Thursday 19 April 2007
By Brian Ncube
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai tops a fresh hit
list of 300 opposition and civic activists drawn up by state security
commanders for arrest and torture in a drive to weaken the opposition ahead
of next year's election.
The list, whose disclosure comes as President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday
vowed to intensify a brutal crackdown against the opposition, was drawn up
by the Joint Operations Command (JOC) at a meeting on the 5th of April in
The JOC, a committee of securocrats upon whom analysts say Mugabe has
increasingly relied in recent years, comprises senior commanders of the
army, air force, police, prison service and the spy Central Intelligence
The list, a copy of which was shown to ZimOnline, says police sent to break
up opposition rallies and protests should aim to shoot the 10 leading
figures on the hit list. But it does not specifically say whether the police
should shoot to kill or merely to inflict injury.
"The top 10 are very dangerous individuals who should be attacked by unknown
assailants in public places or their homes in cases that are linkable to
armed robbery and road accidents. They can also be shot by riot police
during public upheavals that they always want to create," the list reads in
One Assistant Commissioner Mabunda of the police's law and order section
will lead a team of detectives that will keep the opposition and civic
society activists under 24-hour surveillance. The police team will randomly
arrest the activists mostly on trumped up charges before handing them over
to the CIO for torture, under the JOC plan.
Those in the top 10 of the hit list in their order include Tsvangirai,
spokesman of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party Nelson Chamisa,
Bulawayo-based Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe and Tsvangirai's deputy
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Raymond Majongwe, women activists
Grace Kwinjeh and Jenni Williams and St Mary's legislator Job Sikhala are
also in the top 10.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena dismissed the existence of a hit list,
saying the law enforcement agency only arrested people suspected of
committing crime and who would have to be taken to court.
He said: "We do not work on hit lists, we are not a mafia gang that
eliminates people. We only arrest criminals that we later on send to the
courts where they are tried according to the legal statues of this country."
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa denied security agencies were
targeting opposition activists for arrest, accusing MDC activists of "lying
at every point" that they were being victimised by state agents.
But Chamisa said the MDC had always suspected government agents were
targeting its top leaders for harassment and possible elimination. He said:
"It has been clear to us that they have always tried to eliminate the top
leaders of the party. This has always been this regime's strategy of dealing
with the opposition and government critics."
The government last month launched a brutal crackdown on Tsvangirai and his
MDC party, accusing it of waging a campaign of petrol bomb attacks against
police stations and other government establishments in a bid to topple
Mugabe from power.
Mugabe on Wednesday told supporters at Independence Day celebrations in
Harare that his government would "never hesitate to deal firmly with those
elements who are bent on fomenting anarchy," a reference to the MDC which he
accuses of trying to topple his government on behalf of Zimbabwe's former
colonial master, Britain.
The MDC, which says Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party cheated it of
victory in successive elections since 2000, denies being a puppet of Britain
or masterminding bomb attacks on police stations. The MDC says the bomb
attacks were the work of government agents out to justify a crackdown aimed
at annihilating the opposition party ahead of elections next year. -
Thursday 19 April 2007
By Menzi Sibanda
BULILIMA - Her face looking haggard and wasted, Anele Sibanda wearily casts
a 20-kg bag of ground maize onto her head as she prepares to leave the
grinding mill here at this poverty-stricken village of Madlambuzi, in the
heart of Zimbabwe's drought ravaged Matabeleland South province.
The ground maize or mealie-meal, as it is commonly known among Zimbabweans
for whom it is the main staple, will ensure food for Sibanda and her four
grandchildren for the next two weeks, but after that there will be nothing.
The 20-kg bag was the last in her granary.
"We were banking on crops but due to poor rains, we did not harvest
anything. A lot of people are going hungry here and some even go for days
without a proper meal," Sibanda told a ZimOnline this week.
"My fear is that my family will soon be among those with nothing to eat,
once we finish what we have in the next two weeks . . . the situation is
desperate, we need food assistance," she said, anxiety at the prospect of
seeing her grandchildren starving unmistakable in her quivering voice.
A widow without any real stable source of income or financial help, Sibanda
took over caring for her grandchildren three years ago after their parents -
who worked in neighbouring Botswana - succumbed to the AIDS pandemic.
