20:01 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 21:01
By Allan Little
BBC News, Johannesburg
To get a sense of why Zimbabwe's crisis matters to
its southern African neighbours - and to South Africa in particular - go to the
Central Methodist Church in central Johannesburg.
It has become a refuge for 2,000 refugees who have
fled Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. They sleep in overcrowded corridors and meeting
rooms. For the sick, there is a clinic.
"It is better than staying in Zimbabwe," one young
mother told the BBC last week.
"At least here I can get something to eat. I can work
as a cleaner and buy food for my children.
"In Zimbabwe there is nothing."
There are - at the very least - hundreds of thousands
of Zimbabweans in South Africa, most of them here illegally.
Some estimates put the figure at three million. If
that is true, then about a quarter of the population of Zimbabwe has left the
Beaten to death
Zimbabwe's downward economic tumble exerts a drag on
the entire region.
It causes instability. It scares potential foreign
investors in neighbouring countries.
In short, it is a headache for South Africa's
president, Thabo Mbeki. And he has adopted what he calls a policy of "quiet
diplomacy" to try to resolve the crisis.
In March last year, the opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai suffered severe head injuries in police custody.
He was filmed in his hospital bed and the pictures
flew around the world to predictable international outrage.
The cameraman who reportedly took the pictures was
later abducted and beaten to death.
At a meeting of the South African Development
Community, the region's leaders asked Mr Mbeki to lead mediation efforts aimed
at brokering talks between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.
Mr Mbeki appointed two of his closest and most highly
respected lieutenants, Frank Chikane and Sydney Mufamadi, to act as go-betweens.
The MDC, for its part, sent two of its senior
leadership insiders - Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube - to take part in the
Much less is known about the involvement of Zanu-PF
and the notoriously proud and impervious Robert Mugabe, because the whole
process has been discreet.
For a time, the quiet approach produced results.
South Africa brokered a new election law which could
yet prove decisive.
For the first time, electoral officials have had to
post the number of votes cast at individual polling stations, making it much
harder to manipulate the figures centrally.
The MDC have been smart in exploiting this new
openness - they say they have photographs of every result as it was posted on
This is probably not true, but they have a lot, and
Zanu-PF - and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission - do not know which ones they
have, making any attempted rigging of the vote centrally a tricky business.
Many analysts say the talks also persuaded Mr Mugabe
to keep the elections peaceful - keeping the security forces and the feared "war
veterans" on a much tighter leash.
But by December last year the talks had run aground.
The MDC later declared them a failure.
Mr Mbeki says that his diplomacy is working.
For the first time, results were posted
outside each polling station
In London at the weekend, he declared himself
satisfied with the election process on the grounds that the first round had
passed off relatively peacefully.
To the evident dismay of his British hosts he had
nothing to say about the mysterious failure of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
to declare a result.
And so the criticism, and the frustration felt by
many in the region, mount.
South Africa's Sunday Times at the weekend described
Zimbabwe as a "festering sore". And, it went on, the South African government
"must not allow Mugabe to subvert democracy again… South Africa's strategy of
quiet diplomacy has done little more than to cosset Mugabe while he raped his
Mr Mugabe had shown repeatedly that he had no respect
for Mr Mbeki, and that he had "made South Africa's president the laughing stock
of the diplomatic world", the paper said.
Nonetheless, Mr Mbeki continues to carry the hopes of
much of the world.
Commitment to discretion
Mr Tsvangirai may have called on the international
community to intervene.
The danger is that there will come a point when Mr Mbeki's public
silence will start to look like complicity
But even Mr Mugabe's most entrenched opponents - the
British - continue to place their faith in Mr Mbeki, with Prime Minister Gordon
Brown in constant touch, apparently urging Mr Mbeki to continue to press for a
Mr Mbeki's commitment to discretion, though, comes at
a huge price in public credibility.
And the question is becoming more urgent, because
nine days after polling, Zimbabwe's election result is still not announced.
The danger is that there will come a point when Mr
Mbeki's public silence - and that of every other leader in the region - will
start to look like complicity.
Bulawayo Morning Mirror Delay -
Margaret has been in Jail since Thursday
[For those who do not know, Bulawayo Morning Mirror is a newsletter with
snippets about various local happenings, people having things for sale, the
water situation, etc]
Sunday, April 13, 2008 8:21 PM
Subject: Bulawayo Morning Mirror Delay -
Margaret has been in Jail since
We apologise for the
late production of the Morning Mirror!
Regrettably I have to advise that
Margaret has been thrown in Jail
for practising as an unaccredited
journalist! She was arrested on
Thursday 10th April and as I write this she
is still being held at
the Sauerstown Police station. Her arrest is purely
political and I
would ask that if you have the capability, that you contact
Congressman / Local MP / Local Police. I believe that the greater
reaction and outrage shown at this totally unwarranted
incarceration of a
sixty year old Bulawayo born and bred woman who
has contributed hugely to the
social fabric of Bulawayo, the sooner
she will be released.
She is in
fine spirit giving any senior official hell, and being
extremely well treated
by her handling officers. It appears that
virtually every police / prison
official she deals with is supportive
of her, but unfortunately, they are
answering to a much higher power.
Obviously we are cashing in all our
chips to ensure her early release
but anything you are able to do to assist,
will be most appreciated.
I detail below various links that can be
accessed through the
website - The Zimbabwe Situation:-
At his most disingenuous
Can you believe these guys! Mr. Mbeki flies into
Harare where inflation is
raging at 500 000 percent. The wife of the
President has fled with enough
foreign exchange to feed the whole country for
6 months, an election has
been held under totally unacceptable conditions.
The results legally due
in 6 days, are 14 days over due. The incumbent has
illegally appointed a
government, holds onto power and deployed the army to
maintain his grip on
the populace. He has ordered illegal and
unconstitutional activities. The
economy is at a standstill, a national
strike is threatened, there is no
food in the stores and what is available is
at unaffordable prices. Yet Mr.
Mbeki climbs down from his luxury executive
jet in Harare, embraces Mugabe
and declares, ³There is no crisis².
difficult is it to tabulate 9 400 V11 forms and get a result? Would that
any group of children more than a day? Those forms are the only basis
which these elections can be determined. They are all in Harare and
result of the count and recount is available has been available for
weeks. ³The results are too sensitive to release,² says the ZEC.
because, they show that Mugabe has been soundly thrashed and his
opponent has got more than 50 per cent of the vote.
