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Reports:Zimbabwe Vote Recount Delayed In At Least 3 Areas


HARARE (AFP)--A partial recount of votes from Zimbabwe's March 29 general
election was delayed Saturday in a number of the 23 constituencies, AFP
correspondents reported.

The recounting was due to have begun at 0600 GMT, but it hadn't yet gotten
underway nearly an hour later in at least three areas.

Correspondents covering the recount for the constituencies of Goromonzi West
and Zvimba North both said the process had been delayed, while an official
also told AFP by phone that the count for Gokwe-Kabuyuni had yet to begin.

There was no official explanation for the delay and a Harare-based spokesman
for the Zimbabwe electoral commission said: "We don't know what is happening
on the ground so we cannot comment."

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires

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Three weeks after polls, Zimbabwe begins recount

Yahoo News

by Godfrey Marawanyika Fri Apr 18, 10:43 PM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Three weeks after Zimbabwe staged a general election, a
partial recount was to begin on Saturday in a move that could see President
Robert Mugabe's ruling party regain control of parliament.

The electoral commission, which is still to declare the outcome of the March
29 presidential election, was to begin recounting in 23 constituencies from
0600 GMT after a last-ditch opposition legal bid to block the process

The recounts are being conducted following a string of complaints by
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of irregularities in the initial vote counting.

The Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front lost in 21 of the 23
constituencies under the microscope and will be hoping that a new count will
leave it back in control of the 210-strong seat chamber.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which currently has 109 seats
against 97 for ZANU-PF, has denounced the recount as a ploy to steal back
control of parliament and says it won't accept the outcome.

"We as a party will not accept any recount in respect of parliamentary
seats," said MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti.

"We have no doubt on the insistence of a recount because ballot boxes have
been stuffed. Those ballot boxes have become pregnant and reproduced."

The MDC has long regarded the electoral commission, whose leadership is
appointed by the government, as a partisan body despite its nominal
independent status.

The party's leader Morgan Tsvangirai has already proclaimed himself the
victor over Mugabe in the presidential poll, convinced that he won enough
votes on March 29 to avoid the need for a second round run-off.

The lack of results has not prevented ZANU-PF meanwhile from declaring that
there will be a run-off and has endorsed Mugabe as its candidate.

The 84-year-old president avoided any direct mention of the election outcome
or whether he would stand in a run-off when he delivered an address Friday
at celebrations to mark Zimbabwe's 28th anniversary of independence from

Instead Mugabe, who has ruled uninterrupted since independence, devoted much
of his speech to attacks on the former colonial power whom he accused of
bribing voters to mark their ballots for the MDC.

"Through money as a weapon, (the British) literally buy some of our people
to turn against their government, and accept to be politically manipulated
in abandoning their rights," said Mugabe. "We are being bought like sheep,
like livestock."

Tsvangirai has warned that ZANU-PF is arming itself for a "war" against the
people in the aftermath of the elections, pointing as evidence to a shipment
of weapons from China destined for Zimbabwe.

A South African high court judge on Friday refused permission for the
weapons to be transported across the country to Zimbabwe. The ship later
left Durban for an unknown destination, SAPA news agency reported.

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Ship carrying Zimbabwe weapons sails to Mozambique

New Zimbabwe

Last updated: 04/19/2008 11:16:10
A SOUTH African human rights group says a Chinese ship carrying weapons
destined for Zimbabwe is now on its way to neighboring Mozambique.

The Southern Africa Litigation Center says the ship left South Africa on
Friday after a High Court ordered that the cargo and the ship not be moved.

The ship had anchored just outside Durban harbour after receiving permission
late Wednesday to dock. The human rights group asked the court to intervene
to keep the arms from being taken to politically troubled Zimbabwe.

The group says the vessel was already sailing away when officials tried to
serve the order on the ship.

China is one of Zimbabwe's main trade partners and allies. Zimbabwe's ruling
party and opposition party are locked in a dispute over the presidential
election, whose results are still unknown almost four weeks on.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions says the ship needs to return to
China, as South Africa can't be seen as helping weapons reach Zimbabwe in a
time of "political dispute."

The Chinese vessel, An Yue Jiang, anchored off the port of Durban, lifted
anchor between 6:00 pm (1600 GMT) and 7:00 pm (1700 GMT) and sailed out to
an unknown destination, Sapa news agency reported, quoting several unnamed

The ship's master, who earlier this week identified himself simply as
captain Sunaijun, told Sapa by telephone late Friday: "I am awaiting orders
from my owner."

He declined to answer further questions, the agency said.

Durban port police Captain Ricky Bhikraj and Transnet spokesman, John
Dludlu, declined to comment on the vessel, it also said.

Three million rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades
and more than 3,000 mortar rounds and mortar tubes are among the cargo on
the Chinese ship, according to copies of the inventory published by a South
African newspaper.

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'No use going back' to become captive, Mugabe's rival says from safe haven

Globe and Mail, Canada


From Saturday's Globe and Mail

April 19, 2008 at 1:31 AM EDT

JOHANNESBURG — Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, believes
that if he returns to his country now, he will face imprisonment and
possible attack, and thus undermine his movement's hope of taking office.

"Do you want a dead hero?" he told The Globe yesterday.

Mr. Tsvangirai left Zimbabwe on April 8, 10 days after an election he is
widely believed to have won, although the government's electoral commission
has yet to release the results, three weeks later.

The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change has spent the time since
then shuttling between southern African capitals. But as Harare intensifies
its crackdown on MDC supporters in Zimbabwe, with more than 175 people
hospitalized for beatings at the hands of police and militias, Mr.
Tsvangirai is facing increasing calls to come home.

"It's like a father, when the father is away, children always ask, 'Where is
the father,' but father may make an assessment that it is not opportune at
that particular time to do certain things," he said.
"I'm mobilizing international support, I'm being effective in making sure
that the issue of Zimbabwe remains on the international radar. … It is no
use going back to Zimbabwe and become captive. Then you are not effective.
What can you do?"

