Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:03AM EDT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe marked independence day on
Wednesday with new threats against opposition forces he accuses of trying to
topple his government on behalf of Zimbabwe's former colonial master,
Addressing a rally to mark Zimbabwe's 27th independence anniversary, Mugabe
said he would never cede power to opposition figures he has branded stooges
of Western powers bent on undermining his black nationalist government.
"As government, our message remains clear that we will never hesitate to
deal firmly with those elements who are bent on fomenting anarchy," he told
some 30,000 cheering supporters at a Harare stadium.
A mounting economic and political crisis left many Zimbabweans in no mood
for celebration on Wednesday, with many saying the country was in its worst
But Mugabe -- who denies he is holding onto power through violence and vote
rigging -- said people had reason celebrate "successive victories over
British-sponsored negative forces, however organized."
Zimbabwe had resisted attempts to reverse the government's nationalist land
and black empowerment policies through the opposition's British-sponsored
"regime change agenda", he said.
Critics including major Western countries accuse Mugabe of using his
nationalist credentials as a smokescreen to cover the country's slide into
Mugabe said he had no problem with a "legal, home-grown, peaceful and
constructive political opposition," but said chief opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai -- who says he was cheated of victory in presidential polls in
2002 -- was a "pathetic puppet" of Britain and the United States.
"I swear by our forefathers, I will never concede power to such people," he
Mugabe's government last month launched a brutal crackdown on Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), accusing it of trying to overthrow it
through a "terrorist campaign" of petrol bombings. The opposition denies the
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has been appointed by the regional
Southern African Development Community (SADC) to broker talks between Mugabe
and his opponents, but few are holding out hope of any immediate progress.
Instead, analysts expect the government to increase pressure ahead of 2008
elections, stepping up a campaign of beatings and intimidation of opposition
figures which began last month.
Mugabe has been endorsed by ZANU-PF to run again for president in the
elections, and appeared to be using Wednesday's rally as a display of
The 83-year-old leader basked in the cheers of supporters of his ruling
ZANU-PF party as an airforce fly-by and military marches underscoring the
might of his government.
"Our birthright, Our Sovereignty" read one placard waved at the rally, while
others denounced Mugabe's Western critics and pledged to unswerving loyalty
to the long-serving leader.
Critics accuse Mugabe, Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence from Britain
in 1980, of plunging the southern African state into crisis through policies
such as the seizure of white-owned farms to resettle blacks.
But Mugabe says the disaster -- which has left Zimbabwe with the world's
highest inflation and a rapidly shrinking economy
-- is a result of economic sanctions imposed by the West.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said that while Zimbabweans valued the role of
liberation war fighters, the hardships and lack of rights under Mugabe meant
they could not celebrate.
"Today is a day of reflection too on what has gone wrong and what needs to
be done to put things right," he said.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
18 April, 2007
Shops were forced to close and street vendors and other people were herded
toward Rufaro Stadium in Harare by police as they prepared for Robert Mugabe's
Independence Day address on Wednesday. But with the ongoing arrests and
torture of opposition officials and supporters, and ever increasing
inflation rates, Zimbabweans did not have much to celebrate this year.
According to our correspondent Simon Muchemwa, Mugabe's speech contained
nothing more than the usual negative venom against the British and western
powers. He also attacked opposition parties, accusing them of creating
anarchy and warning they would be dealt with firmly if they disobey the law.
Then he thanked the police for their role in containing what he called
Muchemwa said the ageing ZANU-PF leader told the British government to leave
Zimbabwe alone, saying their authority over the country ended back in 1980
when Prince Charles lowered the British flag. The only foreign dignitaries
who attended the celebrations were Zambia's deputy Prime Minister Rupiya
Banda and three Zambian ministers. Muchemwa believes this signals Mugabe's
increasing isolation within the region.
Mugabe also targeted MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai, who was badly injured
when he was tortured by police while in custody last month. He referred to
Tsvangirai as a puppet of the West and accused the party of being violent.
He did not mention that dozens of opposition officials have been arrested
and tortured since then and that abductions are still going on as we
celebrate Independence. At least 25 people are still in custody being denied
medical assistance for injuries inflicted during their torture by the
authorities. Mugabe also said opposition parties had all the freedom to
operate as long as they stayed within the legal framework prescribed by the
law. But he did not speak of the current ban on political rallies and
A war veteran leader who fought in the liberation war slammed Mugabe's
speech, saying he had nothing to offer and was using diversions because he
has no solutions to the countrys deepening crisis. Max Mkandla of the
Zimbabwe Liberators' Voice said the freedom Zimbabweans fought for does not
exist when people cannot gather or speak freely and choose their own
government. He described Mugabe as a "confused leader who is no longer
popular with other nations and at home."
Mkandla said a good leader does not praise brutality by the police against
innocent unarmed citizens. He pointed to the days when army planes and
parachutes flew by during Independence celebrations, saying they no longer
do so because Mugabe is no longer popular within his own army.
"We need new ideas and we need to build bridges with other nations," said
the war vet leader.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Apr 18, 2007
Mugabe Says Brits Failed to Topple Him
By ANGUS SHAW
Associated Press Writer
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- President Robert Mugabe declared Wednesday that he
had overcome British-backed efforts to topple him, leading muted
independence celebrations for a country beset by recent political violence
and a plummeting economy.
Looking robust, the 83-year-old Zimbabwean leader described the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change as "the shameless local puppets" in a
conspiracy by Britain, the former colonial ruler, to remove him from power.
"We have observed of late how this conspiracy has attempted to transform
into a militant criminal strain ... to create a state of anarchy and an orgy
of violence. We will never hesitate to deal firmly with these elements,"
said Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in
He acknowledged that worsening economic hardships were "stirring disquiet"
across the nation and said security forces were ready to defend national and
economic interests from what he called "the strategy of saboteurs" in the
The government has used security forces to violently disrupt demonstrations,
including a prayer meeting last month in which dozens were assaulted,
including main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The government called
the meeting a political protest banned under sweeping security laws.
In the capital Harare, Joram Bande, unemployed for two years, said he had no
desire to listen to Mugabe on Wednesday or go to parades and celebrations at
the soccer stadium where the British flag was lowered on April 18, 1980.
"What independence? Independence of hunger?" he said, likening the
anniversary to any other day as he scavenged for garbage to sell. "We are
For the first time, no businesses or government offices were festooned with
independence streamers and flags, reflecting the country's shortages of cash
and the highest estimated inflation in the world.
The Zimbabwean opposition and critics abroad accuse Mugabe of economic
mismanagement and political oppression. On Wednesday, Mugabe blamed
unbridled greed in some quarters for massive price increases that have put
many basic commodities out of the reach of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Backing by other leaders in southern Africa who have opted for quiet
diplomacy over confrontation appears to have given Mugabe room to stave off
trouble within his ruling party and demands for him to step down.
The opposition has denied government allegations of a terror campaign,
claiming eight bombings in the country since early March were stage-managed
by state security agents, possibly using disgruntled opposition youths.