"Sibahle (her late daughter) and her husband used to send us some groceries,
to be honest life was easy," she said. "Then death came. The first to die
was the husband, my daughter followed two months later and in that short
space of time we had lost our breadwinners and since then life has been an
In the good seasons when enough rains fell, Sibanda said she was able to
grow adequate food on the small patch of land left her by her husband who
died two decades ago. However the weather seems to have conspired against
her in recent years with consecutive droughts since 2000 rendering her field
a dry patch of ground that yielded only a few buckets of maize this season.
But Sibanda's story is one that you will hear retold - differing only in
detail - by any of the hundreds of thousands of families grappling with
hunger and starvation as Zimbabwe faces an unprecedented grain deficit that
President Robert Mugabe's government, which in past years has downplayed
food shortages, has described as "severe."
For example, the government's latest food security report released last
month notes that Matabeleland South this season suffered a 95 percent crop
failure and faces a food deficit of 109 985 tonnes. Projections are that the
perennially dry province will harvest just 5 580 tonnes of grain out of a
requirement of 115 565 tonnes.
The situation is not any better elsewhere in the country with traditional
food surplus regions of Mashonaland Central, West and East provinces all
said to have suffered substantial crop failure.
Here at Madlambuzi, most villagers said they saw little hope of surviving
the worsening hunger unless the government called back non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) to resume distributing food and other aid to the
"We have had droughts before, but not what happened this season. Whole crop
fields have failed . . . it's like we never put anything into the ground,"
said village elder, Ndabezinhle Mzingeli.
Mzingeli said several families in Madlambuzi and many other villages in the
province had nothing to harvest this year while the little stocks saved from
the previous season had been finished. Many were now surviving on wild
fruits, he said.
"We urge government to quickly allow aid agencies to start food distribution
to save lives," Mzingeli said.
But the village elder's appeal may be in vain as the government this week
announced it had revoked operating licences for all NGOs accusing them of
using aid distribution to campaign for its ouster from power.
NGOs will be required to lodge new applications for registration amid fears
that many could be denied registration, a development analysts say could see
a sharp drop in humanitarian support to vulnerable individuals such as
Mzingeli and his fellow villagers here at Madlambuzi.
NGOS were the main conduit of sending aid to Zimbabwe after Western donors
and governments cut direct aid to Mugabe's government eight years ago over
the Harare administration's controversial human rights record and its
failure to uphold human rights and democracy.
Agricultural Minister Rugare Gumbo said NGOs that would be allowed to
continue operating in the country would be allowed to distribute food only
to specific groups such as the aged, orphans and people living with
The cash-strapped Harare government would take care of the rest of the more
than two million people that relief agencies estimate require food aid,
"We will buy food for our people and those NGOs that would have been allowed
to stay and distribute food, will only do so to specific targets, like the
elderly and AIDS-affected families," he said.
How the government that is battling inflation of close to 2 000 percent and
is struggling for hard cash to pay foreign suppliers of fuel, electricity,
essential medicines all in critical short supply in the country will be able
to raise extra cash to bankroll a massive food import programme remains to
But for now the widow, Sibanda, said she and her fellow villagers at
Madlambuzi could only pray that the government keeps its word and deliver
food "because if they do not that would be the end of us." - ZimOnline
Thursday 19 April 2007
By Patricia Mpofu
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday repeated threats against the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, adding that the
opposition party was fomenting violence to unseat him from power.
In an address to mark Zimbabwe's 27th anniversary of independence at Rufaro
Stadium in Harare, a fired up Mugabe told about 30 000 cheering supporters
that he will never cede power to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
"As government, our message remains clear that we will never hesitate to
deal firmly with those elements who are bent on fomenting anarchy," Mugabe
told the crowd.
The 83-year old Mugabe, who was last month nominated by his ruling ZANU PF
party to stand again in next year's election, said the MDC should recognise
him as the legitimately elected president of Zimbabwe.
The MDC has refused to recognise Mugabe accusing the veteran President of
rigging the 2002 presidential election to secure power.
