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Military chief takes charge of Mugabe’s campaign

Zim Online

by Farisai Gonye Wednesday 16 April 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s top military commander Constantine Chiwenga has taken
personal charge of President Robert Mugabe’s re-election bid, as reports
began to surface this week of opposition supporters murdered in what
increasingly appears a coordinated terror campaign against government

Authoritative military sources said Chiwenga, commander of the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces (ZDF) that comprises the army and air force, met in Bulawayo
last Saturday and Sunday provincial commanders of the army, police and
secret service police to map out a campaign plan for Mugabe.

They said provincial joint committees manned by senior military, police and
intelligence officers loyal to Mugabe will spearhead the campaign that they
said will see unprecedented violence unleashed on supporters of opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Junior police officers initially seconded to Mugabe’s campaign but whose
loyalty is questionable had been recalled at Chiwenga’s instructions,
sources said. But they said all state security arms had been roped in to
support the campaign, while the Air Force of Zimbabwe was ordered to make
helicopters available to campaign teams.

"The level of violence is going to be shocking,” said a senior army officer,
who we cannot name to protect him. “It is going to be a wave that will keep
Tsvangirai's supporters indoors or displaced. It is meant to ensure that
only supporters of Mugabe will dare come out in large numbers to vote in the
run-off election,” the source added.

It was not possible to get a comment from the ZDF while Defence Minister
Sydney Sekeramayi refused to take questions on the matter, saying he was
unaware of any military involvement in Mugabe's campaign. "I am not aware of
it. I have no such information," he said.

Police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena said the police were deployed to keep law
and order and not to campaign for Mugabe. "Police are on the ground to stop
any post election violence and not to campaign for any candidate,” he said.

No official results have been released for the March 29 presidential
election that Tsvangirai claims he won with more than 50 percent of the
vote, enough to avoid a second round run-off against Mugabe.

However, ruling ZANU PF party and independent election observers say
Tsvangirai won with less than 50 percent of the vote, warranting a re-run of
the ballot.

The MDC, which on Monday lost a court bid to force electoral authorities to
release results of the presidential poll, has accused the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission of withholding results in a bid to fix the vote and force a
re-run of the poll that it says Mugabe is preparing to use violence and
terror to win.

The MDC, whose attempt to call a general strike to force release of poll
results flopped on Tuesday, said earlier on Monday that ZANU PF militants
had stepped up violence against its supporters.

MDC deputy leader Thokozani Khupe told journalists that at least one
opposition activist from the northern Hurungwe rural district was murdered
by suspected ZANU PF militants. She said at least 20 more MDC supporters
were in hospital after being attacked by ZANU PF militants.

There were also unconfirmed reports of three more people, among them an MDC
election agent, murdered by suspected ZANU PF militants in rural Mudzi
district, north of Harare.

Our sources said political violence would worsen in coming days once
Chiwenga’s plot begins to take effect on the ground.

They said the ZDF commander had directed his charges to penetrate rural
areas, especially those constituencies that have traditionally voted for
Mugabe but chose either Tsvangirai or former finance minister Simba Makoni
in the last election.

“The security men are under orders to ensure at all cost that rural areas
get back to supporting Mugabe, come the run-off election,” said a source. –

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Mugabe’s supporters set up torture camps

Zim Online

by Simplicious Chirinda Wednesday 16 April 2008

HARARE – Militant supporters of President Robert have set up torture camps
in parts of Mashonaland East province and stepped up a terror campaign
against opposition activists in the province, a human rights group has said.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said in a report made available to
ZimOnline on Tuesday that war veterans and militants of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU
PF party have in recent weeks intensified a crackdown against the opposition
that started after last month’s elections.

ZANU PF lost its parliamentary majority in the elections while Mugabe is
believed to have lost the presidential ballot to opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

No official results of the presidential poll have been released.

The MDC, which on Monday lost a court bid to force electoral authorities to
release results of the presidential poll, has accused the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission of withholding results in a bid to fix the vote and force a
re-run of the poll that it says Mugabe is preparing to use violence and
terror to win.

The ZPP said war veterans and ZANU PF militiamen have roamed parts of
Mashonaland East, beating up and torturing MDC supporters many of whom have
fled their homes fearing for their lives.

“War veterans have unleashed terror in Mashonaland East with the assistance
of the ruling party, ZANU PF. War veterans, youths and war collaborators are
beating up and torturing suspected opposition party supporters and local
observers of the harmonised elections,” ZPP said in the report.

ZPP, which says it gets its reports from its permanent monitors deployed in
each of the country’s electoral constituencies, said it was aware of torture
bases in Corner Store, Kushinga, Jari, Nyahondo and Rukanda villages in
Mutoko district.

The group said: “About ten war veterans using a new Mazda B1800 truck and
two Toyota trucks all armed, are moving around Mutoko beating up people
suspected to have voted for MDC Tsvangirai.

“They force villagers to attend meetings during the day and in the evening
they beat up people with help from ZANU PF youths.”

More torture bases have been set up in Mudzi, Murehwa North and Marondera
West constituencies, according to the ZPP.

It was not possible to get comment from ZANU PF or the Zimbabwe War Veterans
Association while police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he was unable to
comment on the report of the ZPP because he had not seen it.

Politically motivated violence has resurfaced in parts of Zimbabwe since
last month’s election.

War veterans and ZANU PF militia have also stepped up farm invasions, with
at least 60 white farmers said to have been evicted from the properties over
the past few weeks.

Analysts see new farm invasions and resurgent political violence as part of
a well-orchestrated plan by Mugabe to regain the upper hand in rural and
farming areas, where ZANU PF surprisingly lost several seats to the MDC.

There are fears that an anticipated re-run of the presidential election
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai could spark serious violence between militant
supporters of the Zimbabwean leader on one side and opposition supporters on
the other. ZimOnline

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Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth leader, calls for ‘a credible democratic process’

The Times
April 16, 2008

Michael Binyon
The Commonwealth would welcome Zimbabwe’s return, provided that it was bound
by the values of the organisation and was ready to provide vital economic
and political support, the new Secretary-General said yesterday.

Kamalesh Sharma told The Times that Zimbabwe’s walkout five years ago meant
that there was little the Commonwealth could do to overcome the crisis
provoked by the elections.

“We are hoping that this democratic process is going to be a convincing and
credible one,” he said in his first interview since being appointed
Secre-tary-General in November. “We will have to see what the outcome is.”

Mr Sharma will visit Kenya today to offer the new Government help to prevent
any fresh violence, He said that he would also meet all the leaders of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Mauritius this weekend,
where the subject of Zimbabwe will come up.

Zimbabwe is a member of the SADC, but President Mugabe is not expected to
attend the meeting. Last week SADC leaders held an emergency meeting in
Zambia on the Zimbabwean election, but refused to back the Opposition’s
demand that it be acknowledged as the winner.

Mr Sharma also voiced hope that Pakistan could soon be readmitted to the
53-nation Commonwealth. The elections were very welcome, he said. Pakistan
was suspended at the November summit inKampala afterPresident Musharraf
declared emergency rule.

