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Opposition protest in Zimbabwe fails to shut down Harare

International Herald Tribune

By Celia W. Dugger Published: April 15, 2008

JOHANNESBURG: The call by Zimbabwe's political opposition for people
nationwide to stay away from work began to take effect on Tuesday, but it
did not succeed in shutting down the capital, Harare.

The one-day action was called to protest a 17-day delay by the government in
releasing the results of the presidential election.

Early Tuesday morning, the streets were quieter than usual except for a
heavy police presence. The buses and minibuses that usually ferry people to
work were scarce. But as the danger of a police crackdown receded, normal
business seemed to be resuming.

Traffic was picking up in Harare's central business district as noon
approached and calm prevailed, residents said in telephone and e-mail
interviews. While some small shops were closed, department stores and
supermarkets were opening.

In the Tuesday edition of the government-owned newspaper The Herald, the
police accused the opposition of "agitating for violence," and condemned its
supporters for distributing "subversive" pamphlets that encouraged people to
participate in what the police said was an illegal protest.

Wayne Bvudzijena, the police spokesman, told The Herald that the
opposition's call "is certainly aimed at disturbing this peace and will be
resisted firmly by the law enforcement agents whose responsibility it is to
maintain law and order in any part of the country always."
People trickling into work told their employers they had seen a road
barricaded by activists and a minibus on fire.

The action is the first effort by the main opposition party, the Movement
for Democratic Change, to mobilize mass protests since the March 29
election, which it says it won outright, without the need for a runoff.

Election officials, citing voting irregularities, have refused to release
the outcome of the contest, between Zimbabwe's autocratic president, Robert
Mugabe, who has ruled for 28 years, and the MDC candidate, Morgan

The High Court on Monday rejected an opposition demand that it force
Zimbabwe's electoral commission to publish the results, prompting the
opposition to go ahead with the strike.

The opposition said Tuesday that it would will only participate in a runoff
vote if the international community were to administer such an election, The
Associated Press reported. George Sibotshiwe, a spokesman for Tsvangirai,
said the candidate would consider a runoff if a tally verified by both
parties and the Southern African Development Community shows no candidate
won more than 50 percent of the vote.

The opposition, which analysts say does not have a strong track record of
organizing large public protests, decided against calling on its followers
to take to the streets.

Police have banned all public rallies. And in recent days, opposition
leaders have said in interviews they believe Mugabe's government is looking
for reasons to crack down and declare a state of emergency that would allow
him to rule by decree.

They hoped a stay-away would enable them to avoid violent confrontations
with the police and the army.

But in a country where 4 out of 5 people are unemployed, it is unclear how
effective a work stay-away would be.

Even some who are sympathetic to the opposition said Monday that
Zimbabweans, staggering under the weight of joblessness, hyperinflation and
food shortages, are likely to be desperate to continue earning the bits of
money that make it possible to survive.

Independent monitors say that Mugabe trailed badly in the presidential vote
and may have lost outright.

Zimbabwean election officials have said that on Saturday they plan to start
a recount of the presidential and parliamentary votes in 23 districts.
Election monitors say the late recount is illegal and vulnerable to fraud.

ANC criticizes Mbeki
South Africa's ruling party, the African Nation Congress, warned Tuesday
that the "dire" situation in Zimbabwe was having a negative impact on all of
southern Africa, its strongest criticism of President Thabo Mbeki yet,
Reuters reported from Johannesburg.

Mbeki, who has long pursued "quiet diplomacy" in Zimbabwe and adopted a
wait-and-see approach after the election, said before a summit of the
Southern African Development Community over the weekend he saw no crisis in
the neighboring country.

A statement by the ANC's executive National Working Committee said it
"regards the situation in Zimbabwe as dire, with negative consequences for
the SADC region."

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30 opposition supporters arrested over Zimbabwe strike


Tue 15 Apr 2008, 18:07 GMT

HARARE, April 15 (Reuters) - Thirty opposition supporters were arrested in
Zimbabwe on Tuesday for blocking roads, attacking vehicles and coercing
people to participate in a strike called to demand the release of delayed
election results, police said.

"Ten MDC youths were arrested ... after they were found barricading roads
and stopping people from going to work, another five were arrested for
obstructing the free movement of traffic," police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena
said in a statement.

The statement said 15 others were arrested for intimidating people who had
gone in to work and for forcing shops to close.

The MDC has declared victory in the March 29 polls, but no official results
have been released. (Reporting by Nelson Banya; Writing by Caroline Drees;
Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia)

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Zimbabweans put daily survival ahead of strike call


BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, April 15 (AFP)

Martha Sibanda, who runs a second-hand clothes stall in Zimbabwe's second
city of Bulawayo, opened for business on Tuesday with a heavy heart.

"I voted and want to know the result but if I stay away indefinitely then
what is my family going to eat?," said the mother of three.

"For me it's a tough choice between going to my business or joining the
stayway to demand our election results (but) I have no other means of

Like many Zimbabweans, the 34-year-old Sibanda was sympathetic to the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change's call for a general strike as
part of a campaign to force the electoral commission to end its silence over
the outcome of a presidential election which was held on March 29.

But in a country with an unemployment rate of over 80 percent, the world's
highest level of inflation and where even the most basic foodstuffs are only
available on the black market, few are willing to forsake a day's pay.

Even in southern Bulawayo, traditionally the strongest bastion of opposition
to the 28-year regime of President Robert Mugabe, the MDC's strike call went
largely unheeded.

While there were fewer commuter minibuses plying the routes into town, most
shops were open at 9:00 am and there were the usual queues outside
supermarkets as customers tried to get hold off scarce loaves of bread, and
outside banks.

One commuter, speaking on condition of anonymity while he waited at a bus
stop, said the MDC had failed to inform people about its plans for a strike.

"We are only hearing about this strike from you," he said. "I'll see how the
strike plays out today before I decide whether to join in tomorrow."

The MDC first announced its plans for the strike on Friday and confirmed it
would go ahead on Monday after the high court declined to order the
electoral commission to immediately declare the results.

With the government controlling the airwaves and the country's only daily
newspaper, the MDC has struggled to get its strike call across.

Although it did receive some coverage in Tuesday's edition of the Herald
newspaper, the story was accompanied with ominous police warnings that any
unrest would be met with an iron fist.

The opposition had opted for the general strike rather than street protests
after previous anti-government demonstrations were crushed at the outset.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai ended up in hospital with serious head injuries
in March last year as he tried to attend a so-called prayer rally in a
Harare township.

In the densely-populated Harare suburbs of Mabvuku and Tafara, traditional
hotbeds of resistance to the Mugabe regime and the site of food riots in the
1990s, police wielding batons went around on foot patrols at day break.

In Chitungwiza, a dormitory town, 25 kilometres (15 miles) southeast of the
capital, riot police cruised around in Land Rover trucks while roadblocks
were mounted on most routes into town.

In Harare's central business district, riot police gradually melted away as
it became clear it was essentially just like any normal working day.

Malvin Konde, an insurance broker in the capital, criticised the MDC for
failing to coordinate the stayaway with its traditional allies.

"If they had joined forces with the ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions)
and other civic groups it would make an impact," said Konde.

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Zimbabwe could be added to UN Security Council's Africa summit

Monsters and Critics

Apr 15, 2008, 18:35 GMT

New York - Zimbabwe's unresolved presidential election outcome is not on the
agenda of the UN Security Council's African summit on Wednesday, but could
be placed there if the world's powers want to debate the issue, the council
president said Tuesday.

The African summit at UN headquarters in New York is to be presided over by
South African President Thabo Mbeki, whose mediation in settling the dispute
in Zimbabwe's presidential vote count has been criticized for being biased
in favour of President Robert Mugabe.