"I won fairly and the MDC should accept it. SADC (Southern African
Development Community) endorsed the elections. Who is Blair (British Premier
Tony) and Bush (US President George W) to decide who rules Zimbabwe?" said
Mugabe has often used public gatherings to launch vitriolic attacks against
Bush and Blair whom he accuses of using the MDC to push a "regime change"
agenda against his government.
"They (MDC) should not act outside the confines of the law. If they decide
to come up against the law, then they should brace themselves for a tough
time, the police will definitely act accordingly and show them the right way
of doing things," he said.
"At a time when they should be coming up with ideas that can develop the
nation, they are busy concentrating on saying Mugabe must go. Ndinopika
nambuya vangu Nehanda (I swear with my ancestral spirits) that will never
happen. I will not allow Tsvangirai and his bosses, to taste this seat.
Never, ever," said Mugabe.
Mugabe also paid tribute to state security forces for violently putting down
opposition protests over the past two months saying they had succeeded in
bringing to an end the "anarchy" that had been created by the MDC.
Mugabe last month launched a brutal crackdown on the MDC after the
opposition party had sought to hold an unsanctioned prayer rally in Harare's
Tsvangirai who heads the larger faction of the MDC and several other senior
officials of the party were brutally assaulted while in police custody
triggering international condemnation for the government.
Mugabe has however defended the assault of Tsvangirai saying the opposition
leader had invited trouble for himself after he chose to ignore a police
order not to go ahead with the prayer rally on 11 March. He said the police
would "bash" Tsvangirai again if he chose to ignore a similar order.
Wednesday's independence anniversary came as Zimbabweans grappled with
massive joblessness, rampant poverty and the world's highest inflation rate
of nearly 2 000 percent, the highest in the world outside a war zone. -
Thursday 19 April 2007
By Hendricks Chizhanje
HARARE - Zimbabwe's troubled industrialists have requested the government to
lift price controls saying the price restrictions were threatening to push
most companies into liquidation.
The National Bakers Association (NBA) says at least 300 of its members had
been forced into liquidation over the past five years as a direct result of
government-imposed price controls.
In a letter dated 4 April 2007 that was addressed to Industry and
International Trade permanent secretary, Christian Katsande, which was seen
by ZimOnline this week, bakers implored the government to scrap price
controls saying the restrictions on prices were creating serious viability
problems for the sector.
"The NBA views the removal of price controls on bread prices as a critical
catalyst to the enhancement of viability to the industry," said NBA acting
chairman Vincent Mangoma.
The NBA said two bakers, Proton and Superbake, had been forced to shut down
over the past two months as a direct result of price restrictions.
"The decision to close down was occasioned by serious viability problems
arising mainly from the ever escalating cost of inputs," said Mangoma.
President Robert Mugabe's government imposed price controls about six years
ago following violent food riots in 1998.
Zimbabwean industrialists have however been pushing for the removal of price
controls arguing that such a move would empower manufacturing firms to
operate viably, increase capacity and create more jobs for the sector.
The influential Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has also
condemned price controls saying they were a direct threat to viability.
Besides grappling with price restrictions, Zimbabwean manufacturers are also
struggling to replace ageing machinery because of a severe shortage of
foreign currency affecting the country. - ZimOnline
Wed 18 Apr 2007, 20:01 GMT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House criticized the government of Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe for a campaign of oppression, as the African country
marked its 27th anniversary of independence Wednesday.
"Despite the increasing campaign of oppression by the Mugabe regime against
the people of Zimbabwe, we remain hopeful that one day soon they will join
the growing family of democracies around the world," White House spokeswoman
Dana Perino said in a statement.
Mugabe marked independence day with new threats against opposition forces
that he accuses of trying to topple his government on behalf of the West.
"The efforts by the Zimbabwean government to suppress the peaceful
expression of democratic rights and its misguided economic policies have
brought untold misery to the nation," Perino said.
"The American people join the international community in supporting those in
Zimbabwe who bravely speak out for urgent political and economic reforms,"
At the South African High
Commission Across the road from
With Kate Hoey outside Parliament At the Zimbabwe Embassy with Lucia (in red, centre)
200 or so exiled Zimbabweans staged a running demonstration in
was stopped to allow the demonstrators, following a
climax of the demonstration was outside Parliament, where the final petition was
handed to Kate Hoey, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on
returned to the Zimbabwe Embassy where they were addressed by Lucia Matibenga,
Women’s Chair of the MDC in
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2007
By: Jonathan Miller
A former henchman of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe has told Channel 4 News of the brutality meted out under the repressive regime.