Including Pakistan, India and Bang-ladesh, South Asia comprises 70 per cent
of the Commonwealth’s population. Mr Sharma, until recently the Indian High
Commissioner in London, said that if democracy could take firm root in the
region it would give a “huge boost” to the Commonwealth’s principles of good

Asked if he would speak out on abuses of democracy by members, he said that
much would depend on circumstances. Sometimes what was needed was
“constructive engagement”. At other times he would “point out” a deviation
from Commonwealth values, but hold the door open for talks.

He said that Gordon Brown had expressed strong support for the revival of
the Commonwealth and outlined an ambitious programme of initiatives in three
fields: strengthening democratic values; offering economic assistance to
smaller member states; and instigating more action to realise the millennium
development goals to reduce poverty.

But, he said, the Commonwealth had a small budget and therefore had to do
more as a facilitator – spreading best practice, arranging business and
development partnerships and helping member states to communicate. There was
plenty that the Commonwealth could do without spending money, he said. For
smaller states, the Commonwealth was one of the few world bodies where their
voice was heard. He added that India had much to offer, especially its
experience of democracy and its rapid economic development.

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Thabo Mbeki will be taken to task by UN over crisis in Zimbabwe

The Times
April 16, 2008

James Bone in New York and Jamie Walker in Harare
Britain and other Western nations plan to use today’s United Nations summit
to ambush President Mbeki of South Africa over the crisis gripping Zimbabwe.

Gordon Brown is expected to raise the election stand-off in Zimbabwe at a
Security Council summit chaired by Mr Mbeki, even though it is not on the

Diplomats say that France and the US will follow suit, although the council
is unlikely to take any formal action to force the release of the results of
the March 29 election.

President Bush spoke by telephone yesterday to Ban Ki Moon, the UN
Secretary-General, to tell him that the wait for the election results in
Zimbabwe had “gone on too long,” the White House said.

Related Links
  a.. Commonwealth leader calls for ‘credible process’
  a.. Zimbabwe ignores general strike calls
  a.. Brown puts faith in Zimbabwe's neighbours
Britain told South Africa that Mr Brown would raise Zimbabwe in the Security
Council if last weekend’s summit of the Southern African Development
Community failed to break the impasse, Whitehall sources say.

Mr Brown is due to hold a private meeting with Mr Mbeki today before the
Security Council session in New York. He will also have talks with President
Kikwete of Tanzania, the chairman of the African Union.

South Africa organised the UN summit on African Union-UN cooperation during
its month-long presidency of the 15-nation Security Council as part of its
campaign for a permanent seat at the top table of international diplomacy.
But Mr Mbeki risks being embarrassed by his support of President Mugabe of

Dumisani Kumalo, South Africa’s UN Ambassador, repeated yesterday that
Zimbabwe was not an appropriate subject for the Security Council “because
we, the neighbours, are doing something”. But he said of British, French and
US plans to raise the issue: “Those are huge countries. They can raise
whatever they want to raise.”

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, in its strongest criticism
so far of President Mbeki’s policy of quiet diplomacy, gave warning of a
dire situation in Zimbabwe that was hurting all of southern Africa.

The Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change has pinned its
hopes on today’s UN session, after its call for a general strike fizzled out
yesterday. Harold, an MDC worker, told The Times from his hospital bed,
where he was recovering from a seven-hour beating and torture session by
government-backed militiamen: “I don’t understand how the foreign countries
can just stand by and watch while we are killed. If the United Nations
stands for anything, it must be to save us.”

Harare was normal yesterday – with snaking bread and bank queues and
black-market dealers – despite the MDC’s strike call. It was a last effort
to pressure the Government into releasing the election results after the MDC’s
failure in the courts.

The strike’s failure highlighted many of the strictures on Zimbabwe’s
Opposition as it battles against a powerful leader hell-bent on clinging to
power. With media access strictly controlled by the State, opposition
activists, already facing a brutal campaign of state-sponsored violence, had
to resort to handing out pamphlets. The result was that most of the country
never heard the strike call. Those who did were in a terrible dilemma: lose
a critical day’s wages, or work to feed their family and let the movement

One restaurant owner said of her staff: “I told them to do what their
conscience told them. I can’t close down whatever I think of the strike
because the Government could just tell me I can never open again.” With 80
per cent unemployment, striking is the privilege of the few.

Shari Eppel, a human rights activist, said: “If people here don’t have
bread, they don’t start a bread riot, they cross the border and buy it
there. But if they were to take to the streets, they know they would simply
be shot down.”

In 1982 I saw victims of Mugabe's treatment of the Matabele when he killed
thousands of people between Beit Bridge and Plumtree boarder. A man with his
lips cut off, or ears cut off is a sorry sight.
The teeth splay our and the gums become diseased.Hundreds were thrown down
old mine shafts. When brought up years later police said this terrible thing
had been down by Ian Smith's men. The people had not forgotten. No they
said. One of the skeletons had ragged clothes on and in a pocket was a
Zimbabwean cent. Proof of Mugabe's rule. Britain would not believe it.

Lesley Mary Little, Knowle, West Midlands, United Kingdom

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Mbeki to be greeted by sky-borne protest at UN

Monsters and Critics

Apr 15, 2008, 19:52 GMT

San Francisco/New York - South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has
already provoked controversy with comments over the weekend that Zimbabwe
was not in crisis, faces even more criticism Wednesday in New York - this
time of an airborne variety.

The Internet advocacy group, aiming to raise international
pressure for democracy in Zimbabwe, plans to sail a 300-square-metre message
from the back of a plane proclaiming: 'Mbeki It's Time To Act: Democracy For

The group says it has chartered a plane to fly the message over the United
Nations building in New York as Mbeki chairs a presidential level Security
Council meeting on Africa.

Avaaz, which calls itself 'the world's largest international online advocacy
network,' has so far collected 130,000 signatures on a petition calling on
Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe to respect the will of the people.

More than two weeks after presidential elections, Zimbabwe's electoral
commission has refused to make public the results. Yet it has called for a
recount of the results. The opposition says it has won the elections - an
assessment shared by independent observers and non-governmental

Mbeki, under pressure for years in the international community over his
refusal to criticize the deteriorating economic and human rights situation
in neighbouring Zimbabwe, over the weekend said Zimbabwe was not in

He made the comments as 14 African nations met trying to resolve the
standoff over the March 29 elections.

'Global public opinion is loud and clear,' Ricken Patel, executive director
of Avaaz, said. 'Thabo Mbeki's credibility as a global and regional leader
is on the line.'

Patel said that Mbeki was in danger of 'betraying the principles of the
worldwide movement that helped bring democracy to his own country.'

The petition was launched last week and has already collected signatures
from people in 219 countries including 50 of the 54 African states, said
campaign director Ben Wikler.

'It's very successful and there's a lot of interest from around the world,'
he said.

Wikler acknowledged that the numbers don't come close to the 1.6 million
signatures the group collected in support of democracy in Tibet.

