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Zimbabwe commission to recount all election votes


Sat 12 Apr 2008, 21:49 GMT

HARARE, April 13 (Reuters) - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission will recount
all votes cast in the country's March 29 election next Saturday, state media
reported on Sunday.

The Sunday Mail quoted Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman, Justice
George Chiweshe, as saying the ballots cast in parliamentary, presidential
and council votes would be counted again in the presence of party
representatives, candidates and election observers.

The bombshell announcement came as regional leaders met in Zambia to discuss
a two-week delay in release results of the presidential election which has
raised fears of violence in Zimbabwe.

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Cronies with blood on hands fear arrest if president Robert Mugabe resigns

The Sunday Times
April 13, 2008

Christina Lamb
“WHEN you join in a political fight by way of an election you must be
prepared to lose,” President Robert Mugabe told a rally in Nyanga, just
three days before the March 29 polls.

Getting fewer votes than your opponent clearly does not constitute losing in
the lexicon of the Zimbabwean leader, who has stubbornly stayed in power for
28 years. Instead, it means people have “voted incorrectly” and must be
taught otherwise by the usual methods of violence and withholding food. The
lists of results published at polling stations to make the vote more
transparent have proved useful for identifying the areas most in need of
such voter education.

The 84-year-old president’s refusal to step down following elections in
which even his own party admits that his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai received
more votes, should not have come as a surprise.

The first time the people of Zimbabwe stood up to Mugabe was in the
referendum of February 2000, when they overwhelmingly voted to reject his
new constitution. I was in the country at the time and was caught up in the
excitement of people asserting themselves against their leader. Mugabe
appeared on state TV to concede defeat, declaring: “Government accepts the
results and respects the will of the people.”

He looked old and tired, and as this was only my third visit to the country,
I confidently predicted his demise. “No, this is very bad,” said a
Zimbabwean friend who, like many, had once been a great supporter of the
liberation leader. “You will see.”
Within weeks, the retaliation had started. It began with the farm invasions,
for white farmers had funded the newly formed opposition. Across the
country, “youth training camps” sprang up for the so-called Green Bombers
who used violence and rape to spread terror throughout the countryside.

Violence was nothing new for Mugabe, who famously once declared: “I have
degrees in violence.” As many as 20,000 people are believed to have been
massacred in the 1980s in his campaign against the people of Matabele-land
who had supported Joshua Nkomo, his rival in the independence movement. What
was new in 2000 was the international criticism – until the mid 1990s Mugabe
was still receiving honorary degrees from around the world and in 1994 was
awarded an honorary knighthood.

Elections for parliament in 2000 and 2005, and for president in 2002, were
marked by further violence and intimidation. On each occasion, an atmosphere
of hope was followed by a sense of anticlimax when results were rigged and
nothing changed.

In 2005 it was the cities that had voted most heavily against him and he
soon retaliated again. Operation Murambats-vina, a so-called “urban
beautification programme”, meant sending bulldozers to demolish vast
townships in Harare and elsewhere, destroying the homes of more than 700,000

Last month’s elections were the most peaceful of the last decade. The
unexpected freedom of the opposition to campaign led many to believe Mugabe’s
own security forces were refusing to do his bidding.

I was surprised, then, when, after a day of following Tsvangirai to rallies
in Mugabe’s heart-land, I went to see the opposition leader and found him

“I feel I may go into the Guinness Book of Records for winning the most
elections and never getting power,” he said. “Suddenly you find you’re 60
and you’re still at it. Of course you think, what’s the point?”

For the Zimbabwean president, there is more than just political power at
stake. “You cannot underestimate the Charles Taylor effect,” said a former
confidant of Mugabe, referring to the Liberian warlord turned president who
accepted exile in Nigeria, only to find himself being tried in the
International Criminal Court, accused of war crimes. “He is terrified of
ending up in the Hague, as, by the way, are many of those around him.”

Even if Mugabe decided he had had enough, he would have to face the fact
that he has become a hostage of his own system. Over the years, he has
cleverly woven a web of patronage. Party officials, senior military and
police, high court judges and even bishops have been kept on side with
handouts of farms and access to perks such as cheap fuel and an official
exchange rate that enables them to buy foreign currency for a hundredth of
the market rate.

This has created a mafia of several thousand people, many of whom have blood
on their hands. Should any contemplate switching sides, meticulous records
kept on file in a special archive in the Reserve Bank could be used against

Key figures who see their survival at stake include Constantine Chiwenga,
the army chief, Augustine Chihuri, the police commissioner, Henry Muchena,
an air vice-marshal, a number of former military commanders, Gideon Gono,
the powerful governor of the Reserve Bank, and long-time politburo members
such as Didymus Mutasa.

Although Tsvangirai says he has promised Mugabe “an honourable exit”, he
cannot give guarantees to all these others. “No matter what Tsvangirai says
about guaranteeing President Mugabe’s safety, we cannot trust the man,” said
a member of Zanu-PF. “If one day he gets a call from Gordon Brown or George
Bush and is told to arrest Mugabe, do you think he won’t do that?”