Lusaka where 13 regional leaders have gathered for an emergency
discuss the situation in Zimbabwe ³where there is no crisis!².
the situation for several hours late into the night. Then
communiqué that declares that ZEC must release the results
illegal regime in Harare promptly announced they would
defy the region, hold
up the announcement until they had recounted 23
In the meantime here in Harare MDC went to Court to demand that
recounts ordered by the regime and due to take place yesterday,
pending our application to the Courts to the effect that the act
and unconstitutional. The Court agreed and stopped all the
recounts. Even so
they went ahead in Bikita and duly announce that the new
surprise, surprise that a MDC victory had been overturned and
that Zanu PF
Remember we have been excluded from the counting
of the V11 forms for the
presidency; ZEC has barred all independent observers
and even moved the
whole operation to a secret ³high security² venue. They
have had the ballot
boxes under their control for 14 days, rumors are flying
that they have
printed ballots with the same numbers on them as those used in
election, they have also contacted a number of the returning
have been intimidated and even arrested. They are perfectly
falsifying the V11 forms and the ballots themselves.
these conditions a recount is a complete farce. One interesting
the statement by the regime in Harare yesterday was that it was
presidential ballot that would be recounted in 23 constituencies.
they listed 25 constituencies no explanation of the
differential. Does this
mean they are going to allow the parliamentary vote
and the local government
votes to stand as they are?
They are committed to a re-run in 21 days after
the final result is
announced. That will be on the 10th May six weeks after
election. Six weeks of turmoil and mayhem simply because an old man
cohorts will not obey their own rules and constitution and leave
an orderly and peaceful way. All the rules of the SADC for this
thing are being violated and blatantly so in front of the whole
then Kibaki stole the Presidential election in Kenya and has been
the international community and Africa to get away with
Our own position at present is that we will not accept a re-run. But
the alternative? To go onto the streets and fight for our rights?
illegal regime in Harare holds all the guns and levers of control.
blood have to spill to bring the UN into the situation; do principle and
rule of law matter to nobody but us?
We always knew that the
solution to this crisis was in our hands and that
the international community
simply would not interfere or intervene unless
we started killing each other.
The regional leaders who have the power to
influence the regime in Harare and
who established mechanisms for just such
an eventuality have once again
failed us. South Africa under present
leadership is inept and
So what do we do? We may simply have to bite the bullet and
accept a re-run.
What if they recount 23 constituencies and hey presto!
Produce a victory
for Mugabe! Then we have real problems because then we have
but to fight for our rights and a bloody and extended conflict
that will draw in the UN and the international community and
what is left of this benighted country.
compromise and do force a re-run, then the very least that the
region can do
is deliver reasonable conditions stop the present wave of
intimidation that is regime managed and funded, order
into the country to monitor the election and ensure
that ZEC is allowed to do
its job properly, professionally and without
On our side, we would have to struggle on trying to survive the
weeks and get our people ready. We would have to train and deploy up
000 polling agents and make sure they were in position at every
station without exception. That will take money, real money and at
1000 volunteers with vehicles and communications equipment. But we can
that and then deliver a final blow to this regime from which they
cannot recover and then, we can get on with the task ahead of
Perhaps we need to do this even though it seems unthinkable at this
and then get final closure on this shameful episode. Its clear,
Africa has a
long way to go before it can say it observes democratic
principles despite all the high sounding rhetoric.
Bulawayo, 13th April 2008
Is Mbeki a True Mediator on
Mugabe shifts blame to Britain
Nelson G. Katsande
Published 2008-04-14 03:49
After meeting President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe in
Harare on April
12, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa came short of
announcing that the
people of Zimbabwe must wait impatiently for the
Mbeki, who like Mugabe also
inferred to the possibility of a runoff,
is viewed with suspicion by the
people of Zimbabwe.
Mbeki's "softly, softly" approach to Mugabe has
been criticized in the
past. It is a known fact that the South African
president is a close friend
of Mugabe. Mbeki is cautious when it comes to
commenting on Zimbabwean
issues. On one occasion he said Zimbabwe was not "a
South African province."
Even before meeting Mugabe on Saturday,
most people were skeptical of
the outcome. Other opposition members said
Mbeki's stopover was merely to
have lunch with the dictator.
Most people in Zimbabwe believe South Africa is benefitting from
woes. For example, doctors, nurses and other professionals who
have secured jobs in neighboring South Africa. Even the
holding of talks on
Zimbabwe by members of the Southern African Development
Conference was just a formality. SADCC itself is said to be
divided when it
comes to Zimbabwean issues.
Mugabe is one of the longest serving
presidents and is much adored and
respected by other African leaders, so
condemning him publicly would be
"taboo." Despite growing evidence that
Mugabe lost the presidential race to
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, no
official results have been
published. ZANU-PF is now demanding a recount in
23 constituencies where the
opposition won. The opposition fears the recount
will be to Mugabe's
advantage, as the new announced results will be
"If a recount is to be done, the electoral commission
announce the prevailing results," said Anthony Matienga, a war
insisted that there was growing division among war veterans,
with some fed
up of being used by Mugabe.
"Soon [we] will be up
in arms with the government," he added.
Thabo Mbeki has said there
is no conflict in Zimbabwe because of his
friendship with the beleaguered
leader. In 1965, few people believed that
the still limited conflict in
Vietnam would turn into full-scale war.
Lessons can be learned from
Kenya, where thousands of people were
killed and displaced in post-election
In Harare, the opposition's stronghold, thousands of
been drafted onto the streets. The police have banned the
political rallies by "all political parties." But ironically, a
rally was held in Marondera without interference from the
There is growing concern that Mugabe is trying to steal the
by calling for a runoff. Mugabe now vents his anger on Gordon
British premier, by calling him a "tiny dot on the world." But
confrontation will not solve Zimbabwe's political and economic
The world's patience with Mugabe is waning fast. The voices
Zimbabwean people should be respected.
Zimbabwe used to
be Africa's breadbasket; it is now has a runaway
inflation of over 150,000
percent. Unemployment is at its highest level and
the health delivery system
has collapsed. Millions of children have dropped
out of school due to rising
and unaffordable fees.
The number of deaths at government hospitals
due to the lack of
medication and nursing staff is alarming.
Mugabe blames Britain for his country's woes. But many believe Mugabe
himself in the foot through his land reform program. More than 3,000
commercial farmers were displaced after the war veterans went on a
in 2000 following Mugabe's defeat to the opposition in the
What has changed Mr Mbeki?
Speaking at the commemoration of the
10th anniversary of the commencement of
the Rwandan genocide in Kigali in
2004, almost exactly 4 years ago to the
day, President Mbeki said:
during the very same month that your country and people saw the beginning
the unimaginable nightmare of a genocide, your brothers and sisters in
Africa ended the apartheid system of white minority domination by
participating in how very first democratic elections.
"Because we were
preoccupied with extricating ourselves from our own
nightmare, we did not
cry out as loudly as we should have against the
enormous and heinous crime
against the people of Rwanda .."