'It's going viral as friends send the petition via email. But with Tibet
there was a huge established organization and celebrities working on the
issue for years so it was like a spark lighting a tinderbox on fire,' he

South Africa chairs the UN Security Council at present, and had not included
Zimbabwe on its agenda of talks for Wednesday, which it wanted to focus on
the role of African Union troops in peacekeeping on the continent.

But UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said Tuesday he would add it to the

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Zimbabwe will be on UN Security Council agenda, Ban says

Monsters and Critics

Apr 15, 2008, 20:14 GMT

New York - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday he planned to raise
the situation in Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council's African summit
because of the opportunistic presence of African and Western leaders
attending the meeting.

The unresolved presidential election outcome had not been placed on agenda
of the African summit for Wednesday by council president South Africa. But
South African UN Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said it could be placed there if
the world's powers want to debate the issue.

'The meeting will provide a natural opportunity to raise the situation in
Zimbabwe,' Ban told reporters. He said he will also discuss with government
leaders ways to help resolve the impasse threatening the democratic process
in that country.

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.

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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Five Brigade Fears Fuel Zimbabwe 'Coup'


Mugabe will likely never face justice for his many crimes

Isaac Hlekisani Dziya )

     Published 2008-04-16 05:12 (KST)

Zimbabwe's ruling elite in ZANU-PF are denying Zimbabweans the verdict of
their vote in favor of the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) for fear of
reprisals for various human rights violations, the most serious of them
being the Five Brigade atrocities ordered by President Mugabe in

Many who are being dragged into this as accomplices in Mugabe's
civilian-military "coup" have nothing to fear, unless they allow themselves
to commit further crimes against the people of Zimbabwe by embarking on this
senseless adventure.

The Five Brigade (Gukurahundi) atrocities have left a scar on Matebeleland
and the Midlands in the form of orphans and relatives who have never seen
the graves of their loved ones and never received an apology from Mugabe or
his party.

The atrocities were committed in the city of Bulawayo and the surrounding
rural areas in the early 1980s, with estimates that 30,000 opposition
supporters were killed in what Mugabe called "the rain that washes away the
chaff before the spring rains" (in Shona: Gukurahundi).

Mugabe's holding on to power, engendering corruption in the country and
denying the people of Zimbabwe the fruits of their Independence since 1980
is a different crime for which Mugabe shall be judged.

But the Gukurahundi and the denying of the opposition MDC its victory are
crimes for which instruments to bring them to courts are available, and the
current wave of political violence that has been unleashed will be an
aggravating feature to any future judgments.

It is all because some of the perpetrators are still in power and walking
freely 26 years after it happened -- the commander, Perence Shiri, now
heading the Air Force of Zimbabwe, and a member of the Joint Operation
Command (JOC); Solomon Mujuru was then army commander, retired Gen. Vitalis
Zvinavashe and their Minister of State Security Sidney Sekeramayi, were all
part of, if not the architects.

They are all factored into the JOC, which has now taken over operations of
government and is now denying all citizens their choice of president.

It was the then-Prime Minister Mugabe who immediately after independence got
support from North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung to train a brigade for the
Zimbabwean army. Once it was in place he announced the need for a militia to
"combat malcontents" -- his term for ZAPU elements who were unhappy with the
unification of ZAPU and ZANU, though there was very little civil unrest in
Zimbabwe at this time.

The integrating of the two political formation's military forces, ZIPRA and
ZANLA into one national army had been problematic but this had been
contained in the so-called Entumbane uprisings where soldiers exchanged fire
and Shona soldiers, already in the majority and further reinforced, then
went on attacking virtually anybody who spoke Ndebele.

Over 300 people were killed in the second uprising, which spread to
Glenville and to Connemara Barracks in the Midlands. Then Supreme Court
Justice Enoch Dumbutshena's inquiry into the uprisings has never been

Many ZIPRA cadres left the army or just went AWOL after Entumbane, for fear
of being victimized and reports that some of their colleagues were
disappearing mysteriously. There was also discrimination in promotions, with
ZANLA soldiers accelerating.

The discovery of arms caches in February 1982 at former ZIPRA farms led to
open accusations that ZAPU was plotting another war, leading to the arrest
of ZAPU leaders and the treason trial of Dumiso Dabengwa, Lookout Masuku and
four others -- trials in which they were acquitted although Dabengwa and
Masuku were re-detained without trial for a further four years.

This led to thousands more ex-ZIPRA quitting the army. Meanwhile Five
Brigade, drawn from 3500 ex-ZANLA troops at Tongogara Assembly Point, with
only a few former ex-ZIPRA (ZAPU), most if not all of whom had been
withdrawn before the end of the training, was ready to enter into action as
announced by the then-Minister of State Security Minister Sekeramayi.

There is no special United Nations (UN) court for Zimbabwe, even though
Mugabe's misrule has led to human rights violations with many cases at
various stages of international criminal prosecution, and led to more deaths
than in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Darfur, through starvation, disease that
could have been prevented, resultant crime and corruption and political

The United Nations International Criminal Court (ICC), launched in 2002 to
prosecute war crimes suspects who might escape punishment in their home
countries, does not have jurisdiction because it cannot operate
retroactively, and in any case, Zimbabwe is not a signatory.

Mugabe is therefore safe on the intentional front, but it is inside Zimbabwe
that he wants to ensure that he maintains leverage by remaining at the top
until he dies. His demand for total immunity could probably be met,
according to the Africa director of the United States-based Human Rights
Watch, Georgette Gagnon. The negotiating environment however has been
poisoned by Mugabe's refusal to release the results.

Morgan Tsvangirai's published position was that negotiation should only
start after the results are announced. Zimbabweans do not believe in hatred,
but that the issue has to be brought to the fore so that there can be
accountability, and forgiveness, so that there can be a healing of the
nation, cannot be ignored.

Unfortunately anyone who attempts to have a go or a resuscitation of this
issue becomes a target of the illegal ZANU-PF regime, making it impossible
for these issues be put to bed to allow all the peoples of Zimbabwe to move

By hanging on to power, ZANU-PF will be buying more time for its heirs who
will be in charge after the geriatric old guard has moved on and who will be
saying that they had nothing to do with Gukurahundi.

Nkayi, Kezi, SunYet Sen, Esigodini, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mawaweni, Antelope
Mine, Bhalagwe Camp, Gwanda, Chikwararakwara, were said to be populated by
cockroaches that had to be exterminated by the Mugabe government.

The abduction six tourists who were later discovered dead formed the
backdrop for another massacre, which also saw the killing of some Shona
people who harbored some of their Ndebele neighbors.

The Five Brigade, which was sent to deal with the disturbances, was
different from all other Zimbabwean army units and was particularly marked
by their ruthlessness, literally disemboweling their foes, sending them down
mineshafts alive, setting families alight inside their huts or on piles,
torturing and beating their victims.

And in terms of command structure, they were directly subordinated to the
prime minister's office, and not integrated to the normal army command

"Their codes, uniforms, radios and equipment were not compatible with other
army units. Their most distinguishing feature in the field was their red
berets, although many reports note that on occasions Five Brigade soldiers
would operate in civilian clothes," according to some reports.

