The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Gordon Brown: the world must stop Robert Mugabe

The Times
April 17, 2008

James Bone and Sam Coates in New York
Gordon Brown declared yesterday that the world must stop Robert Mugabe from
stealing the Zimbabwean election and raised the prospect of a run-off
contest supervised by United Nations monitors.

Challenging the Zimbabwean leader and abandoning nearly a decade of British
“soft” diplomacy, the Prime Minister told a UN summit: “No one thinks having
seen the results in polling stations that President Mugabe has won this
election. A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all.”

Mr Brown was speaking at a Security Council meeting in New York chaired by
Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, who did not even mention Zimbabwe.

The South African leader has continued to advocate his policy of “quiet
diplomacy” towards Zimbabwe, which until yesterday was supported by Britain.
In what was regarded as a diplomatic snub, Mr Mbeki cancelled a scheduled
meeting with Mr Brown and instead chatted to him for only a few minutes in a
UN lounge.

The Prime Minister and Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Ambassador to the UN, joined
forces to embrace a proposal by Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, to
send international observers to monitor a possible run-off between Mr Mugabe
and the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“The credibility of the democratic process in Africa could be at stake
here,” the UN chief told the summit. “If there is a second round of
elections, they must be conducted in a fair and transparent manner, with
international observers.”

France joined the growing international chorus. Rama Yade, its Human Rights
Minister, called for the Zimbabwean Government to release the election
results. “The people of Zimbabwe need to know the truth,” she said.

But China, which maintains close relations with Mr Mugabe as part of its
quest for natural resources in Africa, made no mention of Zimbabwe in its
speech. Chinese diplomats say the election stand-off is an internal matter
not appropriate for Security Council involvement.

A UNmonitored run-off could offer a compromise to end the impasse, but
international monitors would need to be invited by the host country. Mr
Mugabe could avoid defeat in the March 29 poll, while Mr Tsvangirai might be
reassured that the result of the rematch would not be rigged as he has

Britain is still calling for the results of the election to be published,
while emphasising that from all the available evidence it appears that Mr
Mugabe lost.

British officials believe the issue must now be addressed by the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC), which is due to meet again this
weekend. Should the SADC conclude that the most sensible way forward is a

Britain wants UN oversight, including election monitors.

Mr Brown discussed the idea with Mr Ban at breakfast yesterday – a day after
the UN chief had spoken to President Bush. “Everybody is angry they have not
seen the election results announced. The General-Secretary has now announced
UN help and if there were to be a second round, they would send observers .
. . I am pleased the UN Secretary-General is dealing with the situation,” Mr
Brown said.

The United States proposed that the UN and African Union send a joint
delegation to press Zimbabwe’s election commission to publish the results of
the March 29 poll.

It was unclear last night how badly damaged Britain’s relations were with
the South African leader, a close ally of Tony Blair’s and new Labour. Mr
Mbeki, who has called the situation in Zimbabwe a “normal electoral process”,
had insisted it was not on the Security Council agenda.

The South African leader earlier cancelled a scheduled sit-down meeting with
Mr Brown in a private room because of a “diary clash”. The meeting was
replaced by what a British official called a five to ten-minute “brush-past”
in a diplomatic lounge backstage before the two walked into the Security
Council together.

South Africa’s UN Ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, said that Mr Mbeki changed
the planned meeting because “he only arrived in the early hours of the
morning”. But another South African official said that Mr Mbeki had arrived
on time in New York before 9pm on Tuesday.

The South African leader faces a growing divide at home with his own ruling
African National Congress (ANC). Mr Mbeki’s silence provided a further
opportunity for Jacob Zuma, head of the ANC, to criticise his policy of
quiet diplomacy. In his toughest statement yet, Mr Zuma said in
Johannesburg: “We once again register our apprehension about the situation
in Zimbabwe. The delay in the verification process and the release of
results increases anxiety each day.”

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Spotlight turned on Zimbabwe at UN council


Wed 16 Apr 2008, 16:48 GMT

By Louis Charbonneau and Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, April 16 (Reuters) - Western states joined the U.N. in
expressing concerns about Zimbabwe's recent election but most African
nations avoided the issue at a Security Council-African Union summit on

"No one thinks, having seen the results of polling stations, that President
(Robert) Mugabe has won" the March 29 elections in Zimbabwe, British Prime
Minister Gordon Brown told the summit.

No results have so far been announced from the presidential vote in the
southern African country, a former British colony.

"A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all," Brown said.
"Let a single clear message go out from here in New York that we ... stand
solidly behind democracy and human rights for Zimbabwe."

South Africa, current president of the Security Council, scheduled the
summit to discuss cooperation between the United Nations and the African
Union (AU). It did not include Zimbabwe as an official topic but many
Western countries had said they would raise the issue.

"I am deeply concerned at the uncertainty created by the prolonged
non-release of the election results in Zimbabwe," U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon told the gathering.

"Absent a transparent solution to this impasse, the situation could
deteriorate further with serious implications for the people of Zimbabwe,"
he said.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who chaired Wednesday's summit, has
insisted that the situation in Zimbabwe is not a crisis and can be resolved
through the Southern Africa Development Community, which has avoided a tough

Without mentioning South Africa or SADC by name, Ban made it clear that he
was not satisfied with this approach.

"The Zimbabwean authorities and the countries of the region have insisted
that these matters are for the region to resolve but the international
community continues to watch and wait for decisive action," Ban said.


One African leader who did mention Zimbabwe was Tanzanian President Jakaya
Kikwete, whose country chairs the AU. He praised the SADC for doing a
"tremendous job ... to ensure that the will of the people of Zimbabwe is

Last week the SADC decided not to adopt a tough stance on Zimbabwe but
Kikwete said it would meet again soon.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said he was "gravely concerned about the
escalating politically motivated violence perpetrated by security forces and
ruling party militias."

Like Brown, he backed Ban's call for international observers to be deployed
in Zimbabwe if a second round of presidential elections were to be held. He
suggested that a joint AU-U.N. mission go to Zimbabwe. Italy, France,
Belgium and Croatia also expressed concern.

Other than Kikwete, no Africans mentioned the issue, including Mbeki, who
focused on a general need to boost cooperation between the AU and Security
Council to improve African peacekeeping operations.

The Security Council is not expected to take any action on Zimbabwe because
of resistance from South Africa and other council members. But any
discussion of the issue at the meeting helps boost the pressure on Mugabe,
Western diplomats say.

Brown, Khalilzad and Ban called for more action to ease the crisis in the
western Sudan region of Darfur, where only 9,000 of the required 26,000
U.N.-AU peacekeepers are deployed.

International experts estimate around 2.5 million people have been displaced
and 200,000 have died in five years of violence in Darfur. Khartoum puts the
death toll at 9,000.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

UN chief urges African leaders to end Zimbabwe crisis

Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Date: 16 Apr 2008

by Gerard Aziakou

UNITED NATIONS, April 16, 2008 (AFP) - UN chief Ban Ki-moon backed by some
Western countries urged southern African leaders Wednesday to take "decisive
action" to end the Zimbabwe crisis, saying the world body stood ready to

"The Zimbabwean authorities and the countries of the region have insisted
that these matters are for the region to resolve," he told a high-level
meeting of the Security Council, referring to the delayed results of
Zimbabwe's March 29 presidential polls.

"But the international community continues to watch and wait for decisive

Officially, the worsening Zimbabwe crisis was not on the agenda of
Wednesday's meeting, but Ban and Western members made it a point to address
the issue.

"The credibility of the democratic process in Africa could be at stake
here," Ban told the meeting hosted by South African President Thabo Mbeki,
whose country chairs the 15-member council this month.

"If there is a second round of elections, they must be conducted in a fair
and transparent manner, with international observers," he added.

Ban urged leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
which have been mediating between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the
country's opposition to continue their efforts.

"The United Nations stands ready to provide assistance in this regard," the
UN secretary general said.

Sunday SADC leaders wrapped up an emergency meeting in Zambia with a call on
Harare to release the election results.

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he beat the 84-year-old
Mugabe outright in the March 29 polls, but the ruling party says neither man
won a clear victory and insists a run-off will be needed.

"No one thinks, having seen the results of polling stations, that President
Mugabe has won this election," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose
country is Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, told the gathering.

"A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all," he added.

"So let a single, clear message go out from here in New York: that we are
and will be vigilant for democratic rights; that we stand solidly behind
democracy and human rights for Zimbabwe. And we stand ready to support
Zimbabweans build a better future."

Plans for a bilateral breakfast meeting between Brown and Mbeki to discuss
Zimbabwe did not materialize as the South Africans cited a scheduling
conflict, according to Michael Hoare, a spokesman for Britain's UN mission.

Brown also canceled a scheduled press conference here.

Mugabe's security forces have clamped down hard on unrest during a general
strike in Zimbabwe, arresting dozens of opposition supporters before the
stoppage fizzled out on Wednesday.

Mbeki has come under fire for telling journalists last week that "there is
no crisis" in Zimbabwe. Mbeki met Mugabe on Saturday in Harare while on his
way to the SADC summit.

In his speech to the council, Mbeki made no mention of the Zimbabwe crisis,
focusing instead on the main theme of the debate: how to bolster ties
between the UN and regional organizations, specifically the African Union.

But France's deputy minister for human rights Rama Yade also briefly raised
Zimbabwe in her address. "The people of Zimbabwe must not be deprived of
their victory, which is the victory of democracy," she said.

Speaking to reporters on her way to the council debate, Yade noted: "We are
concerned about developments and we want the results of this election to be
announced as soon as possible because the people of Zimbabwe needs the truth
of this electoral verdict."

Also attending Wednesday's meeting were the presidents of Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC), Ivory Coast, Somalia and Tanzania as well as the
prime ministers of Italy, and Ethiopia.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

US slams "politically motivated" violence in Zimbabwe

Yahoo News

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The US ambassador to the UN Wednesday expressed
concern about the "escalating politically motivated" violence in Zimbabwe
and urged a joint role by UN and the African Union to resolve the election

"We are gravely concerned about the escalating politically-motivated
violence perpetrated by (Zimbabwean) security forces and ruling party
militias," Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told a high-level meeting of the UN
Security Council.