Mr. Tsvangirai has been imprisoned repeatedly by the government of Robert
Mugabe and was savagely beaten by police last year.

"The minute we go home, they'll arrest us, they'll take our passports and
that will be it," said George Tshibotshiwa, a senior aide to Mr. Tsvangirai,
speaking in the drab Johannesburg office that has become the leadership's
temporary headquarters.

On Thursday, Zimbabwe's Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said the
government had found documents showing Mr. Tsvangirai was committing
"treason," plotting with former colonial power Britain to topple the
government, and would face the "obvious consequences."

In 2002, Mr. Tsvangirai was charged with treason and had the threat of the
death penalty hanging over him for two years before he was acquitted.

Mr. Tsvangirai has said repeatedly over the past week that he would return
imminently to Zimbabwe, and made that pledge again yesterday, saying it is a
matter "of days, not weeks," but that before he goes to Harare and possible
arrest, he must continue the shuttle diplomacy that he now views as the
strategy most likely to unseat Mr. Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its
independence in 1980.

"We want to cut the umbilical cord of Mugabe with Africa," he said. "I am
certain that those who will … remain with Mugabe will be those rogue

He said he was making "big progress" on this task, and taking heart from an
emerging split in the Southern African Development Community, the top
regional body. For SADC, "even to disagree is progress," he said.

SADC members have long cited the principle of state sovereignty and refused
to speak out against Mr. Mugabe. Regional leaders delegated dealing with the
crisis in Zimbabwe to South African President Thabo Mbeki, who favoured a
policy of "quiet diplomacy" that has produced no visible change over five
years of mediation.

Zimbabwe's once-vibrant economy is shattered, with inflation running higher
than 168,000 per cent. The country is critically short of food, fuel and
basic medicines, and some four million refugees have fled over its borders
to neighbouring states.

At an emergency SADC summit last weekend, Mr. Tsvangirai said, regional
leaders were evenly split over continuing to support Mr. Mugabe; he has now
asked the Zambian President to take over mediation, saying Zimbabweans "do
not believe [Mr. Mbeki] is an honest broker."

Here in South Africa, Mr. Tsvangirai has clearly made inroads with the
governing African National Congress, the new leadership of which has come
out in favour of "crisis talks" with the parties in Zimbabwe and has
strong-armed Mr. Mbeki into dropping his quiet-diplomacy strategy.

Today, Zimbabwe's electoral commission is set to hold a recount of the
parliamentary vote in 23 constituencies.

Mr. Tshibotshiwa said he was "quite sure" that the recount would give
ZANU-PF back at least the 16 seats it would need to retake a parliamentary

Last week, soldiers moved into the electoral centre and removed the ballot
boxes, and the opposition has had no information on their whereabouts, nor
have any opposition or independent observers been given information about
how to witness the recount.

At the end of his afternoon yesterday, Mr. Tsvangirai turned from two
foreign journalists to a radio interview in chiShona, broadcast back home.
While he assured Zimbabweans that he was "with you in your struggle," an
assistant showed in a salesman carrying 10 boxes of size 43 black leather
dress shoes. Mr. Tsvangirai is spending so much time on his feet, Mr.
Tshibotshiwa said, that he needs something with a softer sole.

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Zimbabwe farmers fear rising violence

ABC radio, Australia

This is a transcript from AM. The program is broadcast around Australia at
08:00 on ABC Local Radio.


AM - Saturday, 19 April , 2008  08:18:00
Reporter: David Weber
BRENDAN TREMBATH: Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has used an
Independence Day speech to accuse the country's former colonial ruler of
interfering in Zimbabwe's affairs.

There are still no official results from Zimbabwe's Presidential
election but it is widely thought the main opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai won the poll.

Thousands of Mr Mugabe's supporters gathered in Harare to hear him
accuse Britain of trying to steal Zimbabwe again.

ROBERT MUGABE: Where as yesterday they relied on brut force to
subjugate our people and plunder our resources, today they have perfected
their tactics to more subtle forms, as they throw money as a weapon,
literately buy some of our people to turn against their government.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The Commercial Farmers' Union in Zimbabwe says it
fears the nation could slide into civil violence if there's not
international intervention.

David Weber reports.

DAVID WEBER: The President of the Commercial Union of Farmers says
more than 130 properties around the country have been affected by invasions.

The President Trevor Gifford says most farmers have now been able to
get back to their land, but there are some places where the situation is
still too tense.

Speaking from Harare, Mr Gifford says the violence against farm
workers has been horrific.

TREVOR GIFFORD: The farm workers have been really bearing the brunt of
the situation. They've been accused of voting the wrong way in the
elections, they've been beaten thoroughly.

In my own case, my farm which is situated five hours drive from
Harare, my labourers were severely assaulted for 12 hours and they are in a
bad way at this time.

DAVID WEBER: Mr Gifford says police have been trying to reverse farm

But he says that violent intimidation flares up again whenever police
leave an area.

Trevor Gifford says he fears the worst is yet to come.

TREVOR GIFFORD: There continues to be reinvasions and some of our
members have experienced reinvasions everyday since the fifth of April. So
the situation remains incredibly tense.

We're also getting reports in that army have set up camps within the
farming areas and they are calling the labour and those that have been
resettled over the last eight years in, and pretty much threatening them
with their lives.

DAVID WEBER: Mr Gifford says it's heartening that people in Zimbabwe
are now speaking openly against the Government.

But he says there needs to be more action by leaders in the region.

TREVOR GIFFORD: I just hope and pray that sense will prevail and these
countries will realise that whether they like it or not, they need to deal
with this Zimbabwe situation sooner than later before it does turn in to a
Rwanda-Burundi type situation.

DAVID WEBER: You think it could be that bad, it could become that bad?

TREVOR GIFFORD: Look there's never say never. But really the majority
of the population are very disgruntled.

If we don't deal with the situation, or if Africa doesn't deal with
the situation it is going to have a huge impact on the ability for South
Africa to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup. FIFA representatives need to take
a serious look at the hosting of that World Cup.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The President of the Commercial Union of Farmers,
Trevor Gifford ending David Weber's report.

