By Blessing Zulu
16 April 2008
The United Nations Security Council in a summit session with African Union
leaders took up the crisis in Zimbabwe on Wednesday in New York, producing
some of the strongest statements to date on the nation's post-election
crisis from the international community, though the African leadership
mainly avoided the issue.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon placed the matter before the summit over
the objections of South Africa, which maintained that the Zimbabwean
question should be dealt with by the Southern African Development Community
"I am deeply concerned at the uncertainty created by the prolonged
non-release of the election results in Zimbabwe," Ban told the high-level
gathering. "Absent a transparent solution to this impasse, the situation
could deteriorate further with serious implications for the people of
Zimbabwe," he warned. The U.N. chief added ominously that "the credibility
of the democratic process in Africa could be at stake."
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was more blunt. "No one thinks, having
seen the results of polling stations, that President (Robert) Mugabe has
won" the March 29 elections in Zimbabwe, Brown told the UN-AU summit.
"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."
The remarks by Ban and Brown were in stark contrast with the assessment
offered by South African President Thabo Mbeki on Saturday, when he declared
during a visit to Harare on his way to an extraordinary SADC summit that
"there is no crisis."
As of Wednesday 18 days had elapsed since the ballots, but the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission had not announced the results of the presidential
election. Results of the house election showed the combined opposition
claiming a majority, in itself a major setback for Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF,
which has ruled continuously since 1980.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said he was "gravely concerned about the
escalating politically motivated violence perpetrated by security forces and
ruling party militias" in rural areas where ZANU-PF held sway until the
African leaders in New York avoided the subject. Mbeki, chairing the
session, focused on general AU-Security Council cooperation in peacekeeping,
The sole exception was Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who currently
holds the African Union chair. He praised SADC for doing a "tremendous job
... to ensure that the will of the people of Zimbabwe is respected," Reuters
Rejecting the strong statements in the Security Council, Zimbabwean
Ambassador to the U.N. Boniface Chidyausiku told reporter Blessing Zulu of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe and
maintained that such depictions of the post-election situation reflect a
Western desire to discredit Harare.
Political analyst Joy Mabhenge, director of the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt
and Development said the debate at the U.N. was an important development.
Minutes ahead of Mr. Mbeki's opening of the session, a helicopter hovered
over the U.N. headquarters with a banner urging Mbeki to take stronger
By ROSS LYDALL
ROBERT Mugabe, the Zimbabwe dictator, must not be allowed to steal his
country's presidential election and hang on to power illegally, Gordon Brown
warned the world last night.
The Prime Minister, in his most outspoken comments on the chaos enveloping
the African country, in effect accused Mr Mugabe of being prepared to break
the law to stay in office.
The warning came as police and militants loyal to Mr Mugabe cracked down on
opponents yesterday , with police arresting 36 people and doctors reporting
scores of cases of presumed assault and torture.
Addressing the United Nations security council in New York, Mr Brown said
no-one believed Mr Mugabe had triumphed in the election, which remains
undeclared after almost three weeks.
He said: "No-one thinks, having seen the result at the polling stations,
that President Mugabe has won this election. A stolen election would not be
an election at all. The credibility of the democratic process depends on
there being a legitimate government."
Mr Brown made the plight of Zimbabwe the key part of a short address to a
security council debate on the African Union.
Earlier this week, Mr Mugabe, who has held power since 1980, dismissed Mr
Brown as a "tiny dot in this world".
Police last night accused those arrested yesterday of trying to enforce
violently a nationwide strike called by Zimbabwe's opposition to demand the
results of presidential elections that Mr Mugabe is widely believed to have
But Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights said it treated 174 cases of injuries
consistent with assault and torture since the vote, including 17 yesterday.
Most victims this week suffered multiple fractures.
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change believes its leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, won the 29 March election. This is disputed by Mr
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
In his speech, Mr Brown urged the international community to send a "single,
clear message" that it wanted democracy in the southern African nation and
was ready to help its people to build a better future.