He said the time had come for the UN to back efforts by southern African
leaders to settle the crisis "through a joint mission with the African Union
to ensure that... the will of the Zimbabwean people is upheld."

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's security forces clamped down hard on
unrest during a general strike in Zimbabwe, arresting dozens of opposition
supporters before the stoppage fizzled out on Wednesday.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims he beat 84-year-old Mugabe
outright in the presidential election last month, but the ruling party says
neither man won a clear victory and insists a run-off will be needed.

Official results have not been published.

Sunday Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders wrapped up an
emergency meeting in Zambia with a call on Harare to release the election

"The (Harare) government and its supporters must desist immediately from
violence and intimidation, act with restraint, respect human rights, and
allow the electoral process to continue unfettered," Khalilzad said.

And he expressed support for UN chief Ban Ki-moon's call for international
observers to monitor any second round of the Zimbabwean presidential poll.

"If there is a second round of elections, they must be conducted in a fair
and transparent manner, with international observers," Ban told the council
meeting earlier in the day.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

UN's Africa Summit Warns Africa's Credibility At Stake Over Zimbabwe Stalemate


(RTTNews) - The Robert Mugabe regime once again became the object of rising
international criticism over its reluctance to acknowledge defeat in the
Zimbabwe general elections, as the UN Security Council'sAfrica summit
convened to debate ways to strengthen the UN-AU working relationship warned
that Africa's credibility is at stake unless democracy is upheld in

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent a clear message to Harare by
calling upon the world not to let Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe steal
the presidential elections.

"No one thinks, having seen the result at the polling stations, that
President Mugabe has won this election," Brown told the summit held in New
York to debate peacekeeping in Africa.

"A stolen election would not be an election at all," Brown said, adding that
his government "will do everything to encourage efforts" to resolve the
dispute, including mediation by the Southern African Development Community
and the UN.

Expressing concern over the uncertainty created by the lack of transparency
in Zimbabwe's elections, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded, "If
there is a second round of elections, they must be conducted in a fair and
transparent manner, with international observers."

The summit was convened to strengthen the African Union's peacekeeping
capabilities in the context that conflicts in the African continent have
taken up 60 percent of UN peacekeeping operations.

Ban Ki-moon has proposed setting up a UN-AU panel to study ways for both
sides to meet the challenges in Africa.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on Zimbabwe

European Union (EU)

Date: 16 Apr 2008

8509/08 (Presse 100)
P 051/08

Brussels, 16 April 2008 - The European Union is following the situation in
Zimbabwe closely and welcomes the holding of the Extraordinary SADC Summit
to discuss Zimbabwe, hosted by President Mwanawasa of Zambia in his capacity
of Chair of SADC. It shares SADC's concern about the situation and welcomes
its efforts to find a regional solution.

The European Union supports the Summit's call for the expeditious release of
the Presidential election results, in accordance with the due process of
law. It reiterates its concern at the prolonged and unexplained delay in
releasing the Presidential results which is undermining the credibility of
the process.

The European Union expresses its deep concern about the current
deteriorating situation in the field of human rights and the increasing
reports of violent incidents.

The European Union reiterates the importance of respect for democratic
principles and for the elections to be a credible reflection of the free and
democratic will of the Zimbabwean people.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and
potential candidates Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries
Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as the
Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.

Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of
the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim inflation soars to 164 800 percent


April 16 2008 at 06:45PM

Harare - Inflation in Zimbabwe, already the world's highest, soared to
164 900 percent year-on-year in February, the Central Statistics Office
(CSO) said on Wednesday.

"The year-on-year inflation rate (annual percentage change) for the
month of February 2008...stood at 164 900,3 percent, gaining 64 320,1
percentage points on the January rate of 100 580,2 percent," the CSO said.

"The month-on-month inflation rate (monthly percentage change) in
February 2008 was 125,9 percent gaining 5,1 percentage points on the January
2008 rate of 120,8 percent."

Zimbabwe's economy is near collapse, with chronic food shortages and
80 percent unemployment. A quarter of the population has fled the country as
economic refugees.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Union: Over 130 White Farmers Driven Off Land


HARARE, Zimbabwe (AFP)--A Zimbabwe farmers union said Wednesday more than
130 white farmers had been driven off their land by supporters of President
Robert Mugabe, and around 30 hadn't able to return to their farms.

Trevor Gifford, president of the Commercial Farmers Union, said at least 134
farmers had been affected by a new wave of farm occupations by hardline
supporters of Mugabe amid rising tensions over the results of recent polls.

"The majority of white farmers have been able to return to their farms and
continue farming," Gifford said in a statement. "Regrettably, we cannot say
this for all as the remainder are facing a variety of difficult situations."

Around 30 farmers are still trying to get back to their farms, he said,
adding intimidation is still rife.

"Some of those who are still on the farms are still facing repeated
harassment and abuse despite police intervention," he said. "In some cases
the police are reluctant to get involved as they indicate that the issue is
now political."

Jabulani Sibanda, leader of Zimbabwe's so-called war veterans who took part
in the country's independence struggle and were at the forefront of land
invasions eight years ago, has denied recent recurrences on mostly
white-owned farms.

Sibanda said war veterans had merely gone to investigate claims whites were
preparing to "take back the land" after opposition Movement for Democratic
Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai declared he had won the presidential poll.

Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF has been fanning the flames of the land issue in a
bid to discredit Tsvangirai, whom they typecast as a pro-Western stooge
planning to resettle the whites.

Zimbabwe launched its controversial and often violent land reforms eight
years ago seizing at least 4,000 properties formerly operated by white
farmers, and pledging to redistribute them to landless blacks.

An estimated 400 white farmers now remain in the country.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Army Terrorizing Opposition Supporters Countrywide

SW Radio Africa (London)

16 April 2008
Posted to the web 16 April 2008

Lance Guma

Soldiers and militants loyal to Robert Mugabe's regime have unleashed a
terror campaign that the MDC on Wednesday compared to the beginnings of the
Rwandan genocide in 1994.

In an interview on our Behind the Headlines series MDC spokesman Nelson
Chamisa said the brutal attacks on their supporters countrywide will
ultimately cost many lives, including the two who have already been killed
in Karoi and Mudzi.

In Magunje soldiers made villagers line up and forced them to hold bullets
while demanding they meditate with their eyes closed, on why they voted for
the opposition. One by one they were forced to reveal who they voted for in
the election while soldiers asked menacingly, 'do you want to start a war
with Zanu PF?' Military experts have described the tactic as a Chinese
psychological torture technique. The MDC have also revealed that ordinary
Zanu PF militia have been given army combat gear to wear and so
distinguishing genuine soldiers from fake ones has become difficult.

Village elders in Magunje were also questioned on why they did not ensure
their people voted for Zanu PF. Two village leaders bravely defied the
soldiers and told them to strip them of their 'village head' status if they
wanted. One of them, Forbes Chambati, ran on an MDC ticket for the
parliamentary elections in the area. Although he lost to a Zanu PF
candidate, Chamisa says MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai had more votes than
Mugabe in the presidential election. The results were posted outside polling
stations in the area and could be clearly seen.

In Chatsworth soldiers have ransacked villages at Injama farm and abducted
all the polling agents who worked for the MDC during the election. In Gutu
in an area called Chiguhuni, similar attacks have occurred. In Mutasa South
the party reports that over 500 villagers have been made homeless after
soldiers ransacked and burnt their homes. Those affected have moved to Old
Mutare. Chamisa says their social welfare department is struggling to cope
with the refugee crisis that is developing.

In Gokwe an MDC supporter was shot in both legs on Tuesday and has been
admitted to a hospital in Gokwe centre. Again Zanu PF militants masquerading
as soldiers were behind the attack. In Seke a group of war veterans moved
around the villages wielding guns and threatening those who voted for the
opposition. In Zaka, Tsholotsho and other rural areas the stories are the

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights has meanwhile confirmed
that its members have treated more than 150 patients beaten and tortured
since the March 29 election. The doctors say the injuries clearly stemmed
from organised violence and torture. Over 30 patients were from the Mudzi
area alone. 'The commonest injury observed was extensive soft tissue injury
of the buttocks. This results from prolonged beating with a hard blunt
object" the doctors said. The doctors urged authorities to 'cease the use of
intimidation, violence and torture as a form of retribution or

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC Say Over 50 Arrested in Stayaway Crackdown

SW Radio Africa (London)

16 April 2008
Posted to the web 16 April 2008

Lance Guma

Over 50 opposition supporters have been arrested in a clampdown by security
forces, targeting those who participated in Tuesday's stayaway.

Although police have only confirmed the arrest of 30 opposition activists
the MDC insists the figure is much higher, with suggestions that over 100
might have been picked up countrywide. According to MDC spokesman Nelson
Chamisa most of those arrested are MDC staff members and include a recently
elected member of parliament.

The MDC called for a stayaway Tuesday to press for the release of
presidential election results.

Former student leader Marvellous Khumalo who won the St Mary's constituency,
Director of Information Luke Tamborinyoka, administrators Kudakwashe
Matibiri and Fortune Goveya are some of those being held at Harare Central
police station. Police claim those arrested barricaded streets and stoned
buses that were transporting workers in the morning.

With 80 percent unemployment and most people self-employed, the response to
the stayaway was low key. There were however enough incidents to suggest a
restive population. Angry youths in Harare threw a burning tyre into a bus,
setting it alight, while others clashed with soldiers and police in the
early hours of the morning. The situation was calm late in the afternoon and
most shops and businesses made the decision to open at that time. Chamisa
says they have received several reports that companies who took heed of the
stayaway are being victimised by state security agents.

He noted a high number of soldiers deployed around the suburbs with police
almost, 'invisible.' He accused the soldiers of haphazardly beating up
residents, in a clear attempt at intimidation.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Students Riot At Bulawayo's Nust University

SW Radio Africa (London)

16 April 2008
Posted to the web 16 April 2008

Lance Guma

Students at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo
rioted on campus Wednesday, demanding that Robert Mugabe step down as
Chancellor of the University.