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Zimbabwe- Anatomy Of A Failed State


by Michael Roberts


Zimbabwe: Africa’s Political Basket Case

Mugabe’s  Failed State

The Stench Of Vote Rigging Is Everywhere But Mugabe Appears Unperturbed

An Essay By Michael D. Roberts

Maybe Zimbabwe will go the way of Kenya and chalk up a new African nation in
crisis and chaos. And if sketchy reports coming from Harare are anything to
go by it looks a vintage Robert Mugabe all over again. There are reports of
controlled, state-sponsored violence in the countryside and other
provocations around the country mainly by Mugabe’s loyal ZANU-PF members who
have everything to lose if the 85-year old president should have to demit

In fact, this election is by far the most crucial in Mugabe’s political
career since any loss of power will undoubtedly provoke a wave of political
revenge by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) no matter
what it says to the contrary. And Mr. Mugabe’s cronies, close inner circle,
and members of his ruling ZANU-PF know that their very class interests are
at stake and that the octogenarian president’s retention of political power
is in their best interests.

Until recently, Mr. Mugabe had always been able to stifle political
opposition. His ZANU-PF party had still dominated what is virtually a one
party state occupying 147 out of the country's 150 parliamentary seats. But
growing discontent over the country's failing economy with inflation and
unemployment soaring to record levels are starting to threaten his

Already the ZANU-PF must be having some anxious moments since the writing
was on the proverbial political wall when it lost the parliamentary
elections to the MDC. That caused Mr. Mugabe to convene a hasty session of
the party’s Politburo who spun the yarn about a pending recount. When that
did not work Mr. Mugabe had his henchmen arrest about seven members of
Zimbabwe’s Election Commission accusing them of rigging the elections for
the MDC.

Meanwhile, the wily Mr. Mugabe fell back on a tried and tested tactic: white
farms and black destituteness. To date, some 60 white farmers and at least
two black farmers are said to have been evicted from their land in this new
round of tensions. Four foreign journalists have also been arrested,
including New York Times correspondent Barry Bearak.

The Zimbabwean military has released the names of 200 high-ranking officers
who it said were  leading gangs of thugs in the guise of war veterans in
attacks on government opponents. Unemployed youths are reportedly being
recruited to join government-backed gangs. Correspondingly, armed gangs are
said to be hunting down opponents of ZANU-PF, burning houses and beating

We have seen these political chess moves and shenanigans before – when
President Mugabe wants to cling to power at all costs. While all this is
going on the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission is yet to release the vote
count for the presidential elections even as ZANU-PF is saying that Mr.
Mugabe is ready for a new run off.

Nobody in the world should be surprised by Mr. Mugabe’s antics. After all
the rigging of elections in Zimbabwe are now routine and standard operating
procedures for ZANU-PF. For example, in 2002 amid great fanfare and lofty
talk about transparency and fairness some of the MDC’s supporters were
abducted, beaten, intimidated, threatened and murdered. Anybody who dared to
even suggest that Mr. Mugabe was literally getting away with murder was

Then like now electoral roles and registers were padded with phantom names
and the ZEC kept changing and making up the rules at it went along to
suppress voter turnout in areas where the MDC was perceived as too strong
and popular. Local journalists were kidnapped and killed for writing
articles critical of the electoral process and of the conduct of the
president. Government food aid to drought-stricken areas was used as a means
of buying votes.

It is the same playbook that Mr. Mugabe uses today and now like then the
situation is tense and thousands of people are fleeing the country for fear
of reprisals by the security forces that remain fanatically loyal to the
president and ZANU-PF.

Perhaps the only page left in his playbook that’s not been used yet is the
internal ethnic cleansing that he used in May 2005. Back then Mr. Mugabe
ordered the demolition of  shanty towns in “Operation Murambatsvina,” which
means “clear out the trash” in Shona. Poor residents were loaded onto trucks
and driven into the countryside where they were dumped without any means of
livelihood or even basic sanitation.

An estimated 700,000 people, or six percent of the population, were
displaced in this operation. In total, 2.4 million people were affected
directly or indirectly. It was an attempt to crush opposition among the
urban working class. When the white farms were occupied, the rural workers
they employed were treated with similar brutality.

But perhaps he’s already setting the stage for a new “operation.”  Last
weekend he publicly stated:  “The land is ours, it must not be allowed to
slip back into the hands of the whites.” By revisiting and repackaging an
old bogeyman Mr. Mugabe is deflecting concerns that the results of the
presidential elections have not yet been made public and his countrymen are
in a state of political limbo with the underpinning for real violence
present and accounted for.

Still, this old political canard will not work this time. That is because
Mugabe can no longer posit himself as Zimbabwe’s liberator as he did, say,
10 years ago. He’s caught with his pants down this time since his record
speaks volumes about the kind of liberation that he practices. And blaming
the west for all of his country’s ills certainly does not hold water
anymore. Indeed, his strident attacks and angry rhetoric against Britain and
the United States is more for domestic consumption rather than a genuine
anti-west position.

First of all Mugabe came to power in 1980 with the express backing and
support of both Britain and the United States who saw him as the best choice
over Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) that was aligned
with the then Soviet Union. Remember also that Mugabe had split with ZAPU
and joined ZANU in 1963. Given the choice between ZANU and Robert Mugabe and
ZAPU and Joshua Nkoma the former colonial power decided to go with Mugabe
even though he publicly stated that he was Maoist and inspired by the
Chinese revolution.

Born in 1924, Robert Gabriel Mugabe was educated in missionary schools and
received the first of his seven degrees from South Africa's Fort Hare
University. Returning to Rhodesia in 1960 he joined Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe
African People's Union (ZAPU) but left three years later to form the rival
Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).