The military hierarchy is particularly worried. A leaked memo reported
Muchena, the air vice-marshal, as stating that Zanu-PF “did not fight a
liberation war to have Zimbabweans vote incorrectly. The military has now
taken over the organisation of the campaign and five senior military
officers have been assigned to each constituency to ensure that in the next
round the people vote correctly”.

For his part, Tsvangirai has resisted pressure from younger members of his
party to call a mass uprising. He told me last month: “If I’d put people on
the streets last time, they would have been mauled to pieces. I don’t want
to be responsible for this.”

Tsvangirai’s main hope is international pressure. Brown has stepped up his
criticism of events in Zimbabwe, and African leaders who gathered in Zambia
yesterday want to break the deadlock. However, even if fellow African
leaders finally stand up to Mugabe, it is unclear what they can achieve.

The leader best placed to apply pressure is Thabo Mbeki, the president of
South Africa, but he has long shown reluctance to act against the veteran
leader and has no love for Tsvangirai, making clear that he would prefer
Zimbabwe’s ruling party to find a replacement for Mugabe.

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Robert Mugabe digs in with farm terror campaign

The Sunday Times
April 13, 2008

The ballot failed, so the lynch mob arrived

Douglas Marle in Harare
THE grim reality of Zimbabwe’s postelection violence as President Robert
Mugabe clung to power was hammered home last week when an elderly white
farmer was abducted by so-called “war veterans” who tried to lynch him.

“He had a real hard time. He was handcuffed. Someone tried to strangle him
with wire,” said Trevor Gifford, president of the Commercial Farmers’ Union
(CFU), whose own property was seized by militants during a week of violent
attacks on white-owned farms.

The farms of at least two black farmers were also targeted by Mugabe
militants, apparently because they were thought to support the opposition.
Scores of workers’ homes were burnt down on one of them, Silver-stream, as
Mugabe’s thugs set about bludgeoning opposition voters into submission after
results from a polling station set up on the farm showed they had voted
against their 84-year-old ruler in elections two weeks ago.

Gifford, 40, said the name of the abducted white farmer was being withheld
at the request of the British embassy, pending contact with his daughter in
Britain. He is 76 and has a British wife. His ordeal began on Thursday
morning when he was attacked by war veterans lying in wait to ambush him.
They had chopped down trees and laid the trunks across the road.

When the truck stopped they punctured the tyres, dragged the farmer out,
cuffed his hands behind his back and drove him away in another vehicle.
At one point one of the war veterans put a wire noose round his neck and
began to strangle him. He stopped before it was too late. Meanwhile, the
police had been alerted and managed to persuade the war veterans to release
their prisoner. It took a long time: they freed him only after six
terrifying hours.

Yesterday the farmer was recovering at his home in Chipinge about 220 miles
southeast of Harare. Gifford said that he was “shaken” but well enough to
speak to the authorities about his ordeal.

The incident echoed the gruesome murders that marked the first seizure of
white-owned farms in Zimbabwe eight years ago. That government-backed
campaign followed Mugabe’s unexpected defeat in a referendum to entrench his
presidential powers and saw nearly 4,000 white farmers eventually deprived
of their land, homes and livelihood.

Last week, just as he had done in 2000, Mugabe was waging a fresh antiwhite
scare campaign, mobilising militants against the few hundred remaining white
farmers and reviving resentment of them to drum up support for him in a
presidential run-off.

Far from being a lame-duck leader who has lost his parliamentary majority
and failed to secure his sixth term as president, Mugabe and his stalwarts
were digging in to stay in power.

He seemed determined to win a forced run-off with Morgan Tsvangirai, leader
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) who, if unofficial
estimates of the undeclared March 29 election results are correct, defeated
him with just over 50% per cent of the vote. Mugabe is believed to have won
about 43%, with the remainder going to Simba Makoni, his former finance

Although outwardly calm, the country is on a knife-edge as it awaits fresh
developments. Mugabe’s personal security has been reinforced. Troops and
riot police are on standby. According to Amnesty International, the regime
recently spent £1m in scarce foreign currency to import tear gas and other
antiriot materials from China and Israel.

One insider’s report listed 200 names of senior army and intelligence
officers who would lead Mugabe’s run-off campaign in the 10 provinces. They
would direct paramilitary units of war veterans and a youth brigade to
intimidate the rural population into voting for Mugabe next time.

Mugabe’s lieutenants have selected the emotive theme of land as the reason
why he should stay in power, claiming that he and his Zanu-PF party are
defending the resettled farm-land from the displaced white farmers who are
preparing to return if the MDC takes power. The whites deny this; many have
rebuilt their lives abroad.

