions that we find in Zimbabwe. I think it's also the case that, not just our mission, but other missions, United States, United Kingdom, are also having difficulty getting a clear picture of events as they emerge. So I think it's important to monitor events as they unfold and to not get too far ahead of ourselves.
There are some things though that we can say I think with certainty. Firstly, it's quite clear that the Opposition has done very well. It's quite clear that Mr Tsvangirai, despite all the difficult circumstances of the election, has done very well. In the last count that I saw published by the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission, had 85 seats to the Opposition, 85 seats to Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF and half a dozen to others. I haven't yet seen, nor do I believe has anyone else, any published results by the Commission so far as the presidential ballot is concerned.
So we know that the Opposition Leader Mr Tsvangirai has done very well, and just on those figures the two-thirds majority that would enable, for example, Mr Mugabe to change the constitution, is no longer available.
The second thing we know is that everyone remains very concerned - very, very concerned that Mr Mugabe, by fair means or foul, may well try and steal this election and that's why we've been urging, in the last couple of days as I again do today, urging the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to publish the results as quickly as possible. That will be of great assistance. Firstly, there will be a formal result published by the Commission, but secondly, it will enable people to make comparisons between the already publicly available and published results, polling station by polling station, which have been published by the Opposition Parties and also by non-government organisations in Zimbabwe.
Can I say that yesterday I took steps to put myself in the position of being able to speak to some of my colleague Foreign Ministers. Firstly, the South African Foreign Minister, the Zambian Foreign Minister and the Tanzanian Foreign Minister and also the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Mr Miliband. Late last night, Canberra time, I spoke to Mr Miliband. In the early hours of this morning I attempted to speak to the Foreign Minister for South Africa Dlamini Zuma, who was travelling in Sudan, but the communications problems made it difficult and we've arranged for that to occur later this evening. And I'll be speaking to the Tanzanian and Zambian Foreign Ministers later this evening as well.
I had a very good conversation with Mr Miliband and I advised him of a number of things. Firstly, there is a longstanding interest in Zimbabwe so far as Australia is concerned, and unfolding events in Zimbabwe are a matter of acute concern to the Australian Government and the Australian people.
Secondly, we want to see an orderly and peaceful outcome to the election. Thirdly, we want the election results to be verified and the will of the people respected. And fourthly, if there is a transition, if there is a transition to a new government, then the Australian Government will work closely and carefully with any new government which seeks to respect the will of the Zimbabwean people, but also wants to uplift the lives of Zimbabwean people. This is not something that can be said of the brutal Mugabe regime over the last couple of decades. And Mr Miliband and I had a very productive conversation. You'd of course be aware that Prime Minister Brown spoke to the South African Leader Mr Mbeki in the last couple of days.
The reason, of course, for making the phone calls was to again record Australia's interest, particularly to indicate to the African - my African colleagues, members of the South African Development Community that Australia has a keen interest in events unfolding in Zimbabwe and to make the point to them that we believe it's important that the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission publish the results as a matter of urgency and the will of the Zimbabwean people be respected.
Obviously, given that it's the early hours of the morning in Zimbabwe, more information coming to hand will take the course of the day, but I hope to be in a position to provide reasonably regular updates as events do unfold in the next couple of days.
I'm happy to respond to your questions on that.
See also Questions and answers
2 April 2008
Media conference - Questions and Answers
Subjects: Zimbabwe, UN Security Council position, Japan
QUESTION: Mr Smith what do you know about what's happening inside Mr Mugabe's office?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well I think like everyone else, I'm not in the position to give any certain information about that. There is a lot of speculation and it needs to be, I think treated as speculation.
There have been suggestions, for example, that a deal has been brokered between Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Mugabe. That's been strongly denied by Mr Tsvangirai in a press conference in the late hours of last night Zimbabwe time.
There have also been suggestions that - that Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai have spoken by telephone. I'm not in the position to verify that one way or the other.
But obviously what is occurring here is, on the part of the Opposition, an attempt to ensure that the democratic will of the Zimbabwean people is respected and to seek to effect an orderly transition to a new government. And obviously it's clear that Mr Mugabe, for some time, has been wanting to resist that.
One thing which I think does appear to be emerging is that his attempt to steal the election has largely been through a delay in the election outcome, rather than through military force, or military means. All the advice we've received is that the military are effectively on stand-by, but do not appear to be taking an active role, or an active interest in matters. And I certainly hope that remains the case. The last thing we want here is violence to break out.