Mugabe had been credited with rapidly expanding colonial era health and
education services soon after independence, making Zimbabwe the envy of the
region, but the embattled nation now faces acute shortages of food, gasoline
and most basic goods.
Zimbabwe also has the world's lowest life expectancy for women at 34,
worsened by an official HIV/AIDS infection rate of 22 percent of adults in
the 12 million population. At least 3,000 people die from AIDS and related
illnesses each week.
18 April 2007, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Mugabe blames greed for collapse
Zimbabwe's leader has blamed "unbridled greed" in the business sector
and "saboteurs" for the country's economic woes during independence
President Robert Mugabe, who has been heavily criticised for his
brutal crackdown of the opposition, also defended his government's stance.
"Misguided opposition elements [have tried] to create a state of
anarchy through an orgy of violence," he said.
Zimbabwe has the world's highest annual rate of inflation and 80%
"The economy has continued to be buffeted by seemingly unending waves
of price hikes, largely prompted by both unbridled greed amongst some of our
business persons and by the strategy of our saboteurs," the 83-year-old
president told a packed stadium in the capital, Harare.
"This pace of increases in prices of basic commodities have largely
been without justification."
Economists estimate that the country's inflation rate now tops 2,000%
and only one person in five is in full-time work.
Mr Mugabe was giving his address at the same stadium where Zimbabwe's
independence celebrations were held in 1980.
He reminded his audience of the day 27 years ago when British colonial
rule ended with the lowering of the flag by Prince Charles.
"Pulling down colonialism, British colonialism, which had settled
here, oppressed us for nearly a century," he said.
He also repeated accusations that some members of the opposition were
"We will never hesitate to deal firmly with those elements who are
bent on fomenting anarchy and criminal activities," he said.
Last month, a prayer meeting in the capital, Harare, attended by
opposition leaders and activists was broken up by police, leaving two people
Scores of activists, including Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were arrested and assaulted in police custody.
Mugabe accuses opposition of creating anarchy
April 18, 2007, 17:30
Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, has accused the opposition
Movemement for Democratic Change of trying to create anarchy as Zimbabwe
marks its 27th anniversary of independence.
Mugabe remained silent on President Thabo Mbeki's mediation role in the
country, but criticised the opposition for being stooges in the so-called
Western agenda for regime change in Zimbabwe.
Twenty-seven years ago Mugabe took the oath of office as the first prime
minister of an independent Zimbabwe. Today as president he was in a defiant
mood, telling his opponents any regime change agenda will not work. Turning
to the economy, he said companies and individuals who are increasing prices
for selfish reasons are to blame for the suffering of Zimbabweans. However,
the business community defended the price increases.
There was also concern about Zimbabwe's brain drain. An estimated four
million Zimbabweans are currently in the diaspora, most of them in South
Africa and Botswana. Other professionals have settled in the UK, North
America, Australia and New Zealand.
Mugabe blasts West
Published: April 18, 2007 at 11:52 AM
HARARE, Zimbabwe April 18 (UPI) -- Western powers are to blame for
Zimbabwe's economic woes, according to the country's ruler.
In celebrating the African nation's 27th independence anniversary Wednesday,
President Robert Mugabe said that foreign governments remain set on
destroying Zimbabwe as its economy continues on a downward spiral. Mugabe
has, however, effectively shut down any political opposition towards his
regime and most recently cracked down on the Movement for Democratic Change,
arresting and torturing its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mugabe accused Tsvangirai of being a "pathetic puppet" of the United States
and Britain, and added that "as government, our message remains clear that
we will never hesitate to deal firmly with those elements who are bent on
Mugabe has remained in power as its sole ruler since the country gained
independence in 1980.
Mugabe Lambasts Businesses For "unnecessary" Price Hikes
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday accused the country's
business community of stoking inflation through "unnecessary" price hikes,
South African radio reported.
The 83-year-old leader was speaking at Harare's Rufaro stadium during
Independence Day celebrations to mark Zimbabwe independence from Britain 27
years ago - that was attended by thousands of people.
Mugabe accused businesses of having a hidden agenda and of profiteering,
With inflation running at over 1,700 per cent, staples such as cooking oil
and soap have become prized items in Zimbabwe.
Businesses say that the rising cost of inputs is forcing them to implement
the vertiginous price hikes.
Mugabe has blamed the country's economic woes, also characterized by
widespread poverty, unemployment and mass emigration, on sanctions imposed
by the European Union and the United States.
The sanctions include a travel ban and an asset freeze on Mugabe and other
officials from his ZANU-PF government.
Dressed in a a green and gold presidential sash, the authoritarian leader
also took potshots at former imperial power Britain and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), accusing them of collaborating against
No prominent opposition leaders were in attendance after MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai had warned the party's supporters against attending the
"ZANU-ized" celebrations on safety grounds.
The MDC claims the authorities have detained around 600 of its supporters
during a month-long crackdown on the opposition, of which many have been
beaten and tortured in detention.
© 2007 DPA
By Tichaona Sibanda
18 April 2007
The officer-in-charge of Mutare central police station, Inspector Florence
Marume, on Wednesday personally instructed her officers to block an MDC
delegation from entering Sakubva stadium for the Independence celebrations.
The MDC delegation, which included provincial spokesman Pishai Muchauraya,
was travelling in a party vehicle when they were stopped at the gate and
ordered to turn back. Whilst this was going on, the group saw delegates from
Zanu (PF) with party vehicles, being motioned to enter the stadium.
'At first we resisted, but then the commotion attracted the attention of
soldiers nearby who threatened to manhandle us. The soldiers were shouting
'this never happens in Bindura where we come from' which suggested to us
that they were militias dressed in army uniforms. They were also ready to
pounce on us so we retreated,' Muchauraya said.
The group was eventually escorted from the stadium under police guard and
told not to come back. However Muchauraya said they didn't miss anything
inside except the free food and drinks that was on offer.
'This was supposed to be a national event but we are not surprised because
Zanu (PF) has nationalised everything in Zimbabwe, including Easter
holidays. The majority of people who attended were bussed in from rural
areas, so to them it was a day to feast and not a day to celebrate
independence,' he said.
The group noticed other police officers were reluctant to chase them away
and seemed happy to try and negotiate and diffuse the situation.
In Bulawayo the security forces have been criticised for their severe
crackdown on opposition activists, but some policemen say they have arrested
and sometimes tortured pro-democracy activists against their personal
Press reports said the officers maintained they were forced to carry out
their superiors' instructions out of fear.
A police officer identified only as Zex is quoted saying since the arrests
and crackdown on the opposition started on 11 March, he has dealt with tough
situations that have made him do things that he would not personally and
independently want to do.
'I have beaten up and arrested some opposition activists in Harare, where I
was transferred to recently, but each time I have done this my heart has
bled because I have done it against my will,' he said.