Gifford has spent a frantic week trying to help his fellow farmers cope with
their own invasions. At least 60 have been driven from their land in seven
areas. In one of the worst affected, Centenary, a prime tobacco-growing area
north of Harare, 15 farms were invaded by gangs of war veterans. They were
mostly far too young to have fought in the independence struggle but were
armed with sticks and machetes and fuelled with alcohol as they forced the
owners to flee.

The crisis has left Gifford little time to dwell on his own predicament.
Early in the week a mob of 30 men wearing Zanu-PF T-shirts arrived at the
gate of his farm, also at Chipinge, to take it over. Late that night he
received a telephone call from a man calling himself “son of the soil” who
told him that from now on they would be managing the farm and he was never
to return.

Gifford is used to invasions having endured several before. He has seen his
coffee, macada-mia and avocado plantations damaged or destroyed, so there
was not much more left for the militants to take away last week. But he
remained determined not to lose it all without a fight � the farm has been
in the family since his great-grandfather, Alfred Samuel Gifford, founded it
in 1894.

The strain of the week’s events could be seen on the tanned but anxious
faces of some of those driven off their land as they gathered at CFU
headquarters on Thursday evening to hear Deon Theron, the union’s
vice-presi-dent, urge them to stand together. Theron is the first
Zim-babwean farmer to be convicted by the courts of resisting eviction so he
has a lot of credibility in the tough farming community.

His long and acrimonious legal battle to stop an influential Zanu-PF
official stealing his farm at Beatrice with its 700 cattle, 150 sheep and 30
breeding crocodiles is still going on. But already for his defiance he has
received a suspended prison sentence and has been ordered to vacate the farm
by April 27.

“I do not know what is going to happen,” he said. “I told the court that I
loved this country and its people. I do not want to farm anywhere else. They
saw that as defiance but I see it as patriotism, wanting to produce food for
the nation.”

Reports from the occupied Centenary farms said that a series of police
interventions had calmed the violence down yesterday. But some farmers had
been warned in text messages from their staff that it was too dangerous to
go back.

They found the inactivity galling, emphasising how impotent they felt about
protecting their black staff. “While we are sitting in Harare complaining,
Joseph [the black farmer on Silver-stream] has been left with nothing. The
huts and what little possessions his staff had have been destroyed,” said a
farmer using the pseudonym Brian Smith.

He was evicted last Monday and his children forced to run the gauntlet of
“drunken war veterans” baying for blood. Yet he longs to go back to his

“I am like a tractor,” he said. “You can park me in the shade and I will go
rusty. But give me a piece of land and I will cultivate it and grow crops.
That is my gift from God. The politicians are creating the turmoil. Without
them we would all get along together, black and white.”

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Doing nothing in Zim 'not an option'

Mail and Guardian

Chris Otton | Lusaka, Zambia

12 April 2008 10:15

      An emergency summit of Southern African leaders on Zimbabwe's
post-election crisis opened on Saturday with a plea from its chairperson not
to turn a blind eye, but President Robert Mugabe stayed away.

      With no result declared two weeks after Zimbabwe's presidential
election, Zambia's Levy Mwanawasa told leaders of the 14-nation Southern
African Development Community (SADC) that doing nothing was not an option.

      "SADC cannot stand by and do nothing when one of its members is
experiencing political and economic pain. It would be wrong to turn a blind
eye," the Zambian president said in his opening address in Lusaka.

      Before retreating behind closed doors for talks with heads of
state, including South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, Mwanawasa insisted the summit
was "not intended to put President Mugabe in the dock".

      Mugabe -- accused by the opposition of holding back the result
of the March 29 election and leading a campaign of intimidation to hold on
to power -- turned down an invitation to attend but sent a delegation of
four ministers.

      However, Zimbabwe's opposition leader and self-proclaimed
presidential victor Morgan Tsvangirai was seated in the front row for
Mwanawasa's opening remarks and broke into a smile amid a gaggle of

      'No crisis'
      If Tsvangirai had hopes that leaders might issue a hard-hitting
statement and even put pressure on Mugabe to stand down, they were dealt a
blow when Mbeki stopped over in Harare en route to the Zambian capital.

      After his first face-to-face talks with Mugabe since the
elections, Mbeki seemingly ignored pleas for outside pressure to be levied
upon the veteran Zimbabwean strongman and suggested things be allowed to run
their course.

      "There is no crisis in Zimbabwe," he told journalists. "The body
authorised to release the results is the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Let's wait for them to announce the results."

      Mbeki, who was the chief mediator between Zimbabwe's governing
Zanu-PF party and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change in the
build-up to the election, has since come under fire for refusing to condemn
the delayed result.

      Mugabe made no mention of the election, but denied he was
snubbing the summit, saying: "We are very good friends and very good
brothers. Sometimes you attend, sometimes you have other things holding you

      The head of Mugabe's delegation in Lusaka, Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa, said before the summit started that the meeting was
unnecessary. "There is no need to regionalise the Zimbabwean crisis," he
said, adding angrily that asking an opposition leader such as Tsvangirai to
attend a heads-of-state summit was "unheard of".