They seemed to be a law unto themselves once in the field. Most of their
operations were targeted at defenseless civilians, who Mugabe referred to as
supporters of dissidents. Within weeks, the Five Brigade (Gukurahundi) had
murdered more than two thousand civilians, beaten thousands more, and
destroyed hundreds of homesteads.

Most of the dead were shot in public executions, often after being forced to
dig their own graves in front of family and fellow villagers. The largest
number of dead in a single killing involved the deliberate shooting of 62
young men and women on the banks of the Cewale River, Lupane, on March 5,
1983. Seven survived with gunshot wounds, the other 55 died.

They would routinely round up dozens, or even hundreds, of civilians and
marched them at gunpoint to a central place, like a school or borehole,
force them to sing Shona songs praising ZANU-PF, then execute them.

When then-Prime Minister Mugabe was directly asked if he knew what was going
on in Matebeleland by British investigative journalist Jeremy Paxman of
"Panorama" he vehemently denied it, and called it antique western sabotage

Up to 30,000 innocent Ndebele people were killed at the hands of the Five
Brigade (Gukurahundi). The scars on the Ndebele people have never healed;
they still expect justice and have never voted for ZANU-PF since.

The army has since found itself on the wrong side of the people, not as
their friends in whom they have entrusted their security and faith. The
people now fear their own military and are intimidated by their soldiers'
presence. This is because they are being used for something more sinister
that defending their country.

Mugabe never showed any compunction about using violence against his
opponents. When he faced general strikes in Zimbabwe a decade ago, it was
entirely natural for him to appear on state television and warn, "I have
many degrees in violence," and then beat up and imprison Morgan Tsvangirai,
who was then a trade unionist.

Mugabe's culpability for the reign of terror is clear. In order to be guilty
of crimes against humanity, the law specifies that an individual must hold
"command responsibility" for the forces carrying out atrocities.

Five Brigade was placed outside the army's formal command structure and its
soldiers answered directly to Mugabe. The late Vice President Nkomo publicly
described this unit as Mugabe's "private army." The unit's commander,
Perence Shiri, was a former guerrilla fighter chosen for his personal
loyalty to Mugabe.

The death toll in the Matabeleland massacres has never been established.
"Breaking the Silence" records 3,750 murders but states that the true figure
was probably twice as high. Tens of thousands more suffered torture,
abduction, rape or assault.

But there is virtually no chance of Mugabe ever facing justice for his many
crimes because there is simply no court in which he could be tried. It is
possible that Mugabe will almost certainly die without having spent any time
in the dock.

But his fear of the known, the uncertainty, has caused him to hold a whole
nation to ransom. Zimbabweans people have already seen through the
machinations, and quietly tried to use their votes to remove the government,
only to discover that the fangs of the vampire are now out and not about to

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Zimbabwe Opposition Says Four Killed In Ruling Party Post-Election Offensive


By Blessing Zulu
15 April 2008

Zimbabwe's main opposition formation said Tuesday that at least four of its
members have been slain in a post-election offensive mounted by the ruling
ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, which suffered setbacks in March
29 balloting.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led
by Morgan Tsvangirai, a presidential candidate in the elections, told VOA
that the four dead include Themba Muronde of Mudzi, Mashonaland East, and
Tapiwa Mubwanda of Hurungwe, Mashonaland West, both longtime ruling party
strongholds. Chamisa said the MDC formation was still trying to confirm the
names of the other two.

Police sources said an autopsy was carried out on Mubwanda Tuesday in
Chinhoyi, also in Mashonaland West Province, and that members of the Central
Intelligence Organization have told his family to bury him or the CIO will
do it.

The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights issued a statement Tuesday saying that
it is concerned with the upsurge in organized violence and torture since the
elections. The organization said its members had seen and treated 157 injury
cases resulting from organized violence and torture between March 29,
election day, and Monday.

The report says such violence has been concentrated in the provinces of
Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Masvingo.

MDC supporters seeking refuge in Harare said even children, pregnant women
and animals have been targeted. They reported that women have been abducted,
stripped and raped by marauding war veterans and ZANU-PF youth militia.

They said animals are being burned alive and villages razed to the ground.
Some 300 MDC supporters were being treated in hospitals as of Tuesday,
sources said.

Mashonaland East MDC Organizing Secretary Kubvoruno Choga told reporter
Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he fled Mudzi to a safe
house in Harare after he received word he was marked for death by ZANU-PF

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Hands… and other things on the day of a General Strike


The first bit of news I received this morning had nothing to do with the
general strike called by the opposition. It was a call from a friend: “I
hope you’ve got news for me!” I said loudly, before he could say hullo.

“I do” he said.

I thought it would be strike related news. Instead he said a contact of his
had phoned him and told him that people in the Musana Communal Lands, in the
Bindura / Shamva area (Mashonaland Central), have had their hands cut off.
That the pattern of beatings and burnings had taken a dramatic turn for the

The open hand is the symbol of the winning opposition.

Despite the fact he trusts his contact, he said he needed to do what he
could to verify the information. He asked me to blog it anyway, but to
stress we are trying to find out more - to verify and confirm. It’s hard
getting info out of the darkest areas in Zimbabwe. So right now we don’t
know if it’s true, and if it is how many people are affected.

I know it could be possible. The Gukuruhundi, for example, is littered with
torture and violence designed to psychologically damage as well as hurt. I
also remember, many years ago, going through a particular area in Zimbabwe
and seeing a women with a mutilated face. I was told that her lips had been
cut off during the liberation war because Mugabe’s fighters believed she had
‘talked’ to the Smith regime. Symbolic violence is potent and doesn’t shout
a message to the community, it screams it.

I don’t know if its because news of the hands violence is so grotesque that
my mind is struggling to accommodate it as a truth. I need it confirmed,
even as I don’t doubt the capability of Mugabe’s crowd to be so grotesque. I
think its denial at what it means for our future.

If this level of torture is endorsed at higher levels - a kind that doesn’t
heal externally and get covered over by clothes - then it suggests the
military big wigs have thrown all caution to the wind and are going for

You can’t draw back from this. It’s one thing for politicians to have a
discussion about immunity for crimes committed in 1982; but quite another to
talk about immunity for what happened yesterday and today.

How do I move from that to news about the strike….? Awkwardly:

Strike news: an sms colleague from a friend in Harare has said: “There is
talk of soldiers chasing people on the streets of Glen
Norah in Harare early this morning”

An email to us this morning said: “This is a very good idea but the majority
of Zimbabwe is not aware of this call. Even myself was not aware until this
morning when I was already at work, just to see this e-mail now.”

So, I’m not sure yet what is or isn’t happening. I was trying to find out
but the news about the hands that came instead has left me winded.

Update: I called my colleague in Harare. He said … there is a report of a
Kombi bus having been burnt in Warren Park, a township in Harare, and
soldiers chasing people in the streets of Glen Norah, another township in
Harare. Companies in the industrial sites of Harare are reporting less than
50% turnout by staff.