'These are simply activists advocating for change, which I also want to see
take place, but because I am a police officer and there is always somebody
watching my moves and dishing out commands, I am afraid I cannot resist. The
consequences may be dire if I did that, perhaps more than those of the
activists I have beaten up or witnessed being tortured,' Zex added.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Wed 18 Apr 2007, 15:53 GMT
By Ingrid Melander
BRUSSELS, April 18 (Reuters) - The European Union stepped up pressure on
Zimbabwe on its independence day on Wednesday, adding five names to a list
of top officials banned from the bloc and expressing strong concerns about
President Robert Mugabe's government faced international criticism last
month when it launched a violent crackdown on the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
A statement agreed by ambassadors of the EU member states meeting in
Brussels on Wednesday expressed "strong concern at the rapidly deteriorating
human rights, political and economic situation in Zimbabwe".
"The Council condemns in particular the acts of violent repression against
the opposition and calls on all parties to refrain from violence," said the
statement, seen by Reuters and due to be rubber-stamped by EU foreign
ministers on Monday.
The EU added five deputy ministers to its list of more than a 100 top
Zimbabwean officials, including Mugabe, who are forbidden to enter the EU
and whose assets in the 27-nation bloc are frozen.
They were added "in response to the acts of violence and abuses of human
rights" and following a government reshuffle, the EU statement said.
The EU sanctions were initially triggered by a controversial distribution of
white-owned commercial farms to mainly landless blacks and Mugabe's disputed
re-election in 2002.
Zimbabwe marked 27 years of independence on Wednesday, but for many the
milestone was overshadowed by the country's economic meltdown and a
political crisis over Mugabe's plans to remain in power.
The EU envoys stressed in their statement that the sanctions were
"exclusively aimed at those leading figures responsible for Zimbabwe's
crisis of governance and abuses of human rights" and that humanitarian aid
to Zimbabwe's population would continue.
Zimbabwe has been a thorn in EU-African relations for years.
Plans for an EU-Africa summit have been on hold since 2003 because Britain
and several other EU countries have refused to attend if Mugabe was invited,
while African states refused to attend if he was not invited.
Portugal hopes to stage such a summit in the second half of this year but it
is not clear how it will get around the Zimbabwe issue.
BULWAYO, 18 April 2007 (IRIN) - Wednesday marks 27 years of Zimbabwe's
independence. Max Mkandla is a former freedom fighter and leader of the
Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Initiative, an organisation representing the
interests of liberation fighters, mainly in southern Zimbabwe. He served as
a Section Commander under the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA)
during the country's protracted war against colonial rule. Mkandla told IRIN
he felt the government had betrayed the cause of the struggle.
"The independence that the nation will observe this week is in vain. Simply
speaking, there is no independence to talk about because the government has
turned its sword on the same people that fought gallantly to liberate this
"Opposition activists have been brutalised, tortured and killed; and those
who advocate for freedom and human rights are in danger of this regime. I,
for one, served as a commander under ZIPRA, which was a military wing of the
Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU), which was led by the late Joshua
"I sacrificed a lot to free this country, but my heart bleeds today when I
see oppression and brutal torture of [opposition.]
"When I fought in the bush, indeed, all those who stood up and contributed
in different ways towards freeing this country, we wanted our freedoms to be
guaranteed; we wanted a right to vote, regardless of who you are and, most
importantly, we wanted to live as freely as any other democratic and
independent nation but, sadly ... our aspirations [have been blighted].
"They have brutalised, tortured, killed and maimed opponents and civilians
since the Gukurahundi war, and they have destroyed the economy, ushering in
an unprecedented poverty never seen before."
Gukurahundi, meaning 'the first rains of the season, which wash away all the
chaff' in the Shona language, was a brigade sent to the southern provinces
of Midlands and Matabeleland to curb dissent, two years after Zimbabwe
gained independence from Britain in 1980. It killed 20,000 people.
"There is no independence to talk about. Government and ZANU-PF, and indeed
President [Robert] Mugabe, should be ashamed of themselves."
Achain of government terror camps, in
which young men are indoctrinated with propaganda and trained in violence,
intimidation and torture, is being re-established in Zimbabwe in advance of next
year's election. The camps are part of the so-called national youth service
training scheme set up in 2001. Graduates were formed into hit squads who
terrorised President Mugabe's opponents in the 2002 election campaign. Now
Mugabe associates, including Intelligence Minister Didymus Mutasa and Deputy
Minister of Youth, Saviour Kasukuwere, have been told to reinvigorate old camps
and establish new ones. A source said: "The strategy is to set up three camps in
each main city, and four more in rural areas known to be sympathetic to the
opposition MDC." A camp has already been set up in Bulawayo's Mpopoma suburb.
Youths are recruited using threats and promises;
they are told they will not be accepted at colleges or employed in the public
sector without a certificate of attendance. The government says it is educating
youths in the nation's history. Critics say it's the Hitler Youth all over
again. One camp instructor admitted: "They
will learn how to handle guns and how to effect physical and mental
torture." Past experience indicates that squads from the camps will turn
parts of the country into no-go areas for supporters of the opposition MDC,
setting up road blocks and threatening, beating and turning away anyone who
cannot produce a Zanu-PF membership card. In town, they will
target grass-roots MDC activists, and use torture and violence to make them
abandon their constituencies. In January 2002 an Amnesty International ONE BOY'S STORY
Orbert, 24, went through the camp system in
2001, emerging as leader of a militia unit used to terrorise MDC supporters.
This is his story. "I joined up with hundreds of
other boys because I had no choice. It was go through what they called national service training or die unemployed. I
was sent to a camp in the south where I was held
captive for six months. It was very heavily guarded. "Our day started at 2am with a long run, followed by endless
physical drills. If anyone fell out or collapsed they were
beaten with sticks and plastic rods. "Classes were usually just hours of sloganeering and singing
Zanu-PF songs. The basic lesson we were taught was that anyone who did not agree
with the policies of Robert Mugabe deserved to die. "There was a hostel for girls at the
camp, who were used as a reward for us if we did well. After a while the camp
commander, a man called Sibanda, gave me the go-ahead to take my pick. I was
allowed to go to the hostel at midnight, pick out any girl I liked and rape her.
Sibanda told me it was okay because it would make the girls stronger.
"Sometimes people who supported the
opposition were brought into the camp to be punished. I remember one man who was
pushed to the floor, had pepper sprinkled in his eyes and then we all took turns
to kick him. I left the camp before the presidential
election in 2002, and I was put in charge of a youth group in Harare. Our job
was to terrorise anyone who was hostile to Zanu-PF and President Mugabe."
A camp has already been set up. Critics
say it’s the Hitler Youth all over again
Achain of government terror camps, in which young men are indoctrinated with propaganda and trained in violence, intimidation and torture, is being re-established in Zimbabwe in advance of next year's election.
The camps are part of the so-called national youth service training scheme set up in 2001. Graduates were formed into hit squads who terrorised President Mugabe's opponents in the 2002 election campaign. Now Mugabe associates, including Intelligence Minister Didymus Mutasa and Deputy Minister of Youth, Saviour Kasukuwere, have been told to reinvigorate old camps and establish new ones. A source said: "The strategy is to set up three camps in each main city, and four more in rural areas known to be sympathetic to the opposition MDC."
A camp has already been set up in Bulawayo's Mpopoma suburb. Youths
are recruited using threats and promises; they are told they will not be accepted at colleges or employed in the public sector without a certificate of attendance.