He went on to ask, "What did we as Africans
do to stop the slaughter? If we
did nothing, why did we do nothing?
did the United Nations, set up to ensure that genocide, as occurred
Holocaust was visited on the Jewish people, did not reoccur
anywhere in the
world, stand by as Africans were exterminated like
went on to say:
"Why did those who dispose of enormous global power that has
been used to
determine the fate of all humanity, decide that disorder in
to be stopped at all costs, while the bigger slaughter .
should be allowed
to run its full course?"
"Every day, the severed heads
and skeletons stored at the sites of the
massacres point an accusing finger
at all of us who did not do what we
should have done to stop the murderous
rampage. Everyday they remind us
that we cannot really say . genocide
occurred and treat it just as an
historical episode that has
Today, when one looks at the unfolding tragedy in Zimbabwe one
wondering cynically, if Mr Mbeki thinks that the people of
lesser mortals than the Rwandans.
Where tyranny has halved
the life expectancy of 10 to 12 million people, it
equates to mass murder on
a horrendous, Stalinesque scale. Against this
background, the lengths to
which Mr Mbeki has gone to shield Mugabe from
The future will judge him for his role as a co-architect of
what can best be
described as a cataclysmic chapter in African
Zimbabwe: A Nation Betrayed By Its
Nyasa Times, Malawi
Nyakuchenya Ganda on 13 April, 2008 21:48:00
The current crisis
in Zimbabwe brings back very bad memories to those of us
who lived in the
country during the colonial occupation and the Chimurenga
Suffice to say that despite the initial economic prosperity
independence in 1980, Zimbabweans are a people that have suffered
under the dictatorial leadership of Robert Mugabe.
always been very serious atrocities committed against political
and ordinary people that will make any human being cringe in
Fresh to memory are the unpunished Gukurahundi Atrocities which
early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring
Operation Murambatsvina ("Operation Drive out the Filth") that
are still a
source of horrific memories and incurable psychological traumas
to those who
experienced them in any form.
Colonel Perence Shiri,
Robert Mugabe's cousin was the man in the driving
seat of the Gukurahundi
killing machine that exterminated close to 20,000
civilians of mostly
Ndebeles and their allies.
This cruel man led a ferocious, atrocious and
vindictive campaign that will
remain a big and ugly scar on Zimbabwe's
history. These are the kind of
people that have been getting support from
some "wise" leaders in the SADCC
Talking about the innocent
people who were killed during the Gukurahundi
campaign in April 1983 Mugabe;
the Zimbabwean despot said; "We eradicate
them. We don't differentiate when
we fight because we can't tell who is a
dissident and who is
Not any different from what Charles Taylor said when asked a
question in Monrovia years ago. No wonder, Perence Shiri's Terror
murdered civilians in thousands in the Matebeleland and the
aftermath was to
make ugly history in Zimbabwe.
But what is
confounding to me is that the International Crimes Court, the
same one that
is prosecuting Charles Taylor and prosecuted late Slobodan
Milesovic is just
sitting on the buzzer: by not holding Robert Mugabe,
accountable for the
monstrous crimes he has always committed against his
and his accomplices both local and international, the ones who aided
despotic regime must be held accountable for their criminal actions. Any
civilised people must view fuelling the fires of conflict oppression and
hatred in a foreign country as a very serious crime.
political crisis in Zimbabwe is the continuation of the
earlier intended to instil fear and force loyalty to
Octogenarian. Those that have been aiding and abating Mugabe
these appalling policies should feel ashamed of their
We saw how the tyrant from Liberia Charles Taylor was made to
answer for his
interference in the war-torn Sierra Leone where he aided some
of the warring
factions for the "Blood Diamonds". Such accountability
International Crimes Court can be sought of anybody who engaged
Thus by giving financial aid and
maize to the draconian regime the Malawi
government was fuelling the
notorious events that finally led to the current
It is therefore an insult to Malawians living in Zimbabwe and
Zimbabweans themselves when we start beaming reckless disclaimers
"Zimbabweans must deal with their own situation since it is an
When did we realise that we don't need to interfere
in Zimbabwean matters?
When we have been influencing political events there
with our loop-sided
support? Obviously, we are going to pay a huge price for
our actions once
the dust settles in Zimbabwe. Reprisals perhaps. Xenophobia
Put it together; what we are currently witnessing in the
elections saga as it continues to unfurl has the makings of a
civil war and
we should brace ourselves to receive displaced Malawians and
will be fleeing that Country.
May be that will be the
time when some "bogus visionaries" will see the need
of helping Zimbabwe to
solve its internal problems.
The wounds of despair and dejection; the
feeling of betrayal and duplicity
will always linger in Zimbabweans' minds,
and will never heal the nation if
the criminal king makers, who have
property and other personal interests in
that country, are not publicly
rebuked and prosecuted for their bizarre
fundamental motivation for the behaviour of these Mugabe moon
exclusively for their selfish reasons. Nothing national and
never had the ethical standard to take far-sighted choices
for the sake of
our nation and civilisation to avoid the current electoral
Times of Malta
Sunday, 13th April 2008
Robert Mugabe seems determined to hang on to
power in Zimbabwe, even though
everything points to him having lost the
country's election. He was
officially declared the loser of the
parliamentary election and he almost
certainly lost the presidential
election - where we have a farcical
situation in which the country's
Electoral Commission still has not yet
released the official result, two
weeks after Zimbabweans went to the polls.
Mr Mugabe is now asking for a
second run-off presidential election against
his opponent, Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
because he claims no one
candidate got over 50 per cent of the popular vote.
The reluctance by the
country's Election Commission to officially announce
the result of the
presidential election is not only shameful but points to a
conspiracy by the
commission and Mr Mugabe to simply play for time and
before a second round presidential election, whenever this
"If you look at his history, if he has been humiliated or rejected
disillusioned, his response is revenge," Heidi Holland, the author of
With Mugabe, a new book about the Zimbabwean President, was recently
Since the election, security forces have beaten,
arrested and threatened MDC
activists. Opposition MDC members were not
allowed to present a petition in
court calling on the judicial branch to
order the Electoral Commission to
publish the result of the presidential
To make matters worse and to really create tensions in the
so-called war veterans - who fought with Mr Mugabe against
white rule in the
1970s - and militias belonging to Mugabe's Zanu PF ruling
party have been
unleashed on white-owned farms to stir up 'anti-colonial'
feelings and to
intimidate the population.
This is typical Mugabe in
action. When under pressure he creates another
conflict with an old enemy to
win sympathy. It is no different from Saddam
Hussein firing missiles against
Israel in the first Gulf War to get the
support of the Arab world.
this case Mugabe is trying to get the backing of his African neighbours
well as to associate white rule with the opposition MDC, which of course
absolute nonsense. But his other motive is simply to create a climate of
fear and to intimidate his opponents. The pattern has always been the same:
ahead of elections in 2000 and 2002, security forces arrested, tortured and
killed hundreds of opposition activists.