QUESTION: Mr Smith, in your conversations with your foreign counterparts, did you discuss the potential for rigging the elections and if evidence does emerge, of rigging, the response from Australia and the international community?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well, I've had one conversation with Mr Miliband, an attempt at an organised conversation with the Foreign Minister of South Africa which, because of communications problems - she was in Sudan - that's been put off till today. But I made the point to Mr Miliband, as I will to my African colleagues, one, we want the will of the people respected. Two, if Mr Mugabe tries to steal the election then certainly there should be a very, very strong view expressed by the international community that it doesn't respect any such stolen election.
And I think what - what we now need to do is to make the point crystal clear that we want the will of the Zimbabwean people to be respected. We want the election result published as quickly as possible. And we want all pressure placed on Mr Mugabe to prevent him from seeking to steal the election.
There was one over here, sorry.
QUESTION: Mr Smith would an Australian serving on the Security Council assist, or as the federal Opposition maintains hinder efforts to democratise countries like Zimbabwe?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well, Australia has a very strong view about human rights and the Australian Government has put that view very strongly about Zimbabwe and also in recent times about Tibet. Taking those values and those virtues to the Security Council can but enhance.
Can I just make some general comments. I've seen those suggestions from the Opposition. I'm not sure what the Liberal Party and the National Party stand for on the Security Council.
When the Prime Minister announced that we would be putting our name forward as a candidate in 2012 for the 2013-14 Security Council position, the initial reaction of the leader of the Opposition was to say that this was a legitimate thing to do, the Shadow Foreign Minister effectively welcomed it and now I'm not quite sure what they're saying. I don't think the Opposition knows what it stands for in this matter, or what to stand for.
The Government knows very clearly what it stands for. The Government wants to take a much more active role in international affairs both generally and through the United Nations. We haven't been on the Security Council for over 20 years. Mr Downer himself has publicly recently expressed regret that the Government that he was a member of decided not to pursue an earlier claim.
We think it's important and we think that Australia, as one of the top 20 economies – 15th or 16th of the world economies – with a robust parliamentary democracy, as a well-developed, prosperous nation, we want to be a good international citizen, we want to take those values and virtues to the rest of the world. We could and we should.
I've often seen this expression, you know, Australia punching above its weight. It's an expression I hate. I don't think we do punch above our weight. I think we punch below our weight. We need to do more and this Government wants us to do more and we will ensure that we do more, whether it's about Zimbabwe, whether it's about the United Nations, whether it's about Tibet.
31 March 2008
Perth Press Conference
Subjects: Zimbabwe Elections, UN Security Council and other matters
STEPHEN SMITH: Well I'll just make some remarks about a number of matters and I'm happy to answer your questions.
Firstly, Zimbabwe and the parliamentary and the presidential elections. I've just got off the phone from speaking to our High Commissioner in Zimbabwe. It's very early in the morning in Zimbabwe, but later this morning, later this afternoon Canberra time we expect the announcement of the results of the parliamentary and the presidential elections.
Can I say that in the past, Australia has been very critical of the Mugabe regime. In recent days I've been very critical of the Mugabe regime and that criticism continues. We, of course, are very concerned that there hasn't been the opportunity for a full and free election, with full participation, conducted fairly. And there are also very grave concerns that the counting of the election will not necessarily reflect the actual casting of the votes; and we remain very concerned that Mr Mugabe will seek to claim election victory irrespective of the actual votes cast.
Whatever is claimed in the hours ahead, we certainly hope that there is no violence. And I note that the Opposition Leader Mr Tsvangirai has indicated that irrespective of the call of the election, he and his supporters will not engage in violent activity and we certainly hope that that is the response of Mr Mugabe and his supporters.
But we remain very gravely concerned that Mr Mugabe will seek to steal this election, irrespective of the actual votes cast, but we will of course monitor this in the hours and days ahead. And I've indicated to our High Commissioner that I'll be in regular contact with him in the course of the day and this week.
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National Post Published: Friday, April 11, 2008
Re: African Summit To Discuss Zimbabwe Election Crisis, April 10.