Jailed without trial for 10 years he left Rhodesia for neighboring
Mozambique in 1974 and led the largest of the guerrilla forces fighting a
protracted and bloody war against the Ian Smith government.  After months of
negotiations the 1979 Lancaster House agreement set the seal on a Rhodesian
peace deal and Mr. Mugabe returned home to a rapturous welcome from Black

He initially built a coalition government with Mr. Nkomo, whose ZAPU forces
had also fought the Smith government, but the discovery of a large arms
cache at ZAPU-owned houses led to Mr. Nkomo's dismissal from government. A
brutal crackdown on ZAPU supporters followed, leading many commentators to
compare Mr. Mugabe's own approach to political opposition with that during
the time of white rule. The collapse of the coalition allowed Mr. Mugabe to
strengthen his hold on power.

The political conundrum for both the British and American governments was
that the then-British colony of Rhodesia had unilaterally declared
independence in 1965 under a white racist regime, which refused to grant
even the most modest political rights to the majority of the Black
population. A violent insurgency developed, leading US Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger to fear that the impasse in Rhodesia would allow the Soviet
Union to gain ground in southern Africa and threaten strategic American
interests. He put pressure on Britain to reach an accord. Then end result
was the Lancaster House agreement that helped put Mugabe in power.


MICHAEL D. ROBERTS is a top Political Strategist and  Business, Management
and Communications Specialists in New York City’s Black community. He is an
experienced writer whose specialty is socio-political and economic analysis
and local community relations. He has covered the United Nations, the
Caribbean and Africa in a career that spans over 32 years in journalism. As
Editor of New York CARIB NEWS, a position that he’s held since 1990, he is
in a unique position to have his hands on the pulse of the over 800,000
Caribbean-American community in Brooklyn, and the over 2.5 million members
resident in the wider New York State community.

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Zimbabwe- Presidency By Theft


by Michael Roberts


Mugabe’s Political Shenanigans Cast Doubts On Electoral Fairness

Presidency By Theft

President-For-Life Syndrome Forces Mugabe To Cling To Power

An Essay By Michael D. Roberts

As the results of Zimbabwe’s elections continues to be what is now a closely
guarded state secret, perhaps known only to President Robert Mugabe, the
international community for all its handwringing and strident calls for
transparency and fairness; for all of its condemnation of Africa’s last
reigning political strongman, is powerless to stop what is now an obscene
case of “Presidency by Theft.”

It now appears that Mr. Mugabe is hell-bent on retaining the title of
“President-for-Life” even as everything is crashing down around him. For one
thing he is impervious to the calls of regional African leaders, the
international community, and his own Zimbabweans. For another the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has now become irrelevant to Mr. Mugabe’s
nefarious political plans. The latest move came as he and his ruling ZANU-PF
party declared that the MDC has committed treason – meaning in Mugabespeak,
that it is now ineligible to hold political office and is, for all intents
and purposes, now outlawed by the gangster regime in Harare.

Now a  very dark cloud hangs over Zimbabwe causing the national mood to go
from cautious optimism when record number of Zimbabweans cast their votes on
March 29, to depressed resignation that the more things change the more they
remain the same. The one clear signal in this sordid political mess is that
Mr. Mugabe is intent on reversing the popular outcome or the elections by
foul means. In a shameless display of chauvinistic bombast Mr. Mugabe has
declared that his ZANU-PF will challenge 21 parliamentary results and will
commence recounting the presidential vote in 23 constituencies – all without
releasing the results.

This political charade is an embarrassment to both Zimbabwe and Africa. Mr.
Mugabe’s goon squads have also spirited away to a secret location the
members of the Electoral Commission to prevent them from being accessible to
opposition party activists. With a deliberate mechanism in place to
obliterate any transparency or appearance of transparency, critics of the
regime say that it’s rigging time again and that ballot box stuffing with
pro-Mugabe votes will be the outcome.

This latest round of political shenanigans has clearly demonstrated to the
world that Mr. Mugabe believes that he has a divine right to rule Zimbabwe
for life even as his 28-years of dictatorial and despotic rule has
devastated the socio-economic fabric of his country and millions of his
people now face starvation on a day to day basis. In fact, Mr. Mugabe has
betrayed the trust of his own people by his reckless and callous approach to
politics and his megalomaniacal behavior that borders on unadulterated

It has now become painfully obvious even to a jaded dimwit that Mr. Mugabe
has absolutely no intention of obeying or honoring the popular wish or will
of the Zimbabwean people at this time. At 85-years old and set in his ways
he’s comfortable with the fact that those who owe him – the big shots in the
army, police, state party and business – will never desert him because it is
in their continued interests to keep him in power. While millions of
Zimbabweans are starving and cry out for relief Mr. Mugabe’s small, rich and
powerful cronies help him hijack the elections and pretend that everything
is all right.

Moreover, his dictatorial quixotic rule is being cuddled by the leaders of
the 14-year old Southern African Development Community (SADC) led by South
African President Thabo Mbeki whose impotent, wishy-washy quiet diplomacy
has not only failed miserably but has largely been ignored by Mr. Mugabe and
the ZANU-PF. And yet it is mindboggling in its stupidity and illogic that
even as this diplomacy is going nowhere fast South Africa and other member
states of the SADC are taking in thousands of fleeing Zimbabweans on a daily
basis that threatens to roll out a major humanitarian crisis and strain the
social safety nets in these countries.

Mr. Mugabe has betrayed the trust and confidence of all Zimbabweans. But
this is not new and all one has to do is revisit his history and record and
you will discover that “Good Ole Bob” as his former colonial patrons called
him before they fell out was and is no revolutionary but a conceited,
arrogant power-hungry tyrant.

For example, Mr. Mugabe always boasts about his “Zimbabwean revolution,” but
in reality the institutions of the old Rhodesian state were largely
preserved and adopted by the new regime under his control. *”Mugabe’s
methods were as brutal then as they are now. The only difference is that
Britain and the US did not object to his attacks on ZAPU led by his
arch-rival Joshua Nkoma.

Nkomo’s social base was mostly among the Matabele. In 1982, Mugabe launched
“Operation Gukurahundi”—sweep away the chaff—in Matabeleland. There were
beatings, murders, arson, rapes and public executions. Famine relief was
blocked. An estimated 20,000 civilians died before Mugabe declared an
amnesty in 1987, which led up to the merger of the two parties to form
ZANU-PF (Popular Front-the previous electoral name for ZAPU.)