Not much to celebrate after 27 years, but Robert Mugabe's dwindling faithful gathered to cheer him today in the very stadium the Union Jack was lowered in after what the president today described as a century of oppression.
His detractors, of whom there are many, say he's the
oppressor now; in his speech though he blamed everyone but himself for the
suffering of his people.
He said: "I wish to applaud the resilience of our people, who have rejected the brazen attempts of our detractors, openly working in cahoots with our shameless local puppets to reverse the gains of our independence through regime change agenda."
The president went on to warn he'd never hesitate to deal firmly with what he called "those elements bent on fomenting anarchy and criminal activity."
'I wish to applaud the resilience of our people, who have rejected the brazen attempts of our detractors'
Twenty-seven years ago the celebration had been
genuine. There was hope and there was freedom after decades of defiant white
minority rule, which had ended in a 13-year bush war in which 30,000 died.
Robert Mugabe, triumphant guerrilla leader took the salute of empire from a youthful Prince Charles and made a promise to his people.
He had said: "I promise to be faithful and bear true allegience to Zimbabwe and observe the laws of Zimbabwe, so help me God."
But Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe broke his promise to his people; today they run the streets in terror, their leader had come to regard himself as above the very law he'd once swore he'd observe.
State law enforcers have become his party's private militia, used to ruthlessly repress all opposition to his ruinous social and economic policies.
There are the Green Bombers, graduates of Zimbabwe's national youth militia training scheme.
The government says these young men are simply taught discipline and emersed in patriotic values. But the Green Bombers are widely accused of spearheading Robert Mugabe's campaign of poltical violence.
Washington Mabada was a Green Bomber. Even at the training school, he claims, he was forced to commit acts of brutality.
He says he escaped to Nambia and claims he's being hunted by Zimbabwean intelligence. We are unable to independently veryify his story but in common with a human rights group and a prominent international organisation, we believe it to be true.
Judged among the cream of the bunch, he was hand-picked for "special duties" -- duties so gruesome that few if any have ever admitted the true nature of their tasks.
By Basildon Peta in Johannesburg
Published: 19 April 2007
Robert Mugabe has unveiled his blueprint for a fixed election, in clear
defiance of international calls for a free and fair vote in Zimbabwe.
Among measures approved at a cabinet meeting yesterday was an expansion of
parliament from 150 MPs to 210 in a blatant gerrymandering coup. The new
MPs' districts will be set up in rural areas where the ruling party
exercises near total control of the vote, according to sources inside the
The move will be an embarrassment to South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki.
He was recently mandated by the 14 leaders of the regional Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC) to intervene in Zimbabwe on their behalf and
help to end the long-running economic and political crisis.
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
signalled that his party would be forced to boycott any poll where the new
measures are enforced: "We are not going to be part and parcel of this
shameless charade," he said. "SADC has mandated Mbeki to resolve these
problems, but in typical style and crass contempt, Mugabe is already
unilaterally laying down the rules."
Mr Mbeki's main mandate is to ensure that Zimbabwe holds free and fair
elections next year, since rigged polls and a skewed electoral framework are
widely viewed as being at the core of Zimbabwe's crisis. He had already
kick-started his mediation efforts by writing to leaders of the MDC, asking
them to outline what they consider to be the basic conditions for ensuring
free and fair polls. He copied his letter to President Mugabe.
Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, the two leaders of the divided MDC,
responded to Mr Mbeki this week. The South African leader had earlier
indicated that he would take their views to Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party
to set the stage for formal talks, but President Mugabe pre-empted that move
with his new measures that effectively make it impossible for the opposition
to make any significant gains or challenge for the presidency.
It is understood that most of the gerrymandering to increase parliamentary
seats will happen in Mr Mugabe's rural support bases where the opposition is
in effect banned. The rural areas also host detention camps in which dozens
of opposition supporters have reportedly been murdered.