The shift to the opposition
is not at all surprising. Besides the violence
and intimidation, Zimbabwe
has become an almost failed state, with an
inflation rate of 100,000 per
cent and public services on the verge of
collapse. Zimbabwe has the
semblance of a democracy, but this is meaningless
when you have a leader who
does not play by the rules.
Robert Mugabe has trampled on the free press,
interfered with the workings
of the courts, suppressed dissent and appointed
cronies to run the army and
police. His crazy economic policies and
confiscation of private farms
created unprecedented hardship and
Although Mugabe began his rule in 1980 by preaching
moderate economic policies, his authoritarian Marxist
streak - which had
long been overlooked by the international community -
soon emerged. Only two
years after he assumed power, he brutally put down a
threat to his rule in
Matabeleland, the power base of his one-time ally in
the war of liberation,
Joshwa Nkomo. A North Korean-trained army brigade was
responsible for the
massacre of thousands of innocent civilians. Nobody in
Africa or elsewhere
batted an eyelid.
Things got gradually worse and
Mugabe's 2000 shock defeat in a referendum on
a new constitution to increase
his powers was the last straw for the
Zimbabwean President. He played the
race card, confiscated 90 per cent of
white-owned farms and further trampled
Subsequent elections were characterised by vote-rigging
allegations and the
political and economic situation got worse by the day.
Once the bread basket
of Africa, half the country's population now lives on
The real tragedy about Zimbabwe is that the international
never really exerted enough pressure on Mugabe to respect the
rule of law
and democratic values. Because the Zimbabwean president is
some circles as a hero of his country's revolution, many
reluctant to take a strong stand against him.
worst offenders are the African nations themselves, especially South
which has tremendous political, economic and moral clout in
African president Thabo Mbeki has hid behind a policy of
in dealing with Mugabe, which in reality amounted to
exerting no pressure on
the authoritarian leader.
It is indeed sad that the new South Africa,
which managed to end apartheid
largely because of a very strong
anti-apartheid international movement,
should now not be spearheading
international support to get rid of Mugabe
and his authoritarian
The Commonwealth too have been disgracefully silent on Mugabe.
Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth in 2003 a year after being suspended
organisation, but that is no excuse for this 53-nation bloc to
as Mugabe turns his country into a failed state. Surely the
which includes so many of Zimbabwe's neighbours could act
What is needed now is for the
international community to make it clear that
it will not deal with Mugabe,
who has not only shamed his country but the
whole of Africa, any further.
Europe and the United States, in particular,
must promise to provide
Zimbabwe with millions of dollars in much needed aid
and investment the
moment Morgan Tsvangirai becomes President.
Perhaps this pledge of aid
will convince the generals to urge Mugabe to step
down. Such international
support for a new Zimbabwe is the least that can be
done for this country,
which has suffered for far too long under Mugabe's
Hopes of returning home dashed
April 13 2008 at 10:10AM
Aaron Makuza, 35, used
to be a captain in the Zimbabwean army's
presidential guard, responsible for
taking care of President Robert Mugabe.
Then, on December 17, he
made the mistake of being arrested by what he
calls "the civilian police" at
a pro-Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
political rally in
They found his army identification document and handed him
over to the
military police (MPs) - who treated him to two weeks of
for being "a sell-out".
they wanted to know how a member of the Zimbabwean
defence force, and
especially of a unit entrusted with protecting the
president, could attend a
rally of the party opposed to Zanu-PF, Mugabe's
Makuza, who fled Zimbabwe in
January and is now living on the floor of
the Central Methodist Church (CMC)
in downtown Johannesburg, along with
about 1 200 other refugees, most of
them fellow Zimbabweans, does not own
much, besides an olive-green cap with
a picture of Bob Marley in the middle
of the peak.
But he does
have "the report" from the Harare clinic to which he went
released by the MPs - and it seems that he received, courtesy of
military police, crushed fingernails, continual internal and external
bleeding and livid bruises all over his body, especially the bottom of his
Three-and-a-half months later, Makuza is still missing a
fingernails and his ankles and shins remain bruised and
Makuza spent Friday morning in Tshwane as part of a
calling on the leaders of the members of the 14-nation
Development Community (SADC) to ask the Zimbabwean leader
to step down
He is just one of the
Zimbabweans living in the church who last week -
when it seemed clear that
the MDC had won the Zimbabwean elections - were
making preparations to go
Sam Mavhunga, 33, one of Makuza's comrades, a father of
in Harare) and another habitul of the CMC,
"Yeah, we were just waiting for the presidential
results, we were
organising ourselves to return - but now it's all over,
isn't it? Mugabe's
stolen it and no one's going to do anything about. We
need to go to war."
His sentiments were echoed by Tendai Nyariya,
41, who said: "There's
going to be bloodshed now. We hear that soldiers are
beating activists now.
They've been given a mandate to beat
Tafadzwa G, 27, who does not want his surname to be
published or his
photograph taken - "because I fear exposure" - said that he
was a school
teacher who had become ill with excruciating stomach pains in
the end of last year.
He went to hospital - "but
the medicine I required was simply not in
the hospital pharmacy. They said I
had to go to a private pharmacy. But the
cost there was five times my
He asked the principal of his school for
"indefinite sick leave".
"But the principal was not happy about
this because of most of the
people who go on extended sick leave flee to
South Africa. Which is exactly
what my mother suggested I should do, and I
did. And here I got free health
treatment - and I got better in a couple of
But Tafadzwa said he would like to return to Zimbabwe,
because it is
his home and also because there is no teaching work for him in
"But Mugabe won't surrender," interpolated Makuza,
"and also the men
around him won't. They got away with too much during their
"Yes, in fact," added Mavhunga, "we hear that what all
the leaders and
generals are doing now - the reason for this delay - is that
they are busy
"We have to return and we
have to fight a war," said Makuza.
When it was put to him that guns
are needed for a war and that the
Zimbabwean army seemed to be well-armed
and prepared, he replied: "There are
a lot of soldiers here - right in this
church. And some battles you win and
some you lose. But we will win in the
Zama Nthuli, 25, was also heading home after three years in
"But now it's all smashed. I'm not going to go,"
This article was originally published on page 3 of
on April 13, 2008
Weary Zimbabweans see no light at end
HARARE, April 13 (AFP)
Harare barber Admire Muroyiwa says only divine intervention can
Zimbabwe, where a post-election stalemate has added to the problems of
people already living with world record inflation.
Muroyiwa -- like
many of his countrymen -- pins no hope on the 14-nation
Development Community (SADC) regional bloc which ended
talks to find an end to the deadlock arising from the
delayed release of
results from March 29 presidential elections.
"This country only needs
God's intervention," he said despondently,
adjusting his clippers and
beating off hair from his white T-shirt
emblazoned with the face of
ex-finance minister and presidential contestant
might have SADC or (South Africa's President Thabo) Mbeki's intervention
this will not take us anywhere," the 28-year-old said.