Given the estimable records of John Diefenbaker -- who had South Africa
forced out of the Commonwealth -- and Brian Mulroney -- who supported the
imprisoned Nelson Mandela as the true voice of his people-- may I suggest
that our current prime minister should play a similar leading role in
bringing peace and a measure of prosperity to Zimbabwe when Robert Mugabe
departs the scene.
Stephen Harper should launch a Canadian-sponsored Marshall Plan to
reconstruct this beautiful country. Given that stable Botswana and
economically powerful South Africa are its southern neighbours, helping
Zimbabwe achieve justice and liberty would create an even more powerful
democratic bloc in the southern third of the continent, which could spread
to rest of Africa.
Then we might not cry for this beloved country as we do today, but rejoice
with its people, who manage to laugh and sing in the face of tyranny and
Raymond Heard, Toronto.
April 11 2008 at 09:37AM
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition accused President Robert Mugabe on
Thursday of carrying out a de facto coup to stay in power and said
pro-democracy activists were in danger of their lives.
Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Mugabe,
who has held power since independence in 1980, would be ousted with the help
of other African nations.
"We'll manage to get Mugabe out. Mugabe is being deserted. No one
wants to touch Mugabe in the region now. Eventually, we will ease him out,"
Tsvangirai told Time Magazine.
He spoke ahead of an emergency southern African summit called for
Lusaka at the weekend to discuss growing fears the post election deadlock
could lead to bloodshed in Zimbabwe, already suffering economic collapse.
Tsvangirai's MDC accuses Mugabe, 84, of prolonging a long delay in
issuing the results of a March 29 presidential election while he organises a
violent response to his biggest defeat since taking power after independence
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party lost control of parliament for the first time
in the election but no results of the parallel presidential vote have been
"This is, in a sense, a de facto military coup. They have rolled out
military forces across the whole country, to prepare for a run-off and try
to cow the population. It's an attempt to try to create conditions for
Mugabe to win," Tsvangirai said.
MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti told a news conference in
Johannesburg: "Quite clearly the situation at home is volatile. The lives of
all pro-democracy actors are not safe".
Biti denied reports that Tsvangirai, who has visited regional
powerhouse South Africa to discuss the crisis, was seeking asylum abroad. He
said he would advise him against returning home because of the dangers "but
he is his own man".
Human Rights Watch said the Lusaka summit was the region's "last real
chance" to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis and accused the ruling Zanu-PF party of
increasing assaults on opposition activists and polling agents since the
The US based organisation said it had "received credible information
of dozens of ... attacks by Zanu-PF supporters."
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the ruling party was preparing
for a runoff after its tallies showed neither Tsvangirai nor Mugabe won the
required absolute majority.
The MDC has rejected both a runoff and Zanu-PF attempts to have at
least 14 seats recounted in the parliamentary vote. It says Tsvangirai has
won and should immediately end Mugabe's 28-year rule.
A South African government spokesman said that President Thabo Mbeki
will attend Saturday's summit, which was called by Zambian President Levy
Mwanawasa, chair of SADC (Southern African Development Community).
Tsvangirai said he would try to persuade SADC leaders to ask Mugabe to
SADC has been criticised in the past for failing to pressure Mugabe
despite the economic collapse in Zimbabwe, now suffering the world's highest
inflation, chronic shortages of food and fuel and a near worthless currency.
Mwanawasa's summit call came after Jacob Zuma, leader of South
Africa's ruling African National Congress, said the poll results must be
released, signalling a more robust reaction to the crisis than Mbeki who has
insisted on "quiet diplomacy" rather than overt pressure.
"We urge all parties to respect the will of the people, regardless of
the outcome, and to proceed within the requirements of the law," South
Africa's SAPA news agency quoted Zuma as saying on Thursday.
The long delay in issuing results has dashed hopes of quick action to
turn round a ruined economy that has sent millions of refugees fleeing to
neighbouring SADC countries.
The official inflation rate is 100 580 percent but analysts believe
the real level is much higher. An independent Zimbabwean newspaper said last
week that official figures for February showed inflation at 164 900 percent.
Investors fear that if the Zimbabwean political impasse continues, it
could impact on other countries in the region - especially South Africa,
whose rand currency has proven vulnerable to political events in its
Although the rand benefited last week because of optimism that the
Mugabe era might be ending, traders said Zimbabwe was not having any effect
now, with all eyes on the South African Reserve Bank which raised its key
report rate to 11,5 percent on Thursday because of a surge in inflation.