The demonstration is said to have turned violent when riot police entered
the campus and started beating up students indiscriminately. Angry students
then turned on one member of the police force who was brandishing a pistol,
and stoned him. Several cars and buildings were stoned during the

The students are angry about the poor educational standards in the country
and blame Mugabe's misrule for their plight. They also demanded a release of
presidential election results, which have still not been announced 18 days
after Zimbabweans voted. Zimbabwe National Students Union President Clever
Bere warned Mugabe that students would make the country 'ungovernable' if he
tried to 'steal' the election.

The students have declared they will go on an indefinite class boycott while
they wait for new a Chancellor to be installed. They said Mugabe's term
expired on March 28th. Meanwhile another statement from ZINASU says over 300
students at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare demonstrated against the
withholding of presidential election results. A branch of the Commercial
Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ), which operates from campus, was shut down during the

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Ship allegedly carrying arms for Zim in Durban

Sunday Independent, SA

16 April 2008, 11:36

An uncleared vessel - suspected of carrying arms - docked at the Durban
harbour, the National Ports authority said on Wednesday.

Spokesperson Ricky Bhikraj said the Chinese vessel had entered the port
without clearance and had currently docked at the outer anchorage.

The ship - called 'An Yue Jiang' is suspected of carrying a consignment of
arms allegedly headed for Zimbabwe.

A Port side police source told Sapa the ship was carrying arms and had
docked at the harbour on April 14.

He said there were rumours that it was to deliver arms to Zimbabwe.

Bhikraj confirmed that a vessel by that name had entered the Port of Durban.

"We can confirm that there is an uncleared vessel (not cleared to enter
port) by that name currently at the outer anchorage. The allegations are
being handled by the various national security authorities," he said.

Noseweek editor Martin Welz earlier told Sapa: "The cargo ship was openly
delivering a containment of arms for Zimbabwe."

Asked where he had obtained the information from, Welz said it was his own

Bhikraj, meanwhile, said the vessel had to follow procedures.

"There is a normal process for all ISPS (International Ship and Ports
Security) vessels to be cleared to enter the port.

He said this vessel would now have to go through that process and that it
could take quite some time before it is cleared.

He said if the vessel was not cleared, it would not be allowed to enter a
South African port.

Asked whether there had been arms on the ship, Bhikraj said: "We can't
comment on the whether arms were or were not on the vessel"

Dennis Abrio of the national branch of the South African Police Service said
they would comment on the matter once they had details.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said he
could not comment on the matter. - Sapa

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe's partisans begin the witch hunt

Globe and Mail, Canada


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

April 16, 2008 at 3:51 AM EDT

JOHANNESBURG — Their first target is Nelia Gomba, a tall, frail woman in her
late 40s. She is visibly shivering when a young woman in military fatigues
drags her out of the crowd.

"This is Nelia and she is here to make a confession," the young woman shouts
to the four dozen people packed into the community hall. Then she pins Ms.
Gomba to the ground.

But the older woman, her face on the floor, says nothing. And so two more
youths step forward carrying leather whips.

In the crowd, Ms. Gomba's daughter, Synodia, begins to scream, but is
quickly silenced with a cracking slap from another youth in fatigues.

At the front of the room, the youth kicks Ms. Gomba in the face and blood
starts to ooze from her nose. "That is what you get for trying to sneak the
MDC through the backdoor," she snarls. Then they begin to use the whips. At
first Ms. Gomba cries out; in response, the youths hit her harder.
Eventually she stops screaming, and the noise as the whips hit her body is
the only sound in the room. The crowd sits silent in the light of flickering
paraffin lamps. Ms. Gomba loses consciousness after 15 minutes of this, and
her family is ordered to carry her away.

In Zimbabwe's national election on March 29, Nelia Gomba volunteered as a
polling agent for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. For the
past 28 years, the people of this small farming village 100 kilometres
southeast of the capital Harare have voted, in election after election, for
Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.

They were driven by a combination of loyalty for the party's role in the
liberation struggle and fear of retribution if they voted otherwise.

A bit more than two weeks ago, the people of Chiduku said, "Enough."

Driven to desperation by an economy that has contracted faster than any in
history, by inflation of more than 150,000 per cent annually and by
recurring food shortages, they voted overwhelmingly for the MDC, and its
presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai.

Now they are being made to pay for that act of electoral bravery.

On April 1, Zimbabwe's electoral commission announced that this and many
other constituencies had gone to the MDC, enough to give the party control
of Parliament for the first time in Zimbabwe's history.

Five days later, the youth militia arrived.

There are about 25 of them and they have established a rough camp in the
hills above the village.

They wear the rough green fatigues that gave the infamous militia its
nickname, the Green Bombers. Shortly after they arrived, a few of them came
down to meet with the chief of this and each of the four nearby villages,
and gave each a message: They expected to be regularly supplied with food
and water.

And that first night, around 8 o'clock, they moved through the villages,
carrying sticks and whips, and ordered everyone to attend a meeting. People
were told that if their relatives and neighbours were not there, they would
be held accountable.

The meetings are called pungwe, the chiShona word for "a night vigil."

They originated in the war of liberation, when resistance fighters would
stealthily gather rural people together to indoctrinate them politically on
the need to end colonial rule.

The militias created by Mr. Mugabe four years ago have now been deployed
around the country to take measures to ensure that none of the
constituencies that voted for the MDC would do it again in a run-off

Outsiders are never allowed to witness these meetings; a Globe contributor
sneaked in to the Chiduku gathering last Saturday night to provide a rare
first-hand account.

At the opening of the meeting, the crowd was ordered to join in singing
liberation war-era songs urging people to take their guns and fight for
their country: "sell-outs must be killed," the lyrics go. Then there were
speeches, denunciations from militia members who appeared to be high on
drugs of "traitors," "rabid dogs of the west" and "puppets."

After midnight, the demonstrations of the cost of voting MDC began, with the
whipping of Ms. Gomba. When she had been carried, bloodied, from the room,
the youth dragged up Naison Ngwerume, an MDC activist from the area; the
youth told the crowd that they found posters in his bedroom showing Mr.

"These are the rotten apples in this district," said the youth leader, a
short, hardened man with a bald head. "We shall not allow them to
contaminate the whole lot of you."

Mocking youths ordered Mr. Ngwerume, a farmer in his early 30s, to stand on
his head for 20 minutes. He battled to maintain his balance and struggled in
obvious pain. The youth laughed hysterically. And when he at last collapsed,
they moved in and whipped him.

The meeting went on like this four hours: four more people who were accused
of supporting the MDC were pulled from the crowd and beaten while everyone
else, including their families, was forced to watch.

At dawn, the villagers were released, told to go home - and return that
night for another session. The pungwe continue to be held every night.

Teresa Shito, a 54-year-old farmer and a mother of three, knew the terror
had begun before the pungwe. She awoke last Thursday, before dawn to the
sound of voices outside her straw-roofed home.

Outside the door, she found a knot of the youth militia who now run the
village. And they had a message for her.

"They said I was an MDC prostitute because I attended their rally here," Ms.
Shito said. "Then one of the youth flicked a lit matchstick on to the roof
of my thatched hut."

Neighbours rushed to help her put out the flames before they could spread to
other houses. The youth disappeared.

But she lost everything she owned, she said, including the clay pots her
mother made for her when she was married - she had used them each day for
more than 20 years.

Squads of Green Bombers like those in Chiduku, and other groups of
paramilitaries including "war veterans," have been deployed in every
district across the country, using similar tactics.

In Mutoko, 160 kilometres to the north of Harare, 20 houses were burned last
weekend. Five were torched in Murehwa, 80 kilometres north, on Sunday night.

With a report from a contributor in Chiduko, Zimbabwe

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwean Government ‘helps itself’ to cash lifeline

University of Manchester

16 Apr 2008

The criminalisation of people who depend on cash and goods from their
relatives living abroad has forced almost half of Zimbabweans into extreme
ways of avoiding the clutches of ZANU-PF ‘cash barons’ according to a new
Researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Zimbabwe found that of the
50 per cent of households who receive ‘remittances’, between 90 and 95 per
cent use secretive means to bring in the desperately needed cash – risking
prison, confiscation or being forced to pay bribes.

The migrant workers’ measures - which includes secretively bringing goods on
foot from South Africa, or paying anonymous third parties from Britain - are
an effort to avoid the ZANU-PF Government controlled banks and money
changers where their assets are ‘disappeared’.

According to the study, most of the households are driven to find money
changers not linked to the Government – a high risk strategy which could end
in them loosing the cash or being threatened with prison if found out.

The study of 300 Zimbabwean urban households provides a stark snapshot of
how the country’s economic collapse has affected the everyday fight for
survival of its citizens, many of whom are mired in unemployment, sickness
and poverty.

Foreign currency must by law be exchanged into local currency and anyone
caught trading in dollars can be threatened with prison.

And anyone can be asked by police to produce a foreign currency receipt -
failure to do so can result in confiscation of cash or goods.

Dr Sarah Bracking from The University of Manchester, said: “Financial
meltdown in Zimbabwe means some people are getting rich quick while the
desperately poor are harassed and hounded by the government and other state
organisations into giving up their lifelines from abroad.

“Zimbabweans are forced into playing a criminalized game of ‘cat and mouse’
with the authorities over the possession of their own money.

“It is an economy of dispossession: members of the political class control
some informal sector money changers for their own gain, while money changing
is criminalized for everyone else.

“There are ‘cash barons’ at the heart of government: some banks are rumoured
to be owned by top officials within the ruling party.

“It’s an intolerable situation as households depend hugely on remittances
for their survival – and can explain why some people risk trading with
foreign currency at great enormous risk to themselves.

”It’s also appalling to think that this is happening to the many Zimbabweans
living in Britain who work and subsist on perhaps 60 hours of minimum wage a
week – mainly in care work- to keep their relatives alive.”

She added: “Though rarely confiscated outright, Zimbabwean banks convert
remittances into local currency so that the vast majority of the value of
the foreign exchange is lost.

“If that doesn’t happen, the banks periodically run out of money, or limit
daily withdrawals, so you have to queue for weeks.

“Senior Zanu PF members on the other hand are simply allocated foreign
currency which is converted from Zimdollars at sky high rates.

“Our small snapshot between November 2005 and November 2006 in the
remittance economy of Zimbabwe showed how the trust needed to facilitate
remote economic exchange is declining alarmingly.