Apart from guaranteeing Mr Mugabe an absolute majority of MPs, the
opposition says that increasing the number of rural constituencies will also
involve setting up more polling stations. This will create more chances for
Mr Mugabe's handpicked electoral authorities to manipulate ballot figures.
In previous elections, huge victory margins, even exceeding the number of
registered voters, have been announced for the ruling party in these rural
constituencies. Polling stations have also gone unmanned after opposition
polling agents were beaten and chased away.
In addition to the gerrymandered constituencies, Mr Mugabe will also retain
his power to appoint some MPs, in this case 30 of the 210. The current
requirement of an election to be convened within 90 days if an incumbent
president, for any reason, leaves office before his term's expiry will be
cancelled. Instead, parliament will choose the next leader.
The opposition says that this is clearly designed to ensure that the ruling
party clings to power if anything happens to any of its leaders, since the
groundwork will have been laid to guarantee it a majority of MPs in
Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly civic
group, which agitates for a new constitution, said the only option left for
the opposition was to mobilise internal pressure and take the "struggle to
Mugabe's doorstep until he is forced out".
And would the AU condone military intervention to prop up ZANU-PF?
18 April 2007
When the South African Presidency has been challenged on their inaction in
the face of Robert Mugabe's depredations in Zimbabwe one of the standard
responses is to pretend that there is very little South Africa could do. In
an October 2002 interview President Thabo Mbeki complained that when people
called on him to "do something" about Zimbabwe, "what they mean is march
across the Limpopo and overthrow the government of President Mugabe, which
we are not going to do."
The truth is, as the ANC and ZANU PF know full well, South Africa has huge
leverage over its landlocked northern neighbour should it choose to exercise
it. As James Kirchick pointed out recently in 1975 Prime Minister B. J.
Vorster withdrew South African military units fighting from Rhodesia and
also halted oil supplies to the country. This action played a crucial role
in forcing Ian Smith to the negotiating table and into accepting the
introduction of majority rule.
What is less well remembered, but perhaps of more contemporary relevance, is
how the government of P.W. Botha then put the squeeze on the new government
of Robert Mugabe in the early 1980s.
In a July 1983 article in the Economist Simon Jenkins explained how this had
been done. Shortly after coming to power Mugabe had assured South Africa
that he would not provide military assistance to the ANC. However, he
continued to deliver speeches attacking the "racist Pretoria regime",
criticised Zimbabwean migrant workers working across the Limpopo, and banned
any of his Ministers from having any dealings with the South African
The hawks in the South African government responded by threatening to allow
to allow a preferential trade agreement with Zimbabwe to lapse - "at least
until a proper minister came and asked for renewal" and to send the 40 000
migrant workers home at the end of their contracts. "Eighty wagons borrowed
from South Africa and desperately needed to shift Zimbabwe's record 1981
harvest were abruptly recalled. Mr Mugabe's hope of using Mozambican railway
links to avoid his exports passing through South Africa was sabotaged by
frequent MNR bomb attacks."
In December 1982 the Pretoria government meted out a mauling to Mugabe
which, Jenkins noted, "illustrates the crippling hold South Africa has over
Zimbabwe's fate". In the early morning of the 9th December a South African
recce commando blew up the oil depot at Beira, destroying two and a half
months of oil supply for Zimbabwe, leaving the country with just two weeks
domestic supply and facing economic ruin. An alternative rail route for oil
from Maputo was also sabotaged.
"This left South Africa with a grip on all of Zimbabwe's oil supplies,
whether purchased direct or from Maputo by the (unsabotaged) Komatipoort
rail link. South Africa suddenly announced that there was an industrial
dispute on this line and wagon turnarounds would be long delayed. It was a
big squeeze, far worse than any UDI sanctions. The resulting chaos hit
Zimbabwe over Christmas. The government admitted its total vulnerability."
After diplomatic intervention by the United States fuel supplies were
restored and the pipeline repaired, but "South Africa had made its point."
By August 1985, Michael Holman wrote in the Financial Times, Zimbabwe's
relations with South Africa operated on two levels: "Condemnation of
apartheid is frequent and forceful, and there is the suspicion that South
Africa could seek to destabilise Zimbabwe....But in practice the two sides
have established a modus vivendi, brought about in part through mutual
self-interest and regular unpublicised contact at high levels."