This entry was written by Hope on Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

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Bulawayo Woman Arrested And Released On Bail

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

15 April 2008
Posted to the web 15 April 2008

A 60-year old Bulawayo woman, Margaret Ann Kriel, was arrested in the city
on 10 April 2008 on allegations of practicing journalism without
accreditation in violation of the repressive Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), as amended in 2007. She was not formally
charged and released until 22 April on Z$100 million (approx. US$3,300)

She is to reside at her given address until the end of her case and was
ordered to surrender her travel documents to the Clerk of the Criminal

According to reports from Bulawayo, the court heard that between 14 February
and 10 April, Kriel, in the company of Robin Lee Kriel and an unidentified
person, carried out interviews at various places in the city and surrounding

Robin Lee Kriel and the unidentified person are still at large, the court

The state alleges that they interviewed Mr David Coltart of MDC-Mutambara
and Ms Thokozani Khupe of MDC-Tsvangirai.

They allegedly also interviewed members of the public about the outcome of
the elections, who they voted for and how they felt about the situation.

The state will seek to prove that they carried out these activities
pretending to be accredited journalists when they were not.

In a case involving two South Africans who were acquitted on similar charges
on 14 April, the court ruled that the two had no case to answer under the
newly amended AIPPA as practicing without accreditation is no longer an
offence because journalists can only be prosecuted on the recommendation of
a statutory Media Council, which has not yet been established.

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Accredited Journalist Arrested, His House Searched And Materials Seized

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

15 April 2008
Posted to the web 15 April 2008

On 15 April 2008, freelance journalist Frank Chikowore was arrested in
Harare in unclear circumstances.

According to his wife, Chikowore left their home in Harare's suburb of
Warren Park early in the morning on his way to work, only to return later in
the company of seven policemen, four of whom were in riot gear and three in
plainclothes. The police then reportedly searched the house and confiscated
a laptop, recorder and camera.

MISA-Zimbabwe could not immediately ascertain at which police station he was
being held and, through its Media Defence Fund, has engaged Harare lawyer
Harrison Nkomo to look into the matter. Nkomo has visited Harare Central
Police Station three times to determine where Chikowore was being held but
without any success.

What makes Chikowore's situation even more worrying is that he has been
arrested despite being a duly accredited journalist with the Media and
Information Commission (MIC), as required by the repressive Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), and is also accredited by
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to cover the elections held on 29 March.

The chain of recent arrests under the AIPPA Act confirms that journalists in
Zimbabwe have come under heavy scrutiny during and after the elections.

MISA-Zimbabwe is greatly concerned about this turn of events and demands
that the police make Chikowore's whereabouts known and disclose the
circumstances leading to his arrest.

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Police detain ZESN director

Zim Online

by Tendai Maronga and Nokhutula Sibanda Wednesday 16 April 2008

HARARE – State security and immigration agents on Tuesday detained the
director of Zimbabwe’s biggest elections monitoring group and questioned her
about her group’s links to some United States-based organisations.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) director Rindai Chipfunde was
detained at Harare International airport as she arrived in the country from
neighbouring South Africa.

“I am told the police wanted her to clarify some information related to the
National Democratic Institute (NDI) mission that was in the country to
observe the elections but she has been released. I am meeting her this
afternoon,” ZESN chairman Noel Kututwa told ZimOnline.

The security agents are understood to have indicated to Chipfunde that they
might summon her for further questioning.

ZESN has come under the public spotlight over the past three weeks, after it
projected that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated President Robert
Mugabe in last month’s presidential election.

The election monitoring group however indicated that the opposition leader
had failed to carry more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a second round
run-off against Mugabe.

No official results have been released for the March 29 presidential
election, leaving Zimbabwe in a tense stalemate that Tsvangirai’s Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party has warned could lead to violence and

The MDC, which on Monday lost a court bid to force electoral authorities to
release results of the presidential poll, has accused the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission of withholding results in a bid to fix the vote in favour of
Mugabe. – ZimOnline

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MDC application to be heard today

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro Wednesday 16 April 2008

HARARE – High Court judge Antonia Guvava postponed to Wednesday hearing an
opposition application to block a recount of votes in 23 constituencies,
saying she first wanted to study an earlier ruling by another judge which
allowed election authorities to carry out recounts.

Opposition Movemnt for Democratic Change (MDC) lawyer Selby Hwacha said
Guvava requested time to peruse Justice Tendai Uchena's Monday judgment in
which he dismissed the MDC application to force the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) to release results for the presidential election.

In his judgment Uchena said the commission was allowed to proceed with

"The judge said she wanted time to peruse Justice Uchena's judgment in
respect of recounts of votes so we are going back to court tomorrow
(Wednesday)," said Hwacha.

He said that the judge had not given the actual time the matter will be
heard but said she would call the lawyers when ready.

The MDC wants the ZEC stopped from recounting votes until it has released
the result for the presidential election held more than two weeks ago.

A general strike called by the MDC to force the release of election results
flopped on Tuesday as workers turned up for duty while most businesses were

Armed police maintained a heavy presence on Harare’s streets but there was
little else to suggest there was a strike supposed to take place. –

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Mukonoweshuro Launches Stinging Attack On Mbeki

SW Radio Africa (London)

15 April 2008
Posted to the web 15 April 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, a top aide of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
on Tuesday launched a powerful attack on Thabo Mbeki and questioned if the
South African president was sober when he claimed there was no crisis in

In a stinging rebuke of Mbeki's widely criticized 'quiet diplomacy' towards
Robert Mugabe, Mukonoweshuro said his statement that all was well in the
country bore the 'hallmarks of a drunkard'.

Mbeki met Mugabe in Harare on Saturday on his way to the regional summit in
Lusaka, Zambia to discuss the post-election situation. He surprised the
world when he said 'There is no crisis in Zimbabwe' - urging people to wait
for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to announce the results.

'The question everyone should be asking now is--was Mbeki sober when he made
that statement? The man has literally spent his presidential term trying to
resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe and all of a sudden he says there is no
crisis. To me that sounds like a man who was heavily intoxicated,'
Mukonoweshuro said.

The newly elected MDC MP for Gutu South, who is also the party's secretary
for International Affairs, said Mbeki consistently fails to deal with the

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Justice for the Country

TransAfrica Forum (Washington, DC)

15 April 2008
Posted to the web 15 April 2008

On March 29 the people of Zimbabwe cast their votes for President,
Parliament, and local representatives.   To date, the results of the
Presidential election have not been announced, leading to widespread
accusations of vote manipulation.   Charges of intimidation and the threat
of violence grow daily, while the population suffers from spiraling
inflation, commodity shortages, and joblessness.   Ultimately, the people of
Zimbabwe will determine their leaders, but as concerned citizens we can send
a message to the Government of Zimbabwe, the African Union and to the
nations of Southern Africa that we stand in solidarity with the people of
Zimbabwe and that we support their struggle for human rights and justice.

The following Message of Solidarity includes the points outlined in such
popular documents as The Zimbabwe We Want, the People’s Convention (February
2008), as well as the platforms of human rights and justice groups in
Zimbabwe.   We invite you to add your name to the following message.