He talked of the international community's "shame" for failing to intervene
to halt the bloodshed in Rwanda in the early 1990s and said there was still
a "gaping hole" in its ability to address illegal uprisings in Africa.
Britain is to train 12,000 African peacekeepers to boost the 28,000 troops
Earlier, at the start of his three-day visit to the US, Mr Brown had
upgraded the "special relationship" between Britain and America to a "very
special relationship" and predicted it would get stronger whoever succeeded
Mr Brown will today meet Republican presidential nominee John McCain, and
Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
He told Good Morning America: "The relationship between Britain and America
is strong but it will be stronger. It is a very special relationship."
Chancellor admits Labour must find way to sharpen up its act
ALISTAIR Darling has admitted that the government needs to "sharpen up" its
act if it is to regain its popularity.
The Chancellor has become the most senior minister so far to admit that a
change in tactics is needed to counter backbench unrest and a Conservative
revival in the polls.
His remarks were seized upon by the Tories as an "unprecedented attack on
the Prime Minister" – though Mr Darling made no mention of Gordon Brown in
the interview, which he gave yesterday at the end of a three-day trip to
Mr Darling said the government would survive the current period of
unpopularity "because the economy is fundamentally strong".
He added: "But we have also got to make sure that in other areas we sharpen
ourselves up, that we have a clear message of what we are about."
Speaking to the financial news agency Bloomberg in Chongqing, Mr Darling
implied that Labour had to return to its roots and remember why it had
fought for power in the first place.
He said: "This is a time where we should remember why we stand for
government, the purpose of being in government, to build a fairer society
and to create opportunity for people. We should never forget that.
"We have an awful lot more to do, and we will get through this patch."
Earlier this week Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, conceded that the
government faced "difficult times".
Rhodri Morgan, the First Minister of Wales, and the former home secretary
David Blunkett joined the chorus of disapproval over the removal of the 10p
income tax band and concern mounted at proposals to extend the amount of
time terror suspects can be held without charge from 28 to 42 days.
George Osborne, the Tory shadow chancellor, said: "What started as anonymous
briefings from backbenchers has now burst into the open with a public attack
on Gordon Brown from the second most important person in the government. If
the government is fighting itself, how can it fight for Britain?"
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman, said: "Many people
will be staggered to hear that only now, six months into a financial crisis,
the Chancellor is starting to admit there is a problem."
The full article contains 862 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 17 April 2008 12:49 AM
by David Usborne and Colin Brown in New York
Thursday, 17 April 2008
Gordon Brown used the world's top diplomatic table to accuse Robert Mugabe
of trying to steal the election in Zimbabwe, increasing pressure on the
regime and embarrassing the President's chief political protector, South
Africa's Thabo Mbeki.
World leaders, gathered at the United Nations in New York yesterday, served
notice to President Mbeki that they have lost patience with his repeated
assertions that there remains "no crisis" in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Results
of elections held there almost three weeks ago are still being withheld.
Britain and other Western countries used a special session of the Security
Council, called by the South African leader who holds the chairmanship of
the council, to call for the release of results that could spell an end to
the 28-year rule of Mr Mugabe. They stopped just short of berating Mr Mbeki
personally for his refusal to intervene directly.
Mr Mbeki's attempts to keep the subject of Zimbabwe off the agenda were
roundly thwarted. First Mr Brown and then the UN secretary general, Ban
Ki-Moon, signalled that the international community can no longer ignore the
Mr Brown, at the start of a three-day visit to America, suggested that Mr
Mugabe was trying to "steal" the 29 March election. "No one thinks, having
seen the results of polling stations, that President Mugabe has won," he
told the session, which was attended by presidents from several African
states, including Somalia, Ivory Coast and Tanzania.
"A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all," he went on.
"Let a single clear message go out from here in New York that we... stand
solidly behind democracy and human rights for Zimbabwe."
Mr Ban said the credibility of democracy in Africa was at stake. The
secretary general also ignored Mr Mbeki's attempts to keep Zimbabwe off the
agenda. "The situation could deteriorate further with serious implications
for the people of Zimbabwe," he said, adding: "The Zimbabwean authorities
and the countries of the region have insisted that these methods are for the
region to resolve. But the international community continues to watch and
wait for decisive action. The credibility of the democratic process in
Africa could be at stake here."