Mbeki's Ambassador to the UN Dumisani Kumalo said Zimbabwe was not on the
council's agenda. But he said the United States, Britain and France, three
of the five veto-wielding permanent members, could raise the issue during
the two-day African debate.

'Those are huge countries,' Kumalo said. 'They can raise whatever they want
to raise and all I have said was that we don't expect Zimbabwe to be
discussed tomorrow (Wednesday). But they can raise anything.'

Zimbabwe's electoral commission has refused to make public results of the
first round of presidential elections held last month and has called for a
run-off vote. The opposition said it has won the elections.

Mbeki and the presidents of Ivory Coast, Somalia and the Democratic Republic
of Congo, and a number of deputy ministers and ambassadors will attend the
council's African meeting to discuss ways to strengthen the working
relationship between the UN and the African Union.

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US finds Zimbabwe in crisis, questions recount plans

Monsters and Critics

Apr 15, 2008, 19:21 GMT

Washington - The United States on Tuesday questioned plans by Zimbabwean
election officials to recount the ballots in the controversial presidential
elections, and said the political stalemate over disputed outcome helped
create a 'crisis.'

'Zimbabwe is in a crisis. We are in a crisis in Zimbabwe,' State Department
spokesman Sean McCormack said, offering a US view sharply differing from
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has denied that Zimbabwe had fallen
into a crisis.

Mbeki's comments came Saturday as 14 African nations met trying to resolve
the standoff over the March 29 elections. Opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai claims he outright defeated long-serving President Robert
Mugabe - an assessment shared by independent observers and non-governmental

The Election Commission has refused to release the results, but Mugabe
claims the race was too close to call and runoff was needed. The commission
has ordered a recount.

McCormack said Mugabe's policies and repression have driven the country into
economic run, and raised questions about the integrity of a recount that
would take place 'after there has not been a good chain of custody regime in
place for those ballots and those ballot boxes.'

'Anything could have happened between election day and when a recount takes
place,' McCormack said.

The issue is expected to be discussed Wednesday at an Africa summit at the
UN Security Council over which Mbeki is to preside.

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SA must place Zim on UNSC agenda: DA


    April 15 2008 at 07:04PM

Government needs to ensure that Zimbabwe is placed on the United
Nations Security Council agenda to regain its credibility, the Democratic
Alliance said on Tuesday.

"A failure to do so will in all likelihood be the final nail in the
coffin of any remaining aspirations we cherish for a permanent seat on the
Security Council," DA spokesperson Tony Leon said.

As the current rotational chair of the Security Council, South Africa
had a major role to play in determining the agenda of the council.

"However, inexplicably, it appears that South Africa is opting once
again to hide behind the well-worn, and in this case ludicrous, excuse that
this issue has no bearing on international peace and security," he said.

This was exactly the same pretext upon which government had blocked UN
action on human rights abuses in Belarus, Burma, Sudan and a number of other
countries around the world since it assumed a non-permanent seat on the
council early in 2007.

"There can be no question that the Zimbabwe crisis is matter of
international peace and security; if is left unresolved there is every
chance that a violent conflict of the type recently seen in Kenya following
the general elections there will erupt.

"This will have very real security and other consequences for all of
Zimbabwe's neighbours, including South Africa."

It would seem the government was no longer content with pretending
there was no crisis in Zimbabwe - a view which had now even been
contradicted by the ANC.

It was now trying to protect President Robert Mugabe from any form of
international sanction or rebuke, Leon said.

Western diplomats were reported earlier on Tuesday as having said the
United States and Britain would raise the Zimbabwe crisis at a high-level
meeting in the council on Wednesday despite South African opposition.

"We intend to highlight our concern for Zimbabwe," Benjamin Chang, a
spokesperson for the US mission to the United Nations told AFP. "We will be
raising Zimbabwe, among other issues."

The occasion would be a meeting to be hosted by South Africa to
discuss ways to boost security cooperation between the UN and the African

Chang said the delay in releasing officials results of Zimbabwe's
March 29 presidential poll would also be taken up in bilateral meetings
during the gathering.

Participants were to include South African President Thabo Mbeki, his
counterparts from Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Somalia and
Tanzania as well as Prime Ministers Gordon Brown of Britain and Romano Prodi
of Italy.

Another Western diplomat said Brown was also likely to bring up
Zimbabwe in his remarks to the council as well as in bilateral meetings with
Mbeki and other leaders.

South Africa's UN Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said last week that the
crisis should not be raised during Wednesday's meeting because it was not on
the council's agenda and was best handled by Zimbabwe's neighbours in the
Southern African Development Community (SADC). - Sapa

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Bush, UN Sec-General Ban Discuss Zimbabwe Stand-off


WASHINGTON (AFP)--U.S. President George W. Bush and UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon on Tuesday discussed the political stand-off in Zimbabwe ahead of UN
Security Council meetings on Africa, the White House said.

"The situation in Zimbabwe needs to be resolved peacefully and soon. It's
gone on for too long," spokesman Gordon Johndroe said after the two leaders
spoke by telephone.

Bush and Ban - who also took up Afghanistan, Darfur, and Myanmar - talked
about upcoming security council meetings on Africa and noted that Presidents
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania would attend,
said Johndroe.

The United States has pushed Zimbabwe's electoral authorities to reveal the
still-undisclosed results from a disputed March 29 presidential election.

On Darfur, Bush and Ban talked about efforts "to speed up the flow of
peacekeepers" into the violence-wracked Sudanese province, said Johndroe.

They discussed "working on getting the African contingent in as soon as
possible, and then follow that on with the non-African contingents" of the
peacekeeping operation and pushing Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir to
allow the deployment "expeditiously," the spokesman said.

On newly independent Kosovo, Bush and Ban discussed cooperation between
European Union and UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) forces "to make sure that
Kosov is a stable country," said Johndroe.

On Afghanistan, Bush told Ban he looks forward to meeting "in the near
future" with the new UN special envoy for that war-wracked country amid a
resurgence of the Taliban Islamist militia, said the spokesman.

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires

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World parliaments launch plea for action on Zimbabwe

The namibian

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - Web posted at 8:01:00 GMT

PARLIAMENTARIANS in Africa and the rest of the world should not remain
silent about the situation in Zimbabwe, where a democratic process had "gone
wrong", a leader of a world parliamentary organisation meeting in South
Africa said yesterday.

"As parliamentarians we cannot remain silent when we witness
sufferings and violation of human rights.

We can also not remain silent about the situation in Zimbabwe," said
the Speaker of the South African parliament, Baleka Mbete.

Over the weekend, her country's President Thabo Mbeki said there was
"no crisis in Zimbabwe after the elections two weeks ago.

"Six Speakers from the southern African region, supported by the
President of the Pan-African Parliament, Gertrude Mongella, on Sunday issued
a statement to the SADC special summit in Zambia, urging a speedy resolution
to a democratic process gone wrong.

We look forward to a lasting solution in the interest of peace and
stability in Zimbabwe and in the SADC region," Mbete told the conference,
which will last until Friday.

Mbeki on Sunday opened the 118th assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary
Union (IPU) in Cape Town.

It is being attended by 1 700 delegates from 135 countries, including
over 50 Speakers of national parliaments.

The Speaker of Namibia's National Assembly, Theo-Ben Gurirab, is one
of them.

Gurirab is a candidate for the position of IPU president, who will be
elected during the conference.

"I urge national parliaments, consistent with our oversight
obligations, to engage and urge our governments to put programmes and
initiatives in place that will effectively tackle poverty on the one hand
and empowerment of the people on the other," Gurirab said in his speech.

The theme of the six-day conference is 'Pushing back the frontiers of

During the meeting, legislators will attempt to determine the extent
to which peace building and reconciliation can transform society and its
institutional framework.