"The problem is
that ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe's ruling party) think they are second
to God and they
do whatever they want."
The SADC summit in the Zambian capital Lusaka
stopped well short of
criticising the Zimbabwean government or veteran ruler
Robert Mugabe -- in
power since 1980 -- and merely called for the results of
the poll to be
delivered as "expeditiously" as possible.
for a quick fix to the crisis were dashed by an election
announcement that all the votes in 23 of the country's 210
would be recounted next Saturday.
The main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) claims to have won
the polls and says its
presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai has beaten
Mpofu, a 40-year-old housewife, accused Mbeki -- who heads the
economic powerhouse and is tasked with brokering a dialogue
ruling party and the opposition -- of treating Mugabe with kid
"SADC has not been helpful," Mpofu told AFP.
give Mugabe a deadline when the results should be released. Mbeki
say anything against Mugabe, but wants to confuse Zimbabweans
is no crisis.
"What is he trying to say when he says there is no crisis,"
Mbeki dropped in on Harare on his way to the Lusaka summit and
first face-to-face talks with Mugabe since the disputed
"The body authorised to release the results is the Zimbabwe
Commission, let's wait for them to announce the results," he told
journalists afterwards, adding that there was "no crisis" in his northern
Ice cream vendor Patson Muredzi said Zimbabweans should go
about with their
lives and give up expecting any radical
"Mbeki cannot say anything against the old man, Zimbabweans
forget about him and move on," Muredzi said.
exasperation at the economic mess in what was once the region's role
and an official inflation rate of 100,000 percent, many SADC leaders
continue to regard Zimbabwean opposition leader Tsvangirai with
One delegate at the Lusaka talks, from a country traditionally
Mugabe, however said there was a growing acknowledgement the
leader's days were numbered.
He said that not only was there
a widespread belief there that Mugabe lost
to Tsvangirai, even if he scrapes
enough votes to make it into a second
round, but they also agreed any bid by
the military to forestall the result
would be doomed in the long-run as it
simply has no money.
However, according to the delegate, the leaders were
Tsvangirai's response when they pushed him to provide
evidence of his claim
that he won enough to defeat Mugabe in the first
'Mugabe on borrowed time'
The Sun, UK
ROBERT Mugabe has been accused of
trying to “reinvent” the Zimbabwean
election results by ordering a partial
And as Zimbabwe opposition parties announced they would fight
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg urged the international
community to make
clear the president was “living on borrowed
A summit of neighbouring African leaders has called for the
secret for two weeks since the poll, to be revealed as quickly
They are believed to show that Mr Mugabe lost but secured
enough support to
force a presidential run-off with the Movement for
Democratic Change, led by
The Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission announced it would conduct a full recount
in around one in 10 of
the 210 constituencies - enough to overturn the MDC
victory in the
Mr Clegg said he was “extremely worried” about the
move which “looks to me
dangerously like another attempt to reinvent the
results of the elections”.
“It is absolutely clear in my view that we
need full publication of the
presidential elections,” he told BB Radio 4’s
The World This Weekend.
He added: “I am pleased the southern African
political community has over
the last 24 hours sent out an unambiguous
signal that they want this stand
off to be resolved.”
“And I think
Mugabe needs to be left in absolutely no doubt at all by the
community that he is living on borrowed time.”
Mr Clegg welcomed efforts
to secure a cross-party approach to the crisis by
Foreign Secretary David
Miliband who wrote yesterday to the Tories and Lib
Dems setting out the
“The Government is acting more sensible and quickly
on this than they did
for instance on Kenya where I was very critical and
remain very critical of
what I think was foot dragging and dithering by
Gordon Brown as a set of
fraudulent elections in effect went unchallenged,”
Mr Clegg said.
The Prime Minister stepped into the controversy yesterday,
“appalling” situation and warning Mr Mugabe that the world’s
“We cannot wait any longer for the
announcement of these results,” Mr Brown
“It is appalling if
there is intimidation and violence. It is completely
unacceptable and the
whole eyes of the world are on Zimbabwe now.”
Sunday 13th April 2008
Dear Family and Friends, I received a call
early one morning this week from
a friend in a small country town. Speaking
quickly and quietly for fear of
being overheard, he told me of the
frightening events that were going on all
around him. Eight double cab
vehicles had arrived in the town. Armed men in
civilian clothes alighted.
They had lists of names of people who had been
involved in the election
campaign for the opposition MDC in the area.
"They are hunting us down,"
he said. "Each and every one of us is being
sought out, beaten and punished
for supporting the MDC." Some have had their
homes burnt down, large numbers
of people have been beaten and a local
opposition organizer said :" it is
terrible, there are injured people
Later another call
came, this time the story was of events on one of the few
commercial farms. Again the eye witness account was of armed men.
youths too, many scores of them and they were clearly high on
drink. The drumming, singing, shouting and intimidation carried
message: there will be no change in Zimbabwe.
Scores of stories like this
are coming in from all over the country. Armed
men, drugged youths, lists of
opposition supporters and activists, and a
wave of fear sweeping over our
country. None are being spared : men, women,
children. Beating, burning,
threatening and intimidating is the result of
the brave voices of
Zimbabweans across the country who voted for change.
While this goes on
the economic and domestic situation for families
everywhere has reached
absolutely critical levels. In the fortnight since
the elections food
supplies in the shops have dropped to almost nothing. One
in my home town this weekend had lines and lines of
scouring powder but no
basics at all - no rice, pasta, flour, cereals, tin,
jars or in fact
anything edible. All fresh produce from milk and eggs to
vegetables and meat
has become virtually unobtainable as thugs and mobs
close down farms,
terrify workers and rob the nations shelves of the last
few mouthfuls of
food. A friend who helps feed children whose parents have
died of AIDS,
waited for almost 5 hours at the local Grain Marketing Board
every single bag of the precious staple grain was loaded onto
She left empty handed and had also failed to find any beans,
fish or even
soya to buy for vulnerable children hungry and alone.
The reaction of our
neighbours to the terror and tragedy unravelling
Zimbabwe is beyond all
understanding. South African president Thabo Mbeki
emerged from an hour long
meeting with Mr Mugabe saying: "There is no crisis
in Zimbabwe." Fourteen
African heads of state met for 12 hours in Zambia and
"election results must be released expeditiously."