The government says it is educating youths in the nation's history. Critics say it's the Hitler Youth all over again. One camp instructor admitted: "They will learn how to handle guns and how to effect physical and mental torture."
Past experience indicates that squads from the camps will turn parts of the country into no-go areas for supporters of the opposition MDC, setting up road blocks and threatening, beating and turning away anyone who cannot produce a Zanu-PF membership card. In town, they will target grass-roots MDC activists, and use torture and violence to make them abandon their constituencies. In January 2002 an Amnesty International
ONE BOY'S STORY
Orbert, 24, went through the camp system in 2001, emerging as leader of a militia unit used to terrorise MDC supporters. This is his story.
"I joined up with hundreds of other boys because I had no choice. It was go through what they called national service training or die unemployed. I was sent to a camp in the south where I was held captive for six months. It was very heavily guarded.
"Our day started at 2am with a long run, followed by endless physical drills. If anyone fell out or collapsed they were beaten with sticks and plastic rods.
"Classes were usually just hours of sloganeering and singing Zanu-PF songs. The basic lesson we were
taught was that anyone who did not agree with the policies of Robert Mugabe deserved to die.
"There was a hostel for girls at the camp, who were used as a reward for us if we did well. After a while the camp commander, a man called Sibanda, gave me the go-ahead to take my pick. I was allowed to go to the hostel at midnight, pick out any girl I liked and rape her. Sibanda told me it was okay because it would make the girls stronger.
"Sometimes people who supported the opposition were brought into the camp to be punished. I remember one man who was pushed to the floor, had pepper sprinkled in his eyes and then we all took turns to kick him. I left the camp before the presidential election in 2002, and I was put in charge of a youth group in Harare. Our job was to terrorise anyone who was hostile to Zanu-PF and President Mugabe."
By Tererai Karimakwenda
18 April, 2007
The Herald newspaper reports that the cabinet had approved proposals to
harmonise presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008. It said the
Cabinet had met on Monday and endorsed all proposals, except the issue of
whether the Senate should be chosen through proportional representation or
through elections. Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister for Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs is quoted saying the issue of setting-up the Senate
would be finalised by the ruling party's Central Committee.
The cabinet agreed to limit the term of office of a president to 5 years
from 6. The number of seats in the Senate will change from 66 to 84 and the
seats in the House of the Assembly from 150 to 210. In the event that a
sitting president dies, resigns or is not able to continue with their
duties, Parliament will sit as an electoral college to elect a successor.
The current law calls for a public election within 90 days.
Critics have insisted that harmonisation is not a practical idea because
there is not enough time or resources to hold both elections by 2008. David
Chimhini, director of the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust, which has peace
committees around the country, said last week that the government cannot
print identification cards and passports due to a lack of funds. People
without these documents would be deprived of the vote. And there would need
to be a new voters roll to account for the nearly one million people who
were displaced during the government's demolition exercises. Chimhini also
stressed that the government sponsored violence against opposition officials
and supporters has instilled fear in the electorate. Much peace building and
voters education needs to be in place before it would be possible to hold
any elections. Are Zimbabweans once again going to be deprived of a chance
of deciding their future?
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Lance Guma
18 April 2007
A planned rally by the Zimbabwe Youth Movement (ZYM) in Chitungwiza received
unwanted attention from the police who sealed off Huruyadzo Shopping Centre
and beat up everyone suspected of involvement in the rally. Over 5 youth
leaders were arrested, including the president Collin Chibango, Vice
president Sunduza Ndlovu, Information Secretary Garikai Kajau, national
organising secretary Hentchel Mavuma and Wellington Mahohoma the treasurer.
A spokesman for the group told us police began beating up people at a nearby
bar without provocation and everything went out of control from there on.
According to ZINASU president Promise Mkwananzi police details deployed were
armed with AK-47 rifles, accompanied by police dogs and indiscriminately
fired teargas canisters at the shopping centre. It was not immediately known
which police station the youths have been taken to. On Tuesday the police
told the youths the rally would not be sanctioned but the youths urged
defiance saying confrontation was now the only route left for Zimbabweans.
ZYM groups together former student leaders and youths from different
political parties. The group says it wants to make sure youths play a
prominent role in the political process.
Meanwhile in London over 300 activists took part in a demonstration
condemning Mugabe's crackdown on the opposition. According to Jaison Matewu
the MDC UK Organising Secretary, the protesters marched on the Zimbabwean
Embassy and the office of the British Prime Minister in Downing Street,
before going to the parliament building in Westminster. They presented a
petition to Labour MP Kate Hoey who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group
on Zimbabwe. The petition to the British asked them to put pressure on
African leaders and use their influence to solve the country's crisis.
Matewu expressed satisfaction with the attendance saying it was pretty good
for a midweek demonstration.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs -
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Date: 18 Apr 2007
BULAWAYO, 18 April 2007 (IRIN) - Dressed in a tiny white skirt and a top,
Linda, 16, (not her real name) struts into a nightclub in Madlambuzi, a
sprawling rural settlement in Zimbabwe's Matabeleland South Province.
Swinging to the deafening music, she scans the room for potential customers.
She joins a group of visibly drunk girls with pints of clear beer in their
hands. Sex work is a last resort of girls desperate to make a living in this
poverty-stricken village, or just to "get money to feed our families," Linda
"I was deported as an illegal emigrant from Botswana in December last year,
where I used to work as a maid. I have no means of getting money to feed
myself and my little child. This is why I am here," she said.
"My parents died two years ago, and I am the one responsible to fend for my
two siblings and my only child. They look forward to me to bring food home.
There are no jobs here, [and] food is very expensive," she added.
Gordon Chavhunduka, sociologist and political commentator, said Zimbabwe's
"social fabric is fast collapsing, just the way the economy is. It's sad
that people, especially the vulnerable ones - let alone young girls - would
do terrible things just to survive in this economy. It's a sad story."
Linda has many difficulties to contend with besides soaring food prices and
the rocketing inflation that has sent the economy into a tailspin, but
worst, she feels, is facing criticism from her neighbours and relatives for
selling her body.
According to village elders, sex work has been spreading rapidly in rural
Matabeleland, especially where there are drinking spots or nightclubs.
"These girls are a disgrace. We know survival is not easy, especially
considering that commodities are expensive in shops and the there are no
jobs, both here [countryside] and in towns, but selling their bodies is
wrong," said Methuseli Dumani, a village elder.
"We have tried talking to some of them to abandon their evil deeds but they
would not listen. Each time the sun sets, you see them trickling in [the
club] and start soliciting. We don't know how they can be stopped, at least
for the preservation of our culture, which disapproves of prostitution," he
Linda and her colleagues know they are seen as immoral people, but say they
have no choice. "I know what I am doing is wrong - it is even forbidden in
the Bible - but there is no other means through which I can make a living.
If I don't go out and sell out my body, then my family will starve.
Relatives and neighbours say I am a disgrace, but when I go to them and ask
for maizemeal or money to help the family, they just look aside; yet they
love to be critical."
After a while, Linda gets a "customer", a bald-headed man old enough to be
her father, and disappears with him.