Traders said negative developments in Zimbabwe were generally
discounted by the market but positive news could give the rand some support,
although it was not a key driver so far.
(Additional reporting by Cris Chinaka, Stella Mapenzauswa, Nelson
Banya and Muchena Zigomo; writing by Barry Moody)
Photographer Darren Fletcher and I defied brutal dictator Robert Mugabe’s ban on outside journalists to sneak into the once-wealthy African country.
Inflation there has soared to a staggering 165,000 PER CENT as Mugabe clings to power.
And a simple restaurant meal cost us TWO BILLION dollars.
Indeed, financial transaction in Zimbabwe now involve so many zeros it is customary to leave out the final three.
Mugabe, 84, refuses to release the result of last month’s presidential election – which opposition party Movement for Democratic Change says its leader Morgan Tsvangirai won – and is campaigning for a run-off.
Ruthless armed riot police patrol every street corner in the capital Harare as locals form queues of 800-plus to withdraw worthless money from the bank.
We witnessed fights breaking out in the city cemeteries as people die faster than they can be buried, while locals are forced to carry armfuls of cash to buy a scrap of food.
Desperate Zimbabweans told us how inflation is now so bad that a bus journey into the city will cost 20million dollars in the morning, only to rise to 25million dollars two hours later.
And locals whispered that police violence has “rocketed” since the election, with many who are accused of voting for Tsvangirai being beaten and stabbed.
With the prospect of new polls to be held before April 19, aid groups say Mugabe has sent thousands of militias – dubbed the “Talibob” due to their Taliban-like brutality and loyalty to “Bob” Mugabe – into the countryside to torture supporters of the MDC into voting for him.
Youth worker Philomone Munengura showed us the stab wounds on his neck where he was knifed by Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF officials for voting for the MDC.
The 24-year-old said: “I do not care for politics. I just want to stop the children I teach from starving. Women are getting raped and men tortured.”
Under Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party laws, outside journalists were banned from covering the election and even taking photos in the street is outlawed.
An MDC party source, who met us in secret said: “A British paper like The Sun would never officially be allowed into Zimbabwe under Mugabe – he is too scared of what you may witness.
“But as you see, this country is a disaster. Mugabe is a maniac. He refuses to give up power even though he has lost – so he is resorting to terror.
“Farms are being burned to the ground, people tortured and British settlers driven out.
“Life expectancy in the 1980s was 60. Now it is 34 for women, 37 for men – and set to fall.”
Our source also claimed Mugabe’s thugs tried to kill Mr Tsvangirai on Monday by switching off all the runway lights at Harare Airport as his plane was about to land.
Passengers flying with the MDC leader on the packed 100-seat South African Airways flight claimed the pilot had to suddenly pull up and circle the airport, due to the “power-cut”.
The source said: “Yes, this was true, even though the airline refuses to accept it happened Imagine if Gordon Brown tried to crash your David Cameron’s plane. There would be uproar.”
As we entered the city of Harare, election posters for Mugabe stared down from every tree and post while police road-blocks search every vehicle.
Starving men and women left jobless – unemployment is 80 per cent – lie weakly in the roads.
Supermarkets in a country that was once so rich in agriculture it was dubbed “Africa’s breadbasket” are boarded up and empty.
In one Harare grocery store shelves were stripped completely bare except for hundreds of bottles of long-life Heinz Tomato Ketchup.
Yet hungry locals outside pooled their cash to buy a sip.
With £1 now equivalent to 110 million Zimbabwean dollars, we paid 50 million (around 40p) for two loaves of bread and 200 million dollars for three cans of lemonade.
The simple restaurant meal for two we bought – a soup starter followed by pork cutlet and pasta plus a bottle of house red – cost us more than two billion Zimbabwean dollars, or around £21.
Inflation – brought on by disastrous agricultural policy and lack of food to buy – is now so bad that the government this month introduced a 50million dollar note.
But with inflation expected to rocket to 500,000 per cent soon, these all bear a “best before” date of only next month.
In Harare’s cemeteries, relatives of those who died from Aids and starvation struggle to dig graves fast enough.
British tourists once flocked to the African country in their thousands to go on safari.
Now they stay away and the hotels have nearly all closed.
British-born Simon Everington-Cox, 56 – one of 300 remaining white farm-owners left in Zimbabwe – told us he was packing up after 30 years and returning to London next week.