“Because of the concerns over security, the families we spoke to were
increasingly unwilling to use remote, unknown, or institutional means of
money transfer or exchange.

“Informal sector commercial institutions were also less used in 2006 than
2005, while an increase in personal transit was observed.

“Together with the constant devaluation of Zimdollar receipts because of
Zimbabwe’s plummeting currency, it’s hard to imagine things getting much

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe's Money Men

National Review

April 16, 2008 12:00 PM

Giesecke & Devrient's bank notes are abetting Zimbabwe's financial crisis.

By Roger Bate

A company with links to a U.S. government contractor is enabling
Robert Mugabe despotic rule in Zimbabwe by printing bank notes. In the past
month, these increasingly worthless notes have been used to bribe officials
in the public sector, army, and other public-security services to curry
votes for the Mugabe regime.

In the weeks prior to the March 29 election, with Zimbabwe’s economy
collapsing and inflation already running at 100,000 percent, a German
company called Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) ran its printing presses at maximum
capacity, delivering 432,000 sheets of banknotes to Mugabe’s government each
week. The money, equivalent to nearly Z$173 trillion (U.S. $32 million), was
then dispersed among targeted voters.

Despite the Mugabe regime’s efforts — illegal as well legal —
independent observers say the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the election. But the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission has not released the results. The MDC is fearful that
Mugabe is maneuvering to steal a potential run-off contest between the top
two candidates (which Zimbabwean law requires within 21 days of the original
election if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in the first
round), or may be tampering with the original vote to fabricate a majority
that will ensure his victory. In the meantime, his security services have
banned rallies, beaten up MDC politicians, briefly arrested two foreign
journalists, and forbidden any EU or U.S. election observers.

Mugabe has also used currency printed by G&D to pay thugs to squat on
some of the few white-owned farms remaining in the country. According to one
local I spoke with, Mugabe wants “to continue the myth that Northerners are
only interested in Zimbabwe because white farmers are being harmed.” As if
to demonstrate the point, at the same time that regional leaders met in
Zambia to discuss the crisis, a column in the Herald, Zimbabwe’s state-run
newspaper, decried the idea that “African leaders are supposed to do the
bidding of the white West. . . . to pressure Zimbabwe to abet the regime
change agenda.”

G&D has directly contributed to a meltdown. According to the Sunday
Times of London, the company is receiving more than $750,000 a week from the
Mugabe regime “for delivering notes at the astonishing rate of Z$170
trillion a week.” Inflation caused by this reckless currency printing has
destroyed once-sustainable food markets and stymied business investment, and
has contributed to thousands of deaths a week from malnutrition and disease.
The black market value of the Zimbabwe dollar has dropped by 70 percent
against the U.S. dollar since the mass printing of bank notes began recently
(official exchange rates are now irrelevant).

The international community would just like the issue to disappear.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken a rhetorically strong stance
against the Mugabe regime, and has supported EU travel and banking sanctions
against its cronies. But her government says that G&D’s involvement in
Zimbabwe is a private matter.

While the U.S. government has placed effective sanctions on the leaders of
the regime in Harare, it is still contracting with G&D’s American affiliate
to provide security-card and banknote services. (The Treasury Department’s
latest contract with the company is worth $381,200). State Department
officials would only speak on background, but it appears that there is no
official policy or position on G&D. Since G&D America is an independently
listed U.S. business doing no business with Zimbabwe, it’s likely that
Treasury will take no action against the company. No one at G&D’s offices in
Dulles, Virginia, would answer the phone or return our messages.

Western complicity in Mugabe’s despotism is egregious, but African leaders
have been far worse. The weekend after an emergency meeting with Mugabe,
South African president Thabo Mbeki (who received shelter from Mugabe during
the dark days of apartheid), claimed that “there is no crisis in Zimbabwe,”
a theme that was repeated at a summit of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC). The summit, hosted by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa,
started strongly by making the unprecedented move of inviting MDC leader
Tsvangirai to attend, widely seen as an acknowledgement that he had won the
election. (Mugabe decided not to attend.) But after 12 hours of
deliberation, stretching well into the early hours of Sunday, SADC’s
delegates scurried away, leaving Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Kabinga
Pande, to deliver a thin statement calling for a verification of election
results in the presence of candidates and observers. He claimed that both
parties had agreed that the election was free and fair and that there was no

MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti flatly rejects this claim. At a press
conference shortly after the summit, he praised the SADC for having “the
guts” to hold the meeting at all, but said the crisis was far from resolved.
Indeed, the High Court of Zimbabwe has rejected an MDC appeal for the
government to publish results within the statutorily required two-week
window following the election (the window closed last Friday.) The Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission’s offer to hold a recount of the presidential and
parliamentary poll is not consistent with Zimbabwean law, which requires a

At the SADC Summit, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan of Ghana warned
the leaders at the summit they had “a grave responsibility to act, not only
because of the negative spillover effects on the region, but also to ensure
that democracy, human rights and the rule of law are respected.” They can
hardly be said to have fulfilled that responsibility yet.

Until they do, G&D can encourage better practices in Zimbabwe by turning off
the currency spigot. As reported by SecureID News in 2008, G&D operated in
53 countries and had 2006 revenues totaling almost 1.3 billion euros, about
U.S.$1.9 billion. Its Zimbabwe revenue stream is tiny and according to at
least one government source, the company is well-respected internationally.
But it would do well to protect this reputation by doing the right thing and
cutting its ties to Mugabe and his thugs.

Of course, one could argue that G&D might actually be precipitating the
collapse of the Mugabe regime by driving up inflation and deepening Zimbabwe’s
financial crisis. One Zimbabwean economist suggested that inflation may now
be nearing 15,000 percent a month, which is destroying any sustainable
agricultural markets on which the poorest depend. Thousands die weekly as a

If G&D does not take action, the EU should. They should threaten to deny any
future contracts to companies providing direct services to the Mugabe
regime. It’s appalling, as MDC Shadow Justice Minister David Coltart told
me, “that a German company is profiting out of Zimbabweans’ despair,”
fueling inflation by printing dollars “which are then used to fund Mugabe’s
campaign of repression.”

— Roger Bate is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and
co-author of “Despotism and Disease,” a report on Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tsvangirai says 'Yes - but...'

Zimbabwe Today

Why the MDC leader has changed his mind

A spokesman for Morgan Tsvangirai and his party, the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) said last night that the opposition leader will take part in a
run-off presidential election - but only if certain specific conditions are

These conditions, said George Sibotshiwe, are first, a secure and peaceful
environment in Zimbabwe, and second, rigorous international monitoring of
the voting itself, and of the subsequent count.

He repeated the MDC view that current conditions made a free and fair vote
impossible, and he called for the Southern African Development Community
(SADC), the association of heads of state in the region, to oversee every
stage of any new count.

The MDC believe that Tsvangirai won the election last month outright. The
results have still not been made public, despite a call yesterday by the
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for the "very transparent and
expeditious release of election results."

Meanwhile British premier Gordon Brown is expected to raise the subject of
Zimbabwe on his current visit to the US. And in South Africa the ruling
African National Congress made a surprisingly strong comment, describing the
situation in the country as "dire".

Reports of the General Strike, which began yesterday and is intended to last
until the results of the presidential election are announced, were varied
and confused.

To encourage people to ignore the strike call, the government provided
transport by bus at half fare in some parts of Harare. In the Warren Park
area of the capital a 72-seater bus was set on fire, but passengers were
asked to disembark first, and there were no injuries.

Police blamed this and other bus burnings on MDC activists. but an MDC
spokeman denied this, saying that Zanu-PF supporters were trying to tarnish
the image of the opposition.

There were also reports of sporadic violence, with police and riot troops
attacking people on the streets. MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said:
"The strike was peaceful until the police and the army started beating up
people. This shows that the regime is willing to bury democracy."

Biti claimed that violence by state militia in rural areas, especially in
those where voters showed strong support for the MDC in the elections, has
so far resulted in the death of two MDC activists, with another 200 people

Posted on Wednesday, 16 April 2008 at 05:26

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe court acquits 2 foreigners of illegally covering vote

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: April 16, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: A Zimbabwean judge has cleared two foreigners of charges
of reporting on the country's election without proper accreditation.

Magistrate Gloria Takundwa says the state failed to prove "reasonable
suspicion of them practicing as journalists." The New York Times
correspondent and a British man were arrested April 3. They have been free
on bail for more than a week but have not been allowed to leave the country
pending the court ruling.

It was not immediately clear if they received their passports following
their acquittals Wednesday.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe and Chinese soldiers cause stir as homes are burnt

A GROUP of Chinese soldiers caused a stir last night in the eastern
border city of Mutare as they patrolled the city centre along with
Zimbabwean security forces.

Wednesday 16 April 2008, by Bruce Sibanda

from our correspondent in Harare

About 20 Chinese soldiers all carrying revolvers, were part of a heavy
security deployment in the city centre as the oppostion strike "until
results are released’ was suppressed.

While the situation in the city was generally calm, as residents went about
their normal business during the day despite the call by the opposition to
stage a strike, policemen, all armed with AK rifles, teargas canisters and
baton sticks with some driving around in water canons, patrolled the poorer
residential areas of the city, residents there said.

Confirmation from the Hotel

The Chinese soldiers, along with about 70 Zimbabwean senior army officers
are booked in at 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. she said its
is strange for armed solders to be booked at hotels as there are many
barracks in Mutare. They are booked for a week, she said.

This comes amid widespread reports that incidence of violence targeting
opposition supporters is escalating in Manicaland Province.

This has 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.

Violence displaces over 1000

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, said 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 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.