Mugabe’s anti-imperialist rhetoric was feverish as he dealt with the
internal opposition to his regime. But the white farmers had nothing to
fear. Land reform proceeded at a glacial pace. By 1998, only 70,000 families
had been resettled. Most of them received poor-quality, drought-prone land.
White farmers continued to own 40 percent of the land and two thirds of the
best agricultural land. Mugabe’s regime has presided over massive inequality
in Zimbabwe since it came to power. A new ruling elite emerged under his
patronage, like millionaire businessman Philip Chiyangwa, who boasted, “I am
rich because I belong to ZANU-PF.” [*WSW article “Zimbabwe: Mugabe
government responds to mass opposition with repression” By Ann Talbot, 11
April 2008]

In fact, while the African political leadership in 1980 was talking about
peace and development after a particularly brutal guerilla war in Zimbabwe
Mr. Mugabe had other plans. Politically cunning and self-opinionated Mr.
Mugabe was and is something of a political enigma from the start of his
career as a guerilla leader.

 Raised and educated as a Roman-Catholic Mr. Mugabe became a committed
Marxist during the guerrilla war against the Rhodesian Front government of
Ian Smith. Taking power on a wave of popular support his early political
promises of reconciliation and democracy were later overtaken by a strong
authoritarian streak and a deep distrust of opposition.

Born in 1924, Robert Gabriel Mugabe was educated in missionary schools and
received the first of his seven degrees from South Africa's Fort Hare
University. Returning to Rhodesia in 1960 he joined Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe
African People's Union (ZAPU) but left three years later to form the rival
Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).

Jailed without trial for 10 years he left Rhodesia for neighboring
Mozambique in 1974 and led the largest of the guerrilla forces fighting a
protracted and bloody war against the Smith government.  After months of
negotiations the 1979 Lancaster House agreement set the seal on a Rhodesian
peace deal and Mr. Mugabe returned home to a rapturous welcome from black

He initially built a coalition government with Mr. Nkomo, whose ZAPU forces
had also fought the Smith government, but the discovery of a large arms
cache at ZAPU-owned houses led to Mr. Nkomo's dismissal from government. In
recent years Mr. Mugabe has become an increasingly outspoken nationalist,
lashing out at the 75,000 white Zimbabweans and their alleged foreign
backers for his country's economic collapse.  Mr. Mugabe has made much of
his devout Christianity, but his marriage to a former private secretary in
1996 - 41 years his junior and with whom he already fathered two children -
raised more than a few eyebrows.

At the same time he has pursued what he regards as a deeply moral campaign
against homosexuality making "unnatural sex acts" illegal with a penalty of
up to 10 years in prison.

So what is the prognosis about Zimbabwe’s future and the way forward?

For starters the theft of the elections will be most obvious to the
international and African communities. But Mr. Mugabe and his cronies in
power could care less what the world thinks since the country’s credibility
has already been shattered by Mr. Mugabe’s antics. Next, Zimbabwe’s ruling
elite will do everything to keep their man in power since they have amassed
their ill-gotten gains under his rule. Most of their riches and landholdings
are in Zimbabwe so they cannot just simply pack up and move out; they are
trapped in Zimbabwe whether they like it or not so keeping Mr. Mugabe in
power is in their immediate and future interests.

The alternative is simply to wait a bit more. Already social issues are
making the ability of Mr. Mugabe and his government impossible to rule. This
inability of the ruling class to rule is the result of a social dynamic that
Mr. Mugabe cannot control. One such dynamic is a runaway inflation that is
pegged to reach about 500,000% in June this year. This will have an enormous
negative social impact – one that could cause a wave of public mass unrest
that can precipitate the end of the Mugabe Era.

This impossibility of normal life across the board that will be accompanied
by high interest rates, higher food prices and other factors that Mr. Mugabe
cannot manipulate but will bring with them increased suffering for ordinary
Zimbabweans. But perhaps this will be the final straw that breaks the camel’s
back and allow ordinary Zimbabweans to do extraordinary things like united
across all tribal, ethnic and social lines and kick Mr. Mugabe
unceremoniously from office.

Still, there is one inherent danger in this scenario: that the social and
political fabric already weakened by the economic situation can degenerate
into such lawlessness that Zimbabwe progresses negatively into a new version
of Somalia with warlords and all. There is no easy way forward for Zimbabwe
I’m afraid.


MICHAEL D. ROBERTS is a top Political Strategist and  Business, Management
and Communications Specialists in New York City’s Black community. He is an
experienced writer whose specialty is socio-political and economic analysis
and local community relations. He has covered the United Nations, the
Caribbean and Africa in a career that spans over 32 years in journalism. As
Editor of New York CARIB NEWS, a position that he’s held since 1990, he is
in a unique position to have his hands on the pulse of the over 800,000
Caribbean-American community in Brooklyn, and the over 2.5 million members
resident in the wider New York State community.

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Zimbabwe's Opposition Laments a Broken Deal

Washington Post

Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, April 19, 2008; Page A08

JOHANNESBURG, April 18 -- For two tantalizing days, Zimbabwe's opposition
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, believed he was on the verge of becoming
president. Results posted publicly after the March 29 vote clearly favored
him. The ruling party was visibly split. And a top cabinet official for
President Robert Mugabe had come forward, seeking negotiations for a smooth

Then, after an initial round of secret talks just days after the election,
an electrifying piece of news filtered back to Tsvangirai through his
representatives: A cabinet minister told them that Mugabe had accepted

Tsvangirai recounted this moment with a hint of despair in an interview with
The Washington Post and Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper in a Johannesburg
suburb to which he fled soon after the election. He said he was confident
that Mugabe, 84, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its founding in 1980, was
ready to step aside, that a nation with chronic food shortages, the world's
worst inflation and a devastating flight of talent was poised for a

The main demand from the ruling party side was amnesty for Mugabe for past
misdeeds and modest representation for his party in a transitional
government, Tsvangirai said. There was also a request that Mugabe be allowed
to maintain a powerless figurehead position within the government, but the
opposition refused, said Tsvangirai's spokesman, George Tshibotshiwa.