According the latest Human Development Report, 40 per cent of the
world's population live in poverty and are unable to meet their daily basic

These 2,6 billion people face first hand the risks of dangerous
climate change and human development reversals.

Established in 1889 and with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland,
the IPU is the oldest multilateral political organisation and brings
together 146 affiliated parliaments and seven associated regional

The world organisation of parliaments has an office in New York, which
acts as its permanent observer at the United Nations.

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Zimbabwe stations ‘play hate songs’

From Sapa, 15 April

Government-controlled media in Zimbabwe have been playing songs that
encourage violence, a non-government organisation said today. The Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) said that over the weekend, Spot FM aired
a number of "political songs" ahead of the country’s coming Independence Day
celebrations. One of them, "Mr Government" by Man Soul Jah, celebrated the
government’s land seizures and called for the decimation of perceived
political sellouts. The song said: "We are living like squatters in the land
of our heritage... give me my spear so that I can kill the many sellouts in
my forefathers’ country." "The song preaches hate and violence," MMPZ said.
In addition, ZTV aired the song, Tora Gidi (Take the Gun) by the Harare
Mambos, which encouraged people to take up arms and fight for their freedom.
"In this context, the opposition parties are the country’s perceived enemies
from whom the gains of the liberation struggle and the people’s freedoms are
supposed to be defended," MMPZ said.

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Party Set For Talks With Both Sides in Election Battle

Cape Argus (Cape Town)

15 April 2008
Posted to the web 15 April 2008

Boyd Webb, Peta Thornycroft, Sebastien Berger and Tanya Farber
Cape Town

The ANC is set to start talks with both Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change to try to stabilise the Zimbabwe situation as the
election crisis continues.

Announcing the decision, the ANC stopped short of criticising President
Thabo Mbeki's handling of the turmoil.

The decision emerged from the ANC's National Working Committee meeting in
the city yesterday.

It came as the crisis worsened:

  a.. An opposition activist was stabbed to death at his home in rural
Zimbabwe - the first murder of President Robert Mugabe's renewed terror
  a.. The Commercial Farmers Union warned that food "disaster" loomed as the
unleashing of Mugabe's "war veterans" to seize commercial farms brought
productivity almost to a standstill - two weeks before the wheat-planting
  a.. The MDC renewed its call to Zimbabweans to stay away from work until
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission released the results.

Explaining the ANC's decision yesterday to engage both sides in the Zimbabwe
election deadlock last night secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said: "This is
not a parallel process (to Mbeki's mediation), this is what we should be

Mantashe denied the move was a vote of no confidence in the government's
handling of the situation.

He said the working group meeting felt that there needed to be
"party-to-party" dialogue.

The ANC had reiterated its position that the will of the people must be
respected and that the results of the presidential election should be
released as soon as possible.

"In our view, talking of a runoff before releasing the results is actually
putting the cart before the horse," he said.

In order to avert a "disaster" in Zimbabwe, the results had to be released
very soon and the parties had to engage each other on how to move forward.

He said the ANC would be talking to the ruling Zanu-PF and the MDC as soon
as they were available.

Meanwhile Zanu-PF supporters were being blamed for the first murder of an
opposition activist since the crisis began.

A friend said Tapiwa Mbwada, an organiser for the MDC in the constituency of
Hurungwe East, about 160km north of Harare, had been stabbed to death.

Since the presidential election last month, about 100 supporters of the MDC
have been assaulted, with 29 being admitted to one Harare clinic on Saturday
afternoon alone.

Results for the presidential poll have still not been released 17 days after
the votes were cast.

The latest violence appears to have been organised by Zanu-PF to break the
MDC's morale, terrify its supporters and ensure victory for Mugabe if the
election goes to a second round.

A medical technician at a clinic in Harare said that injured people were
arriving steadily from all over Zimbabwe, particularly from Zanu-PF's old
strongholds in the north-east, near the Mozambique border.

With the country stuck in a political impasse caused by the ZEC's failure to
release the presidential results, the MDC had sought a court order
compelling the authorities to announce the outcome.

Yesterday in the Harare High Court, Mr Justice Tendai Uchena dismissed the
application with costs, ruling that the ZEC's reasons for more delay were
"legally valid".

Meanwhile police threatened anyone tempted to join the stayaway after the
renewed appeal by the MDC yesterday.

"As everyone is aware, the past stay-aways have been characterised by random
destruction of property and threats to life," said Wayne Bvudzijena, the
police spokesman.

"Those who breach the peace will be dealt with severely and firmly."

A food crisis is looming as the farm invasions cripple production.

Trevor Gifford, president of the Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe,
predicted yesterday that the harvest was "going to be a disaster and we
anticipate that Zimbabwe will run out of maize by mid-July".

While farmers should be preparing the land now to plant wheat crops, the
intimidation of farm labourers and the lack of security of land tenure were
making it impossible to do so, he said.

"Farmworkers are being beaten and intimidated, and farmers just don't know
if they're still going to be on the land from one day to the next," Gifford

Farmers say the police have been professional in their conduct, but that
"there is a new invasion taking place within four or five hours after the
police have left".

Gifford confirmed that two black-owned farms had been affected, but said the
campaign was to do with "rhetoric and racism".

"It is about ethnic cleansing and asset-stripping," he said, "and the main
purpose is to make sure nobody can produce an income."

In the process, however, the country faces a food disaster and thousands of
farm labourers face destitution.

In all regions - apart from Matebeleland and the Midlands - the invasions
have affected all farmers and labourers.

In one region, 300 farmworkers have had to seek shelter elsewhere because of
violence against them on the farms.

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Action needed to prevent Zimbabwe disaster - ANC


Tue 15 Apr 2008, 10:49 GMT

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Action is needed to avoid disaster in Zimbabwe and
regional leaders should push its authorities harder for the release of
delayed election results, South Africa's ruling ANC said on Tuesday.

A top official of the African National Congress said crisis was evident in
Zimbabwe, in sharp contrast to President Thabo Mbeki's position after talks
with President Robert Mugabe at the weekend that there is no crisis in

"We don't want to prophesize disaster, we don't want disaster, we think
pre-emptive action should be taken to avoid disaster," ANC treasurer general
Matthews Phosa was quoted as saying by SAPA news agency.

Results from Zimbabwe's March 29 presidential election have still not been
released. The opposition says it beat Mugabe and accuses him of holding up
publication to buy time to fight back. His ZANU-PF party lost control of
parliament in a parallel vote.

Phosa said regional leaders should do more to solve the stalemate.

"I think we should not delay. We should put more pressure on the government
of Zimbabwe and the electoral commission to release results to ensure the
voice of the people of Zimbabwe is heard."

Mbeki's critics say his cautious approach has failed.

The ANC's decision-making National Working Committee said after a meeting on
Monday that Zimbabwe's electoral deadlock showed the country was in a state
of crisis.

"The ANC regards ZANU-PF as an ally. However it is concerned with the state
of crisis that Zimbabwe is in and perceives this as negative for the entire
Southern African Development Community region," ANC spokeswoman Jesse Duarte
said after the committee meeting.

ANC leader Jacob Zuma, who defeated Mbeki for the party leadership last
December, has also called for the results to be released. Zuma is the
frontrunner to succeed Mbeki as president when he steps down next year.
Their relations are frosty.

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Protesters Clash With Police And Army During Stayaway

SW Radio Africa (London)

15 April 2008
Posted to the web 15 April 2008

Lance Guma

A muted response to a call for a stayaway by the MDC was punctuated by
sporadic clashes between police, army and opposition protesters on Tuesday.

Although many businesses opened as usual around the country MDC youths in
several suburbs like Budiriro, Highfields, Dzivaresekwa, Mufakose, Glen View
and Warren Park D barricaded roads and blocked public transport operators
from picking up workers going to work. The MDC called the stayaway in an
effort to pressure Mugabe's regime to release results of the March 29
presidential election. Seventeen days after the poll the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, under orders from Zanu PF, has refused to do so.