'Anita', another sex worker, said the poverty ravaging Matabeleland often
forced girls as young as 13 to sell their bodies.
"Save for those who have breadwinners in South Africa and Botswana, many
families here have no one looking after them at all. Many of us dropped out
of school because our parents could not afford the school fees," she said.
Despite the dangers
Anita is adamant that she understands the dangers of sex work. "Everyone
knows there is AIDS; it has actually killed a lot of people here, and some
are even ill right now. I am personally afraid of the disease and I always
insist on the use of condoms," she said.
"For an all-night session, I charge something like Z$200,000 [US$8 at the
informal market rate], and half that amount for a short-time session, which
normally lasts for only two hours," Anita explained. "Our customers are
normally truck drivers who deliver beer from Bulawayo, and those who go or
come from Botswana to deliver or collect some goods."
An official of the Matabeleland AIDS Council said a recent survey in
southern Zimbabwe had revealed that rural Matabeleland was worst affected by
the AIDS pandemic, mainly because of its proximity to South Africa and
Botswana. According to 2005 UN estimates, HIV prevalence among people aged
15-49 was 18.8 percent in South Africa and 24.1 percent in Botswana, with
Zimbabwe estimated at 20.1 percent.
"Many people in this province work in Botswana and South Africa. Often it's
a single partner of the family, say a husband or a wife, and because they
stay away from their partner for long, they end up engaging in extramarital
relationships, which have the potential of spreading the virus," the
official told IRIN.
"Prostitution is another cause [of spreading HIV infection], and it is sad
that we are seeing it rearing its head in rural areas," he said. "It just
shows how desperate people are."
18 April 2007, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Zimbabwean Herbert is 27 years old - born in 1980 when his nation
became independent. Talking to the BBC News website by telephone, he
reflected on the ups and downs of living under President Robert Mugabe.
"I am not excited about the independence anniversary celebrations.
Why should I be?
I have nothing to celebrate.
I am buying bread at 6,000 Zimbabwean dollars ($0.34 at current black
market exchange rate) for a loaf and two litres of cooking oil for 120,000
Zimbabwean dollars ($6.70).
I was only taking 500,000 Zimbabwean dollars ($28) home a month. But
even that is no more. As of yesterday, I was laid off from my clerical job.
And now, because this is Zimbabwe, I know that I am not going to get
I live in a rented flat with my wife and family and so I am still
thinking of what I can do to carry on living and paying the rent. Maybe I
will sell some of my furniture.
The whole Zimbabwe situation is not pleasing at the moment. Not at
all. Everything costs so much, most have so little and everywhere there are
secret police. We are not free anymore.
I was born in Mutare [eastern city on border with neighbouring
Mozambique] but moved to Harare a few years back to find work after my
parents passed away.
I remember how beautiful our country was in the 80s.
My gran used to give me 50 Zimbabwean cents to go buy bread, butter
and milk - all that for so little! It was easy to live well.
And when we were at junior school, five cents in your pocket could get
you sweets to last the whole week. I tell you, finding a five cent piece on
the pavement was like finding gold!
Now if you see a 1,000 Zimbabwean dollar note on the floor, you just
keep walking. You don't stop. It is nothing - no-one will even pick it up.
Back then, after independence, we all loved President Mugabe. But now
we don't. The only ones that do are those who benefit from his rule.
I don't mind if Zanu-PF stays as the ruling party, I really don't. I
just want there to be change at the top.
Mugabe is already a hero and he always will be but there is nothing
more for him to do. He must just step down.
When he was prime minister everything was fine.
But when his first wife, Sally, died, he started going the other way.
That women loved our country - she did so much for us.
A lot has changed. And it all started then.
Now, our country is dead. I really want a better Zimbabwe. "
April 18 2007 at 11:21AM
Zimbabwe's 27th anniversary of independence on Wednesday should be
marked with a plan clearly setting out successive steps to restore democracy
and good governance to that country, the Democratic Alliance said.
"The 27th anniversary of Zimbabwean independence today is the most
dismal in that country's history," DA spokesperson Douglas Gibson said in a
President Robert Mugabe had turned one of the "jewels of Africa", to
use former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere's description, into a disaster
Life continued, becoming worse for Zimbabweans instead of better, and
Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party should accept full responsibility for what they
had done, Gibson said.
"This anniversary day may act as an impetus, spurring the African
Union and SADC (Southern African Development Community) to start taking
steps which will result in real change.
"Surely Africa in general, and South Africa in particular, can no
longer sit patiently, hoping for something to turn up."
The average Zimbabwean already faced 80 percent unemployment,
shortages of wheat, sugar and petrol, massive HIV/Aids infection rates, and
a one in three high school drop out rate.
The country would also soon have to contend with a wage freeze, a fuel
price hike, and inflation predicted to reach 5000 percent by the end of
These were all signs of an impending disaster for Zimbabwe that would
affect the entire population and the region, he said.
The word from the office of the South African Presidency was that
there was "some movement" in President Thabo Mbeki's mediation with Zanu-PF
and the opposition MDC (Movement for Democratic Change).
"We have heard all of this before, and the situation continues to
"Therefore, we call on President Mbeki to announce what has been
achieved and what has failed in the mediation, and to finally admit that the
last seven years of quiet diplomacy have in fact failed."
A new approach was necessary or else ordinary, vulnerable Zimbabweans
would be the ones that suffered.
"The time has arrived for a new road map for Zimbabwe, which clearly
marks out successive steps aimed at restoring democracy and good governance
to that benighted country," Gibson said. - Sapa
April 18 2007 at 02:42PM
South Africa cannot perform magic to solve the problems in Zimbabwe,
Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Wednesday.
Asked if Zimbabweans have reason to celebrate on their Independence
Day, Dlamini-Zuma said the day was a time for reflection.
"When you celebrate your independence you look at your past but also
look at your present and your future. I'm sure they'll do that," she said.
She hoped the work that President Thabo Mbeki was doing as a
facilitator appointed by the Southern African Development Community would
have positive results but said it would take time and the outcome was up to
"South Africa can't do any magic," said Dlamini-Zuma.
She said there also had to be a link with the Zimbabweans themselves
and their will to accelerate the resolutions of the economic and political
problems. - Sapa
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
New bill aims to address emotional scars of mass killings, but some say it
doesn't go far enough.
By Fiso Dingaan in Lupane, Matabeleland (AR No. 109, 18-Apr-07)
Fighting hard to hold back tears, 52-year-old Ernest Ngwenya points to three
mounds of soil crudely marked with stones and burnt logs at a clearing two
kilometres from his homestead.
The contorted face tells of the emotional turmoil Ngwenya is battling to
control. When he eventually manages to speak, his voice is full of pain and
"I have waited 24 years for this day to grieve openly with my relatives and
to show them where I buried our father, brother and uncle who were killed
during Gukurahundi," he said.
"All along, I was afraid that if I talked about something like this, more of
my relatives would be beaten or killed - just like what happened during
The government's bloody suppression of opposition in southern Zimbabwe after
independence in 1980 is known as the Gukurahundi, or "the rains that sweep
away the chaff".