      Tsvangirai did not join the SADC leaders for the closed-door
meetings. A final statement was expected at the end of their deliberations,
but discussions were continuing late on Saturday after several hours.

      Southern African leaders have been heavily criticised over their
traditional reluctance to speak out against Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe
for 28 years and is the oldest leader in the region.

      Nevertheless, many in SADC are fed up with the economic mess on
their doorstep, with inflation in Zimbabwe now well into six figures,
unemployment at more than 80% and average life expectancy down to 36 years
of age.

      About three million Zimbabweans have left their homeland to find
work or food, most ending up in its giant neighbour South Africa.

      Zanu-PF says neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai won a clear victory
in the election and insists the battle must go to a second round. But the
opposition has ruled out Tsvangirai's participation as it says a second
ballot would be undemocratic due to Mugabe's intimidatory tactics.

      "The military has basically taken over," MDC number two Tendai
Biti, accompanying Tsvangirai in Lusaka, told journalists. "There is a
constitutional coup d'état that has taken place there and that's why this
meeting is very critical," he said, calling on SADC to "speak out clearly
and decisively against his dictatorship and the status quo".

      The MDC has called for a general strike to be launched from
Tuesday, the day after a court is due to rule on its bid to force the
publication of the election result.

      Mugabe's Zanu-PF lost Parliament to the opposition for the first
time in the legislative elections, also on March 29, but the ruling party is
contesting enough seats to win back control.

      'Secret document'
      Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's state television reported on Saturday that
it had unearthed a secret document written by the opposition detailing plans
to rig the March 29 elections.

      The document, allegedly written by the MDC's Biti, "had clear
details on how to rig the elections", the report said.

      The document stated that a number of teachers employed by the
electoral commission as election officials had "agreed to overstate the
vote" for a payment, Zimbabwe Television reported.

       The strategy was meant to "ensure they got a landslide victory
to take over the country and implement a number of changes meant to please
their international friends who sponsored the MDC campaign", the report

      Zimbabwe Television is a mouthpiece for Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

      MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa dismissed the document as
Zanu-PF-engineered propaganda aimed at justifying the delay in the
publication of results and the ruling party's push for another round of

      "The document has nothing to do with the MDC; it is a Zanu-PF
generated document. These are old and tired Zanu-PF antics. It is very clear
they want to justify the delay in the release of election results," said
Chamisa. "This election was not run by the MDC, but by the Zanu-PF

      At least 15 Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials have been
arrested in recent days for alleged fraud. -- Sapa-AFP

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Zimbabwe opposition leader says Mugabe will use violence to stay in power

Canadian Press


HARARE, Zimbabwe - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai called on President
Robert Mugabe to step down on Saturday, even as he accused the country's
longtime leader of plotting a campaign of violence to steal victory in an
expected run-off election.

Amid increasing signs of a government crackdown, armed police barred
opposition officials from filing a court challenge demanding publication of
results from the country's March 29 presidential vote. The opposition vowed
to try again Sunday.

"Mugabe must accept that the country needs to move forward," said
Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change. "He cannot hold the
country to ransom. He is the problem not the solution."

The opposition leader accused the ruling ZANU-PF party of "preparing a war
against the people," and said a run-off was unnecessary because he had won
the presidential election outright.

"In the run-off, violence will be the weapon. It is therefore unfair and
unreasonable for President Mugabe to call a run-off," he said, accusing
Mugabe of mobilizing armed militias.

Tsvangirai's party claims he won 50.3 per cent of the vote. Independent
projections indicate he won the most votes but not the 50 per cent plus one
needed for an outright victory.

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga dismissed fears of violence as "a
lot of nonsense."

"Zimbabwe held a very peaceful election," he told Sky Television. "There was
no violence. Nobody was killed."

But on Friday, feared veterans of the guerrilla war that ended white
minority rule marched through the capital with a police escort. The veterans
have been used in the past to beat up Mugabe's political opponents.

Opposition party offices also have been raided and armed police in full riot
gear have detained foreign journalists.

Mugabe, 84, has held power in Zimbabwe since his guerrilla army helped
overthrow white minority rule in 1980.

But his popularity has been battered by an economic collapse following the
often-violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms since 2000. A third
of the population has fled the country and 80 per cent are jobless.
Inflation is raging at more than 100,000 per cent a year.

Official results for parliamentary elections held alongside the presidential
race showed Mugabe's ZANU-PF losing its majority in the 210-seat parliament
for the first time in the country's history. Final results for the largely
ceremonial 60-member senate gave the ruling party and the opposition 30
seats each.

There is mounting international pressure on Zimbabwe to announce the
presidential results. But South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was
appointed mediator in Zimbabwe last year, urged patience.