Of course we don't
know what went on behind closed doors but it seems like
quiet diplomacy has
again been the convenient smoke screen for Africa's Big
It is no
comfort whatsoever to us mums who can't find enough food for our
It is no comfort to frightened men whispering on crackly telephone
about men with guns on an opposition witch hunt. It is no comfort to
trying to grow food but faced with drugged, drunken youths who want
Zimbabweans voted for change a fortnight ago, the MDC
announced that it had
been achieved but day by day that change is being
Until next week, love cathy.
from the diaspora
12th April 2008
The phone rang
at six thirty this Friday morning and I knew before I even
receiver that it was bad news. Let's face it, there's never any
of news from Zimbabwe these days. I can't say that I wasn't
yesterday's detailed article in The UK Guardian by Chris McGreal
described what was going on in Mutoko just fifty kms down the
road, so I
knew it was just a matter of time before Murehwa received the
What do you do when a friend phones you at that hour to tell
you that he and
his family are in big trouble? You are thousands of miles
away and down the
line you hear the quiet desperation in your friend's voice
as he describes
the situation in the centre of the small town in Mashonaland
East that used
to be your home. 'We feel betrayed,' he said. ' When is
someone going to
intervene and help us?'
I couldn't answer that
question, no one can, it seems. I could only listen
as he told me of the men
who were systematically hunting down MDC supporters
and threatening them for
'Voting the wrong way'. Five activists were badly
beaten at a nearby mission
yesterday; the police cannot or will not do
anything to intervene, they too
have been threatened and intimidated they
say. Not by Green Bombers this
time but by a much more organized group in
plain clothes. They emerge from
expensive four by fours that are parked on
the dusty streets of this little
town. They have sleeping bags and
mattresses in the back of their vehicles
and that's where they sleep at
night. They are fed by the local Zanu PF
chefs who provide them with mealie
meal and meat while everyone else goes
hungry. And they are armed, the men
in the double cabs, a mobile hit squad
ready to punish the people who dared
to exercise their democratic right and
vote for Morgan Tsvangirai and the
opposition. Despite the fact that Zanu PF
still won in this area, they
didn't like the fact that more people than ever
before had voted for change.
So they called a meeting my friend told me and
lectured the people about how
to vote next time. 'Taka chinga' the people
replied. We have voted for
change. Like the wonderful WOZA women who
demonstrated this week in
Bulawayo, such courage just takes your breath away
but the men in the double
cabs won't give up, they are acting under orders,
part of task force
organized at the highest level, that's what the people
Mutoko/Murewha was once considered Zanu PF heartland. I lived
there for twelve years and I know and love the place. I even
built a little
house there, it was my home and I could picture every detail
talked about; I could feel his pain and anxiety for his wife and
his ailing mother whom he cannot leave even if his life is in
danger. All I
can do to help him is tell the story, alert the news media,
make sure that
as many people as possible know what's happening in
It's not the first time Murehwa has been in the news. It was
there that the
first white farmer was murdered back in 2000 in the original
Four of his colleagues from the Macheke area were brutally
tortured as they
tried to rescue their friend David Stevens. I remember that
weekend as if it
was yesterday, 'The Weekend from Hell' is how Cathy Buckle
describes it in
her book Beyond Tears.
It was April 16th, just two day
before Independence and I woke on the Sunday
to a peerless African morning
with sun shining down on the granite gomo
behind my house. I turned on my
radio and there was the BBC World Service
telling me that a white farmer had
been murdered in Murehwa, of all places.
But I should not have been
surprised, Murehwa was the place where Chengerai
Hitler Hunzvi had his
headquarters and as well as being white, David Stevens
had been a supporter
of the Movement for Democratic Change.
Now, eight years later, Zanu PF
continues to harass and intimidate
opposition supporters in Murehwa and all
over the country. It doesn't matter
what colour they are, if they are
opposed to Robert Mugabe they are the
enemy. But I have one memory of that
weekend that reminds me of why I love
Zimbabwe; it is the innate courtesy
and loving human kindness of ordinary
Zimbabweans. On the Monday morning, a
group of women came to my house to
offer their sympathy and comfort for a
bereavement in the African way, even
though I had personally never met David
Stevens. 'He was a good man' they
said as they shook my hand.
many more good men and women have to die before Zimbabweans can rebuild
their shattered lives and live in peace again? Will the SADC leaders think
about that when they meet tomorrow or will they be congratulating Our Own
Dear Leader on yet another stolen election which they had described as free
and fair even before the first vote was cast.
Yours in the (continuing)
Zanu thugs in wave of violence,
From The Sunday Argus (SA), 13 April
The Zimbabwean opposition has accused the security forces
and ruling party
militants of engaging in a wave of violence to intimidate
voters and ensure
President Robert Mugabe wins a run-off. In Centenary,
about 220km north of
Harare, militants attacked workers on at least two
black-owned farms and
burnt their huts, the workers said. Ruling Zanu PF
party officials had
encouraged militants to invade the few remaining
white-owned farms, saying
they were trying to protect Zimbabweans from
Opposition officials say such attacks are a
smokescreen for assaults on
mainly black opposition supporters. Workers on
the Mount Panis farm lost all
their belongings when a gang of about 50 men
attacked them, accusing them of
being MDC supporters, the workers said.
Several were hospitalised and many
fled into the mountains or to
neighbouring farms. The black owner of a
nearby farm was beaten up, the
workers said. Huts on both farms were torched
in Thursday's incidents. The
US State Department's Sean McCormack said
Washington had "credible reports
of violence and intimidation" against
opposition supporters and called on
the government to end the attacks.
Amnesty International said the violence
suggested a programme of
"co-ordinated retribution against known and
Tsvangirai must be cautious about
'gov't of national unity'
Friday, 11 April 2008
*TANONOKA JOSEPH WHANDE
The people of
Zimbabwe went to the polls almost two weeks ago and they have
still not been
told the results of those elections, making the whole of the
continent nervous in view of what happened in Kenya
The Zimbabwean electorate surprised and shamed
many who underestimated them,
including the old rogue, Robert Mugabe,
The Zimbabwean electorate showed their independent way of
thinking. For all
the political hype accompanying Simba Makoni's entry into
race, one would have been forgiven for thinking that Makoni
actually had a
Makoni could hardly garner
7percent of the presidential vote and he should
have learned a very
important lesson not to take Zimbabweans for granted,
like Mugabe did for
People rejected his obviously silly arrogance of "vote for me
now and I will
form a political party later", especially having refused to
from tyrant Mugabe and ZANU-PF and surrounding himself with
during their heydays as Mugabe's lieutenants, had tormented the
We had heard and almost believed how respected Makoni was in
Zimbabwe but the people knew where to place both ZANU-PF and its
Not dwelling on the embarrassment, Makoni and his scant followers
projecting him as "a kingmaker", which is a load of
What kingmaker? He could hardly get 7percent of the vote and
those who voted for him can make a difference in a
This is wishful thinking. Most of those who voted for Makoni
ZANU-PF followers who wanted more of the same but under a
And, of course, there were also the
followers of the breakaway MDC faction
who abandoned Morgan Tsvangirai for
Just as the electorate taught Makoni a lesson about opportunism,
who rocked the MDC boat by abandoning the main body lost their bid
The people saw a real possibility for strength and
change under Tsvangirai
and they showed it by voting for him while punishing
those who wanted to
muddy the waters for their personal
Arthur Mutambara, leader of the breakaway MDC faction,
lost his bid to enter
parliament. So did his Secretary General, Welshman
Ncube, his former deputy
president, Gibson Sibanda, former spokesperson,
Paul Themba Nyathi and
others like Priscilla Mushonga and Job
Before the elections, Mutambara and his little group wanted
accommodate them but Tsvangirai could spot losers 100
The bunch then dashed across the isle and threw their
support behind Makoni.