"The parameters were that we had won the election, that we would
incorporate" Mugabe's party in the government, Tsvangirai said of the
discussions. "But it would be by our own choice. And that Mugabe can exit
honorably, but he has to concede defeat."

But what came next was not a public concession by Mugabe but a suddenly
fierce determination to fight back.

The cabinet member, Labor Minister Nicholas Goche, mysteriously failed to
appear for a third day of scheduled talks, Tsvangirai said. Soon after,
police, soldiers and youth militias deployed; opposition activists were
arrested, beaten and tortured by the dozens. A close-knit group of military
and security officials, according to many sources, took day-to-day control
of much of the government, including preparations for a runoff election that
Mugabe's party abruptly said was necessary -- even though initial election
results had not been announced.

"We knew that we were talking to moderates within" Mugabe's party, said
Jameson Timba, one of Tsvangirai's two lead envoys, speaking from Harare,
the capital of Zimbabwe. "So when the talks did not proceed, we knew that
the hawks, the hard-liners, had taken over."

Speaking in a drab office park here, in a small, glass-walled conference
room with little more than a table, some chairs and a water cooler,
Tsvangirai said he plans to return to Zimbabwe in several days but expressed
concern about what awaits him there.

"Do you want a dead hero?" said Tsvangirai, a former union leader.

As the political crisis approaches the three-week mark, it has settled into
a grim stalemate. Mugabe's party, after initially acknowledging that it had
lost control of parliament and got fewer votes for president as well, has
taken control of the electoral mechanisms. Police have arrested election
officials, and the ruling party has challenged results in swing districts
and has halted the official release of the presidential results, even though
the totals for individual precincts have been posted across the country
since the day after the vote.

Goche did not answer numerous telephone calls Friday night.

Tsvangirai's account, though impossible to entirely verify, fits roughly
with descriptions offered over the past three weeks by numerous other
sources, including some within the ruling party, the opposition and the

Those other interviews, most of which were conducted on the condition of
anonymity, made clear that Mugabe acknowledged his loss to several members
of his inner circle and that a significant faction urged him to step down.
The decisive resistance to that idea came from the nation's highest military
and security leaders, who refused to support a government led by Tsvangirai,
who had no role in the guerrilla war that led to the fall of the white
supremacist government of Rhodesia.

Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change have repeatedly claimed
victory in the election but have offered no plausible plan for taking power.
A general strike flopped Tuesday. Unprecedented diplomatic efforts,
including an emergency summit among southern African regional leaders last
weekend, have failed so totally that Tsvangirai has called for South African
President Thabo Mbeki, the region's traditional heavyweight, to be removed
from his lead role in resolving the standoff.

Zimbabwe's meltdown is having political consequences across southern Africa.
Mbeki's African National Congress (ANC) has become so frustrated with his
deferential approach to Mugabe that party leaders have publicly broken from
their long-standing policy of "quiet diplomacy" and are attempting to
organize their own negotiations directly with Zimbabwe's two major political

The ANC's treasurer general, Mathews Phosa, in an interview Friday, called
Mugabe "an embarrassment." About Mbeki, Phosa was nearly as blunt, saying
"Mbeki's one of our cadres," a term that refers to party foot soldiers who
take orders from the ANC leadership. "He must listen to us."

The long-unified Southern African Development Community has split sharply
over how to manage Mugabe's flaunting of the democratic principles the group
espouses. Zambia, whose President Levy Mwanawasa heads the group, reportedly
has pushed for a hard line against Mugabe, with the support of Botswana and
Malawi. Mozambique, Angola and South Africa have resisted, according to
accounts of an emergency meeting last weekend.

For the southern African region accustomed to showing a unified face,
Tsvangirai said with a laugh, "to even disagree is progress."

Yet he spoke harshly of Mbeki's role.

"Our people are being brutalized at the moment. Not a word of condemnation,"
Tsvangirai said. "How does he hope that our people will feel? . . . We're
facing an extraordinary situation here, and he is keeping quiet."

Tsvangirai increasingly has focused on wooing the leaders of other nations
and South African officials other than Mbeki. One of Tsvangirai's first
meetings in South Africa was with Jacob Zuma, the bitter rival of Mbeki who
ousted him as party leader in December.

In a sign of the growing political resistance to Mugabe in South Africa,
where he long was regarded among the foremost heroes of anti-colonial
liberation, union workers in the port city of Durban refused this week to
unload a shipment of ammunition and mortars sent to the military from a
Chinese company, according to news reports.

After the interview, Tsvangirai spoke with a radio station broadcasting into

Then, he attended to one of the many mundane matters more easily resolved in
South Africa than in Zimbabwe. He welcomed a salesman carrying an armload of
shoes into the conference room. Tsvangirai tried on several, then picked a
new black leather pair for his eventual return home.

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Mugabe said to have sought deal to cede power

Globe and Mail, Canada


From Saturday's Globe and Mail

April 19, 2008 at 1:22 AM EDT

JOHANNESBURG — For two fleeting days, Morgan Tsvangirai applied himself to
the task of being presidential.

Zimbabwe held a national election on March 29, a Saturday. And by Monday,
his Movement for Democratic Change knew it had won the vote, as its
candidates phoned in posted results from across the country. Mr. Tsvangirai,
beaming and confident in a sharp blue suit, addressed a packed press
conference, met with diplomats, began to plan his cabinet.

Someone else knew the MDC had won: President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled
Zimbabwe for 28 years. That Monday, the President sent an emissary, a
prominent Harare businessman, to say he wanted to make a deal about ceding
power, the opposition leader said in an interview yesterday, providing a
detailed and candid description of the heady days after the vote.

“[He said] they had been discussing with Mugabe and they had persuaded,
advised him, to concede defeat and seek a negotiated accommodation for some
of his lieutenants.”