"It's time to wait," Mbeki said as he arrived for a meeting near London of
government leaders hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. "Let's see
the outcome of the election results," said Mbeki, who advocates quiet
diplomacy rather than public criticism.

The law requires a run-off within 21 days of the initial election, but
diplomats in Harare and at the United Nations said Mugabe was planning to
declare a 90-day delay to give security forces time to clamp down.

Tsvangirai appealed to African leaders and the United Nations to intervene
to "prevent chaos and dislocation," and urged Zimbabweans not to be cowed.

"At this difficult moment, there comes a time when citizens take their
destiny in their own hands and say 'No.' A time when we put aside fear and
rise to the moment."

Tsvangirai also held out an olive branch, saying he would welcome dialogue
with Mugabe and promising his party would not exact revenge for any crimes
committed during his rule.

"Please rest your mind, the new Zimbabwe will guarantee your safety," he

Meanwhile, several foreign journalists detained by police remained in
custody Saturday. Lawyers said they were blocked from submitting an
application for their release.

An employee of U.S.-based National Democratic Institute who was detained
Thursday as he tried to leave the country was released from jail but his
passport was confiscated and he was not allowed to depart, the group said.
He has been ordered to report to police Sunday.

Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, said its correspondent,
Barry Bearak, was being held "in a frigid cell without shoes, warm clothing
or blankets."

"He was interrogated for hours by police seeking to identify sources he may
have interviewed," Keller said in a statement.

The government had banned most foreign journalists from covering the
elections and barred western election observers.

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Bitter taste of a revolution betrayed

The Times, SA

Paddy Harper and Charles Molele:
Zimbabwe Published:Apr 13, 2008

This week Zanu-PF invoked heroes of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation — and so
did those in opposition

On Friday, Zimbabwe will celebrate 28 years of independence at a time when
its ruling party, Zanu-PF, is struggling to reclaim its revolutionary
credentials in the face of massive electoral losses to an opposition party —
many of whose members are drawn from the ranks of the former liberation

As Zimbabweans await the result of the presidential election of March 29,
the names and legacies of those who fell in the struggle for liberation are
being invoked in a bid to re-establish those credentials.

Each day Radio Zimbabwe, in true Marxist-Leninist style, dedicates
programming to the history of the war for freedom and repossession of the

Haunting Chimurenga songs are played, and listeners are read profiles of
heroes of the 16-year “civil” war against Rhodesian forces.

Newsreaders introduce hourly bulletins by exhorting listeners to take
forward the legacy of those who fell for freedom.

On television, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) carries repeats
of the speech President Robert Mugabe made as he was sworn in on April 18
1980 as the first president of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

“The liberation of Zimbabwe was not given to us at the Lancaster
Constitutional Conference,” a radio presenter reminded listeners on

“We fought for it. It was the result of years of a protracted armed struggle
to get our land back from the British imperialists.”

About 5km from Harare is the National Heroes Acre, a shrine designed and
built by North Koreans, a burial ground for Zimbabwean heroes and heroines —
selected for the honour by Zanu-PF’s Politburo. Among them are Sally Mugabe,
Ruth Chinamano, Herbert Chitepo, Joshua Nkomo and Leopold Takawira.

But perhaps the most significant of these heroes was Josiah Magama
Tongogara, Mugabe’s main rival for power in the exiled liberation movement.

The 41-year-old Tongogara was the commander of the Zimbabwe African National
Liberation Army, Zanu’s military wing. He is considered a major figure in
Zimbabwe’s independence movement and, according to many , would have been
incensed at the state of his country today.

“He would not have allowed things to degenerate to this,” said a former
soldier at Heroes Acre this week.

“He was not a power-hungry person. He fought for equality and justice, and
wanted to see all Zimbabweans enjoying the same constitutional rights.

“He was our favourite leader here in Zimbabwe. He had balls and was not
afraid of Mugabe or of speaking truth to power. If you check our post-
independence history, you will see that Mugabe has always tried to erase his
contribution in the liberation struggle. Is it because he was a threat to

Like South Africa’s Chris Hani, Tongogara died on the eve of his country’s
independence, on Christmas Day 1979, four days after the Lancaster House
agreement was signed in London.

He had played an important conciliatory role in the talks leading up to the
agreement and often clashed with Mugabe over his views at the negotiation

To this day, war veterans who fought under Tongogara in the front lines in
Mozambique accuse Mugabe of having had a hand in his death.

Two years ago, a Zanu-PF veteran was quoted in an article by the Institute
for War and Peace Reporting, relating how Tongarara addressed a base in
Mozambique after the Lancaster House agreement.

“Tongogara slung his AK rifle on his back and announced to us that he was
going to be the first black prime minister of independent Zimbabwe,” said
the veteran.

“We all supported him. He was our leader and we hardly knew Robert Mugabe.
To our shock, he was killed a few days later.”

Bina Dube, vice-president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, said that
if the likes of Tongorara and Chitepo were alive today, they would see that
what they had fought for had been abandoned.