Makoni lost dismally and Mutambara's group did worse.
Now Mutambara's group
is back again and announcing its intention to throw
its weight behind
But what about the other loser, Makoni?
"We are consulting every political
player in this election with a view to
working together to move this country
forward," said third-placed Makoni on
Wednesday still unwilling "to commit
himself to back main opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai in an anticipated
run-off against President Robert
No wonder they all lost. This is hardly the kind of conviction
Last week, church groups warned the MDC to be careful about
with either ZANU-PF or the party-less Makoni because such
deals might amount
to betrayal, especially in view of the fact that Makoni
and ZANU-PF are not
totally divorced from each other and that both Makoni
and ZANU-PF would
bring back the same people who have ruined the country and
violence on the people.
Mugabe and Makoni have absolutely
nothing to offer the MDC and Tsvangirai
and his advisers must be careful not
to contaminate their mandate with the
same people so clearly rejected by the
Making any deals with the Mutambara faction at this stage is also
meaningless and could actually be counter-productive. Their concerted
efforts to sabotage the MDC are still too fresh in people's minds. People
still remember too clearly their arrogance when they were favoured by Mbeki
Remember what Mugabe himself did at independence?
While he took Ian Smith's
able administrators, like Dennis Norman and David
Smith, he left Ian Smith
out of his cabinet.
It was a wise tactical
move because the unrepentant Ian Smith could have
Makoni is ambitious and obviously does not think much of
believing that whatever Tsvangirai can do, he can do better.
give the MDC administrative problems.
To make matters
worse, Makoni's background and the handful of his supporters
lie in ZANU-PF
sympathizers and the MDC can well do without this unnecessary
MDC will spend most of its time chiding Makoni, trying to pry
him away from
Mugabe and ZANU-PF.
Thus, endorsement by Makoni is not, in itself,
necessary although it can
help to remove suspicions among different party
supporters. What is
necessary is for the MDC to make sure, yes, they somehow
have to make sure
that their message reaches the people.
ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU, while having been bosom buddies during the war
liberation and shortly before the elections, fought the 1980 elections
separately and re-united after the elections.
What this achieved was
to identify and give each party a constituency and
showed who the majority
of the people voted for and where the power lay. So
when ZANU-PF later
invited PF-ZAPU into cabinet, it was viewed as a clean
meaningful gesture of
unity because everyone knew how the people had voted.
What happened to
the contestants in the long run is another matter but there
was meaning to
As I write, Morgan Tsvangirai is here in Botswana where he
government that his intelligence people had warned him of danger to
Zambia's Levy Mwanawasa, SADC Chairman, called an
emergency meeting for
tomorrow (Saturday) to discuss the simmering stalemate
in Zimbabwe. When we
look at Kenya, and now Zimbabwe, we can see how
presidents suddenly become once they lose
Zimbabweans have done their part and conducted themselves with
of their dignity, shying away from violence even under
conditions. It is the hope of all Zimbabweans that SADC surely
will see and
seize the opportunity presented to them by Mugabe and serve not
Zimbabweans but the region.
Mugabe cannot complain against SADC
for he would long have left office were
it not for the unwarranted cowardly
support he got from SADC.
SADC, for once, should make Africa proud by
heading off a tragedy instead of
coddling a murderer who will soon make them
run around looking for donor
money to assist both the region and
Come on, SADC, justify your existence, for once!
Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean journalist.
With flight of teachers, education collapses
Angeles Times / April 13, 2008
MUFAKOSE, Zimbabwe - The first to go was the
English teacher. Six months
later, the commerce teacher followed. The next
year, 2005, the trickle
turned into an exodus.
By 2007, the
departures from Mufakose 3 High School were like bricks in a
building: math, science, accounting and many other teachers, all
their careers to work as cleaners, shop assistants, and laborers in
Zimbabwe's education system, once the best in Africa, is being
teacher by teacher.
Some of the teachers at Mufakose 3,
outside the capital, Harare, called in
sick and were never seen at the
school again. Others didn't bother to call
"You'd come to school and someone's not there, and next
thing you hear, he's
gone," said Knox Sonopai, 43, a history teacher at
In 2007, about 25,000 teachers fled the country, according to
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe. In the first two months of this
year, 8,000 more disappeared. A staggering 150,000 teaching vacancies can't
be filled. The Education Ministry sends out high school graduates with no
degree or experience to do the job.
In a country where the official
inflation rate is 100,000 percent, teachers
simply can't afford to
Before last month's national elections, teachers went on strike to
salaries of 500 million Zimbabwean dollars a month, about $10 in US
currency. Their salaries went up 700 percent to end the strike - aid,
perhaps not coincidentally, just before the vote - but the raise is being
gobbled by hyperinflation.
"One hundred percent of teachers have
resigned, mentally, even though they
remain in schools," said the teachers
union president, Takavafira Zhou.
"They're no longer interested in teaching.
They're just looking for
somewhere to go.
"The education system is a
vital hub of the country. It has a ripple effect.
In the long term, the
country will suffer very much."
Francis, a teacher at neighboring
Mufakose 1 High School who declined to
give his last name for fear of
dismissal, said 60 of 110 teachers there left
holiday we lose more teachers," he said.
Last October, history teacher
Sonopai and a colleague, Clever Mudadi, 33,
gambled their lives crossing the
crocodile-infested Limpopo River into South
Africa. They tried to get work
as teachers but ended up as laborers digging
foundations for about $15 a
week. In the end, humiliated by the work, they
turned around and returned
"It was bad," Mudadi said. "We lost a lot of weight. We felt hurt.
Teachers used to be some of the most respected
people in Zimbabwean
communities, but now "you are the laughingstock of the
primary school teacher Richard Tshuma, 35.
rallies before the elections, which saw the ruling ZANU-PF party lose its
parliamentary majority for the first time in 28 years, President Robert
Mugabe made a point of giving out computers to teach children computer
literacy. In most schools, computers are a dream. Textbooks are so scarce
that 35 children must share one, according to the teachers union. Children
sit crammed 80 to a classroom, sometimes on the floor.
standards plummeting, the pass rate for the high school exams
O-levels fell from about 70 percent in the mid-1990s to 13
year. The higher education system is equally troubled, starving
hospitals of doctors and the mining sector of engineers.
institutions have been smashed," said Tony Hawkins, an
economist. "We can't regenerate our own skills."