The people of Zimbabwe have been betrayed, both by the government that
represents them and by Western governments that claim to support their
desires for economic development and democracy.   Internally, corruption,
government mis-management, military excesses, and poor economic decisions
have deepened the country’s multiple social and economic crises.   At the
same time, the post-independence promises made by the international
community were not kept and the imposition of World Bank/IMF economic
structural adjustment policies further entrenched inequality and reversed
the initial gains made by the country.   We, the undersigned, support the
people of Zimbabwe in their calls for a peaceful resolution to the current

We urge the Government of Zimbabwe to work towards:

1.   A new constitution, a people-driven document that ensures that any
elected government runs the country to benefit its people, not the elite.

2.   Economic justice, specifically:

  a.. An audit of Zimbabwe’s 4.2 billion dollar debt.
  b.. Repatriation of stolen assets, particularly funds diverted from public
coffers to individual accounts in international banks.
  c.. National investments in social development, job creation, and regional
economic integration efforts.

3.   A national “Truth and Reconciliation” process to begin the healing

We urge the international community to:

  a.. End the “undeclared economic sanctions.”
  b.. Cancel the colonial debt, including apartheid-related debt, along with
debts related to failed structural adjustment policies, following an audit
of the country’s national debt.
  c.. Work with the Zimbabwean people to identify and repatriate public
funds that have been diverted to private accounts in international banks.

Click here [ ] to add your name.

For more information visit us on the web:

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Mbeki's Zimbabwe stance defended


April 15, 2008, 17:45

President Thabo Mbeki must remain optimistic if mediation in Zimbabwe is to
succeed. Experts say Mbeki is in a sensitive position and cannot be seen to
be taking sides.

"Due to constraints placed on Mbeki as a mediator, he is highly unlikely to
make comments that will compromise his attempts to bring about change in
Zimbabwe," says Institute for Security Studies spokesperson, Chris Maroleng.

Mbeki faces ongoing criticism for failing to pronounce the situation in
Zimbabwe as a crisis. In an about turn, the ANC has given Mbeki's neutral
approach the thumbs up.

The mediation team in Zimbabwe believes there is no need to panic as yet. It
says aggrieved parties have several legal instruments at their disposal.

Mugabe legally president
For now there is no leadership vacuum - the Constitution legitimises Robert
Mugabe's interim presidency.

While South Africa believes there is no crisis, it understands the
heightened anxiety. "The anxiety about the delay is certainly legitimate and
it is a shared anxiety," says South Africa's Provincial and Local Government
Minister Sydney Mufamadi.

Mufamadi says that the Southern African Development Community is monitoring
the situation closely, and the regional body will get involved in the event
of a re-run.

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SA is world's 'laughing stock'


    Boyd Webb
    April 15 2008 at 02:20PM

President Thabo Mbeki has been ridiculed and castigated by emotional
leaders of Zimbabwe's civil society on Monday for his view that there is no
crisis in their country.

They have also rejected talk of any government of national unity,
which is understood to be among the compromise options favoured by Pretoria.

Wellington Chibebe, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwean Congress
of Trade Unions, said Mbeki was in any event thoroughly compromised, "given
the background of the liberation struggle and the relationship between
Zanu-PF and the ANC".

He was speaking at a conference in Pretoria organised by the Institute
for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe (Idazim). His words follow similar
expressions of outrage from South African political parties who feared
Mbeki's statements at the weekend have made South Africa the world's
laughing stock.

Chibebe said it was "the joke of the year" that SADC had again
mandated Mbeki to continue mediation efforts between the ruling Zanu-PF and
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

"From our point of view we now begin to view SADC as some kind of an
old boys association rather than a regional body which is there to resolve
regional issues," he said.

Irene Petras, of Zimbabwe's Lawyers for Human Rights, also rubbished
Mbeki's view.

"I think any reasonable person would see there is a crisis and it
needs to be addressed in an honest manner and it needs to be addressed

Elinor Sisulu from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition asked why Mbeki
had found the situation in Zimbabwe to be acceptable, when there was no way
he would accept a similar situation in his own country.

"What happened in Zimbabwe, South Africans would never ever accept.
Nobody in South Africa would accept this and I think it's unfair to accept
double standards and to say South Africans are entitled to this level of
rights and Zimbabweans are not."

Arguing that Mbeki first had to admit there was a crisis before it
could be fixed, Sisulu said it was "callous and insensitive" of the
president to say there was no crisis.

Mbeki's softly-softly approach to Zimbabwe also came under fire with
civil organisations arguing that his "quiet diplomacy" was actually "silent

Zimbabwe's civil society, which on Monday included representatives
from media, religious and lawyer groups, said there was no doubt that MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai had won the March 29 polls by a considerable
margin, and that President Robert Mugabe was now only playing for time and
hoping to incite a violent revolution which he "would be forced to quell by

Idazim chairperson Arnold Tsunga said Zimbabwe was now a "defacto
military state" in which the military was propping up Mugabe's
unconstitutional rule.

Mugabe is widely believed to have lost the presidential election and
is accused of delaying the results in order to "massage" the vote count.

It was alleged that a number of senior positions within the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) were occupied by former military personnel within
the Zimbabwe National Army, some of whom had profited from the land grab
orchestrated by Mugabe.

"This peculiar situation, which has developed in SADC, where you have
an unelected government supported by the military and the intelligence
running processes against the will of the electorate, really amounts to a
coup," Tsunga said.

On a proposed government of national unity, participants in the
conference rejected this out of hand, saying there was no need for one,
given that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had won.

Idazim said Zimbabwe police had apparently arrested 11 ZEC agents so
far for allegedly undercounting Zanu-PF votes.

The Zimbabwean High Court on Monday ruled against an MDC application
to force the ZEC to release the presidential results.

This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria News on
April 15, 2008

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Withholding Election Results a Violation of the Right to Know, Says Article 19

Article 19 (London)

15 April 2008
Posted to the web 15 April 2008

It's been more than two weeks since Zimbabweans went to the polls to elect a
legislature and President. But instead of the outcome of the elections,
Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party led by President Robert Mugabe has delivered
harsh crackdowns and stonewalling to the electorate.

Defeat can be hard to accept, "but at the very least, the people of Zimbabwe
have the right to know the result of their vote," says the Executive
Director of ARTICLE19, Dr. Agnes Callamard. The government of Zimbabwe is
obligated under International law "to conduct an election and to let the
people know those they've chosen to lead them."

ARTICLE 19 urges Zimbabwe's government to heed the calls of Zimbabweans, the
2008 first extra-ordinary SADC summit of Heads of State and Government, and
the international community "to comply with the rule of law and SADC
Principles and Guidelines governing democratic elections."

It is in the interest of Zimbabwe and the southern African region that
President Mugabe adheres to electoral procedures as set out in Zimbabwe's
electoral law and release the result of the election immediately. "In the
event that a run-off is needed, that must also be conducted according to
accepted norms and standards." ARTICLE 19 strongly urges Zimbabwean
authorities to back away from chaos and violence and move towards reason and
the rule of law in settling the outcome of this election.

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works globally
to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name
from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which
guarantees free speech.