MDC supporters arrested and their houses burned

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.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Little real agreement at bloc party

From The Star (SA), 16 April

Fiona Forde

More than 12 hours of intense and often bitter debate in Lusaka this weekend
appear to have divided the Southern African Development Community on the
Zimbabwe crisis, rather than bringing it closer to a solution to the
weeks-long electoral impasse. And it is a divide that has cast a sharp light
on the cracks in the 28-year-old community that separates a new progressive
front from the old guard. Rather than address the issue of how best to deal
with a man who refuses to relinquish three decades of power, the
conservative front of the 14-member bloc - Thabo Mbeki among them - appears
to have got lost instead in its fears of Morgan Tsvangirai, the head of the
trade-union-backed MDC, who, like it or not, has made massive inroads into
Zimbabwean politics. The SADC leaders closed the doors of their emergency
meeting shortly before 5pm on Saturday afternoon. And it was at 5.10am the
next morning when they emerged with a resolution in their hands that merely
called on Zimbabwe to hasten the verification and release of the March 29
presidential election results and appealed to all parties to accept the
verdict of their state-run electoral authority. In the event of a recount,
the SADC has offered to send its Election Observer Mission to monitor the
process. Yet there was no mention of the fact that the Zimbabwean Electoral
Commission was moved to a private location more than a week ago - hence
there is no knowing what became of the original votes, or indeed whatever
became of the 3-million extra ballot papers that were printed in the run-up
to the controversial election.

There was nothing in the disappointing document that reflected Zambian
President Levy Mwanawasa's promising remarks hours earlier when he told the
opening ceremony that standing by and doing nothing was no longer an option
where Zimbabwe was concerned. It was time to shed light on the darkness and
allow our neighbours to turn a new leaf, he said. Indeed, there was nothing
in the final document that ever veered too far away from Thabo Mbeki's own
stance of quiet diplomacy. With the exception of a call for an immediate
release of the results, it seemed to offer a verdict that our outgoing
president will no doubt read as a victory for himself, just as Robert Mugabe
has undoubtedly interpreted it as a weak effort on the part of his regional
peers to rein him in. The ink was hardly dry on the communique when the
Harare High Court ruled against the MDC's challenge to the delayed release
of the results. "It was the best we could do under the circumstances," SADC
executive secretary Tomaz Salamao told Independent Newspapers after the
meeting ended. Zambia's Foreign Minister Kabinga Pande said the SADC is of
the view that "there is no crisis" in Zimbabwe, echoing Mbeki's
controversial words from Harare on Saturday morning. If such is their view,
then it is clear that the SADC is not the power to turn to for crisis
management in the region. But it begs the question as to why they called an
emergency summit in the first place and what happened behind the scenes to
dampen Mwanawasa's earlier promise to speak up rather than stay quiet. "He
and many others did speak out," a delegate of the Mauritian team told
Independent Newspapers, "but the problem is that the voices of the new blood
are lost in the blanket of old conservatism."

Present on Saturday were eight heads of state, among them presidents from
Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique,
Angola, Malawi and Botswana, whose recently elected Ian Khama is a newcomer
to the group. The remaining SADC countries of Tanzania, Lesotho, Swaziland,
Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Mauritius were represented by ministers or
ambassadors. No man was alone - they each brought with them an army of
advisers and officials. It is understood that Botswana, Malawi and Mauritius
had repeatedly pushed for a more hardened stance in dealing with the
84-year-old Mugabe. Khama has rarely been reticent in recent weeks in
speaking out about his support for Tsvangirai and his belief that the time
has come for change. On the other hand, Malawi is widely seen as a friend of
Simba Makoni, and if not a clear backer of Tsvangirai, Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika
shares Khama's view that Mugabe's term in office ended a long time ago.

The moderate voice of Mwanawasa often reflected their thinking throughout
the day and it was assumed that Tanzania would have followed suit.
Unfortunately in the absence of President Jakaya Kikwete, "the Tanzanians
said very little", one South African delegate said. They met with heavy
resistance from Mozambique's Armando Guebuza, Joseph Kabila of the DRC and
Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia throughout the day, and to the surprise of
many, Lesao Lehohla, the deputy prime minister of Lesotho, who stayed firmly
on the side of the Zimbabwean delegation. However, "the one who surprised us
most was Angola", according to one delegate from Malawi. "They went with the
flow all day and didn't put up any resistance." Although Jose Eduardo dos
Santos is widely seen as an ally of Mugabe - and who this time last year
offered to send troops to Zimbabwe in the wake of unrest - his position is
said to have changed dramatically in recent weeks and it is understood that
he, too, believes a change of leadership is in the best interests of the
region. However, as he goes into his own elections later this year, Dos
Santos is strategic in his positioning as he will be mindful not attract too
much attention to a hardline view at this point in time.

Yet all delegates repeatedly found themselves challenged by a number of
leaders, Mbeki among them, who are loathe to endorse a Tsvangirai presidency
for fear of trade unionism taking hold in the region, and who are equally
reluctant to stand up to or criticise veteran liberation icons. But their
positions were rarely tolerated by Mwanawasa and, for the first time, Mbeki
watched his seniority in the camp erode. A number of times throughout the
day he was taken to task by his Zambian counterpart, who is also the
chairperson of the SADC and who repeatedly appealed for honest brokerage
where Zimbabwe was concerned. On more than one occasion, he called on Mbeki
to be "sincere" in his approach. "Mbeki kept flip-flopping. He would argue
with one side, then with the other. But Mwanawasa wouldn't take it," a
member of the Angolan delegation explained. The Zambian leader had made it
clear from the onset that it was an emergency summit that required an urgent
response. He refused to accept Mugabe's input to the meeting, which came by
way of Mbeki. "If Robert Mugabe has anything to say to me as chairperson,
then he can talk to me himself," Mwanawasa retorted, reminding Mbeki that he
was creating the impression that he was becoming "Mugabe's messenger". The
two men all but came to blows later in the night when Mbeki showed
reluctance in allowing Tsvangirai to address the meeting, although it had
apparently been talked of in advance. Mwanawasa told him as much, reminding
the South African president that they had discussed it by phone a couple of
days before the summit. "Would you like the whole house to hear the contents
of our conversation?" he boldly asked an irate Mbeki, stopping short of
accusing him of peddling mistruths.

While it was clearly reasonable for many delegates to argue that Tsvangirai
could not be afforded equal status as SADC heads of state, it was agreed
that his input was crucial to understanding both sides of the saga, and it
was late on Saturday night when he and Simba Makoni finally addressed the
group, "in an informal meeting", Salamao was quick to note. It was Mutharika
of Malawi who reminded the house that "we don't need to take our
understanding of what's happening in Zimbabwe from CNN and international
news channels. We have a man next door who can explain it to us instead."
Tsvangirai was taken from the ante-room and during the hour-long session
reiterated his claims of recent weeks. It is understood that the DRC and
Mozambique told him that just because he had won the parliamentary
elections, it did not make him the winner of the presidential poll. It
presented Makoni with an opportunity to lay claim to his belief that he
would be an ideal candidate to lead a transitional government to move beyond
what he termed "a hung parliament". But it was Mbeki who reminded him that
it was both inconceivable and illegal to step up to the presidential podium
with just a tenth of the electorate behind him. Throughout the day, the
Zimbabwean delegates sought an opportunity to sway the SADC. "They painted a
complete picture, which we hadn't seen before," said JT Metsing, the
principal secretary of Lesotho's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Zimbabwean
delegates claimed the MDC was strategically attempting to delay the release
of the results with their various court challenges. They argued that it was
improper for Tsvangirai to announce himself the presidential winner without
any legal basis to his argument, a line that found favour among many of the
hardline delegates.

They proceeded to tell the meeting that Tsvangirai's men had blatantly
falsified figures and stole votes in the MDC man's favour while they were
being telephoned through to Harare from the various polling stations. In
Mwanawasa's view, this was stretching their imagination just a tad too far.
The chairperson reminded his guests of his legal background and
understanding of how the vote counting had worked. He reiterated claims that
the events of recent weeks were not acceptable and he and Ian Khama began to
push hard for a communique that would condemn Zimbabwe first and foremost
before instructing the country on what to do next. They argued into the wee
hours that it was imperative that Mugabe understands that there is little
tolerance left in the region for his blatant disregard of democracy. They
accepted defeat at 5am in the morning. Condemnation would not feature on the
SADC communique. Although their reasoning is nowhere to be seen in the
four-page document, they have delivered an important message to their SADC
peers that the community is no longer a club of iconic liberation heroes of

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

High Court Again Postpones Hearing On Vote Recount

SW Radio Africa (London)

16 April 2008
Posted to the web 16 April 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

The high court on Wednesday again postponed by a day a hearing on the MDC's
application to block a recount of votes cast in 23 constituencies during
last month's elections.

The hearing is before Judge Antonia Guvava. The hearing was initially
deferred from Tuesday to Wednesday. Judge Guvava is expected to rule on
whether the MDC's legal team will be permitted to file supplementary
evidence, or whether the case should be dismissed.

The MDC represented by lawyer Selby Hwacha is insisting that the country's
amended electoral law Act says any aggrieved party can contest the outcome
within a period of 48 hours, but Zanu-PF lodged their request four days
after the final results were made public.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe: Credibility of SA, SADC and the AU?

I have spent the last week in Zimbabwe talking to Diplomats, Politicians and
generally to people in the countryside. I have also looked at the electoral
counting and verification process which I believe cannot be rigged as the
results were all posted outside each polling station hours after closing the
polls. However, a Government set on maintaining power can ignore the results
and rule by force and that seems indeed what is evolving now.

In the election which took place two weeks ago, the MDC opposition clearly
won the parlimentary majority. The Presidential election was also won by the
opposition by a large margin. Had these elections been indeed free and fair
the margin of loss for ZANU-PF would have been substantially greater. No
announcements detailing results have been made. This delay has caused
several problems:

The general population I am talking to in the rural areas (formerly
President Mugabe’s strongholds) have had enough, and the delay of the
announcement has turned even ZANU-PF supporters away from the President as
all believe that he is rigging the results in the interim. The population’s
will to fight from here on is manifesting itself. They will fight back if
government suppression and intimidation will become the order of the day.
War veterans tried to invade our Conservancy last week only to find that the
MDC had mustered enough people to threaten to beat them off and the police
announcing that no violence would be permitted. The war veterans returned
home and their leader was forced to leave the town of Bikita. What a breath
of fresh air in our area in Zimbabwe’s Lowveld.