Trade remained normal, and the preferential tariff scheme remained in place.
Pretoria had threatened to retaliate militarily if Zimbabwe provided bases
or training for ANC guerrillas and as a result, the ANC had "only a low-key
diplomatic presence in Harare."
In another article, this time for the New Republic Online Kirchick raises
the intriguing, albeit highly unlikely, possibility that South African
troops could march across the Limpopo in support of the Mugabe government if
it was threatened by a popular insurrection. South Africa has, he notes,
"committed itself to the Mugabe regime through a series of continental,
regional, and bilateral legal agreements."
Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union allows the AU "to
intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in
respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and crimes
against humanity." At a 2003 summit the member states of the AU adopted an
amendment [pdf] which extended this clause, adding "as well as a serious
threat to legitimate order to restore peace and stability to the Member
State of the Union upon the recommendation of the Peace and Security
Council." Kirchick writes that Zimbabwe could be the beneficiary of the
clause as South Africa and the AU both formally recognize the democratic
legitimacy of the Mugabe regime.
At the time Kathryn Sturman, an African security analyst for the Institute
for Security Studies, observed that the amendment was "not intended to
protect the individual rights but to entrench the regimes in power." She
says that although she does not think that South Africa would intervene to
support Mugabe, there are various reasons why this could not be done through
According to a senior official in the Peace and Security Commission, whom
she spoke to at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa earlier this year, the
amendment "has not yet entered into force and is unlikely to do so for some
time." It was adopted under pressure from Libya, but as an amendment to the
AU's constitution, it needs two thirds of the 53 member states to ratify it
to enter into force. "The official was sceptical about this happening,
implying that they signed the amendment without any intention of ratifying
it." So, for now at least, article 4(h) remains as originally adopted.
Sturman adds that South Africa recently "stood down from the 15 member Peace
and Security Council of the AU, so is no longer in a decision-making
position on AU interventions (Angola, Lesotho and Botswana are now the
Southern African members). The AU Peace and Security Commission is taking a
lead in steering the member states towards humanitarian interventions in
places like Darfur, Somalia and Burundi, while the African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights has published strong criticism of voter
intimidation and human rights violations in Zimbabwe."
"The AU has also spoken out against coups in Mauritania and Togo, so is
starting to shift away from the norms of non-interference and solidarity
that SADC still adheres to. Intervention in support of Mugabe would go
completely against the direction the AU is currently moving in, so South
Africa wouldn't get the support, particularly of Nigeria, Senegal or Ghana,
for this kind of intervention."
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
18 April 2007
The U.S. House of Representatives has called upon the government of Zimbabwe
to "return to sanity, end state sponsored violence and address the needs of
its people" in a resolution passed on the eve of the country's 27th
anniversary of independence.
The resolution passed late Tuesday said the Harare government of President
Robert Mugabe is "bent on a bitter and disastrous course that no sane or
rational appeal from its own citizens or the community of nations has been
able to reverse."
Introduced by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-California), chairman of the House
Committee on Foreign Affairs, called on the Southern African Development
Community and the African Union to consult with the Zimbabwean government
and pressure it to resolve its economic and political crisis. It urged
Zimbabwe to respect its commitments as a signatory of the African Charter of
Human and People's Rights.
Resolution co-sponsor Rep. Donald Payne (D-New Jersey), a former chairman of
the Congressional Black Caucus, told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that "there has to be a cessation of this brutality"
against the Zimbabwean opposition by state security agents.
18th Apr 2007 20:59 GMT
By a Correspondent
HARARE - Police in Harare have arrested 20 members of the Zimbabwe Youth
Movements (ZYM) on the day they were launching their organisation at the St
Mary's Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza.
At least a 100 youths are said to have been present at the launch of the new
youth movement which has threatened to take the fight for freedom in
Zimbabwe to another level.