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Zim at 'tipping point'


15/04/2008 21:29  - (SA)

Evan Pickworth

Johannesburg - Brait economist Colen Garrow said on Tuesday that it now
seems irreversible that a solution needs to be found in Zimbabwe, as the
country has reached "tipping point".

"It progressively moves more in favour of things coming right," he says.

He says one of the key things underpinning this was that results had been
posted in the wards.

"I would like to believe the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
played a role and this is why Mugabe is contesting the wards," he notes.

"This is why Tsvangirai can say he 'saw the result'.

"At least the world and the MDC knows they have passed the tipping point,"
he says.

Garrow adds that he was surprised things had been so peaceful, but had
subsequently heard that civilians aren't allowed to own a gun in Zimbabwe.

"It is now about bread and butter issues, things that affect people's
ability to survive," he adds, saying that any food shortage needs to be
alleviated as a starving population would equal "big civil unrest".

"Seeds need to be planted before summer comes again," he says.

Garrow says that it is important Zimbabwe concentrate on two things -
getting mines into production, and farms up and running.

"They need to get people back and train them to run the farms," he says.

Added to that would be dismantling the major security apparatus in the

Election results in Zimbabwe are still not available 17 days since the poll
was held.

I-Net Bridge

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Zim's bad neighbour

The Guardian

Thabo Mbeki appealed for international support when he fought apartheid, but
he now refuses to back the struggle for freedom in Zimbabwe

Peter Tatchell

April 15, 2008 9:30 PM
The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, is a hypocrite. When he was
campaigning to end the evil apartheid regime, he pleaded with the world to
support the freedom struggle of the African National Congress (ANC). Much of
the world heeded his call, mobilising an international anti-apartheid
movement, which the ANC has since credited with aiding the overthrow of
white minority rule in South Africa.

Two decades later, Mbeki is comfortably ensconced in the presidential state
house in Pretoria. His past internationalism has been dumped. Nowadays,
solidarity seems to stop at South Africa's border. Fellow Africans in
Zimbabwe can go to hell.

Mbeki wanted international solidarity when he and the ANC needed it, but he
is denying solidarity to Zimbabweans when they need it. This is rank

For me, it is a big personal disappointment. I liaised with Thabo Mbeki in
the struggle against apartheid during the 1980s. He even sent me a telegram
thanking me for my (rather modest) campaigning against the white racist
regime. I saw him as a man of vision, compassion and sincerity. Power, it
seems, has since corrupted him, like so many others. His principles and
idealism have faded fast.

Mbeki is in denial. He has his head buried in the sand. He does not see, or
pretends not to see, gross injustices just across the border. Almost
everyone in the world, except Mbeki, acknowledges that the people of
Zimbabwe have suffered a decade of terror by at the hands of Robert Mugabe's
thugs, including detention without trial, torture, rape, extra-judicial
killings and the violent suppression of peaceful student, trade union,
women's and church protests. Hundreds of thousands of people have been
evicted and their homes demolished. Millions are being starved into
submission by the withholding of food aid. Two million refugees have fled to
South Africa. A succession of parliamentary and presidential votes have been
rigged to keep Mugabe and his ruling party, Zanu-PF, in power.

Despite all this evidence of gross inhumanity, Mbeki insists there is "no
crisis" in Zimbabwe. Everyone should, he says, show patience and calmly
await the publication of the results of the recent presidential election.

Why should Zimbabweans be expected to exhibit forbearance and keep waiting?
The voting results were known and posted at local polling stations over two
weeks ago. One can only assume that the reason they have not been published
is because they record a defeat for Mugabe. There is no other rational,
reasonable explanation. If Mugabe had won, his propagandists would have
immediately boasted of victory. The general consensus is that Mugabe lost
the ballot and that Zanu-PF is delaying the poll result announcement to give
its ballot-stuffers time to fix the figures in favour of the outgoing
president, who clearly does not want to relinquish power.

President Mbeki has point-blank refused to condemn the election rigging.
Indeed, he has never spoken out against the tyranny in Zimbabwe and has
repeatedly blocked any serious initiatives to press the Mugabe regime to
respect democracy and human rights.

Instead, Mbeki has promoted a strategy of "quiet diplomacy" to resolve what,
he says, is a non-crisis in Zimbabwe. This strategy of quiet diplomacy has
been an abject failure. It has not produced a single positive outcome in six
years. Far from improving the regime's observance of human rights, quiet
diplomacy has coincided with an alarming intensification of repression and

Quiet diplomacy looks increasingly like connivance and complicity. Mbeki
seems to be acting in ways designed to protect Mugabe and sustain his

His downplaying of the current crisis in Zimbabwe is nothing new. In the
past he has been quite blatant, claiming that previous rigged Zimbabwean
elections were free and fair. This calls into question his honesty and
integrity, as well as his politics and political judgment. It is a sad
indictment of a great man who was a hero of the anti-apartheid struggle. His
lack of compassion and solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe brings shame
to the liberation movement and to the party of government that he has led,
the ANC.

Mbeki cannot feign ignorance. Mugabe's human rights abuses stretch back many
years. The writing was already on the wall in the mid-1980s, when Mugabe's
men slaughtered 20,000 civilians in Matabeleland. This is the equivalent of
a Sharpeville massacre every day for over nine months. Yet Thabo Mbeki and
most other top ANC leaders said nothing about this bloodfest - and nothing
about the many subsequent murders by Zanu-PF.

This is, perhaps, symptomatic of the rot that has consumed several top ANC
leaders. Some have become complacent and corrupt, suddenly accumulating vast
personal wealth. They have spent billions on arms deals, amid allegations of
kickbacks, while complaining there is not enough money to combat HIV, fund
land reform and treat Zimbabwean refugees humanely.

Mugabe is worse than the white supremacist leader, Ian Smith, who he
overthrew. He has murdered more black Africans than the apartheid villains
Hendrik Verwoerd, John Forster and P W Botha. Yet we never hear a squeak of
protest against Mugabe from Mbeki. He and his fellow ANC leaders sit on
their hands and look the other way while Zimbabwe burns.

Mbeki has nothing to say about the terrible abuses being inflicted on his
fellow Africans. His silence is a shameful betrayal of the ANC's once proud
tradition of pan-African solidarity and support for liberation movements
against dictatorships.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the South African trade union federation,
Cosatu, have spoken out against Mugabe's despotism, so why hasn't Mbeki?

At the very least, he should publicly urge Robert Mugabe to stand down, and
condemn the recent election fraud and the withholding of poll results.

The people of Zimbabwe deserve a democratic, representative government that
ensures equality and justice for all its citizens. These were the goals of
the African liberation movements of the last 60 years. They are still worthy
goals today.

A spokesperson for the Free Zim youth organisation, Alois Mbawara, said:

  "We Zimbabweans feel betrayed by President Mbeki's fruitless pursuit of
quiet diplomacy as we suffer at the hands of Mugabe's regime. The world has
witnessed how the Zimbabwe congress of trade unions, MPs and civic leaders
have been brutalised while peacefully demonstrating for fair wages and basic
human rights. South Africa has blocked calls for the UN to probe human
rights abuses in Zimbabwe and it has endorsed Zimbabwe's elections, even
though they were conducted in an atmosphere of violent intimidation by
Mugabe's henchmen.