SADC has declared the elections fair and free. Yes, the Election Day was
largely peaceful. But an election starts 6, 8 or even 12 months prior to
Election Day. SADC is ignoring that in the run up period Zimbabweans have
been subject to beatings, raping, murder, lack of food and medical support.
SADC is doing itself disfavour by declaring these elections free and fair.
SADC’s credibility must be close to non-existent with the average people of
Zimbabwe today. However, having sanctioned the process SADC can no longer
ignore the outcome. If they do, the perception may be that they want to keep
the loser in power. In this case SADC has failed the people of Zimbabwe.

The South African Government has talked about “quiet diplomacy” for the
better part of seven years now. Nothing, absolutely nothing was achieved
other than making the lives of their northern neighbours progressively worse
to almost impossible today.

As an investor in both countries I can state that the credibility of the
men and women in power in Pretoria is at an all-time low. Questions which
must be asked:

o Has the ANC alliance not fought for liberation and human rights against
the white dominated Apartheid area?

o If a black African Politician breaks all rules of democracy, law and order
and human rights, are his actions acceptable just because of his colour or
old relationships? Bishop Tutu continues to express the honest sentiments:”Whether
black or white, we must fight the oppressor and instill democracy and human

o The Government of South Africa appears willing to blatantly ignore
democratic values: as it is part of SADC, which certified the seriously
flawed elections to be fair and free. President Mbeki has been unable to
negotiate any cessation of violence or acceptable conditions for the run up
to the elections. He now states that Zimbabwe needs to be left alone to find
its own solution. Further, he has stated that “Zimbabwe has no crisis”. His
northern neighbor and the population at large see this as a betrayal of
their interests and basic needs. Hence, it is no wonder that the South
African Government has not been very popular in Zimbabwe for quite some

o The South African Government’s position is simply an embarrassment to
people who believe in democracy and human rights. When Zimbabwe’s people
need their neighbor most, South Africa is seen to be deserting them.

o This past weekend’s SADC meeting of Heads of State yielded no tangible
results to speak of. As I am writing this, so called war veterans are
deployed around the country to hunt down opposition voters. It is clear that
SADC has lost its credibility entirely with the local population. SADC has
condoned and even supported those in power against the interest of the
people on the ground. Even the affront of President Mugabe against his peers
in SADC by refusing to join the summit does not seem to steer Heads of State
away from supporting him. If loss of credibility does not, what will make
them take a stand on Zimbabwe? Bloodshed on a large scale maybe? We appear
to be heading in that direction rapidly. For SADC to gain credibility in
Zimbabwe again it is going to be diffifcult, if not impossible.

The African Union has not been heard from to date. Hence, they too appear
to condone what has happened in Zimbabwe. Surely they too have a serious
credibility issue to deal with here?

The Government in Zimbabwe has ordered a partial recount of votes in spite
of the fact that the High Court ruled against. Ignoring High Court rulings
have been a long standing habit of the current administration. No foreign
observers are present, neither is the opposition. The ballot boxes have been
in the ruling party’s hands for over two weeks. Nobody believes that this
recount is not done with serious fraud in mind. The results of the original
election were signed by observers and posted directly outside each polling
station. They document the correct and approved result and such posters have
been photographed and cannot be tempered with. Any changes to these posted
numbers are fraud.

As a business man who has invested in the region, I find the behaviour of
the South African Government, SADC and the AU disheartening. Gradually an
air of distrust has been created which affects the approach of foreign
businessmen severely. Losing trust translates into the perception of
increased risks. Add to that the lack of dependable vital services such as
power, water, telecommunication and safety from crime and one finds a
seriously flawed investment climate. This will show in the lack of long term
projects for the future, desire for shorter payback times and higher profit
expectations. As a direct consequence, the region will unable to put its
aggressive employment and economic growth plans into effect.

Credibility is a direct stimulant of investment and economic performance.
The lack of credibility has the opposite affect. Southern African Leaders
need to make hard decisions soon. I have seen none, hence I am writing about
the concerns of many I speak to.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Nigeria adopts Zimbabwe exiles

14:14 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 15:14 UK
By Liz Carney
BBC Radio 4

Pod Cocker
Pod Cocker says the farmers have received a warm welcome
Deep in the bush, white farmers gather to watch the news as the first results of Zimbabwe's controversial elections unfold.

But these farmers are thousands of miles away in Nigeria, in a tented camp where generators power the satellite TV.

They are among 30 pioneering white farmers, trying to kick start commercial agriculture in Nigeria.

The radical idea is the brainchild of one of the country's top politicians - Kwara State Governor, Bukola Saraki.

Nigeria's gain

With Nigeria's oil wealth a finite resource, he saw commercial agriculture as a new driver for economic development.

And Zimbabwe's loss is Nigeria's gain.

"I thought if Zimbabwe doesn't want them maybe they'll come here," he explained.

"What's good for Africa should stay in Africa.

"These people are second and third generation and see Africa as their home.

"They've got skills and they've brought development to the area."

It's not white farmers coming into a black area and kicking people off the land
Pod Cocker

Patrick Ashton left his farm in 2002 when it was seized during President Mugabe's land reforms, by youths claiming to be war veterans.

"I was ambushed by about 40 youths with axes and crowbars and still have some scars."

He moved to a farm he had never seen in 2006, in a country he did not know.

"I was broke and desperate to stay in Africa.

"It is in our blood - and here was a black African government, prepared to offer white African commercial farmers an opportunity to restart. Most of us grabbed it with both hands."

He hopes to establish a cassava farm in Panda, in the state of Nasarawa.

Pioneers like Patrick have cleared thick woods and navigated remote tracks to set up farms.

Another farmer, Pod Cocker, was pleasantly surprised by the welcome from local villagers.

Cash flow crisis

"I did think maybe, because of what happened in Zimbabwe, we could get shunned, there'd be a lot of animosity.

"It's not white farmers coming into a black area and kicking people off the land. It's a mutually beneficial project set up by the Nigerian government."

The rains are a big challenge, making the roads impassable, particularly for lorries trying to move hundreds of tonnes of fertiliser, or heavy agricultural equipment.

But the biggest battle was against a banking system not geared to commercial agriculture.

It needed the intervention of the state's deputy governor to help. The bank agreed to renegotiate and restructure the initial start-up loans and to get additional finance.


Farming finance was also key for another group of Zimbabwean ex-pats in another Nigerian state.

Since 2005 another group of 15 farmers - many with their families and some with children - settled near the small town of Shonga in Kwara state.

After long negotiations over finance, the farmers secured the backing of a consortium of Nigerian banks with $20m worth of new loans and investment pumped into the farms in Shonga.

Judy Hatty came her with her husband Graham, traumatised by the loss of their home and a reluctant pioneer with both in their 60s.

"Nigeria is a high risk - I said I'm too old for this, but my husband said 'high risk, high gain'.

"I say it is worth it now, but if you had asked me last year I would have said no."

Graham, who used to employ 600 people, is also learning to grow cassava - a new crop to him - and relishing this lease of life.

"I can't believe it at my age. Incredible.

Attractive agriculture

"To me that's the way for Africa. We have got to have commercial farmers to produce food."

Kwara State had been struggling to strengthen its own agricultural base.

Governor Saraki's plan is for the commercial farmers to become role models, transferring skills to their local employees.

Patrick Ashton
Having been beaten, kicked out, looted, house trashed I was in limbo until rescued by the Nigerian offer
Patrick Ashton

"We want young Nigerians to be attracted to agriculture," he said.

He says the experiment has surpassed his expectations in regional economic development in places such as Shonga.

Rescue relief

"Now more than 3,000 people have been employed.

"Let me give you an idea, the amount of money that goes out on salaries, wages etc, is competing with local government funds for that area."

For the ex-pats, making a new life in a new country, there is a new optimism matching the governor's.

In Panda, Patrick Ashton put it this way: "Having been beaten, kicked out, looted and with my house trashed, I was in limbo until rescued by the Nigerian offer. For me personally, I am extremely grateful".

On the other side of the country in Shonga, Judy Hatty added: "We are so used to being the enemy of the state in Zimbabwe, so when I discovered people here are not anti-white, it was such a relief."

Malcolm Fraser.......You got him in, so help kick him out

The Australian

April 16, 2008

IT is hard to know exactly how much responsibility Malcolm Fraser bears for
the installation of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, but it is generally agreed
that he played an important role, says Hal G.P. Colebatch.