“They believed in the idea that one day Zimbabwe would be free. That’s what
they fought for,” said Dube.

“The ideas that they fought for are now being suppressed. If they were here
today, maybe they would even go into another war.

“We really have the Animal Farm situation, where all animals are meant to be
equal but in reality some animals are more equal than others. What was
promised to the people has not been delivered.”

Lucia Matibenga, first vice-president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) is a former Zanu-PF activist; her husband, Saviour, was
Zanu-PF MP for Midlands from 1980 to 1985. She is also the newly elected
Movement for Democratic Change MP for Kuwadzana and an outspoken critic of
the Mugabe regime.

Matibenga said that while Zanu-PF had abandoned the principles it once stood
for, it was not shy to invoke the names and legacies of its fallen heroes in
a bid for legitimacy — and to garner support in the face of public

“Herbert Chitepo and all those comrades stood for something totally
different from what is happening today. Their names are still used, and in
particular that of a comrade like Joshua Nkomo. It is so hypocritical.

“When Comrade Nkomo was alive, he was treated very unfairly, but now that
the going is hard for the party, they use his name and the respect for him
and other fallen comrades whose names are important in our history.

“There is a deliberate strategy of using the names of those comrades, to
eulogise them and continue to try to manipulate the pride we have in those
gallant heroes who fell, in a bid to hoodwink the people.

“They try to convince people that they are about the legacy of those who
fought for this nation, while on the ground they have replaced oppression by
one colour of people with another kind of oppression by another colour of

Matibenga said that the build-up to the independence celebrations was being
used to distract people from the manipulation of the presidential election
result — and to demobilise them ahead of a run-off .

“In my mind all indications are that there will be a run-off. Mugabe’s
emphasis on independence while there is silence on the elections is a means
of avoiding addressing the issue of the results and a potential run-off —
the issue which has frozen the minds of the people,” she said .

As an example of how Zanu-PF had lost its way, Matibenga pointed to the
souring of relations between the government and the trade union federation
it helped form in 1981 .

“The government has declared the ZCTU an enemy of the state because it is
the cradle in which the MDC was nursed and was at the forefront of forming
the MDC along with 30 other civil society organizations ... Zanu-PF has
never forgiven the ZCTU for this.”

The Public Order and Security Act — used to ban meetings and stop opposition
activity — states that trade unions need not apply for police permission to
hold meetings , she said, but “ police have been told to clamp down on the

“Even on May Day, a declared public holiday in this country and around the
rest of the world, we have to get police permission to hold our May Day
rallies,” said Matibenga .

The honeymoon period between the ZCTU and the government ended in 1990, said
Matibenga, when the labour movement “realised that those guys were
indicating to turn left but were turning right”.

The point of departure came when the ZCTU grew critical of the government’s
failure to go beyond the Lancaster House agreement’s 10- year moratorium on
the land issue.

“Lancaster House had a 10-year period where there would be no addressing of
the land question, but after that the government was still doing nothing
about land, the number one issue on the agenda of the struggle, when we
called each other ‘son of the soil’.

Zanu-PF’s eventual solution to the land problem, the land-grab policy, was
just a “mechanism to spruce up the image of Zanu-PF, a survival mechanism
politically for Zanu-PF”, said Matibenga.

She said Zanu-PF had been “hijacked by certain elements” capitalising on the
death of a crop of leaders, like Tongorara, who were firmly rooted among the
people .

“That initial crop of leadership was lost along the way. Newcomers came in
and said, ‘we will steer the ship in the direction we want it to take’.

“The party was hijacked, from my perspective as a person who participated in
the struggle in trying to understand what went wrong.

“Then came the corruption, where everyone was thinking of what they could
amass and how quickly they could amass that wealth.

“That is when the looting, the stealing started.”

She recalled discussions she had with her husband while he was in

“He would say to me: ‘My friend, I see the party changing. People are busy
here with estates, with farms, with huge places at Borrowdale. People are
taking the party to the right.’ Things have progressed in that direction
ever since.

“There has been a gradual takeover of the party, even ideologically, losing
the whole thrust of what the party stood for.”

Matibenga said she held the people of Zimbabwe partly to blame.

“We didn’t insist on the creation of mechanisms with which we could then say
that leader who has gone wrong is going to be replaced.

“There was a feeling that because people had fought the war of liberation,
they deserved to rule us, with no mechanisms to hold them to account.

“We gave them a blank cheque and abdicated our role as a nation to those we

This week, South Africa celebrates the legacy of one of its most beloved
heroes — who, like Tongorara, did not live to see liberation: Chris Martin
Thembisile Hani.

Like Tongorara, Hani was a man of war who sought peace, who fought in the
trenches but, when the time came, preached reconciliation.

Like Tongorara, he died young, never seeing the birth of the nation he had
fought for.

To observers from the south this week, the parallels — and perhaps the
lessons — were inescapable.