Those arrested include Colin Chibango, the ZYM president, Sinduza Ndhlovu
and other youths who had gathered to listen to the former university and
college students who were expelled by the government for their political
Chibango and his colleagues castigated the Zanu PF government for the
economic and political woes that afflict Zimbabwe today, adding there was
nothing for the youths of Zimbabwe to celebrate as Zimbabwe marked its 27th
He said President Robert Mugabe's government has betrayed the Zimbabwean
ZYM's partnering organisation, Free-Zim Youth, which is based in the United
Kingdom, said Mavhuma was beaten by the police together with some of his
"They need urgent medical treatment. At the moment we cannot find our
colleagues, we do not know where they are being held," said Alois Mbawara of
"As an organisation we condemn the police actions and brutality. We stand in
solidarity with our fellow comrades who are in the trenches. This brutality
has been enforced by security forces mandated by the bourgeois nationalist
Zanu PF elite in its continued demented pursuit to repress and oppress the
majority," he said.
"The 18th of April is meant to be a monumental day for African history, thus
the youth of Zimbabwe, as the vanguard of the revolution take this
opportunity to warn the betrayers and pseudo forces that we are not prepared
for any reformist changes but for a complete change - a revolution! What we
demand is nothing short of Zanu PF's demise, a complete end to their tyranny
and bourgeoisie politics."
By Patience Rusere
18 April 2007
South Africa has received preliminary responses from both factions of
Zimbabwe's opposition giving their views of the crisis in their country and
how President Thabo Mbeki should proceed with his brief from the Southern
African Development Community to try to mediate a solution, officials in
South African officials would not comment on the substance of those
communications, and the secretary generals of the two Movement for
Democratic Change factions - Tendai Biti of the faction led by Morgan
Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube of the grouping headed by Arthur Mutambara -
could not be reached Wednesday.
But spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC faction told reporter
Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that a home-grown solution to
the political and economic crisis is still the best option for Zimbabwe.
Spokesman Gabriel Chaibva of the Mutambara faction said that group's main
concern is to see a "people-driven" constitution drafted to pave the way for
Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)
April 18, 2007
Posted to the web April 18, 2007
For most African leaders the life of the common citizens is as cheap as
nothing. They attach no value to the life of the people they lead. This is
not strange given the African leaders' lucklustre attitude when dealing with
the unfolding meltdown in neighbouring Zimbabwe or the pogroms of Darfur in
No wonder the Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo told the perplexed world
this week that the Saturday state elections had "gone on very well across
the country". This is despite the fact that 34 civilians and 10 policemen
have lost their lives in clashes over the weekend poll.
It beats logic why the leader of Africa's most populous nation should accept
as normal an electoral process in which lives are lost and property
destroyed. Several factors could help explain this situation, leading among
them the obsession with making the elections as not free and unfair as
possible. As a result, scant attention is given to the creation of a proper
electoral infrastructure that ensures the conduct of elections is free and
fair. It is common knowledge that elections however heated or big should not
cause death and destruction. Otherwise how do countries such as the US,
Japan, and others with comparable populations manage to hold elections
without the unnecessary loss of life and property?
If anything, some African leaders go all out to ferment chaos, in which they
ultimately thrive. Obasanjo, a former jailbird of Sani Abacha's military
regime, has ensured chaos prevailed in the run-up to this month's state and
presidential elections in Nigeria.
For a start, he has tried everything in the book to make sure his nemesis
and vice-president Atiku Abubakar does not stand for elections. Obviously,
Abubakar's unforgivable crime was to deny Obasanjo an opportunity to violate
the Nigerian constitution and seek a third term in office through a
Having failed to achieve his primary objective, he resorted to a well-tested
Plan B, which in recent years has been effectively deployed by Frederick
Chiluba of Zambia, Bakili Muluzi of Malawi, and Sam Nujoma of Namibia. The
strategy involves the imposition of an anointed 'stooge' on the reluctant
populace. Obasanjo subsequently unleashed trumped-up corruption charges
One would have thought the much-touted African Peer Review Mechanism was
meant to sort out such matters. His African peers, however, have decided
neither to see nor hear anything evil as Obasanjo embarked on subverting the
presidential contest which could be the first time a civilian administration
hands power to another in Nigeria since independence.
There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it.