Although there were no injuries several buses were burnt and gunshots were
fired by police during Tuesday's skirmishes. MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa
confirmed the clashes but declined to give details saying they were still
compiling their reports. Newsreel spoke to Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
spokesman Macdonald Lewanika, who gave a break down of the incidents. In the
early hours of the morning disgruntled youths burnt down a bus in Warren
Park D. Another partially burnt bus was seen in Highfields. Angry youths
barricaded roads with stones and other objects and blocked transporters from
carrying people.

In Glen View and Dzivaresekwa several buses were stoned for defying the
stayaway. Lewanika said a good number of shops and businesses in Harare were
shut down in the morning but opened later in the day. People he spoke to
said they were unaware of the stayaway and would have heeded the call if
they knew.

With unemployment at over 80 percent and most people self-employed,
stayaway's are never easy. Those interviewed by Newsreel said no one can
save money because of the inflation and so people rely on day-to-day
transactions to feed their families. 'Just one day of closing my workshop
for a stayaway will cause immense suffering for my family, let alone several
days of a stayaway,' one carpenter told us. Others simply refused to take
the risk of losing their jobs.

It was however not all doom and gloom for the MDC as some businesses,
factories and shops around the country closed their premises. Fearing
violence good number of public transporters took their vehicles off the
road. Long snaking queues in areas like Chitungwiza could be seen as some
workers, fearing reprisals from the government, tried to go to work as
usual. 'The opposition might have won the election and have the support of
the people but Zanu PF have all the guns,' remarked one analyst. Adding to
the intimidation, thousands of armed soldiers and police were deployed

A report on the website says police in Mutare, armed
with AK rifles, teargas canisters and baton sticks, patrolled the suburbs
there. The website says the presence of 10 Chinese soldiers staying at a
local Holiday Inn has created quite a stir. The Chinese are staying there
with around 70 Zimbabwe National Army soldiers. 'We were shocked to see
Chinese soldiers in their full military regalia and armed with pistols
checking in at the hotel,' said one worker. 'When they signed checking-in
forms they did not indicate the nature of the business that they are doing
or their addresses.' No official comment has been given on their presence

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South Africa's ruling ANC warn their country is being damaged by Zimbabwe crisis

Daily Mail, UK

Last updated at 17:42pm on 15th April 2008

South Africa's ruling ANC today went against President Thabo Mbeki by
warning the crisis in Zimbabwe was damaging their country.

Mbeki, who has long pursued "quiet diplomacy" in Zimbabwe and adopted a
wait-and-see approach after the poll, said before a summit of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) at the weekend he saw no crisis in the
neighbouring country.

But a statement by the ANC's executive National Working Committee said it
"regards the situation in Zimbabwe as dire, with negative consequences for
the SADC region".

It called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which has failed to release
the results of the March 29 presidential poll, to announce the outcome
"without further delay", adding, "to hold a run-off vote when the election
results are not known would be undemocratic and unprecedented."

The ANC committee said Mbeki, defeated as ANC leader by Jacob Zuma last
December, must remain neutral as a regional mediator.

Zuma is the frontrunner to succeed Mbeki as president when he steps down
next year. Relations between the two men have been frosty since Mbeki sacked
Zuma as his deputy in 2005.

Zuma's victory in the ANC leadership contest has raised concerns that Mbeki
will become a lame duck president, undercutting his efforts to tackle
widespread crime, poverty, a severe AIDS epidemic and damaging electricity

Another senior ANC leader also took a stand contrasting with Mbeki's
position on Tuesday, saying regional leaders needed to push Zimbabwean
authorities harder for the release of the results.

"We don't want to prophesize disaster, we don't want disaster, we think
pre-emptive action should be taken to avoid disaster," ANC Treasurer General
Matthews Phosa was quoted as saying by SAPA news agency.

Mbeki reiterated at the weekend that time was needed for Zimbabwean
electoral officials to release the results. Results from Zimbabwe's
presidential election have still not been released.

The opposition says it beat Mugabe and accuses him of holding up publication
to buy time to fight back. His ZANU-PF party lost control of parliament in a
parallel vote.

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Opposition turning up the heat

Patience is wearing thin
HARARE, 15 April 2008 (IRIN) - A call for an indefinite stayaway by Zimbabwe's opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, had a mixed response on 15 April, the day protest action began.

Most private commuter operators withheld their transport but resumed normal operations by midmorning, when most businesses in the capital, Harare, opened their doors after adopting a wait-and-see approach.

"I could not put on a suit because I was afraid that I could be harassed by people who might have thought that I was betraying them," a public relations consultant, who identified himself only as "John", told IRIN.

"The truth of the matter is that I support the stayaway, but my boss is a ZANU-PF supporter and I fear being victimised." About half of his colleagues had said they could not come to work because there was no transport.

The MDC's call to informal traders to refrain from business was doomed from the start, although youths forced some vendors to pack up their stalls.

''I am in support of the call to have the results of the presidential election made known, for we are in a state of anxiety, but the stomach comes first''
"I am in support of the call to have the results of the presidential election made known, for we are in a state of anxiety, but the stomach comes first. As an informal trader, the sole breadwinner in my family, the quandary is between running around to sell my second-hand clothes and being seated at home to show solidarity with the MDC," Tariro Chiwewete, 40, a single mother of three, told IRIN.

"I think [President] Mugabe and his lieutenants know that their time is over and are just trying to provoke people to stage mass protests so that they can find a reason to stay in power. How else can one explain their reluctance to announce the results? It shows they have been beaten," she said.

The MDC is adopting a more militant stance against Mugabe's ZANU-PF government over its refusal to release the results of the presidential poll on 29 March.

A time for destiny

A High Court petition by the MDC to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to publish the results was dismissed with costs on 14 April; in response the MDC has turned to its urban strongholds and called for an indefinite mass stayaway.

In a statement on 14 April the MDC said: "For over two weeks since 29 March, ZEC is failing to release the presidential poll results, a situation that has caused an electoral impasse, as the people of Zimbabwe who voted in their millions have been waiting patiently for the results."

The statement said the time was ripe for Zimbabweans to take "destiny into their own hands as the ZANU-PF regime is not letting them have peace and democracy", and urged workers, businesspeople and informal traders to stay at home until the ZEC released the presidential results.

The MDC insists that according to results published outside each polling station, their leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the presidential poll by the required 50 percent plus one vote, negating the need for a second round of voting.

The ZEC has announced senatorial and parliamentary election results, in which the ruling ZANU-PF lost its majority in parliament for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980.

After publishing these results, the electoral commission secretly moved its national command centre in Harare, and has argued that the delay was a consequence of it collating and verifying the presidential ballots.

The commission has heeded a call by ZANU-PF to recount votes in 23 constituencies where it claims Mugabe was cheated of votes. The recount will take place on 19 April, even though the High Court ordered the recount to be stopped, according to local reports.

The ZEC parliamentary results gave Tsvangirai's MDC 96 seats while Mugabe's  ZANU-PF secured 94. A breakaway faction of the MDC garnered nine seats while ZANU-PF's former minister of information, Jonathan Moyo, who ran as an independent, won his seat.

The MDC described the 29 March elections as a referendum for "food, jobs and a better Zimbabwe", and said "a shocked ZANU-PF regime has failed to come to terms with the defeat and is doing everything in its power in order to subvert the people of Zimbabwe's will."

The police, who have banned demonstrations, said in a statement responding to the stayaway that "the call by the MDC Tsvangirai faction is aimed at disturbing peace and will be resisted firmly by the law enforcement agents, whose responsibility is to maintain law and order in any part of the country."