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Family tell of agony over SA man who spent his birthday in Zim jail

The Times, SA

Suthentira Govender Published:Apr 13, 2008

The wife of a Lenasia satellite services’ technician has vowed that her
husband will never set foot in Zimbabwe again after he and a colleague were
arrested and detained in the embattled country for two weeks.

Abdulla Gaibee and Sipho Maseko, who both work for a Johannesburg-based
broadcasting company, Globecast, went to Harare two weeks ago to provide
satellite services for local and international broadcasters covering the
country’s elections.

Despite having received accreditation from the Zimbabwean government, the
pair were arrested and detained a few days after their arrival on charges of
contravening the Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

According to Gaibee’s family, Zimbabwean authorities claimed they were
trying to gather information by posing as “media people”.

The charges were withdrawn but subsequently reinstated after the state had
appealed against their acquittal.

This week they were released on bail of Z200- million (R52000) and are now
on trial.

They have also been charged with defeating the ends of justice for allegedly
colluding with a magistrate to have the first charge against them withdrawn.

Judgment on the first charge is expected to be delivered tomorrow, while the
trial for defeating the ends of justice started on Friday.

This week, Gaibee’s wife, Shenaaz, told the Sunday Times Extra that her
husband’s arrest had taken a toll on the family.

They were devastated that Gaibee had to celebrate his 29th birthday behind

“He would have spent it with family, and we would have gone away for the
weekend. Instead, he was alone in a jail cell,” she said.

“I am hoping and praying that the charges will be dropped and that he can
return home to us. He will never set foot on Zimbabwean soil ever again.
Abdulla and our family have been through hell over the past two weeks.

“I have been so anxious about this situation. It’s been particularly
difficult because we have a one-and-half-year-old child. The days are
excruciatingly long and the nights are worse.”

She said she had no faith in the Zimbabwean legal system. “I don’t even know
whether it exists. The conditions in the jail were so difficult. I have
spoken to Abdulla twice since his release, and he is just happy to be out of
that jail cell.

“He wasn’t allowed any shoes and there were no beds, so he had to sleep on
the floor. That has been really traumatic for him. He can’t wait for the
ordeal to be over. He can’t wait to get back home.”

Gaibee’s brother, Eb- rahim, said: “We can’t understand why they were
arrested, because they had full accreditation from the Zimbabwean
authorities. As far as their [Zimbabwe authorities’] reasoning goes, Abdulla
acted outside the scope of a technician. He was just there to do his job.”

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Till The Bitter End


Mugabe may well succeed in holding onto power in the end. But the cost for
Zimbabwe will be terrible.

By Martin Meredith | NEWSWEEK
Apr 21, 2008 Issue

For a few brief days following last month's elections, it seemed the long
night of Robert Mugabe's reign over Zimbabwe was ending. Against all odds,
opposition parties succeeded in winning a majority in Parliament. But what
matters most is the presidential election, and there, neither Mugabe nor his
main opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, gained an outright majority. This gave
Mugabe room to manipulate the results and to use his militias, youth groups,
the police and the Army to ensure he wins a second round of voting.

The brief mood of euphoria is now gone. A climate of fear has returned to
this country, which faces economic collapse and catastrophic food shortages.
Mugabe, who has ruled for 28 years, has been very clear about his
determination to hold power till the end. "No matter what force you have,"
he once declared, "this is my territory and that which is mine I cling [to]
unto death."

The "Old Man," as locals call him, may be 84, but there are still reasons to
fear him. He has held onto power by rigging elections, violating court
orders, suppressing the independent press and using thugs to attack his
opponents. Violence has been his stock in trade for more than 30 years:
Mugabe once referred to himself as a "black Hitler" and has boasted of
having "a degree in violence." A teacher by trade who has six university
degrees, Mugabe was also one of the first black leaders to advocate violence
against Ian Smith's white minority regime in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was then
called. Given Smith's intransigence, no other method would likely have
succeeded in ousting him. But during the seven-year-long civil war that
preceded Smith's overthrow, Mugabe became addicted to the use of
violence—not just to establish a new order, but to gain total control over

Though Mugabe initially advocated democracy, it was always of a particular
type. In 1976, he declared: "Our votes must go together with our guns. After
all, any vote we shall have shall have been the product of the gun. The gun
which produces the vote and should remain its security officer—its
guarantor. The people's votes and the people's guns are always inseparable
After winning Zimbabwe's first democratic election in 1980, Mugabe wanted
more: the kind of power he would have obtained through a military victory,
which he once described as "the ultimate joy." Power was not the means to an
end for him. It was the end.

And sure enough, no sooner did Mugabe take office than he set out to
establish a one-party state. His first target was Matabeleland province, a
seedbed of opposition. After a minor outbreak of rebel activity there,
Mugabe unleashed a military campaign in 1983 that featured the use of North
Korean-trained troops and culminated in the mass murder of as many as 20,000

As Mugabe acquired ever-greater powers, he ruled Zimbabwe through a vast
system of patronage and used his secret police to harass, intimidate and
even murder dissidents. In the process, he developed a monstrous ego,
insisting that only he was capable of running the country.