Fraser’s 1987 biographer Philip Ayres wrote: “The centrality of Fraser’s
part in the process leading to Zimbabwe’s independence is indisputable. All
the major African figures involved affirm it.”
Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere said he considered Fraser’s role “crucial
in many parts”, and Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda (whose own achievements
included making his country a one-party state) called it “vital”.
Mugabe is quoted by Ayres: “I got enchanted by (Fraser), we became friends,
personal friends ... He’s really motivated by a liberal philosophy.”
Fraser’s role also attracted tributes from Australian diplomats. Duncan
Campbell, a former deputy secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade, has claimed that Fraser was a “principal architect” of the agreement
that installed Mugabe and that “he was largely responsible for pressing
Margaret Thatcher to accept it”.
Former Australian diplomat and Commonwealth specialist Tony Kevin has also
claimed that Fraser “challenged Margaret Thatcher’s efforts to stage-manage
a moderate political solution”.
Veteran British Conservative politician Julian Amery also commented on
Fraser’s activities, though in less favourable terms.
When Fraser was working to install Mugabe, Zimbabwe-Rhodesia had a black
majority government under bishop Abel Muzorewa, a moderate without Mugabe’s
Marxism or association with terrorist atrocities. This government’s
constitution reserved 28 of 100 parliamentary seats for whites, still a
disproportionately large number. There was universal adult suffrage.
Muzorewa was apparently prepared to work closely with whites, who he
recognised were vital to the economy, and he was also favoured by Thatcher
(the “moderate” solution that Kevin credits Fraser with opposing). His
record suggested he was a man who rejected violence and sought a peaceful
There had already been considerable changes away from white supremacy in the
latter days of the Ian Smith regime. The armed forces, for example, had been
taking black officers.
A Muzorewa regime might have failed, though with strong British and other
Commonwealth support it could have had a good chance of success. In any
event, it is hard to imagine how a Muzorewa-led Zimbabwe, retaining the
whites’ agricultural, commercial and administrative expertise, could have
led to a worse outcome than that which has transpired, with the country
bankrupt, people starving and democracy in ruins.
Mugabe never changed his spots: Before turning on the whites, he waged a
quasi-genocidal war against the Ndebele people, with an estimated 20,000
murdered. He also committed thousands of troops to a vicious, largely
pointless war in the Congo. There have been endless reports of brutality and
torture, including the vicious punishment of police who tried to show
humanity to prisoners.
Mugabe came to power tainted with atrocity. Some members of the Patriotic
Front, of which he led the biggest faction, specialised in cutting the noses
and lips off uncooperative blacks, and shot down civilian airliners, in one
case then massacring the survivors at the crash site. Naturally, no one was
prosecuted for these crimes.
Until the recent elections, Fraser had never publicly criticised the Mugabe
regime or said anything to encourage the democratic Opposition in Zimbabwe,
not even when Mugabe’s thugs raided the Zimbabwe office of aid organisation
CARE and abducted the director, though Fraser had been chairman of CARE
Australia and president of CARE International.
This is despite Fraser’s continuing interest in African affairs and also
despite his various lectures to the Howard government on morality. He
suggested in the 2002 Walter Murdoch lecture that Australia was deficient in
respecting the “rule of law”, when Mugabe had just arrested and manacled a
retired High Court judge who had dared to find a Mugabe crony guilty of
contempt of court. In the same lecture he said: “We should not seek to live
in a state of denial concerning our past.”
On April 20, 2000, a letter writer to The Australian asked Fraser to comment
on Mugabe’s behaviour. The editor wrote: “Malcolm Fraser has been recovering
from surgery. He will write on this subject for The Australian next week.” I
hope the questioner has not been holding his breath.
This month, Fraser admitted that Mugabe has done enormous damage to Zimbabwe
and called for him to stand aside. But given his longstanding friendship,
surely he could exercise more influence to pressure Mugabe to leave as
quickly as possible.
It is to be hoped that Mugabe will be brought to justice for his crimes, if
only as an example to discourage other tyrants, but the main thing is that
he go.
After decades of violence, torture, misrule and deepening madness, Mugabe is
in the Fuhrerbunker stage. Perhaps concerted lobbying by Fraser of Mugabe
and his African cronies would encourage the Opposition, show Mugabe all is
lost and do something to speed his departure.
Given the role Fraser as prime minister played in his installation, it might
also be a good thing for Australia’s national honour.
Hal G.P. Colebatch is an Australian author, poet, lecturer, journalist,
editor and lawyer.

Discover the new Windows Vista Learn more!

Malcolm Fraser - Why I backed Mugabe

The Australian

Malcolm Fraser | April 17, 2008

FACT, mythology and vain hope are mixed together in Hal Colebatch's article
about Robert Mugabe. Certainly Mugabe should have gone, and long ago, but
Colebatch has a short memory of history.

A veteran Australian diplomat was leading a delegation of observers during
the election that Mugabe's party won. He would ask people in the villages
about the recent past. How difficult had it been? Was there anyone who would
help you when you needed it? Would the government people help you? No. What
about Bishop Abel Muzorewa; were his people any help? Don't be foolish. Was
there anyone you could turn to for help? The local Mugabe man.

That diplomat predicted a Mugabe victory in an election, largely organised
and sponsored by the British and Ian Smith's regime. The diplomat's
questioning gave a simple answer as to why. Any effort to install Muzorewa
in power would have involved Margaret Thatcher taking her army out of
Northern Ireland and placing it in what became Zimbabwe.

If you are not prepared to impose a solution, which she was not, you have to
have a solution the warring parties are prepared to accept. It was that
simple argument that led to Thatcher's change of mind and to her acceptance
that there needed to be change in Zimbabwe.

Nothing I say should be taken as condoning any of the excesses of a most
terrible regime but, for those who have asked in recent years, I have spoken
my mind quite plainly.

Years ago there were significant disturbances in Harare. CARE had then, and
still has, an office operating in the country. The director of the office
rang me to make sure that I did not say anything publicly about the
disturbances in Zimbabwe because he feared it would put at risk people
working in CARE in remote parts of the country. It was advice I accepted at
the time.

Because the past 15 years have been so increasingly bad, people forget that
initially Mugabe started reasonably well. While his first wife, Sally, a
Ghanaian, was alive, the government was much more moderate. He sat down and
discussed reconciliation with Smith.

Given the past relationship between Smith and Mugabe, I doubt if I would
have been able to do that.

When Mugabe was in jail, Sally Mugabe was in England and their only child, a
boy aged five or six, was very ill. An English bishop said he would play
hostage for Mugabe in jail in what was then Salisbury if Smith would allow
Mugabe to visit Sally and give support to her because of the severity of the
child's illness.

Smith's answer was a blunt no: it was a communist trick, he would have none
of it. Soon after, the bishop repeated the offer, but with a difference. He
would be hostage for Mugabe in jail if Smith would allow Mugabe to go to
England to be with Sally at the boy's funeral. Smith's response was as blunt
as before: he had already said that it was a communist trick. The fact the
child was dead did not alter that.

How many fathers could sit and talk reconciliation with such a man?

It is easy to forget such instances. It is easy to forget the first eight or
10 years because of the deprivation, the stupidity, the brutality, the
injustice, almost the rape of Zimbabwe that has occurred during recent

Through my life I recognise sometimes that however much you want to change a
person, if they are not changeable then it won't happen.

There is an inflexibility, a determination that is beyond reach. The
Commonwealth tried on one or two occasions, but the architects of those
trials were Tony Blair and John Howard. Howard led the mission on Zimbabwe.
The Commonwealth showed a grievous error: a white face was not going to
work, it was not going to be successful, it was going to open the door to
Mugabe's vitriol. From the outset the Commonwealth should have taken a
different tack.

When Olusegun Obasanjo was president of Nigeria, he certainly wanted to act
in relation to Mugabe, but anything he did was not going to be successful
unless he had the full support of South Africa and Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki was
never prepared to give that support and still is not prepared to do what he
ought to do.

All the countries of southern Africa suffer greatly because of Zimbabwe.
There are three million Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa alone,
exacerbating unemployment, housing and poverty, but also setting an
extraordinarily bad example in terms of land policy and other policies that
make it even harder for South Africa to maintain stability.

No country has more to gain from a well-governed Zimbabwe than South Africa,
so why has Mbeki refused to act? Why was he unwilling to support Obasanjo?
Together the two would have been supported by almost all the countries of
southern Africa in seeking to change Mugabe or getting him to go. Together
the two would have been a powerful voice and neither could have been accused
of having a colonial history.

No white face has been capable of changing Mugabe for many years, if ever.
Why the quality of his Government changed so dramatically after the death of
Sally Mugabe is an open question. The central mistake that Colebatch makes
is failing to recognise that to keep Muzorewa, would have involved
substantial British forces being sent to Zimbabwe, forces Britain did not

Ireland was on the boil at the time and no British government would have
been prepared to send forces to Zimbabwe anyway. Almost certainly it would
have prolonged a civil war in Rhodesia that had already claimed more than
25,000 lives. Mugabe was installed as prime minister in Zimbabwe only after
a protracted negotiated settlement that was applauded by the entire global
community and a democratic process that was universally judged as free and

It is a sad chapter in the history of the human race, but me playing a role
and perhaps being instrumental in getting Thatcher to see that there had to
be a negotiated solution, as opposed to an imposed solution, wasmerely
recognising the reality of the time.

Malcolm Fraser was prime minister from 1975 to 1983.

Businessman faces charges in an illegal helicopter deal

Miami Herald

Federal authorities have accused a Hallandale Beach businessman of trying to
sell 10 Russian military helicopters for export to Zimbabwe.
Posted on Tue, Apr. 15, 2008

A Hallandale Beach businessman has been arrested on charges that he tried to
sell 10 Russian military helicopters equipped with guns, rockets and bombs
to an undercover federal informant who told the dealer they were destined
for Zimbabwe.

Peter Spitz, 70, arrested last week, has a bond hearing set for Tuesday in
federal court in Fort Lauderdale.

Military exports to the African country are banned.

Spitz, owner of Russian Aircraft Services LLC, was first contacted in March
about a potential helicopter purchase by the informant for Immigration and
Customs Enforcement.

According to a criminal affidavit, the informant told Spitz he was
interested in buying seven MI-24 Russian attack helicopters and three MI-8T
Russian military transport helicopters.

Spitz said the price for each would be $750,000, the ICE affidavit said.

The broker and the informant negotiated the deal this spring, discussing
issues such as the potential buyer, required documents and aircraft

On March 25, the ICE informant told Spitz that he was arranging the sale to
a ''commercial entity set up by a cabinet member of the [Zimbabwe]
government,'' the affidavit said.

Spitz reportedly asked for $1 million in five installments to secure the

He allegedly instructed the informant to make two initial ''test'' deposits
of $11,000 each for Russian Aircraft Services LLC in separate accounts at
Colonial and Wachovia banks. Those April 3 transactions established Spitz's
intent to sell the helicopters to the informant, in violation of federal

ICE special agent Joseph Skidmore said Spitz ''engaged in illegal brokering
activities'' because he had not obtained a defense export license from the
U.S. government. He also noted that in April 2002, the government suspended
all export licenses for military hardware to Zimbabwe.

The Thabo connection

From ZWNEWS. 16 April

Britain’s Channel 4 News yesterday revealed documents which it said show the
true extent to which Thabo Mbeki’s government has given support to Robert
Mugabe, and actively sought to undermine the opposition MDC. The documents,
dating back to 2004 and which appear to be Zimbabwe government minutes of
high-level meetings between Zimbabwean and South African officials, show
"the strength of the political, security and intelligence links" between
Zanu PF and the South Africa government. The documents were given to Channel
4 by a man claiming to be "a disgruntled former Zimbabwean civil servant who
in a past life was privy to confidential documents". The source’s opinion
was that without Mbeki’s support, Mugabe would have gone long ago. The
papers - some of which were dated April 2004, 2 and 4 May 2004, and 14 July
2004 - show the degree to which the Zimbabwean opposition have been under
close surveillance by Zimbabwean intelligence agents operating inside South
Africa, and a high degree of "intelligence swapping" between the two
governments. One document - apparently a record of a meeting between a Zanu
PF delegation and Thabo Mbeki - concludes that "It was clear that MBEKI was
frustrated at what he sees as lack of progress in launching formal
negotiations between ZANU-PF and MDC. According to him the political process
should be finished, and once this is done, the US and the UK would commit
the promised resources, which in turn would lead to an economic recovery and
the demise of the MDC." When contacted by Channel 4 news for comment, the
South African government said that they couldn’t possibly verify the
authenticity of a Zimbabwean government document.