So Mr. Tsvangirai tasked two senior MDC staffers to negotiate with Mr.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, represented by Labour Minister Nicholas Goche. Right
away, the men held a first meeting at a Harare hotel. Mr. Goche left to
spend Monday talking to others in the cabinet and security forces.

He met again the next day with the MDC team, Mr. Tsvangirai said, and they
discussed “an inclusive government.” Mr. Goche said ZANU-PF wanted a
significant role for Mr. Mugabe – as ceremonial president, perhaps, with Mr.
Tsvangirai to be prime minister.

The opposition, elated with its victory, rejected that idea: There would be
no place for Mr. Mugabe. But they were prepared to offer him a way “to exit
honourably,” Mr. Tsvangirai said. ZANU-PF also wanted a place for some of
its senior people in the government; the MDC was amenable.

That meeting, on Tuesday, was the last.

It was, of course, April Fool's Day.

The next day, Mr. Goche and his ZANU-PF aides did not show up for the
planned talks. They offered excuses through the next few hours, said George
Tshibotshiwa, a top aide to Mr. Tsvangirai.

And by that evening, truckloads of riot police began to move in to poor
urban areas that are bastions of support for the opposition. The next day,
police raided democracy organizations that had supported the MDC and
independent electoral observers.

On Friday, Mr. Mugabe met with his politburo, and then sent out his
intelligence chief to tell journalists that “the Old Man is raring to go,”
that Mr. Mugabe would contest a runoff election and the party would “make
sure” he won a resounding victory. By Sunday, senior military leaders had
taken over key day-to-day operations of the country.

And, Mr. Tshibotshiwa said, the MDC was left with the grim sense that the
negotiations had been a stalling tactic, a diversion intended to distract
the opposition while the regime battened down its hatches.

“There was no sincerity on their part,” he said.

Mr. Tsvangirai seemed at once dismayed at the idea his party had been played
(“If it was a game, we didn't think that it was a game”) and not remotely
surprised, “not after 10 years of dealing with these people.” While Mr.
Mugabe's family and some close colleagues were urgently trying to persuade
him to step down, and so might have been genuine in their initial offer of
talks, the military never was, he said.

Mr. Tsvangirai, a labour union leader, is a burly man. Sitting in a cramped
Johannesburg office yesterday, dressed in another presidential blue suit and
silk tie, he had an air of coiled frustration and despair. He seemed almost
maddened by the knowledge that he has legitimately won an election, against
huge odds, and yet will be denied the prize for which he has suffered
enormously because Mr. Mugabe is more wily, more obstinate, and will not be
forced from office.

While it is impossible to confirm Mr. Tsvangirai's account of events in the
days after the election, it meshes with details provided to The Globe and
Mail recently by others, including some of Mr. Mugabe's closest advisers and
military leaders.

“We knew that we were talking to moderates [in ZANU-PF],” said Jameson
Timba, one of the two envoys Mr. Tsvangirai sent into negotiations, in an
interview in Harare last night.

“So when the talks did not proceed, we knew that the hawks, the hard-liners,
had taken over.”

Mr. Goche did not answer numerous phone calls yesterday.

Now, the MDC is left with the knowledge that most independent observers
believe they won the poll, although the party is almost impossibly far away
from actually taking office.

Several times, he returned to a description of those first conversations
with Mr. Mugabe's men. “They said, ‘You have won, we concede that you have
won, but what we would like is an accommodation of some of the people in
ZANU-PF so that we can all contribute to the smooth transition,' ” he
recalled wistfully.

“The problem is not really about the vote. It is about the transfer of

With a report from Shakeman Mugari in Harare

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Mugabe's international enablers

National Post

National Post  Published: Saturday, April 19, 2008

We know most of our readers need no further proof that inter -nationalist
organizations such as the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the African
Union (AU) are nothing more than toothless debating societies. But those few
who need more convincing need look no further than Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe
is stealing last month's elections in plain sight, and not one of the major
talk-shops is lifting a finger to stop him.

Sunday will mark three weeks since Zimbabweans voted for a parliament and
president, and still the official results have not been released. The
country's national election commission, appointed by Mr. Mugabe, has offered
no convincing explanation for the delay, fuelling speculation that the
results favour the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and that
the commission is merely stalling

The world community has essentially washed its hands of Zimbabwe's crisis
until it can stuff enough ballot boxes to swing the tallies back in favour
of Mr. Mugabe's socialist ZANU-PF party.

This weekend will be crucial. If Zimbabwe's courts -- also full of Mugabe
appointees --permit the election commission to go ahead with recounts in the
22 constituencies whose results are disputed by Mr. Mugabe's followers, but
not in the 60 challenged by the MDC, then by Monday it may be possible for
ZANU-PF and Mr. Mugabe to claim re-election.

The local results that trickled out after the March 29 election showed the
main opposition winning 109 of 210 parliamentary seats to ZANUPF's 97.
Meanwhile, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai captured just over 50% of the
presidential ballots, while Mr. Mugabe received just under 50%. With such
slim margins, it would not be necessary for Mr. Mugabe's handpicked
commissioners to rig the vote much to reverse the results in his favour.
(Even if the Mugabefriendly courts rule against the recounts he has
demanded, the election commission says it will go ahead, another sure sign
that Mr. Mugabe and his cronies are intent on winning at all costs.)

So where are the Commonwealth, the UN and the AU? They have each essentially
washed their hands of the crisis. They all claim to have ceded
responsibility for breaking the Zimbabwean impasse to the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), an emerging union of 14 nations in the region,
patterned after the EU.

But the SADC is dominated by South Africa, and South African President Thabo
Mbeki is an old chum of Mr. Mugabe's. It is no coincidence that the SADC
last week appointed Mr. Mbeki to broker a deal between Mr. Mugabe and his
opponents, nor that Mr. Mugabe has felt free to crack down on the opposition
in the days since, arresting scores of MDC officials and accusing Mr.
Tsvangirai of treason, an offence punishable by death in Zimbabwe.