News Analysis: Zimbabwe risks falling into
HARARE, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Tensions in Zimbabwe
Sunday after announcement of a recount of the March 29 general
votes, raising fears that the South African nation may fall into
State media reported that
23 out of 210 constituencies will be
As news of the recount came, leaders of Southern
convened in the Zambian capital of Lusaka on Saturday for
meeting to break the impasse in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe was absent from the regional
The African nation held elections for
councilors and president on March 29, but the
failure to release
presidential results has triggered a serious
Chairman of the Southern African Development Community
President Levy Mwanawasa, who called the Lusaka summit several
said the delay in announcing the presidential race result has
climate of tension" in the Zambian neighbor.
After the March 29 elections, Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Change (MDC) claimed its leader Morgan Tsvangirai had won
outright in the
However, there were also reports indicating
that neither incumbent
President Mugabe nor Tsvangirai has secured enough
votesfor an outright
While Mugabe's ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front envisions a run-off, the
opposition has ruled out Tsvangirai's
participation, saying that a second
round would be undemocratic due to
"What the war veterans are doing is preparing for a
Mugabe realizes that an announcement that he has won outright
will not be
believed," said political analyst Lovemore
Madhuku was referring to the independence war veterans
opposition said Mugabe had sent out to ensure a second round
"You will get the war veterans again on the war path.
If there is
a runoff the war veterans would make it difficult for some
people to turn
out to vote," said Madhuku, a critic of Mugabe and chairman
group, the National Constitutional Assembly.
The opposition has also called for a general strike to be launched
Tuesday, the day after a court is due to rule on its bid to force the
publication of the election result.
The political turmoil
has added insult to injury for a nation
which is deeply trapped in an
With inflation raging at higher and prices
the government introduced earlier this month a
note, which could only buy three loaves of bread
then and is depreciating
Monetary Fund said Saturday that even before the
disputed March 29 election,
things were bad in Zimbabwe.
It added that independent finance
houses calculated inflation at
around 290,000 percent in Zimbabwe compared
to the official figure of
If not properly
handled, the crisis in Zimbabwe has the risk of
escalating toward the style
of the deadly riots in Kenya, which was once one
of Africa's most stable
countries. The recent clashes in Kenya left more
than 1,000 people killed
and 350,000 others displaced.
Britain to press China on Mugabe
LONDON: A senior British cabinet minister has flown to Beijing in an
to persuade China to drop its support for the Mugabe Government in
Amid a flurry of high-stakes diplomacy at the weekend to
resolve the crisis
in the southern African nation, the British Foreign
responsible for Africa, Mark Malloch-Brown, paid a discreet
visit to China.
In the past, the Chinese, who have a veto on the UN
Security Council, have
prevented Zimbabwe from being raised at the council.
China insisted the
crisis in Zimbabwe was an internal matter and did not
"violation of international peace and security", the
prerequisite for UN
Security Council action.
With China under growing
international pressure over Tibet, Darfur and
Burma, the British calculation
was that Beijing was unlikely to take a stand
over the crumbling Mugabe
The China visit comes as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown sets
off on a
four-day trip to the US this week, where he will attend a meeting
at the UN
and meet US President George W. Bush for talks.
event could be the UN fixture rather than Mr Brown's White House
date. It is
at the UN, in the company of President Thabo Mbeki of South
senior British officials hope progress may be made to hasten
the end of the
rule of Robert Mugabe and begin Zimbabwe's path to
Western experts warn that dislodging the 84-year-old
orchestrating a peaceful handover of power is a huge challenge,
notably eluded Tony Blair and a succession of British foreign
But there is a real sense in Whitehall that Mugabe has at
most weeks or
months left in office, and that Britain can play a decisive
role behind the
scenes to ensure the great survivor of southern African
politics does not
wriggle off the hook.
The next challenge is to
overcome the cautious behaviour of Zimbabwe's
African neighbours. This was
being made easier by the refusal by Mugabe to
attend an emergency summit on
Zimbabwe in Zambia yesterday of the 14-member
Southern African Development
Mugabe's non-appearance reinforced the impression that he was
no longer in
control of the country, which some suspect may already have
passed into the
hands of the security elite around the President.
recent violence, combined with the collapsing Zimbabwean economy, record
inflation and the flight of millions of citizens to neighbouring states,
will give Mr Brown the opportunity to argue that Zimbabwe now requires the
urgent attention of the UN Security Council.
Getting the issue before
the security council could be a hugely significant
first step. The council
has the power to enforce international law,
authorise the use of force and
send in peace-keeping troops in the event of
- The Times
Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 12th April
There was gloom at Mugabe’s moves to prolong his regime. Hail in
April matched the lousy situation in Zimbabwe. Our tarpaulin protecting us
from the rain was again a source of great entertainment as we prodded it with
umbrellas to get rid of pools of water, showering unsuspecting people.
Stendrick Zvorwadza of our partner organization Restoration of Human
Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR Zim) came to the Vigil straight from the airport to
give us a first hard account of what is happening at home. Meanwhile Vigil
Co-ordinator Dumi Tutani was busy trying to organize medication for his nephew
who had been beaten up by Zanu PF in Harare.
Lucky Moyo of Black
Umfolozi fame has invited Zimbabwean musicians in the UK to join him at the
Vigil next Saturday, 19th April to speak out on the situation in Zimbabwe. He
says “as much as we may want to be apolitical we are social commentators.
We must play a part by reflecting in song what pathways our society has taken
over the last 28 years”. Regular Vigil supporter Willard Karanga, formerly of
Thomas Mapfumo’s band, will be one musician who will support Lucky’s initiative.
Before then Vigil supporters will be taking part in a demonstration
outside the Embassy marking Independence Day on Friday, 18th April. The
event is organised by Action for Southern Africa, the successor to the
Anti-Apartheid Movement. We will be protesting about the way the election
has been handled.
Our friends in Glasgow held their second Vigil
today. They report a successful afternoon with increased attendance and
concern and interest from Scottish passers-by. They are pleased that they
now have their own drum.
For this week’s Vigil pictures:
FOR THE RECORD: 136 signed
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· Friday, 18th April 2008, 12 – 2
pm. Demonstration outside the Zimbabwe Embassy London with ACTSA (Action for
Southern Africa) to protest at the way the election has been
· Saturday, 19th April
2008 – Zimbabwean musicians in the UK will be joining Lucky Moyo at the Vigil to
make their voices heard at this critical time in
· Saturday, 26th April
2008, 2 – 6 pm. Next Glasgow Vigil. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more
information, contact: Ancilla Chifamba, 07770 291 150 and Patrick Dzimba, 07990
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe
Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to
protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in
Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until
internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.