He said: “I have watched while my friends have been driven out and wives attacked and raped.
“I have held on for long enough but now this country is a dust-bowl and there is no beauty left.
“Zimbabwe is the embarrassment of Africa.”
11 April 2008
Zimbabweans are known for their indefatigable capacity to laugh, not only at
themselves but at others.
For many years they believed Robert Mugabe was God’s gift to the nation,
until they discovered it wasn’t Zimbabwe he had in mind.
In the aftermath of the events of March 29 there was what one wag described
as a “comic opera”, mostly of Zanu-PF launching frantic attempts to deny the
reality of their rout.
There were guffaws at the spectacle of Zanu-PF going to court to accuse
election officers of doctoring the votes in favour of the opposition.
Suddenly Zanu-PF had discovered, to their horror, they held the monopoly on
political skulduggery. Their loyal operatives had betrayed them.
But the juiciest was yet to come: in the offing was the mother of all
treason trials, more sensational than Morgan Tsvangirai’s, featuring Ari Ben
Menashe, former Mossad agent and friend of Zanu-PF.
“Guess who is the chief accused in this one? Gushungo [Mugabe]. For
betraying the party to the MDC.”
Laughter eases the pain of loneliness. Many Zimbabweans feel abandoned by
the rest of the world.
I was reminded of a documentary on the origins of the Muslim Brotherhood of
Gamal Abdel Nasser, then president, was convinced they had plotted to kill
him and take over the country. He went after them, hammer and tongs, driving
Today they still pose a challenge to the ruling National Democratic Party,
now headed by Hosni Mubarak, successor to Anwar Sadat, whom I met in Cairo
in 1978 before his assassination in 1981,
The Muslim Brotherhood was blamed for that bloodbath.
Elections are due soon and the Brotherhood is being watched with an eagle’s
eye by Mubarak. Don’t be surprised if the Brotherhood springs a surprise.
Wherever a government goes after a popular opposition as if they represented
the devil – as Zanu-PF seems to believe about the MDC does – the
consequences can be catastrophic.
Mugabe’s contempt for the MDC, and particularly for its leader, is
mystifying. What does Tsvangirai represent, in Mugabe’s psyche, bred in the
Marxist-Leninist revolutionary cauldron of the “dictatorship of the
A Western Trojan horse? The equivalent of the antiChrist to his John the
Doesn’t Mugabe believe Tsvangirai loves his country as much as – or even
more – than he does? Does he believe what motivates Tsvangirai is only a
poodle-like desire to serve “masters” Britain and the US, to say slavishly
to Gordon Brown and George W Bush “Yes, Mambo!”, as they pat him on the
Therein lies the tragedy of Zimbabwe and Mugabe. I once argued with him that
if a Zimbabwean received money from the Germans to run an independent radio
station in this country, there would be nothing wrong as long as they told
the truth. “But the Germans would control it, of course,” he told me.
Jacob Zuma, the ANC president, spoke positively on the Zimbabwe crisis this
week: the delay in announcing the presidential results “did not augur well”.
If he wasn’t trying to upstage the man he humiliated in the ANC leadership
stakes last year, then we must applaud him heartily.
“Quiet diplomacy” brought us to this crisis, if you want to be serious.
Monsters and Critics
Apr 11, 2008, 11:50 GMT
Johannesburg - The election standoff in neighbouring Zimbabwe got the
creative juices flowing this week at a cafe in South Africa patronized by
Diners at The Chef in Johannesburg, situated near the offices of the BBC,
Sky News and other international media outlets, were given a choice between
an MDC (mushroom, diced ham and cheese) omelette and Bob's Election-Winning
Chicken for lunch on Thursday.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (Bob to The Chef) can take comfort in the
knowledge that, despite his Zanu-PF party's rout in parliamentary elections,
his chicken (a nod to the party's rooster symbol) was the hands-down
When it came to choosing a governing party the offering was more
constrained. Patrons were asked to decide between Zanu-PF and the MDC on a
mock ballot slip. The only problem was, the Zanu-PF box came pre-ticked.
As for the Zanu-PF Breakfast, The Chef regretted to inform: 'Sorry, no
And, because no joke about Zimbabwe would be complete without a mention of
inflation, the prices were listed in Zimbabwe dollars, with a zero added