By off-loading responsibility to Mr. Mbeki, the Commonwealth, UN and AU
have, for all intents and purposes, given their blessing to Mr. Mugabe's
electoral theft. Mr. Mbeki is too cozy with Mr. Mugabe to force his old
anti-colonial warrior-in-arms to play fair, and the large international
organizations knew this when they agreed to step aside for the SADC.

On Friday, in a bizarre speech filled with the sort of conspiracy theories
that Mr. Mugabe is fond of peddling whenever his iron rule is jeopardized,
the 84-year-old strongman claimed that under his opponents, Zimbabwe would
"go back to white people, to the British."

Many Zimbabweans no doubt wish this were true. Since independence in 1980,
the annual income of the average Zimbabwean has fallen from $1,200 to under
$500. Unemployment is currently as high as 80%, and inflation is well over
120,000%. Mr. Mugabe's land reforms, corruption and flights of
central-planning fantasy are the reason, but the President has instead
blamed his problems on foreign (especially British) conspirators.

As clownish as Mr. Mugabe's threats are, the joke is very much on the world
community. For all our moralizing, he will never be forced from office so
long as cowardly international organizations refuse to act against him. And
Zimbabwe will never be able to recover so long as the international
community timidly leaves Mr. Mugabe in power.

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Children of despair

Mail and Guardian

Eddie Matsangaise

19 April 2008 06:00

       Isaac can't be more than seven or eight years old. It's hard to
tell his exact age because he's so dirty and scrawny and his face is dark
and haggard from the sun and the stress of hard living on the streets of
Musina-Beitbridge, the border town between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

      I meet Isaac during a mission to Musina with a colleague
covering the Zimbabwean elections. We've followed the media hype that
predicts a massive outflow of Zimbab­wean migrants going over the border to
cast their votes, but things are slow.

      So here we are, lazing around with a large contingent of foreign
correspondents with their designer gadgets, from Gucci sunglasses and fancy
laptops to designer flasks and other drinking utensils that seemed straight
out of a celebrity kitchen on the BBC Food channel.

      Then here comes a pair of boys walking aimlessly around
the ­market and taxi rank at the border. They are in a bad state. At first I
didn't take any notice of them, what with the poverty and misery that is in
abundance in this forgotten place on Earth. I say forgotten, because
everyone in this place is busy trying to stitch up a broken life.

      The streets are packed with vendors, their wares stacked on
homemade tables, from tomatoes to bottled water, airtime and starter packs.
Spaza restaurants come by the dozen and the taxi touts and street
"businessmen" hold out huge stacks of Zimbabwean currency and talk
animatedly to anyone who cares to listen. The street politicians are there
too, speaking in undertones and making incomprehensible gestures, the
meaning known only to themselves.

      So I really notice these boys only because they are so young and
look so out of place. I hesitate to talk to them, not knowing which language
to use. Then by a stroke of luck as they walk past us, I overheard them
mumble something to each other in Shona, a Zimbabwean language. My curiosity
gets the better of me and I greet them in the same language.

      Voila, one answers readily, and as I later deduce, the sight of
a white female (my colleague) must have seemed like a ticket to a
sympathetic ear and a meal and, with that, a temporary escape from this
abyss. The boys are clearly hoping to get something, judging by the
expectant looks on their faces.

       I don't have much to give myself (you know how tight the budgets
are in the NGO sector -- you have to account for every cent and no receipt,
no return), so I offer them a yoghurt and an apple, remnants of the
breakfast we had back at the guest house.

      The boys fall on the food and the conversation starts in
earnest. They introduce themselves as Isaac -- the scrawny young one I'd
noticed earlier -- and Kelvin, who is probably nine or 10. They tell us that
many other boys like them have left Zimbabwe -- unaccompanied -- to escape
hunger and imminent starvation.

      Isaac, who says he's from Tsholotsho in Matebeleland, says his
parents are dead. First was his mother, then, a year later, his father.
Kelvin says his parents are factory workers who were retrenched and later
divorced as a consequence of the domestic rows that followed. He stayed in
Masvingo until life became unbearable and he jumped on the back of a haulage
truck to Beitbridge.

      These boys are part of a contingent of street boys who can lay
claim to the extra title of illegal migrants (is there anything called
"illegal migrant street kids" I wonder). It's hard to determine their exact
number as they are constantly on the move for various reasons; rushing to
get "clients" for whom they carry various loads, from jerry cans filled to
the brim with fuel, to grocery-laden Shangani bags. An interruption in our
conversation takes me by surprise.

      As we chat about all sorts of childhood things, which they did
not really have, I notice quite late that I'm talking to an empty space -- 
Isaac and Kelvin have dashed away in a mere blur of movement. I turn just in
time to see them disappear among the haphazardly arranged tables.

      Next thing I see a group of police men and women spewing out of
several SAPS (South African Police Service) vans, clad in royal blue,
complete with white surgical latex gloves.

       One could be misled into thinking they're off to attend to a
traffic accident littered with broken bones and blood, but alas, they are
off on the valuable mission of apprehending illegal migrants, who according
to them are worse than rabid dogs and just as contagious.

      As I look up the hill, I see a soldier with an assault rifle,
battle ready, patrolling the hill above the small market and taxi rank
below. Within minutes the police have dragged two frightened youths, weak
and confused, to the waiting police trucks. Apparently, this operation is
undertaken several times a day.

      Within minutes the operation is over and a few moments later our
boys are back minus Kelvin; in his place is a chubby little boy about
Isaac's age and he is limping. Some time later Kelvin returns from wherever
he was hiding.

      We get back to talking and to our horror we learn the boys would
have been detained and deported if the police or army had caught them. Isaac
says he's been deported three times already. So this is their daily
struggle, to scavenge for food, carry heavy loads on their small, frail
shoulders for a few cents and evade the police and army as many as six times
a day. This is life in Musina at the Beitbridge border post for an illegal
migrant street kid.

      Eddie Matsangaise is a programme manager for the Zimbabwe Exiles

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