  President Mbeki knows that the Zimbabwean government violates African
Union principles on democracy and human rights. By remaining silent, they
tacitly endorse these violations.

  If Mbeki spoke out against Mugabe and threatened South African sanctions
against his regime, Mugabe's control would soon start to unravel. South
African inaction is helping to keep him in power."

Wellington Chibanguza, another organiser of the Free Zim Youth movement

  "We salute Cosatu and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They have spoken out
against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. They stand in solidarity with
ordinary Zimbabweans. Mbeki and the ANC see nothing, hear nothing and do
nothing. The Zimbabwean people supported South Africans in the fight against
apartheid. Now it is time for South Africa to support Zimbabweans in the
fight against Mugabe's dictatorship."

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JAG - update on farm invasions

Reports have been received of varying degrees of disturbance on over 100
farms since elections. These have taken place all over the country.
Seventeen confirmed evictions have taken place mostly in Centenary which is
now a 'no go' area.  Beatings have been confirmed on one farm and also in
the surrounding resettlement areas.  In Guruve the CIO have clamped down and
whilst farmers are continuing to work, they are not permitted to receive
visitors or move freely around the area.  In Karoi 6 of remaining 9 farmers
have experienced problems including one eviction.  Dairy farmers in more
than one district have experienced disruptions to milking.  There have been
barricading and 'jambanja' in Doma and police have reacted in varying
degrees.  Farmers in Manicaland are also experiencing threats and an elderly
farmer in Chipinge was abducted for some hours by war-vets.  He was later
released by police.  There have been reports of a general crackdown in areas
perceived to be in MDC support and workers and other population have been
harassed and beaten in retribution.  It is clear that the threat of losing
land under MDC is being used to motivate much of this activity.  Anyone
considering travelling into farming areas is strongly cautioned against it
at this time.  Over the weekend there have been new evictions in Chipinge.
Some Centenary farmers have returned.  The situation remains very tense

ZNSPCA Inspectors are available to assist farmers throughout the Country
with any problems related to their animals' welfare.  If a farmer is
experiencing trouble at his/her farm and is in need of our assistance with
regards to his/her animals, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Currently, we have Inspectors based in the following areas in order to cut
down on reaction time to any calls:
Chiredzi area (covering Masvingo) / Gweru area (Covering Midlands and
Matabeleland) / Manicaland area/ Mashonaland area.

Please contact us on the following numbers and we can organise a National
Inspector to react to your call: 04 497574 Head Office
011 630 403 Chief Inspector
0912 696 309 Inspector Chareka

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Rampaging elephants destroying crops

BULAWAYO, 15 April 2008 (IRIN) - Marauding elephants that escaped from the
Hwange National Park, an animal sanctuary in rural southwestern Zimbabwe,
are destroying any hopes among peasant farmers of a moderately successful

Arid climatic conditions are expected to blight agricultural production in
the southwest this year, according to a recent forecast by the UN's Food and
Agricultural Organisation (FAO), while Zimbabwe's political and economic
turmoil is also affecting both food production and food security.

Elephants from the 14,600 square kilometre nature reserve, which lies about
150km south of Victoria Falls on the main road to Zimbabwe's second city,
Bulawayo, are straying from the park in search of food, wreaking havoc on
the meagre crops villagers were expecting to harvest after the summer rains
ended prematurely.

Erica Hlongwane, 46, spends most of her time protecting the remnants of her
wilting maize crop from further destruction by elephants, at the expense of
her household chores.

"Life has become unbearable because of these elephants which destroy our
crops," said Hlongwane, who lives with a teenage daughter and a younger son
in the rural Tsholotsho district, about 100km northwest of Bulawayo, in
Matabeleland North Province, while her husband works in neighbouring South

"On one hand we worry about the prospect of hunger because of crop failure,
while on the other we count the losses stray elephants are causing daily,"
she told IRIN, displaying a few maize cobs she had managed to salvage after
a herd of elephants rampaged through her small field the previous night.

"We also fear the elephants might demolish our pole-and-mud huts," she said.
Despite attempts by the villagers to scare away the elephants, using drums
and hand-made cymbals, she said bull elephants would sometimes charge the
villagers, who are no match for an elephant.

"The authorities should save us from this ordeal," Hlongwane said, referring
to the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (NPWMA), which is
responsible for managing problem animals.

Another peasant farmer in the district told IRIN he had lost nearly a fifth
of his sorghum crop to browsing elephants and blamed the NPWMA for ignoring
the villagers' appeals for assistance.

"We heeded advice from agricultural experts to grow small grains as a hedge
against possible erratic rains, as this is a semi-dry area, but our hopes
have been shattered by elephant herds that roam this area," said Timothy
Dakamela, another small-scale farmer.

Fears of food shortages

Dakamela said the ZANU-PF government should provide food aid to avert
serious food shortages in the district's villages. About one-third of
Zimbabwe's around 12 million population are receiving emergency food aid.

"Unless something is done to stop the elephant menace we will solicit for
food again, although we had anticipated we would be able to fend for our
families for the better part of the year from the hectarage we had put under
crop," he said.

A joint crop assessment report, released in March by Zimbabwe's Ministry of
Agriculture and the FAO, indicated that a shortage of agricultural inputs,
such as seed and fertilisers, meant Zimbabwe could face another grain
shortfall this year.

FAO said in a statement on 10 April that extremely dry weather in several
provinces of Zimbabwe "is likely to cause serious damage to the main 2008
maize harvest. This could aggravate an already precarious food security
situation in the country."

Hlongwane and Dakamela, who have yet to receive agricultural inputs from the
state, said the destruction wrought by stray elephants was their major

Dakamela said elephants had roamed their districts in the past, but an
electric fence had controlled the movement of wildlife and deterred
elephants from encroaching on villagers' homesteads and crops. The fence has
been vandalised and has fallen into disrepair, while power outages are

The presence of elephants used to be a boon to the villagers, but three
years ago the Communal Areas Management and Programme of Indigenous
Resources (Campfire), collapsed as a result of donor fatigue, depriving the
surrounding communities of the benefit of wildlife management and its

The Campfire system had enabled communities to establish income-generating
businesses, such as tourist lodges, build clinics and schools, and maintain
social structures, quite apart from the protection of their crops afforded
by the electric fences.

Cash-strapped local district councils assumed management of Campfire, but
are grappling to make it sustainable amid an eight-year economic recession
that has brought Zimbabwe the world's highest annual inflation rate of more
than 100,000 percent and a sharp drop in international tourism.

Zeb Mutoki, head of Matabeleland North's National Parks and Wildlife
Authority, said local district council officials were mandated to deal with
problem animals in their areas, and were permitted to enlist professional
hunters to cull problem animals, such as elephants. The proceeds of the cull
were used to compensate villagers who had suffered crop losses.

"Only when the problem is too serious for them to manage and control on
their own do they seek our assistance," Mutoki said. At the moment district
council officials in that area have not sent us an SOS."

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

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