On the eve of the stayaway police patrolled the capital's suburbs in riot gear and on the day police trucks cruised the streets, with the police chanting revolutionary songs and beating the sides of their vehicles with batons in an in an apparent show of force.

Labour unions may join stayaway

Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), a militant labour federation that has also urged the ZEC to speedily release the results of the presidential vote, warned that his organisation might join the stayaway call.

"This [mass stayaway] seems the most immediate option that the MDC has after all the other gentlemanly strategies: going to court, approaching SADC [Southern African Development Community] and talking to ZEC, failed," Matombo told IRIN.

''Government might take advantage of a seemingly docile population and declare everything in its favour, but the time will come when we will pour into the streets and show them that we cannot be taken for granted''
"Adopting militancy is a potent strategy in our given circumstances, and my personal feeling is that the MDC took too long to realise that it should effectively use the urban voter as a vehicle to push the government to accept the importance of publicising the results," he commented.

Matombo said the delay in announcing the results was pushing the country "towards an explosion and chaos", and vowed that the ZCTU "would not sit back and watch as the political situation degenerates".

"Government might take advantage of a seemingly docile population and declare everything in its favour, but the time will come when we will pour into the streets and show them that we cannot be taken for granted," Matombo said.



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

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Tsvangirai warms to run-off as strike flops

Mail and Guardian

Godfrey Marawanyika | Harare, Zimbabwe

15 April 2008 08:53

      The Zimbabwe opposition's campaign to force the release of
results from last month's presidential election suffered a fresh blow on
Tuesday when a call for a general strike went largely unheeded.

      Despite the stay-away call by the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), most shops and services were open for business as usual and an
initial heavy security presence was eased as it became apparent the job
boycott had flopped.

      The MDC had called for workers to stay at home indefinitely
after the High Court on Monday rejected its petition calling on the
electoral commission to declare the outcome immediately of the March 29

      Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims he beat President
Robert Mugabe (84) outright, but the ruling party says neither man won a
clear victory and insists a run-off will be needed.

      Tsvangirai, who had previously ruled out his participation in a
second ballot, rowed back from that position on Tuesday and indicated he
would be prepared to compete if international observers oversee the polls.

      In an interview with South Africa's independent channel,
Tsvangirai (56) accused Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF of trying to lay the
groundwork for a run-off that would be fixed in his favour.

      "I can tell you honestly that we will not be part of that unless
a new electoral environment is assured with the participation of SADC [the
Southern African Development Community], participation of the international
community," said the opposition leader.

      At an emergency summit in Lusaka at the weekend, SADC offered to
send an observer mission for any run-off, but stopped short of criticising
the poll result delay or Mugabe's government.

       Normal day
      After the double-blow of the soft SADC statement and the
rejection of its legal bid, the opposition had hoped its strike call would
re-energise efforts to put pressure on the veteran strongman.

      But with few people prepared to risk a day's wages and police
vowing to deal severely with any unrest, Harare had the air of a normal
working day with long queues at banks and supermarkets where customers lined
up to buy bread.

      Malvern Konde, a broker with a Harare-based insurance firm, said
the strike call had been poorly coordinated between the MDC and the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). "If they [MDC] had joined forces with the
ZCTU and other civic groups, it would make an impact," said Konde.

      It was a similar situation in the second city and traditional
opposition stronghold of Bulawayo. But, again here, most shops were open.

      Martha Sibanda, who runs a second-hand clothes store in
Bulawayo, opened for business with a heavy heart. "I voted and want to know
the result, but if I stay away indefinitely, then what is my family going to

      The muted response was not unexpected given that previous
general strikes had not been widely observed.

       With inflation running at well more than 100 000% and
unemployment above 80%, few of those still in work can afford to see their
salaries docked.

      The opposition has been wary of calling its supporters on to the
streets after previous protests have been brutally repressed. Tsvangirai was
one of several senior opposition figures who were arrested and assaulted by
the security services while trying to attend a rally in Harare in March last

      Police had warned they would deal "severely and firmly" with any
unrest this time around and deployed reinforcements around the country.

      A police statement on Tuesday afternoon said three people had
been wounded in attacks that included the torching of one passenger bus and
the stoning of another in Harare.

      Tensions have been steadily mounting in the Southern African
nation over the poll. The opposition said two of its members were killed by
Mugabe supporters over the weekend in politically motivated murders.

      The MDC on Monday launched a court bid to challenge the result
of 60 seats won by Zanu-PF in the simultaneous legislative election.

      It is also contesting a decision by the electoral commission to
recount 23 constituencies on Saturday, a development that could see the
ruling party overturn the opposition's slim parliamentary majority. -- 

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Zimbabwe opposition says international community would have to oversee runoff

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: April 15, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's opposition says it will only participate in a
runoff presidential vote if the international community administers the

A spokesman for opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai says the long delay
in releasing results from the March 29 vote shows that the Zimbabwe
electoral commission has "no capacity to run any credible election" and
therefore should not be allowed to oversee a second round.

Tsvangirai spokesman George Sibotshiwe said Tuesday that the candidate would
consider a runoff if a tally verified by both parties and the Southern
African Development Community shows no candidate won more than 50 percent of
the vote.

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Zimbabwe--Mbeki, time to act

Dear friends,

The Zimbabwe crisis is spinning even further out of control, but the international response is gaining steam.

In less than a week, more than 120,000 people from 215 countries and territories--including thousands from across Africa--have signed the Avaaz petition demanding the release of the election results. On Wednesday, as world leaders enter the United Nations for a special summit chaired by South Africa, a plane hired by Avaaz will soar above them pulling a massive aerial banner reading "MBEKI: TIME TO ACT--DEMOCRACY FOR ZIMBABWE."

To make this message count, can you help us reach 150,000 signatures by the end of the day? Forward this email to your friends and family, and urge them to sign the petition at this link:

Yesterday, the Zimbabwe High Court ruled against requiring the immediate release of the results of the March 29 Presidential election. In response, opposition called for a nationwide strike, and Mugabe deployed police throughout the country.[1]

All of this came just after South African President Thabo Mbeki--who, more than anyone else in the world, could influence Mugabe's actions--said on Saturday that "there is no crisis in Zimbabwe."[2]

But Mbeki isn't off the hook just yet. Tomorrow (Wednesday), he will chair a special United Nations Security Council meeting, where diplomats have promised to raise the Zimbabwe crisis.[3] If he looks up as he enters the United Nations headquarters, Mbeki will see a 280 square metre (3000 square foot) banner amplifying the voices of Avaaz members around the world--and if he doesn't see it then, you can be sure he'll see it in the newspapers the next day. International press have already begun to report on the planned fly-over of the banner.

Throughout the day, Avaaz will update reporters in Southern Africa and at the United Nations on the growth of the petition. If all of us forward this email to friends, co-workers, and relatives, we can add tens of thousands of new signatures in one day, and show Mbeki and Mugabe that the world is watching--and supporting the people of Zimbabwe as they demand democracy.

It's easy to sign at this link:

This Friday, the 18th of April, marks Zimbabwe's Day of Independence from colonial rule. Amidst the worsening poverty and danger, civil society organisations across Zimbabwe are gearing up for nonviolent resistance to Mugabe's regime, calling for local actions and urging supporters to wear white in solidarity. And Zimbabwean media organisations--many now operating outside the borders--are broadcasting news about the international support that Zimbabwe's people are receiving.

Mugabe was once the hero of Zimbabwe's liberation. Now his own people embody the principles he once championed. For those of us around the world, it is our privilege and our responsibility to stand with them.

With hope,

Ben, Ricken, Galit, Paul, Milena, Graziela, Pascal, Iain, and Milena--the team

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Three days of protest outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, London - 17-19 April


Exiled Zimbabweans and supporters are taking part in three days of
demonstrations outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London in protest at the
rigging of the Zimbabwe elections.