Politics and the Generals


As Zimbabwe's tense wait for its election results continues, one question is
whether the military will stay loyal to Mugabe.

By Karen MacGregor and Scott Johnson | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Apr 16, 2008 | Updated: 1:20 p.m. ET Apr 16, 2008

Every day that passes in Zimbabwe brings news--but never the news that
really counts. A nationwide strike called by the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) to protest the government's 18-day delay in
announcing presidential-election results never fully materialized this week.
The reasons for that may be less political than economic: 80 percent of
Zimbabwe's 12 million people are unemployed, and those lucky enough to have
jobs clearly felt they couldn't afford to lose a day's pay. The government,
meanwhile, delayed for yet another day a petition by the opposition to block
the government's bid to stage a recount of parliamentary voting. And a
high-court judge in the capital Harare ruled that the government didn't have
sufficient evidence to continue detaining two Western journalists and
acquitted them on charges of illegally covering the election. But on news of
the election itself, there was silence.

As the uncertainty over the results continues, one lingering question was
whether the military would remain loyal to Robert Mugabe, the 84-year-old
autocratic leader who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from white
minority rule in 1980. The first signs are ominous indeed. Already Mugabe
has begun to mobilize the most loyal of his shock troops in what many see as
a crackdown and possibly a prelude of much greater violence to come. Reports
of post-election intimidation and brutality are widespread and growing,
especially in rural areas where the opposition has failed to penetrate very
extensively, and Mugabe's support has typically been violently coerced from
a poor and powerless constituency. These first signs of brutality and
intimidation fit a pattern, says Nicole Fritz, director of the Southern
African Litigation Centre (SALC), which has compiled a dossier of cases of
assault and torture naming security forces and militia leaders inside
Zimbabwe. "We've received information, some of it from sources inside
Zimbabwe's security establishment, indicating that youth militias,
central-intelligence operatives and war veterans are being deployed under
the command of approximately 200 senior Army officials throughout the rural
areas," says Fritz, "The intention seems to be to use violence and to
intimidate voters prior to any runoff or rerun of the elections."

Mugabe's enforcers have good reason to do his bidding. For starters, top
military figures are allegedly some of the biggest beneficiaries of the
lucrative black-market deals that have proliferated in the last decade when
white-owned farms were dismantled and occupied, when the inflation rate
began its precipitous ascent to its current high-water mark of more than
100,000 percent, and when corruption began to rot out the economic
infrastructure. Top military leaders were some of the first beneficiaries of
the farm evictions that began in 2000. The land grabs were illegal, but that
didn't stop the process. Backed by so-called war veterans, many of whom were
far too young to have participated in the war for independence, some of
these figures grabbed the choicest spots. Now, "the generals," as they're
called, stand to lose their farms if the MDC takes power and begins to
investigate. "They are afraid of going to jail if someone else takes power,"
says Texas Jiji, 36, a former lance corporal in the Zimbabwean Army and now
a refugee leader in neighboring South Africa, where estimates are that more
than a million of his fellow citizens have fled.

The current standoff has highlighted the volatility between the opposition
MDC and the security forces, who for years earned their bread by keeping the
MDC in a more or less constant state of physical and psychological terror.
Police, Army and plainclothes officers from the ubiquitous Central
Intelligence Organization have formed the vanguard of the assault against
the opposition over the last seven years, a time when violent crackdowns
left hundreds dead and thousands more injured. More than a few simply
disappeared. Many of those responsible could conceivably face charges of
torture and crimes against humanity should the opposition sweep to power.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has pledged not to prosecute Mugabe but made no
such promises to the generals. The Southern African Litigation Centre is
also urging South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority to arrest
perpetrators for crimes against humanity if they enter the country. "We know
these guys come regularly to South Africa, on business and for personal
reasons," says SALC's Fritz. The generals may have even more reason to be
concerned about South Africa's role now. Pretoria's ruling African National
Congress, now under the leadership of Jacob Zuma, has been much more vocal
in its disapproval of the elections than lame duck President Thabo Mbeki
ever was.
The fact is that the fighting forces at Mugabe's disposal are much
diminished. A growing unhappiness in the rank and file has been spreading
for years. Analysts estimate that some 10,000 soldiers--fully one quarter of
the force--has left the military or fled the country in recent years. One
deserter, Tapiwa Mugadza, 20, a private formerly based in the southern city
of Bulawayo, fled his unit and escaped Zimbabwe last July by cutting through
a fence in the middle of the night. He has been on the run ever since.
Mugadza, who used a different name for this article for fear of his life,
says he fled because he couldn't accept the orders he was being given. In an
interview with NEWSWEEK last Friday, he said he was "being told to assault
MDC supporters at rallies, which we did using gun butts and battle sticks."
Mugadza was one of several hundred soldiers deployed in the spring of 2007
to quash an MDC rally. During the protest, police and soldiers badly beat
Morgan Tsvangirai--the man widely believed to have defeated Mugabe in the
presidential race--over the head. "As a Christian, I can't abide by such
things," Mugadza said recently, "But in the Army you have no option but to
do what you are told. That's why I escaped."

The Army has other troubles, too. "The Army is not a unified, monolithic
organization," says Chris Maroleng, a Zimbabwe expert at South Africa's
Institute for Security Studies, "It is divided by rank, ethnicity and
political affiliation." Some 40 percent of soldiers live outside of
barracks, exposing them both to the same kinds of economic hardships that
have undermined the regime they are meant to be bolstering, and undermining
the sense of unit cohesion that accrues naturally to soldiers when they are
forced to live and fight together. "They have been exposed the same
difficulties of the population, and so many are unhappy about acting
violently against civilians," says Maroleng. Aware of the dangers of a
large-scale military revolt, Mugabe has always surrounded himself with his
most loyal enforcers--groups who are beholden to him and willing to carry
out the dirtiest work: the Fifth Brigade, a group of North Korean-trained
soldiers who carried out the Matabeleland massacres in the early 1980s,
which reportedly killed upwards of 20,000 innocent civilians; the murky
Central Intelligence Organization, which spies on ordinary Zimbabweans; the
National Rapid Reaction force, the Presidential Guard, and youth and war
veterans' militias, who are used ruthlessly to squash civil disobedience.

In recent weeks photographs of viciously beaten citizens have been winging
their way around the world via e-mail as Zimbabweans alert the world to the
bloody results of the aging ruler's latest efforts to cling to power in the
face of his party's defeat in the parliamentary ballot and his own apparent
loss of the presidency. As before, such appeals will fall on the deaf ears
of Mugabe and his military men, who have everything to lose along with the

Zuma widens gap with Mbeki over Zimbabwe

The Star

Wednesday April 16, 2008

By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - South African ruling party leader Jacob Zuma widened his
disagreement with President Thabo Mbeki over Zimbabwe on Wednesday, saying
anxiety was increasing by the day over a post-election deadlock there.

Zuma made his toughest comments yet on the delay in issuing election results
in Zimbabwe as members of the U.N. Security Council and the African Union
met in New York where they were expected to debate Zimbabwe, Sudan and

Mbeki, increasingly isolated in his softly approach to Zimbabwe and his
insistence there is no crisis there, is chairing the meeting at U.N.
headquarters as rotating Security Council president. He wants to block
discussion of Zimbabwe.

Zuma said in a speech near Johannesburg: "The region cannot afford a
deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation is more worrying now given the
reported violence that has erupted."

Zuma ousted Mbeki as leader of the African National Congress last December
and has moved gradually to increase his influence at the expense of his

"We once again register our apprehension about the situation in Zimbabwe.
The delay in the verification process and the release of results increases
anxiety each day," Zuma told South Africa's Chambers of Commerce.

In another confirmation of Zimbabwe's collapse, the central statistics
office said on Wednesday inflation, already the world's highest, had jumped
to almost 165,000 percent in February. Unofficial estimates put it much

A judge in Harare on Wednesday adjourned until Thursday hearing an MDC
application to block a recount of all votes cast in 23 out of 210
constituencies in the March 29 parliamentary and presidential elections.

The MDC says the recount is another tactic by Mugabe to delay the election
results while he orchestrates a campaign of militia violence to intimidate
opposition supporters.

The High Court has already refused to order the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission to release the presidential result.


The MDC, which handed Mugabe's ZANU-PF party its first defeat in the
parliamentary poll, says Tsvangirai should be declared leader of the
economically devastated country after winning the undeclared presidential

ZANU-PF says Tsvangirai did not win an absolute majority and a runoff will
be necessary.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined the United States, Britain and
France in urging the New York summit to discuss Zimbabwe.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who will attend the meeting, called on
fellow leaders to send a clear message that they stood "solidly behind
democracy and human rights for Zimbabwe".

Britain accuses Mugabe of delaying the election result to try to subvert the

The MDC and human rights groups say independence war veterans and other
pro-Mugabe militia have organised systematic violence to try to ensure
victory in a probable runoff.

An NGO called Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights said on Wednesday it had
treated 173 victims of organised violence and torture between March 29 and
April 14. It did not say who the victims or perpetrators were.

A summit of southern African nations in Zambia last weekend called for the
rapid release of the election results but did not use the word crisis --
apparently at the insistence of Mbeki, who leads the region's biggest power.

A general strike called by the MDC on Tuesday to push for the release of the
presidential result flopped, with most workers deterred by the fear of a
police crackdown and their inability to make ends meet without working.

In addition to hyper-inflation, Zimbabwe suffers from chronic shortages of
food and fuel and 80 percent unemployment. South Africa and other countries
in the region have been flooded with millions of Zimbabwean economic
migrants as a quarter of the population fled.

(Additional reporting by Nelson Banya, MacDonald Dzirutwe, Muchena Zigomo in
Harare, Caroline Drees in Johannesburg)