The North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade killed an estimated 20,000 people,
ostensibly for being dissidents. Many were buried in unmarked graves or
thrown down disused mines. But survivors say the killings were systematic
and targeted at Zapu office bearers and community leaders such as teachers,
nurses and headmen.
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has not publicly apologised for the
massacres except to say the atrocities were "a moment of madness".
More than two decades later, life is back to normal in Matabeleland and the
Midlands. But the relative calm is deceptive.
Ngwenya was able to overcome his fear thanks to help from the local
legislator and members of a social justice pressure group called Ibhetshu
Likazulu. Lupane member of parliament, Jabuliso Mguni, also counselled
Ngwenya and his extended family, saying that it would do them good to talk
about their experiences.
Ngwenya says he needed assurances that nothing would happen to him if he
Movement for Democratic Change legislator and lawyer David Coltart believes
Zimbabwe is still in a state of denial regarding Gukurahundi. Coltart was
part of a team of researchers that compiled a report, called Breaking the
Silence, on the atrocities over ten years ago.
"I do not think that even many sympathetic democrats who oppose the Zanu-PF
regime have a clear idea of the scale of this crime against humanity - nor
the extent of the psychological damage done to the affected communities," he
Indeed, most survivors are still seething with anger and grief. Elda Mlalazi
is a mother of two and gets highly emotional when she recounts what she
endured during Gukurahundi. She shows this reporter knife wounds that she
says were inflicted by a neighbour on instructions from the soldiers.
"The scars are a constant reminder, especially when my in-laws, who don't
know how I got them, start saying I was a prostitute before I got married.
They laugh and say the scars were punishment from jilted boyfriends. There
is nothing I can say to them but I know the truth," she said.
Ibhetshu Likazulu chairperson, Qhubekani Dube, says his organisation is
trying - albeit on a very small scale - "to bring peace and closure among
people who are still grieving and hurting inside. We realise that if people
don't bring the issue out into the open, tribal enmity will continue,"
The pressure group, formed in 2005, helps families identify where their
relatives are buried and helps to organise burial rituals. During the
ceremonies, villagers are encouraged to share their experiences and concerns
over the massacres. Listening to some of the mainly Ndebele villagers
recounting their experiences during a grave identification ceremony for
Ngwenya's father, Mfungelwa, his brother, Aleck, and an uncle, Kaise Moyo,
one is struck by the frequent reference to how "Shona-speaking soldiers"
committed the atrocities.
Dube says the organisation fears that if such thoughts are left unaddressed,
tribal hatred between Ndebeles and Shona will be perpetuated. He says that
Ibhetshu Likazulu is trying to explain to survivors and families of victims
that they should direct their anger at Mugabe "because it was him who issued
the order to kill".
Mguni believes there is a desperate need to assuage the pain and grief of
Gukurahundi. He worries that life has been at what he calls a "cultural
standstill" for affected families. This, he explains, is because families
have not buried their relatives according to custom and consequently they
cannot communicate with their deceased as tradition demands.
"We have ways of burying our own. We have not done that. People were not
given a chance to grieve. We are hurting inside. We have wounds festering
within that need to be treated and healed by openly talking about how and
why our relatives were killed. Keeping quiet will not do us any good," he
Additionally, Mguni says people's experiences of Gukurahundi must be
recorded for posterity.
Another Matabeleland North legislator, Professor Jonathan Moyo, has drafted
the Gukurahundi National Memorial Bill. Moyo is an independent member of
parliament for Tsholotsho. His constituency was the first area where the
Fifth Brigade was deployed in January 1983.
He says he will soon publish and distribute the proposed legislation for
public input before tabling it in parliament.
Moyo, a former minister of information and publicity in Mugabe's cabinet,
reckons the bill would garner enough support to allow it to be enacted
because its objective of "putting in place a mechanism to deal with
unresolved issues, healing the open wounds and invisible scars by seeking
truth and justice", is noble.
Coltart, however, says legislation alone will not suffice. He accepts the
proposed bill "may be a useful vehicle to ascertain the views and needs of
victims" but adds, "The bill itself will not heal wounds - the wounds of
this atrocity will require a deep-rooted commitment by government and the
entire nation to understand what happened, to apologise for what happened,
and to take far-reaching steps to reconcile..the ongoing suffering caused."
The legislator's views resonate with those of survivors such as Ngwenya and
his cousin Mlalazi. Ngwenya says now that he has dealt with the emotional
side of Gukurahundi, he can start facing up to the realities of getting
national identity papers for his nephews and nieces. And, one day, he hopes
that the government will compensate him and his neighbours for property
destroyed during the massacres.
Even then Gukurahundi will remain a part of his life. "I won't forget. I
cannot forget. How do you forget something like that? But at least now I can
be at peace with myself, I know where my father is buried," he said.
Fiso Dingaan is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
From SW Radio Africa, 18 April
SW Radio Africa today resumes broadcasting on multiple frequencies.
Broadcasts are between 7:00 and 9:00 pm Zimbabwe time on shortwave; in the
25m band 11775kHz, 11810kHz, 12035kHz, and in the 60m band 4880kHz. Also
via the internet at www.swradioafrica.com .
Comment from The Star (SA), 18 April
Mugabe's strategy is a crude attempt to cripple the opposition so it will be
unable to mount a coherent election challenge
If President Mbeki is to perform his role as SADC mediator in the Zimbabwe
crisis with any chance of success, then he must intervene immediately to
stop Robert Mugabe's vicious campaign of physical assaults aimed at crushing
the political opposition in Zimbabwe. Mbeki's role is to initiate dialogue
between Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), leading to free and fair elections next March. Well, the
election is less than 11 months away, which means it should already be in
the campaigning stage. Competing parties should be registering voters,
naming candidates and holding election rallies. But the MDC can do none of
that. Political meetings are banned, some 600 prominent opposition figures,
including its top leaders, have been arrested on trumped up charges and
badly beaten. At least three have died and dozens have been seriously
injured. It is an appalling situation.
Mugabe's strategy is obvious. It is a crude attempt to cripple the
opposition, to shatter its organisational structure, brutalise its
leadership and so intimidate its followers that it will be unable to mount a
coherent election challenge. Then in the last few weeks, when foreign
observer teams start arriving, Mugabe can put on a show of openness to
enable them to proclaim the election "free and fair". Mbeki should act now
to stop this travesty. He should tell Mugabe that unless he stops this
brutal campaign right now, SADC will have no option but to pronounce the
elections as having not been free and fair. And he should spell out the
implications of that to Mugabe . that SADC would then not be able to
validate his re-election or recognise his new government. It would be an
Mbeki's defenders often challenge those who accuse him of being craven in
the face of Mubage's human rights violations and economic devastation,
asking what they expect the president to do. "Do you want him to send in the
army?" they ask, knowing the absurdity of such a suggestion. Or impose
sanctions, which would cause even greater misery for the suffering
population while the ruling elite would still have access to what resources
remain? Or close the border and cut off electricity supplies, which would
have much the same result? Or publicly condemn Mugabe, what Mbeki himself
calls megaphone diplomacy, which would simply make the old tyrant more
stubborn and vindictive than ever without achieving anything? There is merit
in these rejoinders, although I believe a measured public expression of
disapproval would have undermined Mugabe's strategy, which has been
remarkably successful, of deluding his followers into believing he is waging
an honourable struggle against an iniquitous campaign by Western powers, led
by George Bush and Tony Blair, to punish him for giving white farms to
landless blacks, and that all of Africa is behind him.