1.   Thursday, 17th April, 10 am - 4 pm.  MDC UK is gathering outside the
Embassy in protest over Mugabe's undemocratic clinging to power. For more
information contact: Jaison Matewu 07816 619 788, Owen Mtombeni 07780 544

2.   Friday, 18th April, 12.30 - 2 pm. Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) is
calling on supporters to demonstrate for democracy on Zimbabwe's
Independence Day.  For more information visit:  ACTSA
will be supported by the trade unions and would really like Vigil support to
make it a Zimbabwean protest.  We will be there with our banners.

3.   Saturday, 19th April, 2 - 6 pm. The Vigil will be protesting about the
planned recounting of Parlliamentary and Presidential votes by Zanu PF.  We
will be relaunching our petition calling on EU governments to suspend aid to
SADC countries and instead finance the starving in Zimbabwe.  The Vigil's
musicians will be taking centre stage. We will have with us Lucky Moyo of
Black Umfolozi fame who has made a special request to Zimbabwean musicians
in the UK to come to the Vigil and 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". His call has been echoed by Willard Karanga,
formerly of Thomas Mapfumo's band, who will also be with us. The event will
be covered by SW Radio Africa.

The Mugabe regime is unleashing a new campaign of terror and violence on the
people of Zimbabwe.
Every day Mugabe remains in power is one more day of suffering.


Further information: Contact Rose Benton (07970 996 003, 07932 193 467),
Dumi Tutani (07960 039 775), Ephraim Tapa (07940 793 090)

Vigil Co-ordinators

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.

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General Notice on Vote Recount

From: Veritas <>

Extract from BILL WATCH 15/2008 [12th April 2008]

GN 58A/2008 dated Saturday 12th April : "It is hereby notified, in terms of
section 67A of the Electoral Act that the Commission [ZEC] being of the
opinion that reasonable grounds exist for believing that a miscount of votes
occurred that would have affected the result of the elections concerned, has
ordered that a recount in respect of the Presidential, House of Assembly,
Senatorial and local authority elections be undertaken at the constituency
centres, dates and times indicated in the Schedule in respect of the votes
polled at all polling stations that were counted at the Scheduled
constituency centres."  Signed by Justice Chiweshe chairperson of ZEC
Note the date given for all the recounts is 19th April at 8 am.  For the
list of the 23 constituencies see below.   The Schedule gives the locations
of the counting centres.

Update on Elections
Vote recounts
Section 67A of the Electoral Act permits any political party or candidate
who contested the election to ask ZEC for a recount of votes in one or more
polling stations in a ward or constituency.  The request must be made within
48 hours of the declaration of the winning candidate.
Zanu PF made a request for a recount in 22 constituencies.  ZEC ordered
recounting of the votes cast for these constituencies for all four
elections - local authority, House of Assembly, Senatorial and Presidential
and these were due to start in several constituencies on the 12th April.
MDC went to court to stop these on the evening of the 11th April on the
grounds of lack of notice, lack of transparency and that a political party
should not request a premature recount of Presidential votes. There was an
order by consent stopping these recounts.  [Note: a different point in the
MDC application - that there should not be any of these recounts at all -
will be heard on Tuesday 15th by Judge Guvava.]
But, ZEC can also order a recount on its own initiative [no time limit
stated] independent of parties requests [and this was not disputed in the
order by consent referred to above].  According to GN 58A and ZEC
advertisements ZEC is preparing for a ZEC-initiated recount on the 19th
April.  Accredited observers, candidates and their representatives are
entitled to be present.
Breakdown of the 23 constituencies by province:  Manicaland 3 [Buhera South,
Chimanimani West, Mutare West]; Mashonaland East 1 [Goromonzi East];
Mashonaland West 1 [Zvimba North]; Masvingo 9 [Bikita South, Bikita West,
Zaka West, Chiredzi North, Masvingo Central, Masvingo West, Gutu Central,
Gutu North, Gutu South]; Matabeleland North 1 [Lupane East];  Matabeleland
South 1 [Bulilima East]; Midlands 7 [Zhombe, Silobela, Gokwe-Kabuyuni,
Mberengwa East, Mberengwa West, Mberengwa North, Mberengwa South].
Note:  Nothing in section 67A expressly provides for changing the previously
declared result of an election if a recount produces a different result from
the original count.  Some lawyers have interpreted this as meaning that only
the Electoral Court has jurisdiction to unseat a previously declared winner
on the strength of a recount.  But, going by the ZEC recount advertisements,
ZEC envisage that if a recount produces a different winner in a council,
House of Assembly or Senate poll, that winner will be declared duly elected
on the spot, thereby unseating the previously declared winner.  In other
words, ZEC regard the declaration of a new winner in those circumstances as
necessarily implied part of the recount.
Presidential election results
ZEC has still not declared the results of the Presidential election.  The
MDC have applied to the High Court for an order obliging ZEC to announce the
result promptly.
During the week High Court judge Uchena:
·  accepted jurisdiction in the case
·  agreed to treat the matter as urgent, and
·  proceeded to hear argument on the merits
Judgment is expected to be delivered on Monday 14th April.

Storage of Ballot Papers
There has been concern expressed about the lack of transparency about
storage of ballot papers.  Section 70 of the Electoral Act states that once
votes have been counted at polling stations, ballot papers and related
documents are placed in sealed packets and delivered to the constituency
elections officer.  The constituency elections officer stores these in
places designated by the Chief Elections Officer.
Destruction of ballot papers.
The Electoral Act [section 70] states that unless an election petition [a
court application before the Electoral Court] is lodged, the ballot papers
and related documents can be destroyed 14 days after the end of the
"election period".  The Act says nothing about a ZEC recount order freezing
the provision for the destruction of ballot papers and related documents.
But as there can be no recount without ballot papers the ZEC recount order
necessarily requires the preservation of ballot papers, at least of the
constituencies involved.

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take
legal responsibility for information supplied.

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Head of NGO that placed Mugabe second in election arrested

Monsters and Critics

Apr 15, 2008, 11:52 GMT

Harare - Police in Zimbabwe Tuesday arrested the director of a non-profit
election observation organization that had placed President Robert Mugabe
second in last month's presidential elections.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava was
arrested on arrival from Britain via Johannesburg at Harare international
airport, ZESN chairman Noel Kututwa said.

'We have just been told about the arrest. We are still trying to find out
what exactly has happened and why she was arrested,' he told Deutsche
Presse-Agentur dpa.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said he would comment later on the

ZESN produced an estimate, from a sample of the results, showing opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai topping the
poll in March 29 elections with 49.4 per cent of the vote against 41.8 for
Mugabe and 8.2 per cent for former finance minister Simba Makoni.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has not yet released the official results
of the election.

If no candidate takes more than 50 per cent of the vote the two top
contenders must enter a runoff.

The ZESN estimate contained a margin of error of 2.4 per cent.

The MDC claims Tsvangirai won outright.

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MDC Activists Storm Embassy in London

SW Radio Africa (London)

15 April 2008
Posted to the web 15 April 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

A group of MDC activists in the UK stormed their way into the Zimbabwe
Embassy on the Strand in London on Tuesday, demanding that the staff vacate
the premises because Mugabe lost the elections on March 29th.

The activists forced their way past the lobby area and began shouting and
singing that Mugabe must go. It later turned out that they were members of
the MDC-UK women's wing, led by Judith Ngwenya.

Ngwenya said they managed to sneak inside the building after the security
guard went to find out some information that they had asked for. Once inside
they waited for media crews that they had tipped off. "We started singing
and took down the photo of Robert Mugabe and told the staff the office was
ours since we won the election", said Ngwenya.