While little more than diplomatic theatre – there was no attempt by Britain
or its allies to draft a resolution to condemn the Mugabe regime for fear it
would almost certainly fail – the session served to underline the increasing
isolation of Mr Mbeki.
In recent days he has come under pressure even from his own party to
acknowledge that Zimbabwe is in deep crisis.
After the session, Mr Brown again spoke. "We don't have the presidential
results published yet," he said. "What you have seen [at the UN] is the
determination of the international community saying the results have got to
be published. They've got to be transparent. Everything has got to be above
Mr Mbeki came to New York fresh from being chastised by Jacob Zuma, who won
the leadership of the ruling African National Congress party last December.
Signalling discord with Mr Mbeki over Zimbabwe, Mr Zuma said the region
"cannot afford a deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation is more
worrying now given the reported violence that has erupted." He added. "The
delay in the verification process and release of results increases anxiety
If speakers at the UN, including Mr Brown, held back directly from
criticising Mr Mbeki at the public session, it was for fear that he might
dig his heels in deeper and it would therefore be counterproductive. "We are
worried that if we attack Mbeki, he will become more stubborn than ever. He
did that over Aids in Africa and we don't want that to happen on Zimbabwe,"
said one British source.
Mr Brown has privately urged African leaders to put pressure on Mr Mbeki
behind the scenes. The Prime Minister held private talks with Jakaya
Kikwete, President of Tanzania and chairman of the African Union, to press
Mr Mbeki to take a tougher stance. Mr Kikwete told the UN session that the
regional organisation, the Southern African Development Community, wanted
"to ensure the will of the people of Zimbabwe is respected". He said that
this would be the spirit of meetings that would be held soon, and that the
organisation needed to be supported.
William M Gumede:
Thursday, 17 April 2008
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki desperately did not want Zimbabwe to be
debated by the United Nations, he prefers "African solutions for Africa's
That is obviously an admirable and also the right sentiment. The problem is
that, in the case of Zimbabwe, it has not worked. It has failed
disastrously. That is what even his own party is now telling him.
Mr Mbeki wanted more time but African National Congress members – in no
uncertain terms – have told him time has run out after five years of quiet
diplomacy in Zimbabwe. The big irony is Mr Mbeki has never warmed to Mr
Mugabe, and Mr Mugabe loathes Mr Mbeki. In the first place, the ANC never
allied to Zanu-PF during its liberation struggle. Even at Zimbabwe's first
independence elections, the ANC supported Zapu, Zanu-PF's rival.
And now, at the very end, while knowing that Mr Mugabe is the problem, Mr
Mbeki still cannot countenance the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
getting to power.
He would rather contemplate Simba Makoni, the former Zanu-PF guerrilla and
finance minister, who was the third candidate in the presidential election,
rather than Morgan Tsvangirai, the former trade union leader, now head of
the MDC. Why? Mr Mbeki, like other African liberation leaders of his age,
believe that only those who fought in the liberation struggle can be trusted
to lead. Mr Tsvangirai was a trade unionist during the Zimbabwean liberation
They also believe that those who break away from a liberation movement, as
Mr Tsvangirai did in 1999, are akin to traitors. Mr Mbeki appears to think
that by giving Mr Mugabe a soft landing he will protect the good ideals of
the anti-colonial liberation struggle. By still wanting to accommodate Mr
Mugabe, after all the misery the tyrant has unleashed against his own
people, in the name of struggle solidarity, Mr Mbeki is in fact destroying
the grand idea of the liberation struggle.
The wider ANC understands all of that.
All Mr Mbeki needs to say publicly is that he opposes everything that Mr
Mugabe stands for. That would be the nudge needed to finally push Mr Mugabe
out. Just the fact that Mr Mbeki said the Zimbabwean crisis was "manageable"
firmed up Mr Mugabe's position when he was most vulnerable.