Simply to have exposed that lie would have gone a long way to undermining
Mugabe's political staying power. But my real point is that there is now an
active, positive, effective thing Mbeki can do, and that is simply to give
Mugabe a warning that a continuation of his campaign of brutalising the
opposition will lead to SADC declaring the election invalid. It does not
have to be uttered loudly, or even publicly. It can be done in the context
of "quiet diplomacy." It can be conveyed to Mugabe in private . so long as
Mbeki says it in a way that Mugabe understands it is meant. What is more,
Mbeki can do this without acting in his capacity as president of South
Africa. He need not expose himself to an accusation that he is acting on
behalf of the West or of white South African business, a retaliation that
would be typical of Mugabe. Mbeki can do it on behalf of the SADC, which has
mandated him to act on behalf of all 14 of the member states. Moreover the
SADC has its own clear criteria for the holding of free and fair elections,
and Mugabe must be told to abide by them or face the consequences. And he
must be told that now.
I believe that could stop him in his tracks. There can be nothing Mugabe
fears more than being disavowed by his SADC colleagues. Being a cunning and
resourceful man, he would doubtless try to wriggle out of such a corner, but
if the warnings kept coming and if he knew they were seriously intended he
would have to respond. He could not risk having the election invalidated.
Not least, and political considerations aside, such a serious warning would
put an end to a lot of gratuitous human suffering. A lot of good, honest
people have already been grievously damaged in these batterings. I know some
of them. One is William Bango with whom I worked at the Institute for the
Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg, where he was head of print
training for several years. Many of our leading South African journalists
will remember him as a lively, witty, talented man. Willie is typical of
many who are trying to bring about change in their devastated country and
who are certainly not agents of some nefarious foreign power.
Willie joined Zanla, Mugabe's guerrilla army, as a youth and fought in the
chimurenga, the liberation struggle. He was wounded and the movement sent
him abroad to further his education. He obtained a masters degree at Cardiff
University's renowned Thompson School of Journalism. Willie left the IAJ to
return to Zimbabwe and become news editor of the Daily News. When Mugabe
closed that excellent independent paper and his military thugs blew up its
presses, Willie joined the MDC and became the spokesperson for its leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai. I visited Willie at his home the last time I was in
Harare. "I am a millionaire," he told me laconically, "but I am poor." He
spelled out some of the realities of life in a country whose currency has
collapsed to Weimar Republic levels. His wife had received a call from an
insurance company to tell her an annuity policy had matured. The payout was
enough to buy a bottle of Coca-Cola.
Willie was with Tsvangirai on that watershed Sunday, March 11, when police
arrested them on their way to a prayer rally. He was with him when uniformed
thugs arrived in a truck and began systematically beating them up with boots
and iron bars, when Tsvangirai suffered a fractured skull and Willie himself
serious internal injuries. The world was shocked to see pictures of the
bedraggled opposition leader with his ugly head injury. Now the photographer
who took those pictures has been murdered. Willie was flown to South Africa
for medical treatment. He collapsed on arrival at the hospital. He underwent
emergency surgery to remove his gall bladder and repair other ruptured
internal organs. He was lucky to survive. Willie is back home now. I phoned
him last week to ask how he was. He said he was OK, but had lost 20kg, which
is a lot for a small man. I asked if he was ready now to pitch into an
election campaign. There was a hollow laugh in reply.
Wed, 18 Apr 2007
On Tuesday 24 April at 8pm, South African free-to-air channel e.tv's
hard-hitting investigative programme Third Degree will broadcast an
exclusive report exposing damning evidence of Zimbabwe's illegal diamond
mining and smuggling.
Peter Moyo, producer on Third Degree, recently spent two weeks in Zimbabwe
investigating the story. He was arrested and later abducted by Zimbabwe's
Central Intelligence operatives who dubbed him a national security threat.
In the midst of Zimbabwe's political and economic turmoil, diamonds were
recently discovered in the country. This discovery has provided an
opportunity for those struggling to cope with high unemployment and a
crippled economy to make a quick fortune. But it is mainly corrupt officials
who are illegally profiting from plundering this precious natural recourse.
The World Diamond Council wants Zimbabwe investigated for flouting the
Kimberley Process Certification Scheme governing trade in these gems. In
response, the Zimbabwean government is accusing its critics of having hidden
agendas, even though it is unable to account for diamonds to the tune of
Moyo and Third Degree's Debora Patta trace this unlawful trade back to South
Africa and reveal how Moyo managed to escape Mugabe's media crackdown to
bring e.tv viewers the full story.
Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 12 April
Fifteen years ago, the Mail & Guardian carried a 16-page supplement
reporting an unprecedented meeting in South Africa - an experience that
might provide some lessons for Zimbabwe. The Mont Fleur Scenario Exercise,
an experiment in "future-forging", brought together 25 South Africans over
four intense, informal weekends at the Mont Fleur Conference Centre near
Cape Town. They talked through what was happening in South Africa, what
might happen, and what, in the light of these possible futures, could be
done. These days, I read the news from Zimbabwe with alarm and confusion. I
observe a downward spiral of fear, mistrust and violence. I notice a narrow
focus on the current crisis and its personalities, and widely differing
perspectives on what has gone wrong. I wonder if Zimbabweans can jointly
agree on what should be done about it. Then I think back to that meeting in
The process at Mont Fleur, which I facilitated, brought together a broad mix
of South Africa's political, business and civil society leaders. They came
from the left and right, the opposition and the government - among them
Dorothy Boesak, Rob Davies, Derek Keys, Pieter le Roux, Johann Liebenberg,
Saki Macozoma, Mosebyane Malatsi, Trevor Manuel, Vincent Maphai, Tito
Mboweni, Jayendra Naidoo, Brian O'Connell, Viviene Taylor, Sue van der Merwe
and Christo Wiese. Leaders who, in different ways, have shaped how the
future of South Africa actually unfolded. All were committed in their own
ways to building a better future for their country. From starkly different
perspectives, they built a shared map of South African reality. Their M&G
report, published in July 1992, summarised these discussions in the form of
four stories. Each scenario imagined how events might unfold over the coming
decade from 1992 to 2002.
Ostrich told the story of a non-representative white government, sticking
its head in the sand to try (ultimately in vain) to avoid a negotiated
settlement with the black majority. Lame Duck anticipated a prolonged
transition under a weak government which, because it purports to respond to
all, satisfies none. In Icarus, a constitutionally unconstrained black
government comes to power on a wave of popular support and noble intentions
and embarks on a huge, and unsustainable public spending programme, which
crashes the economy. In Flight of the Flamingos, the transition is
successful, with everyone in the society rising slowly and together. These
stories may not be relevant to either South Africa or Zimbabwe in 2007, but
they reflected key choices facing South Africa in 1992, with particular
emphasis on the nature of the political settlement and the economic policies
that would follow.