The MDC-UK leader said that they carried placards accusing South Africa's
President Thabo Mbeki of helping Mugabe to rig the elections and to rape and
murder Zimbabweans. Other placards demanded that the electoral commission
release the results of the presidential election.

The police arrived and took no action to arrest them. According to Ngwenya
they just ordered the group to demonstrate outside the building, which they
did before dispersing.

Jaison Matewu, the MDC-UK organising secretary, was also at the scene. He
said about 8 police vehicles and many journalists from the international
media arrived. MDC members outside the Embassy argued with police who were
trying to clear the area. Their point was that the Embassy no longer
belonged to the staff inside the building, but to the newly elected MDC
officials who were voted in on March 29.

"This is our embassy!" one activist was heard explaining to the police.

Zimbabwean embassies have become the target of protests around the world.
And more protests are planned in the coming days and weeks.

In the UK there is a 3-day campaign of demonstrations planned to take place
outside the Embassy in London. All Zimbabweans from around the UK and
supporters of democracy are being urged to take part to make sure the
message is heard that Zimbabweans want results announced.

A function coordinated by the MDC-UK begins the protests on Thursday from
10:00am to 4:00 pm. The MDC-UK organisers said they are protesting Mugabe's
undemocratic clinging on to power.

On Friday, Zimbabwe's Independence Day, Action for Southern Africa makes
their contribution with a protest from 12:30pm to 2:00 pm. They are calling
on supporters to demonstrate for democracy on this special day. ACTSA will
be supported by trade unions and vigil members will also be there.

On Saturday the Vigil team return to the Zim Embassy, re-launching their
petition that calls on EU governments to suspend aid to SADC countries. They
want the funds to finance the starving in Zimbabwe instead. Special guest
Lucky Moyo of Black Umfolozi fame will be urging Zimbabwean musicians in the
UK to come and speak out on the situation back home. Lucky is quoted as
saying: "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". Willard Karanga, formerly of Thomas Mapfumo's
band, will also join the protests on Saturday when musicians take centre

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Retribution Against MDC Activists Spreads Countrywide

SW Radio Africa (London)

15 April 2008
Posted to the web 15 April 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

Post-election reprisals against MDC activists have spread to nearly every
corner of the country, amid reports that the cycle of attacks and
retributions are being orchestarted by security forces.

The violence has escalated dramatically since last week as ruling Zanu-PF
party militias, with the help of army units, has intensified it's reprisal
campaign in the rural areas. Areas hardest hit by the violence are Mudzi
East, Gutu, Makoni South Masvingo, Karoi, Mutoko, Hwange, and Lupane.

In Gutu district Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, the MP for Gutu South said
there are army units in each of the constituencies openly brutalizing the
electorate. He said the military and political agents of Zanu-PF were
beating up people. Gutu in Masvingo province is one of the areas in the
country that was once a formidable stronghold for Zanu PF. But in last
months' election four out of the five constituencies were won by the MDC.

Until late last week, tension was high across the country caused by the
delays by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release results for the
presidential vote. Now that tension has turned into government sponsored
violence as gangs of youth militias and war veterans, armed with sticks,
stones, clubs and knives set alight homes belonging to MDC activists. In one
night alone in Makoni South, 500 MDC activists were forced to flee their
homes when militias, led by a well known war veteran, moved from house to
house indiscriminately beating up people.

Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC MP for the area described the attacks as

'The government is waging a war against defenceless people here in
Manicaland. This is serious and I fear it would explode into a full scale
attack on all known MDC activists,' the MP said.

A statement released by the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
said that since the 29th March until now they have treated 157 cases of
injury resulting from organised violence and torture. Nine of the victims
suffered sustained fractures of both arms and legs.

'As of midday today April 15th, 30 of these patients remain in hospital. One
third of the patients are women, including a 15 year old girl who was
abducted with her mother from her home, made to lie on her front and beaten
on her buttocks. Her mother, who is pregnant, was similarly beaten. Both
mother and daughter required hospital admission,' the statement said.

In Masvingo, a 300 strong Zanu-PF gang led revenge attacks on communities
suspected of supporting the MDC. A headman in Gurajena was attacked by Zanu
PF thugs on accusations that he influenced the people in the village to vote
for Morgan Tsvangirai.

The gang broke the headman's door and started beating him and his wife with
metal and wooden sticks. Gurajena lost two front teeth and is currently
nursing a broken rib. His wife has fractures on both legs.

Gurajena fled into the bush where he spent the whole night, before being
evacuated together with his wife and a third person we could not identify by
name. The three are receiving treatment in Harare.

The MDC has identified some of the attackers as Wungeni Majani, Navhaya (who
contested as a Zanu PF councillor) and wife Claretti, Jetro Chikomo,
Vesaimoto Nicholas, a Mrs Sitima and two family members named as Ethel and

In Mudzi Mashonaland East, twelve people were critically injured after being
beaten up. The 12 were accused of voting for the MDC because they declined
to declare themselves handicapped so that they could be assisted in the
voting by the ruling party loyalists. Their names were recorded during the
elections and they were threatened that they would be dealt with afterwards.

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Zim doctors for human rights on upsurge of violence

Statement on Upsurge in Cases of Organised Violence and Torture

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights

15 April 2008

Since the election on March 29th, up to the end of April 14th, members of
the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) have seen and
treated 157 cases of injury resulting from organised violence and torture.
As of midday today April 15th, 30 of these patients remain in hospital.

One third of the patients are women, including a 15 year old girl who was
abducted with her mother from her home, made to lie on her front and beaten
on her buttocks. Her mother, who is pregnant, was similarly beaten. Both
mother and daughter required hospital admission.

The provinces where the injuries were sustained include Manicaland,
Mashonaland East and West, and Masvingo. Of the 30 hospitalised patients, 15
are from Mudzi.

The commonest injury observed was extensive soft tissue injury of the
buttocks. This results from prolonged beating with a hard blunt object. The
obvious visible sign is extensive bruising but there is often substantial
damage to tissues under the skin including muscle. Muscle destruction of
this nature can result in severe kidney problems.

Nine patients sustained fractures (broken bones), almost all of the arms
(ulna and/or radius) and/or the hands (metacarpals and/or phalanges). One
man, who also had multiple abrasions of his back, had fractures of both
right and left radius, left ulna, and the 3rd and 4th metacarpals of his
right hand. These fractures are typical of "defence injuries", resulting
from the victim raising his or her hands and arms to protect the face and
upper body from assault. One patient had a compound fracture of the left
lower leg (tibia) resulting from assault hard blunt object, directed at all
parts of his body. "Compound" means that broken bone is protruding through
the skin.

ZADHR condemns the upsurge in violence recorded in the two weeks post the
March 2008 Elections which has impacted severely on the individuals
affected. Some of the individuals sustained injuries that can lead to severe
permanent disability. We call upon:

All political parties to cease the use of intimidation, violence and torture
as a form of retribution or victimisation
All health professionals to provide injured persons with the highest
possible standard of care regardless of their political affiliation.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police to take urgent measures to prevent further acts
of violence occurring.
SADC, the AU and the UN to engage with all stakeholders in Zimbabwe with a
view to bringing the current escalation in the crisis to an end.

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Zimbabwe's hunger deepens as election crisis bites

Reuters AlertNet

15 Apr 2008 09:15:00 GMT

Written by: Busani Bafana
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or
for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

Abel Ndlovu, a subsistence farmer in the heart of Zimbabwe's Lupane
District, is one of the lucky ones. He harvested 2 tonnes of maize this last
season, and his homestead has become something of a beacon of hope for the
hungry from miles around.

One man in his 60s trudged more than two days to reach Ndlovu's farm with
two heifers he planned to exchange for bags of grain. Another woman brought
three free-range chickens to trade.

Their stories of hunger are revealing.