By not dealing decisively with Mr Mugabe, Mr Mbeki's much vaunted African
solutions for Africa's problems have been dealt a devastating blow. It is
now to those outside Africa, to solve this deep African problem.
WM Gumede is author of 'Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC'
By Alec Russell in Johannesburg,
Published: April 16 2008 23:06 | Last updated: April 16 2008 23:06
South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki’s policy of ”quiet diplomacy” towards
his counterpart in Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe is under fire at home as never
before with many in his own party openly calling for a more confrontational
Jacob Zuma, his political foe, who ousted him as head of the African
National Congress last December, gave the clearest signal yet on Wednesday
that he disagrees with Mr Mbeki’s response to the failure by the Zimbabwean
authorities to release last month’s election results.
In a speech to businesspeople Mr Zuma said: ”The region cannot afford a
deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation is more worrying now given the
reported violence that has erupted in the country.”
His use of the word ”crisis” was widely seen as a dig at Mr Mbeki who was
ridiculed in South African media and by Zimbabwe’s opposition at the weekend
after he emerged from a meeting with Mr Mugabe, hand-in-hand, to say there
was no crisis over the results.
Since the president championed ”quiet diplomacy” in 2000 when Mr Mugabe
authorised the controversial expropriation of several thousand commercial
farms, South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance and
many in the media have accused him of being an apologist for Harare.
He has previously shrugged off such criticism suggesting it is infused with
Eurocentric values and lacks an understanding of Zimbabwe’s complexities.
But now the new leaders of the ANC are publicly arguing it is time to change
Mr Zuma’s comments came in the wake of a blistering critique of the region’s
record on Zimbabwe, by Matthews Phosa, the ANC’s treasurer-general, one of
the party’s new leaders who swept into senior positions last December. He
said last weekend’s summit of southern African leaders, who ended up calling
for a speedy release of results but stopping short of applying any concerted
pressure on Mr Mugabe, was woefully inadequate. ”We should put more pressure
on the government of Zimbabwe” and with ”the utmost urgency” he said.
In a briefing in Pretoria, Mr Mbeki’s senior aide on Zimbabwe, Sydney
Mufamadi, defended his record, called for the Zimbabwean authorities to be
allowed more time, and said South Africa’s role as a mediator still had a
long way to run.
”The public of Zimbabwe has a right to be assisted through a process which
is likely to yield results, rather than one which is only likely to provide
us with exciting sound bites,” he said.
In an editorial, Business Day, the Financial Times’ sister paper, said
history would judge Mr Mbeki ”terribly harshly” for his handling of the
Zimbabwe crisis: ”On the strength of his handling of the Zimbabwe situation
alone, the sooner his term as president and SA’s diplomat-in-chief ends, the
better for all concerned.”
Wednesday, 16 April 2008 16:15
BY NTANDO NCUBE
South Africa's opposition African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)
has expressed disappointment at African leaders over the Zimbabwe crisis
after they failed to come up with a solution over Zimbabwe's election saga.
Speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg, ACDP President Kenneth
Meshoe said: "SADC leaders, including our President Mbeki, have failed
Africa and particularly the people of Zimbabwe, yet again. The ACDP finds it
bizarre that they can call an emergency summit on Zimbabwe's post-election
crisis - yet conclude there is no crisis!"
He added: "Why are the SADC leaders also talking about a possible
presidential run-off vote when the results have not even been announced?
This shows their support of Robert Mugabe's position regardless of the true
voting numbers and the legality of it. They know the pitiful condition of
the people and the nation's economy; they know that results would have been
declared immediately had Robert Mugabe won the election.
"The actions of the SADC leaders increase the perception that there is
either a brotherhood that has committed itself to standing by each other
regardless of the plight of the masses - or there is some kind of spell at
Worldwide petition calls for pressure on Mugabe
People around the world are signing an online petition to urge South
African President Thabo Mbeki to put pressure on Robert Mugabe.