- Henry David Thoreau
April 19, 2007
Graham Searjeant, Financial Editor
Colleagues of a frugal émigré working at the London School of Economics in
the 1950s were puzzled by his eccentric dress. He was still wearing wing
collars at least a generation after they had been dropped for normal dress
as, literally, too stuck up. During the German hyperinflation of 1923, he
explained, his mother was so desperate to get rid of her cash income that
she bought a gross of wing collars, the only goods available before the
money became worthless. During that episode, consumer prices multiplied 7.2
billion times in 16 months as the Government printed money to finance its
spending promises in a ruined economy that raised little tax and had no
credit to borrow.
Even this lesson was lost on some fools and desperate men. Hungary repeated
the experience with extra noughts after the Second World War. When communist
Yugoslavia broke up, the Serb rump printed money to finance its army's
campaign to grab it back. What cost one dinar in 1990 required an estimated
100 billion billion by 1994.
When inflation is that high, it is a bit of a guess. No wonder Moffat
Nyioni, head of Zimbabwe's Central Statistical Office, postponed publication
of figures showing a monthly price rise of more than 50 per cent, a
benchmark for hyperinflation. Inflation already topped 3,000 per cent
annually, which means that many prices do not stay still long enough to
Gideon Gono, Governor of Zimbawe's Reserve Bank, has taken it upon himself
to print money to finance expenditure essential to the functioning of a
state where most urban workers are unemployed. He dismisses "ancient
textbook economics" as irrelevant to local conditions and paused only when
the presses ran short of paper and ink.
Such rashness puts into perspective the 3.1 per cent rise in the UK's
Consumer Prices Index (CPI) in the year to March, and even the 4.8 per cent
rise in the cost of living index, the measure used before 1997. But they do
have one thing in common: they are both the result of taking risks with
money on the back of wishful thinking.
None of the central bankers who have presided over hyperinflation imagined
doing so. They thought they were helping to tide their country over
short-lived difficulties that would soon be resolved, only to find that
confidence was lost, first in themselves, then in money, exacerbating the
country's initial plight.
Mervyn King has only one vote on a Monetary Policy Committee of nine, which
has split into camps. He has had to write the open letter after inflation
strayed above its target by more than half, but its smug tone may convey MPC
The MPC sought to shield the UK economy from the shock of a surge in oil,
gas and metal prices. In terms of output, it has succeeded, so far. But the
Governor always claimed that the high oil price would have to be paid for in
lower real pay and profits, or lower growth and fewer jobs, if it were not
be to inflationary.
So far, this has proved to be wishful thinking. Instead of domestic business
absorbing much of the higher global raw material costs, inflation has been
gathering pace in most CPI sub-sectors, especially labour-intensive
services. The exceptions are mainly where prices are held down by imports,
not least from China. Inflation tops 3 per cent in most main divisions of
the CPI and has done for months.
Risks to inflation were also greater than risks to output. The economy has
been expanding at or above its sustainable rate for years and is at full
capacity. The MPC has relied on the proposition that the surge of skilled
migrants since the 2004 EU enlargement will continue, preventing
inflationary labour shortages. Predictably, earnings growth in the private
sector has risen past the level once seen as the danger signal. Whatever
happens to the annual rate this year, inflation pressure is rising as you
would expect at the peak of a cycle.
The letter insists that the MPC has no duty to keep CPI rises within 1 per
cent either side of its target. That legalistic assertion will undermine the
MPC's carefully built credibility more.
If people cannot rely on inflation staying within a 1-3 per cent range,
other than in exceptional circumstances, they will revert to thinking of the
current rate of inflation as what to expect in the future. If they did,
people should be looking for at least 5 per cent pay or price rises.
Persuading us that inflation will be near to target in future, whatever it
may be today, was the main achievement of the MPC's first decade. It has
allowed us to keep employment higher and raise real incomes faster.
Present MPC members, both inside and outside the Bank, seem to take that for
granted. Their wishful thinking has hurt their credibility. Faith needs to
be rebuilt, at greater cost to the economy than if the MPC had chosen
caution over risky fine-tuning.
The latest rise in Bank Rate, in January, was voted only by five to four. A
rise early next month seems certain. There is a case for a half-point rise,
at least for a while, to admit that the Bank messed up and does not intend
to do so again. But strong sterling may be worth a quarter-point. It is more
important that the vote next time should be unanimous. Anything less will
damage confidence severely.