Of the four scenarios, the path of South Africa since 1992 has been
closest - although certainly not identical - to Flight of the Flamingos. By
rehearsing a variety of possible futures, in the minds of the participants
and of M&G readers, I believe the Mont Fleur process made some contribution
to this much-better-than-it-might-otherwise-have-turned-out result. The more
significant lesson, however, is not in the scenario stories themselves. The
process itself is typical of one of the most important innovations of South
Africa's transition: the multi-stakeholder dialogue forum. From 1990
onwards, South Africans created - in parallel with the formal negotiating
structures - hundreds of such informal forums. These dealt with a variety of
challenges - local development, health, education, security and
constitutional reform. Some adopted the scenarios method. More importantly,
all created a safe and open space in which the primary political, business
and civil society actors could come together to chart a way forward.
The key concept here is "we", an assumption of shared interests and identity
which, at first, was often denied. The forums encouraged South Africans'
sense of being engaged in a shared national project. The old was not yet
dead and the new had not yet been born, and in this interregnum the forums
provided a space for the people with a stake in the future to create it
together. The sense of "we" - of incremental trust - was a foundation for
the larger political settlement in 1994 and the transformation which
followed. "There was a high degree of flux at that time," Trevor Manuel
recalled later. "That was a real strength. There was no paradigm, there was
no precedent and there was nothing. We had to carve it and so perhaps we
were more willing to listen." Since Mont Fleur, I have had the experience of
facilitating similar future-carving processes in other conflicts. In
Colombia during the civil war, in Guatemala after the genocide, in Argentina
during the collapse, in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Israel-Palestine, India
and the Philippines, and in my homeland of Canada, with its own hidden deep
Sometimes these processes work and sometimes they don't; as Immanuel Kant
said: "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever
made." When they are, it is always because there are a few people who are
willing to take a stand - not for a particular interest, but for a process
which is open-minded and open-hearted - for carving a better future. I do
not understand what is going on in Zimbabwe well enough to know if these
experiences are relevant there. Do Zimbabweans have a sense of a common
future, of a "we"? Do the primary actors from politics, business and civil
society know that they need each other? Or that they need even their
opponents to create a better future? Are there leaders able to design a
safe, open space in which these actors can talk and listen? What I do
understand - and with certainty - is what happens if the answers to these
questions are "no". Because the only alternative then is that some or all of
these actors will attempt to impose a future through force.
Adam Kahane is the author of Solving Tough Problems. He lives with his
family in Boston and Cape Town
By Mary Revesai
Last updated: 04/18/2007 15:15:59
THE brutish performance of Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister, Kembo Mohadi, during an interview with SW Radio Africa's Violet Gonda last week (read) shows that Zimbabwe has degenerated from being a one-party into a one-man state!
Everyone in government, it seems, has to parrot what is dictated by Robert Mugabe.
Mohadi's menacing and unreasonable responses when he was asked about the battering of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and others about three weeks ago proved, if any proof was still needed, that it is not only the media and the rest of society that are being denied freedom of thought and expression.
Mohadi's aggressive and diabolical utterances showed
that even Cabinet
ministers are not free to speak their minds. They must at all times be their
master's voice and either repeat his paranoid mantras or express ridiculous
views so as to ingratiate themselves to the Dear Leader.
Zimbabweans from all walks of life must have cringed in embarrassment and incredulity at Mohadi's on-air conduct. He made a fool of himself by persistently denying that opposition leaders and activists were battered by security agents last month despite the fact that images of their swollen faces and battered bodies have been seen on television screens and newspaper front pages all over the world, including Zimbabwe. Despite this, Mohadi repeatedly and rudely interrupted Gonda to dismiss her questions and challenge her to "come to Zimbabwe now" to see for herself that nothing of the sort had happened.
This display of false bravado was particularly jarring because it also exposed the rampancy of a culture of impunity and ignorance among government officials on how they should deal with the press. In most countries, even in the developing world, government officials acknowledge the right of the press in discharging its role as watchdog for the public interest, to ask questions. The least ministers can do, even if they are unwilling to divulge any information is to deal with journalists in a civil manner. Mohadi could have evaded Gonda's questions in a more circumspect manner without giving way to bombast and vehemence as he did. It is worrying to realise that this is the calibre of ministers Mugabe has flooded his bloated cabinet with.
Mohadi's raging-bull antics in his bid to deny something that the whole world knows to have happened was the more puzzling considering that Mugabe himself has made no attempt to deny that state agents tortured Tsvangirai and the others.
On his return from the Southern Africa Development
extraordinary summit in Dar es Salaam, Mugabe boasted about having silenced his peers by telling them that the police had indeed battered opposition activists. Could it be that after his regime's brutality had been roundly condemned, including apparently, by SADC itself, Mugabe now needs some attack dogs to eat his words for him?
More importantly, is it a coincidence that Mohadi and
another figure from
Matabeleland, Information and Publicity Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu appear to have been chosen to disgrace themselves on behalf of the regime? It is noteworthy that Ndlovu, who was known to be critical of the belligerent style of Jonathan Moyo when he served as chief government propagandist, has nevertheless now embraced all the professor's tactics. What is going on there? Should the nation get ready to hear Ndlovu and Mohadi vigorously asserting that the Matabeleland massacres perpetrated by the Fifth Brigade never happened too?
Mugabe's paranoia, which is characterised by denial, self-aggrandisement and an obsession for blaming and impugning everyone's motives, is well known. Kembo Mohadi's conduct gives the public an idea of the kind of pressure those associated with the regime are under to echo the old man's mantras regardless of how ridiculous and outlsndish they may be. What is frightening when top government ministers shamelessly deny self-evident and objective realities, is the thought of what other horrors they are required to conceal.
Mohadi's antics are particularly disturbing because they show to what extent Mugabe has emasculated even those in his government. Mohadi presides over a ministerial portfolio that is supposed to ensure the protection, safety and security of all Zimbabweans. He is employed in that capacity at taxpayers' expense to oversee the operations of the police force. His aggressive and dismissive attitude when asked by the press about issues of legitimate public concern gives an indication of how much the regime has to hide. Mohadi now apparently believes that the truth can be altered by decree.
Mohadi adopted his menacing demeanour during the interview to avoid being asked about the real perpetrators of the recent spate of bombings of police stations. He cannot be unaware of the widespread scepticism among Zimbabwean about the over-dramatised attempts by the government to implicate the MDC in these stage-managed incidents.
If the government has nothing to hide, Mohadi would have taken advantage of the SW Radio interview to clear the air on recent abuses the police have been accused of, including the arrest and abduction of journalists. By resorting to hyperbole, he failed to allay widespread fears among the population that Zimbabwe is now a full-fledged police state where no one is safe.
As it turned out, his aggressive conduct confirmed
the public perception that police brutality has become the rule rather than the
exception under his
Mary Revesai is a New Zimbabwe.com columnist and writes from Harare. Her column will appear here every Tuesday