"Zimbabwe is on a knife's edge between democracy and chaos," says
online movement for democracy Avaaz.org. "Mugabe is unlikely to listen to
the world's outcry, but he might listen to his old friend and powerful
neighbour Thabo Mbeki.
"Mbeki said last Monday that ‘it's time to wait' on Zimbabwe. But the
more time passes, the greater the danger grows that the will of Zimbabwe's
people will be ignored."
Avaaz launched the petition last week to its African members. Now, the
organisation wants people around the world to add their voices in solidarity
and take the pressure to the next level.
Avaaz says they will do all they can to deliver the petition to Mbeki
through diplomatic channels, over the radio, and in a public event when
Mbeki travels to New York for a United Nations meeting this week.
The petition is at
"In a crisis like this, a petition is just a small step, but it's
something all of us can do, to raise our voices and call for what's right.
And, as history shows, international solidarity can be a powerful thing,"
Wed 16 Apr 2008, 22:46 GMT
By Louis Charbonneau and Patrick Worsnip
UNITED NATIONS, April 16 (Reuters) - South African President Thabo Mbeki on
Wednesday dismissed suggestions that he is blind to the gravity of the
situation in Zimbabwe and insisted that talking with all parties was the
"We need to talk at all times with both the ruling party and the
opposition," Mbeki told a news conference after chairing a summit of the
U.N. Security Council and African Union. "You've got to sit and discuss with
No results have been announced from the March 29 presidential election in
Zimbabwe, a former British colony. The opposition accuses President Robert
Mugabe of trying to steal the election and say he is preparing a violent
Like all but two of some two dozen African speakers, Mbeki did not mention
Zimbabwe during the summit itself, which he chaired.
But after the meeting, reporters bombarded him with questions about
Zimbabwe, pressing a defensive Mbeki to explain repeatedly why he was
pursuing "quiet diplomacy."
"I don't know whatever is meant by quiet diplomacy," he said. "What is loud
One reporter replied that "loud diplomacy" was the speech by British Prime
Minister Gordon Brown, who told the summit: "No one thinks ... that
President Mugabe has won."
Mbeki said: "Well it's not diplomacy in that case, it can't be."
Asked whether he was taking a soft approach to Zimbabwe because he was
blinded by the 84-year-old Mugabe's reputation as a hero in the fight
against white minority rule in southern Africa, Mbeki dismissed the
"I am saying the very fact that we have a mediation process like this on the
political side is because we say there are things that have gone wrong,"
Mbeki said. "There are many wrong things with the politics of Zimbabwe."
He declined to comment on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's proposal that
international monitors be sent to Zimbabwe if a new round of presidential
elections were held.
"That's a matter that would have to be put to the government of Zimbabwe,"
Mbeki said, adding that any new round would have to free of violence.
Mbeki, who has been heavily criticized at home for his stance on Zimbabwe,
said he and the Southern Africa Development Community would insist that
Zimbabwe's opposition have the opportunity to participate in verifying the
He also denied press reports that he had refused to call Zimbabwe's problem
"I never said any such thing," he said, though he declined to say whether or
not he thought the word "crisis" applied. (Writing by Louis Charbonneau;
Editing by Chris Wilson)
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Sebastien Berger in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 11:24pm BST 16/04/2008
More than half of Zimbabwe's remaining white farmers have seen their
land invaded by mobs loyal to President Robert Mugabe since the bitterly
disputed election, it emerged yesterday.
Of the roughly 200 white commercial farmers who still survive in
Zimbabwe, about 120 have had their land occupied, either in whole or in
part. About 28 have been evicted, while the rest are either clinging on
inside their homesteads or coming and going as the situation allows.
After spending days helping victims of the occupations, Trevor
Gifford, the president of the Commercial Farmers' Union, has been singled
out himself. Supporters of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party have invaded his sheep
and cattle farm near Chipinge, 220 miles south-east of the capital, Harare.
"My four top workers at the farm have been brutally beaten," he said.
"I can't get on to the farm myself but they sent me messages. It is wild out
there. They have been taking my animals and killing them and I have asked
the police to attend."