The reality, however, is that Mugabe reduced his once prosperous country to
a wreck. In recent years, as opposition mounted, he struck back with
increasing ruthlessness. Hoping to bolster his popularity, he sent gangs of
party activists to rural areas to seize control of white-owned farms, which
were distributed to his supporters. The result was the collapse of the
agricultural industry, the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy.

Facing the possibility of defeat in last month's election, Mugabe returned
to the tactics of fear that have served him so well in the past. In rural
areas that voted for the opposition, the repression has already begun.
Villagers are being beaten up en masse and told "vote Mugabe next time or
you will die." Mugabe may well succeed in holding on to power in the end.
But the cost for Zimbabwe will be terrible: most of the population now faces
abject poverty, starvation or the prospect of seeking refuge abroad.

The tragedy is that Zimbabwe, with its huge agricultural and mineral
resources, has such high potential. But like many other African countries,
it has been driven to ruin by disastrous leadership. Time and again, the
failure of Africa's leaders to provide effective government and abide by
constitutional rule has produced enduring crises. The ruling elites have
managed to prosper. But the mass of ordinary Africans struggle to survive.
Meredith is the author of “Mugabe: Power, Plunder and the Struggle for
Zimbabwe” and “The State of Africa: A History of 50 Years of Independence.”

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"Opposition vote rig document found": Zimbabwe state media


HARARE, April 12 (AFP)

Zimbabwe's state television reported Saturday that it had unearthed a secret
document written by the opposition detailing plans to rig the March 29

The document, allegedly written by Tendai Biti -- second only in the
Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) to opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai -- "had clear details on how to rig the elections," the report

The document stated that a number of teachers employed by the electoral
commission as election officials had "agreed to overstate the vote" for a
payment, Zimbabwe Television reported.

The strategy was meant to "ensure they got a landslide victory to take over
the country and implement a number of changes meant to please their
international friends who sponsored the MDC campaign," the report said.

At the time the allegations were reported Biti, the MDC secretary general,
was out of the country with Tsvangirai attending a summit of regional
leaders discussing Zimbabwe's post-election crisis.

A fortnight after Zimbabwe's presidential election there has still been no
announcement of the result. The ruling ZANU-PF party is contesting enough
seats to overturn a slim opposition victory in the simultaneous
parliamentary elections.

Zimbabwe Television is a mouthpiece for President Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa dismissed the document as ZANU-PF-engineered
propaganda aimed at justifying the delay in the publication of results and
the ruling party's push for another round of voting.

"The document has nothing to do with the MDC, it is a ZANU-PF generated

"These are old and tired ZANU-PF antics. It is very clear they want to
justify the delay in the release of election results," said Chamisa.

"This election was not run by the MDC, but by the ZANU-PF government.

Tsvangirai has claimed victory in the presidential race, but Mugabe's party
says no outright winner emerged from the poll and the election has to go to
a run-off.

At least 15 Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials have been arrested in
recent days for alleged fraud.

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A reminder from the past...

The Telegraph


By W F Deedes
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 07/04/2006

Why we can do nothing about Mugabe

I get more angry letters about Robert Mugabe's tyranny in Zimbabwe,
where things go from bad to worse, than on any other topic. Most of them
make the same point. Why do we busy ourselves in Iraq, Afghanistan and
elsewhere, yet ignore the ruin of a country for which we were once

It is a question that can be answered only in terms of Yes, Minister.

"Humphrey, we must take action against Mugabe's destruction of
"No, minister, it would do a disservice to our best interests in

"Why not, for heaven's sake? He's a villain."

"Not in the eyes of all Africa, minister."

"Humphrey, are you mad?"

"No, minister, I'm only suggesting that many Africans do not see him
as we do."

"Why not? He's starving his own people, Humphrey."

"Yes, minister, but he has managed to hold power in Africa for longer
than any other leader. That earns him high esteem."

"From other African leaders, perhaps, but not from most Africans."

"Minister, for many years most Africans were under European rule. When
Mugabe rants against 'imperialism' he strikes a chord with many of them."

"No imperialist, Humphrey, behaved as brutally as Mugabe does."

"That is as may be, minister, but he is 'one of them', which gives him
a certain licence to behave badly. In Africa, it is recognised that 'the
winner takes all'."

"Humphrey, you're doing Africa a gross injustice. The vast majority
there would cheer if we gave Mugabe a hiding."

"No, minister, the majority would resent the intrusion. African
governments are sensitive about outside interference. They would rally round
Mugabe, and we would lose valuable interests there."

"So you are saying that we must stand idly by?"

"Yes, minister."

You may think I am taking the mickey out of the Sir Humphreys of this
world. On the contrary, I fear the old booby is right.

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