"You should see what we eat in our homes," said Ethel Sibanda, 55. "I
haven't eaten isitshwala (a thick porridge made from maize meal) for a long
time now. My family and I have relied on wild fruit and kernels of the
amarula tree. We last received maize in my area in November."

As Zimbabwe waits anxiously for the delayed results of its presidential
election, the country's worst humanitarian crisis since independence is

Some 83 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. Hunger is
endemic. More than 4 million vulnerable people in rural areas hit by grain
shortages have been receiving food aid through the U.N. World Food
Programme. Aid operations have been scaled up ahead of the "hunger season"
during the first quarter of 2008.

Food shortages have also hit critical levels in urban areas where supplies
of basic commodities are insufficient or erratic and humanitarian assistance
limited, according to the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

Many factors are to blame for the hunger crisis. Zimbabwe has arguably the
world's highest inflation rate at more than 100,000 percent. This has pushed
food prices beyond the reach of many as the government struggles to boost
grain imports to head off mass starvation - a task made harder by limited
foreign currency.

From Haiti to Bangladesh, soaring food and fuel prices on global markets
have triggered backlashes as more people go hungry. In Zimbabwe, emotions
are also running high.

In the heart of Matabeleland North province, an area with one of the
country's worst food shortages, many villagers are still reeling from a
devastating drought in 2006/07.

Some blame the government for delaying grain deliveries through Grain
Marketing Board depots. Others voice concern over the tremendous distances
they have to travel on bad roads to receive food aid, mostly from
international relief organisations.

Very few villagers have been able to harvest more than five bags of maize,
Zimbabwe's staple crop. But in some areas there is a fine crop of sorghum
and finger millet, drought-tolerant grains that are considered inferior to
maize although they are highly nutritious and make a difference during
drought years such as 2007.

In the run-up to Zimbabwe's watershed elections late last month, relief
agencies cut back on their programmes. They are still awaiting clarity on
the country's political future before resuming operations.

"We are concerned about the impact of the current political situation on the
humanitarian aid programmes in the country," said Fambai Ngirande, spokesman
for the National Association of Non-governmental Organisations (NANGO).

"A number of our members have not been able to resume full-scale operations
since suspending them in the run-up to the elections for fear of the
politicisation of food aid, but now the impasse over the presidential
elections results has not helped a desperate humanitarian situation."

Ngirande said some members of his association were carrying out targeted
feeding of vulnerable groups such as under-fives, widows and people living
with HIV/AIDS. Zimbabwe - once celebrated as Africa's bread basket - has
become a food deficit state.

Church World Service (CWS), a U.S.-based humanitarian group, is continuing
efforts to alleviate food shortages in Zimbabwe. Late last year, CWS issued
a two-pronged appeal to assist its Christian partners in Zimbabwe, aiming to
make food immediately available to vulnerable households and help them
develop sustainable farming.

"The emergency component of the programme has been implemented over a period
of five months, ending this month, while the recovery component is being
implemented over a period of 12 months ending in November 2008," said CWS
communication officer Chris Herlinger.

"The focus continues to be on the southern Zimbabwe districts of Chivi,
Mwenezi, Zvishavane, Mberengwa, Gwanda, and Beitbridge, rural areas affected
by drought and populated by subsistence farmers.

"General economic decline, inadequacy of rainfall, and infertile soils in
the districts has resulted in poor crop harvests, which affect the food
security situation in the areas."

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MDC legal challenge deferred


    April 15 2008 at 07:32PM

Harare - Zimbabwe's High Court on Tuesday deferred hearing a legal
challenge by the main opposition party against a recount of ballots in the
disputed March 29 elections.

Justice Antonia Guvava said she needed time to go through a judgement
delivered on Monday by another judge in the same court, which rejected an
opposition bid to force the release of presidential election results.

"In order for me to deal more effectively with the application, I
would like to read the judgement by Justice (Tendai) Uchena," she told a
brief session held in her chambers.

She also needed time to consider if the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) could file fresh evidence, which was not part of the original

 "I...want to determine whether or not I will allow supplementary
affidavits," she added.

The MDC is challenging the recount of parliamentary elections ordered
by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Commission (ZEC) for next Saturday, which
it believes is designed to reverse the outcome of the legislative elections.

ZEC says it has "reasonable grounds for believing that the votes were
miscounted and that the miscount would affect the results of this election."

The ruling party, which lost its majority in parliament in the March
29 poll, claimed some ZEC officers were bribed to count votes in favour of
the opposition. - Sapa-AFP

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Chinese soldiers in on patrol in Mutare

By Our Correspondent

MUTARE, April 15, 2008 ( - Residents of the eastern
border city of Mutare were shocked by the spectacle of uniformed Chinese
soldiers patrolling the city centre along with Zimbabwean security forces.
About 10 Chinese soldiers all carrying revolvers, were part of a heavy
security deployment in the city centre. While the situation in the city was
generally calm, as residents went about their normal business despite the
call by the opposition to stage a strike, policemen, all armed with AK
rifles, teargas canisters and baton sticks and some driving around in water
canons, patrolled the poorer residential areas of the city.

The Chinese soldiers, along with about 70 Zimbabwean senior army officers
are booked in the Holiday Inn, in the city centre.

“We were shocked to see Chinese soldiers in full military regalia and armed
with pistols checking into the hotel,” said a hotel employee.

Meanwhile, the incidence of violence targeting opposition supporters is
escalating in Manicaland Province, prompting the MDC to make an urgent
appeal for tents and relief food supplies to assist hundreds of displaced
people in the rural areas.

Patrick Chitaka, the MDC chairman in Manicaland Province, says the party
requires, as a matter of urgency thousands of tents, food packs and medical
supplies to assist thousands of MDC supporters who have been displaced in
rural Manicaland.

The MDC says about 200 people have been beaten up while more than 1000 have
been displaced by the violence.

“The violence has now spread throughout the province,” Chitaka said. “It’s a
disaster and that’s how the Darfur crisis started. We have reports of
systematic violence against our supporters. Apart from beating up people
they are now burning houses. We are going to have thousands of internally
displaced people if the situation is not contained fast.”

Chitaka spoke as ZimRights, a human rights watchdog, also raised concerns
over the spreading violence with MDC supporters as targets.

Reverend Stephen Maengamhuru, the ZimRights’ regional officer, told a post
election workshop held in this eastern border city on Monday that hundreds
of MDC supporters were sleeping in the open in Chipinge and Mutare South
because they fear spending the night in their own homes.

The MDC and human rights organisations blame the violence on security agents
and members of the military who were angered by the reported loss of
President Mugabe to the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

“We now have a situation where people sleep out in the open because they
fear spending the night in their homes,” Rev Maengamhuru said.

The MDC, on the other hand, said violence had now spread to Chipinge,
Nyanga, Marange and the farming communities of Burma Valley, Mutasa South
and Chimanimani.

The MDC chairman, Chitaka, said the most disturbing aspect was that the
police were arresting MDC supporters instead of protecting them. About 50
huts belonging to MDC supporters had been burned on a farm about 20 km west
of the city forcing 103 people to flee into the bush.

The MDC supporters fled from EnVant Farm after a war veteran identified as
Muniya set their huts on fire around 4 pm on Monday.

Some of the affected people have lived on the farm for up to 30 years. The
farm was allocated to Muniya, during the chaotic land reform programme in
2000. He allowed the farm-workers to stay on. But after he learnt last week
that the majority of the farm-workers people had voted for the MDC Muniya
visited retribution on them.

“There is a humanitarian disaster,” said MP elect for Mutasa South, Misheck
Kagurabadza. “Children and elderly people are sleeping out in the open. We
need blankets urgently and a place where they can stay for now.”

Chitaka said there were indications that the violence would soon target MDC
candidates who won the just-ended elections. Chitaka, himself, won the
Senate seat for Nyanga.

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