Stock theft carries a possible 20-year prison sentence, but the police
response had been mixed, he said, and Zimbabwe's abysmal phone networks were
slowing the flow of information to the CFU.
Mr Gifford said: "I know that farm workers of some of the farmers who
have been chased off are refusing to go back to work. The mobs have told
them not to work for white men, which is quite serious for those harvesting
The first area to be targeted was Centenary, and Mr Gifford said local
farmers were "scared out of their wits".
A farmer in Masvingo province, who declined to be identified for fear
of reprisals, said his plight had worsened dramatically since the early
invasions - which he described as "the good old days".
"We have had a neighbour abducted," he said. "Yesterday I had 20
Zanu-PF youths chasing my staff and trying to kill them. They are digging
the farm and harassing the staff - unfortunately those poor chaps are in the
front line of this."
He had been left with nowhere to graze his animals, which were being
stolen. "They are throwing the livestock off my farm," he said.
He compared his experience with the farm invasions that followed Mr
Mugabe's defeat in a referendum on a new constitution in Feb 2000. Those
events also marked the start of President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa's
diplomatic campaign to restore calm in Zimbabwe. The farmer described that
as a "bloody waste of time".
Mr Mbeki faced further criticism yesterday from the man who defeated
him for the leadership of the ruling African National Congress. Jacob Zuma,
who became ANC president in December, explicitly contradicted Mr Mbeki's
statement at the weekend that there was "no crisis" in Zimbabwe.
Addressing a business audience near Johannesburg, Mr Zuma said: "The
region cannot afford a deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation is more
worrying now given the reported violence that has erupted in the country.
Ladies and gentlemen, we once again register our apprehension about the
situation in Zimbabwe."
Around 50 supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
including a newly elected MP, were arrested yesterday.
by Edith Kaseke Thursday 17 April 2008
HARARE – Zimbabweans will tomorrow commemorate Independence Day uncertain of
their political future and gripped by fear that a three-week election
stalemate could spiral into open violence, as President Robert Mugabe looks
determined to hang on to power despite losing last month’s vote.
The 84-year-old Mugabe was handed his first election defeat in the March 29
polls when his ruling ZANU PF party lost its parliamentary majority to the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC) for the first time since
independence in 1980.
But electoral officials are yet to issue much the awaited results of a
parallel presidential vote, which ZANU PF acknowledges Mugabe lost to MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, although they say a second round of voting is
required to settle the contest.
The MDC says it won outright and wants Mugabe to hand over power
“People are afraid, they are uncertain and you will see that there will not
be much in terms of celebrations we have seen in the past,” said John
Makumbe, a senior political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.
“People are not talking about independence but about the results. But even
from the government side, there is nothing much pointing towards
independence celebrations. It is time for reflection and the mood in that
camp shows you all is not well,” said Makumbe.
Mugabe will make his first public appearance on Friday when he leads the
nation in the celebrations and is widely expected to set the tone for his
campaign during the expected run-off period, which Tsvangirai says will only
participate in if international observers are present.
But events on the ground already point to a campaign of violence and
intimidation in rural areas, where thousands of supporters rallied behind
The involvement in the campaign of the military and, especially the hawkish
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwenga and Police
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, has raised fears of bloodshed ahead
of the run-off.
“I am really scared with all those stories we are hearing from the rural
areas, especially in Mashonaland East,” Tariro Kamocha, a Harare-based
trainee accountant said, echoing fears among many Zimbabweans.
Mashonaland East province, a ZANU PF stronghold where the MDC made
significant inroads, is bearing the brunt of the ruling party’s violent
retribution campaign that has blighted the festive mood that normally
accompanies independence celebrations.
That and an economy with the world’s highest inflation rate above 164 000
percent, unemployment above 80 percent and shortages of foreign currency,
food and water have combined to douse the independence euphoria seen in past
As political temperatures hot up inside Zimbabwe, the world is grappling
with how to avoid bloodletting such as seen in Kenya in the aftermath of
that country’s disputed December elections, which left more than a 1 000
The United Nations Security Council was on Wednesday expected to discuss the
Zimbabwe situation although South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was to
chair the meeting, and other African countries, were expected to block a
But this has not unfazed Mbeki’s ruling ANC party, whose leader Jacob Zuma
yesterday said events in Zimbabwe were causing apprehension and could
destabilise the southern African region if not properly handled.
That fear is deeply ingrained among Zimbabweans themselves as they reflect
on 28 years of independence, which has lately given birth to worsening
poverty, political polarisation and a brutal crackdown on Mugabe’s opponents
by security forces, war veterans, youth militias and hired thugs.
“The feeling among Zimbabweans at this particular moment is that there is
very little to celebrate on Independence Day,” Eldred Masunungure, a leading
political analyst said.
“I think what is occupying the minds of many people is when this election
deadlock will be resolved and if there is a re-run whether it will be free
of violence. But there is no doubt that the overwhelming majority would want
to celebrate a form of a fresh start,” he said.
But Mugabe, who faces his biggest ever political crisis and has not made a
single public comment since election day, is trying to reverse that new
beginning, which appeared to have arrived with an MDC opposition victory.
“We fought for one man one vote and that whoever wins should govern. The MDC
won and it should be allowed to govern. This is what I understand to be the
meaning of independence,” an MDC supporter who refused to be named told
ZimOnline. – ZimOnline.
by Wayne Mafaro and Nqobizitha Khumalo Thursday 17 April 2008
BULAWAYO – A Zimbabwe court on Wednesday sentenced a British journalist to
six months in jail with an option for a fine, as police held for the second
day a local journalist they suspect of freelancing for foreign media.
But two more journalists, an American and a British, were cleared of charges
of covering Zimbabwe's March 29 elections without official accreditation.
Zimbabwean authorities barred most foreign media from covering the elections
and in recent weeks have arrested several foreign journalists they accused
of sneaking into the country to report on the polls illegally.
Briton Jonathan Michael Clayton, held in jail since his arrest last week,
was found guilty by a magistrate’s court of contravening Zimbabwe’s
immigration laws when falsely declared on arrival at an airport in Bulawayo
city that he was a tourist.
He was sentenced to six months jail or a fine of ZW$20 billion, equivalent
to nearly US$670 000 at the official exchange rate of one American dollar to
ZW$30 000. The figure comes down to a paltry US$250 at the widely used
parallel market rate of one greenback to ZW$80 000 000.
In a sign that authorities were not about to ease the crackdown against
reporters, police kept freelance journalist Frank Chikowore but were
expected to bring him to court on Thursday.
Chikowore was arrested on Tuesday morning at his home in Harare’s Warren
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) condemned Chikowore’s arrest as
baseless and intended to intimidate journalists from exposing any flaws they
may detect in an anticipated second round run-off election between President
Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Union president Mathew Takaona said in a statement: “The arrest is baseless
and illegal and we believe it is intended to harass and intimidate
journalists out to cover the presidential election re-run."
Takaona said ZUJ believed the run-off election will most likely turn out
into an unfair, violent and flawed election if the media, particularly
foreign and local independent journalists, were prevented from covering the
Earlier on Wednesday a Harare magistrate acquitted New York Times
correspondent Barry Bearak and British freelance reporter Stephen Bevan on
charges of reporting Zimbabwe’s election without official accreditation.
"They have been acquitted. The state failed to prove that they had committed
a crime," said Beatrice Mtetwa, a lawyer for the journalists.
Both local and foreign journalists must be accredited with the government’s
Media and Information Commission in order to practice their profession in
Zimbabwe, with those failing to do so facing arrest and imprisonment.
Zimbabwe is widely regarded as one of the most difficult countries in the
world for journalists to work in.
In addition to laws requiring journalists to seek accreditation in order to
work in the country, newspapers are also required to register with the state
media commission, with those failing to do so facing closure and seizure of
their property by the police.
Another law, the Public Order and Security Act, imposes up to two years in
jail on journalists convicted of publishing falsehoods that may cause public
alarm and despondency, while the Criminal Codification Act imposes up to
20-year jail terms on journalists convicted of denigrating President Robert
Mugabe in their articles.
Repression against the independent media usually peaks during elections.
Meanwhile, police have released on bail a 60-year old Bulawayo-based blogger
who was arrested last week on Monday on allegations of practising journalism
The woman, Margaret Kriel, spent eight days in prison before her release on
bail on Tuesday this week.
Kriel runs an online social forum, Morning Mirror, where Bulawayo residents
post death and birth notices and any other issues pertaining to the city. –
by Wayne Mafaro Thursday 17 April 2008
HARARE – A Zimbabwean judge on Wednesday further delayed to Thursday hearing
an opposition application to block a recount of votes in 23 constituencies.
Justice Antonia Guvava was initially scheduled to hear the matter earlier
this week on Tuesday but postponed it saying she first wanted to study an
earlier ruling by another judge which allowed election authorities to carry
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lawyer Selby Hwacha told
ZimOnline that the judge would now hear the matter on Thursday.
"The hearing will resume tomorrow (Thursday) at 1600hrs," said Hwacha.
The MDC wants the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) stopped from
recounting votes until it has released the result for the presidential
election held more than two weeks ago.
No official results have been released for Zimbabwe’s March 29 presidential
election that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims he won with more than 50
percent of the vote, enough to avoid a second round run-off against
President Robert Mugabe.
However, ruling ZANU PF party and independent election observers say
Tsvangirai won with less than 50 percent of the vote, warranting a rerun of
The MDC, which on Monday lost a court bid to force electoral authorities to
release results of the presidential poll, has accused the ZEC of withholding
results in a bid to fix the vote and force a re-run of the poll that it says
Mugabe is preparing to use violence and terror to win.
The MDC, whose attempt to call a general strike to force release of poll
results flopped on Tuesday, says that ZANU PF militants have intensified
violence against its supporters. – ZimOnline.
by Own Correspondent Thursday 17 April 2008
Durban – An uncleared Chinese cargo ship, believed to be carrying arms
destined for crisis-torn Zimbabwe, has docked in Durban, South Africa’s
National Ports authority said on Wednesday.
National Ports spokesman Ricky Bhikraj confirmed that the vessel called “An
Yue Jiang” entered the port on April 14 without clearance.
The vessel is believed to be carrying arms rumoured to be destined for
"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.
Bhikraj, however, said the vessel had to follow procedures and if it was not
cleared, it would not be allowed to enter a South African port.
"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.
The National Ports Authority however refused to comment on whether there had
been arms on the ship.
Zimbabwe, also grappling with an acute economic recession and food
shortages, plunged deeper into political crisis after the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) withheld results of the March 29 presidential ballot that
President Robert Mugabe is believed to have lost to Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
Since last month’s election politically motivated violence has resurfaced in
parts of Zimbabwe. War veterans and ZANU PF militia have also stepped up
farm invasions, with at least 60 white farmers said to have been evicted
from the properties over the past few weeks.
Analysts see new farm invasions and resurgent political violence as part of
a well-orchestrated plan by Mugabe to regain the upper hand in rural and
farming areas, where ZANU PF surprisingly lost several seats to the MDC.
There are fears that an anticipated re-run of the presidential election
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai could spark serious violence between militant
supporters of the Zimbabwean leader on one side and opposition supporters on
Authoritative military sources say the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence
Forces (ZDF) Constantine Chiwenga has taken personal charge of President
Robert Mugabe’s re-election bid.
They said provincial joint committees manned by senior military, police and
intelligence officers loyal to Mugabe will spearhead the campaign that they
said will see unprecedented violence unleashed on Tsvangirai’s supporters. –
20:57 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 21:57 UK
Zimbabwe doctors condemn violence, torture
Hundreds flee Zanu (PF) rampage
SA to oversee new talks between Zanu and MDC
Extortionate fees are trick to incite revolt, says ZINASU
Campaign buses disappear after elections
War veterans forum stands with MDC
Mugabe to Rule by 'Hook or Crook'