Mail and Guardian
19 April 2007 11:33
The once-fertile fields, fat cattle and giant tobacco barns --
with their bountiful harvest of hard currency -- are now history. Africa
nodded in approval as an African repossessed African land. That was the
preferred excuse in sub-Saharan Africa, but it ignored the truth.
President Robert Mugabe's revenge has been wreaked upon rich,
white commercial farmers. But Mugabe made his move when white farmers openly
supported an African-led political opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change. Led by Morgan Tsvangirai, a relatively young former
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions official, the MDC was growing in
popularity. Mugabe's Zanu-PF was not.
Before 2000, Zimbabwe was a demi-paradise -- if you owned
thousands of hectares of prime agricultural land and had the know-how to
exploit it. The downstream benefits from this are more evident now that
thousands of white farmers have been evicted: the few hundred who remain are
there only at the behest of the government.
Commercial farming was the bedrock of the nation's prosperity
for about three decades before the white settler government was forcibly
removed from power, and for two decades following the birth of a new African
One must ask if the country's white farmers deserved their fate.
And did their workers, so well manipulated by political deceit, deserve to
be left homeless and suffering?
The answers are both yes and no. Land-hungry peasants have been
used as instruments of a gigantic kleptocracy led by Mugabe and his cronies.
Commercial farmers have been driven off the land, dispossessed, and some
As for the workers, who could blame unskilled labourers who had
been falsely promised fat rewards of prime land and financial help by their
own government if they connived at their employer's ousting? Many had
themselves fought for repossession of their lands in the guerrilla war.
To my own question of the blameworthiness of white farmers for
their terrible fate, I submit a qualified yes. A part of this tragedy has
its roots in the arrogance, or ignorance, of the majority of privileged
Rhodesian whites. Commercial farmers voted slavishly for Ian Douglas Smith,
whose Rhodesian Front Party promised that Smithy would keep it good for
They were scornful of our warnings: we white liberals and our
few black supporters who actively opposed his shortsighted politics. We beat
our opposition drum, to little effect. We insisted that land hunger was real
and that this, together with racial segregation, would be the country's
Backed up by "royal game" (as the protected white farmers were
described), Smith's Rhodesian Front government imprisoned and restricted
black political leaders: Ndabaningi Sithole, Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe and
hundreds of others.
Foreign intervention freed them, but the Rhodesian Front opted
too late for an "internal settlement" with moderate black leadership. Scores
of lives were sacrificed in a fruitless attempt to counter a militant black
nationalism's guerilla fighters, armed by "friends" in the communist bloc of
the Cold War era.
Smithy's largely collaborative media ensured that his
followers -- the enfranchised few -- were kept wilfully blinkered. His
opposition, the despised little minority within a minority, were members of
our multi-racial Centre Party. We were branded as traitors and communist
"fellow travellers". We were letting the side down in the struggle to
preserve what the Rhodesian Front called Christian Western civilisation.
A white-led, gung-ho, conventional military machine, which
included black Rhodesians, could not defeat the guerrilla insurrection
crossing the borders from newly independent Mozambique and other frontline
states. Their only ally, white-ruled South Africa, wisely threw in the towel
as its own day of reckoning approached.
White farmers clung tenaciously and bravely to their farms, in
the front line of guerilla attacks. Their refusal to abandon a brilliant
agricultural economy was acknowledged when Mugabe's government initially
gave the job of minister of agriculture to a white farmer, Dennis Norman.
His name was submitted to the ruling party's leadership by our Centre
Party's president, "Pat" Bashford, a Karoi farmer.
These farmers who stayed on after independence were fooled by
Mugabe's promises of reconciliation. But, by the time the land grab was
seriously underway, 75% of white farms had already changed hands. White
farmers bought and sold them with the consent of Mugabe's government.
So the answer to my question -- a qualified yes -- becomes a no.
They did not deserve wholesale eviction.
Farmers, and ultimately all Zimbabweans, have paid a terrible
price for a collective failure by white farmers to redress the century-long
resentment of the landless black majority. Still arrogant, many still
racist, they failed to recognise that the end of the war of liberation was
not the end of land hunger. They needed proactive land-sharing policies.
Mugabe's land appropriations have also been wrong. White farmers
paid this terrible price for the errors of political leadership. Smith's
minority government took the country -- via a unilateral declaration of
independence -- into an unwinnable war against its own majority black
In May 2002, New African magazine published a 17-page interview
with Mugabe by Bafour Ankomah. Zimbabwe's president boasts that, in 1979, at
the Lancaster House talks in London, Western negotiators seeking an end to
Zimbabwe's liberation war offered to pay ample compensation for the
repossession of white-owned land. Mugabe did not explain what became of this
offer, or whether he chose to ignore it.
Diana Mitchell was the press and publicity executive officer for
the multi-racial Centre Party and its successor, the National Unifying Force
from August 1968 to 1984. She is the author of a series of three African
Sunday Times, SA
20 April 2007
By Donwald Pressly
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has shown no sign that he acknowledges
the process underway led by the South African Government to resolve the
current political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe, the official opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said on Friday.
In a message from the MDC's economics spokesman, Eddie Cross, the MDC noted
that on Zimbabwean Independence Day on Thursday a government spokesman in
South Africa had said that they had now heard from all the parties to the
dispute in Zimbabwe and that the process was going into a phase where they
would make no further comments until they had something significant to
Cross said: "Given Mugabe's statement at Independence Day celebrations and
the current crackdown on the MDC and its allies [over 100 people were
arrested on Wednesday] it seems that there is little likelihood of any sort
of domestic dialogue. How can he sit down and talk about free and fair
elections in such a situation. How can he carry out dialogue with an
organisation that he says 'he will never allow to take power while he is
South Africa's Government spokesman, Themba Maseko, said in Pretoria on
Thursday that his government would stay mum on talks with the Zimbabwean
government and its opposition "until substantial progress is made".
Maseko said: "The discussions will be handled confidentially".
In a statement, however, the South African cabinet said it welcomed the
decision by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit heads
of State and government - recently held in Dar es Salaam - "which gave
[South African] President [Thabo] Mbeki the mandate to facilitate dialogue
between the Zimbabwean Government and the leaders of the opposition.
"The government, opposition and the people of Zimbabwe must take advantage
of the goodwill shown by the SADC heads of State and move speedily towards
finding a lasting political solution," said the statement read by Maseko.
"The critical and urgent challenge facing all Zimbabweans is to take the
necessary steps to create an environment that would be conducive for free
and fair elections in 2008.
"Zimbabwe and the whole SADC region need a stable socio-economic and
political climate that would enable the region to attend to the urgent
challenges of economic growth and development of our peoples," he said.
Cabinet, Maseko added, "was encouraged by the confidence publicly expressed
by, amongst others, the [official opposition] Movement for Democratic Change
leadership, in President Mbeki's appointment as a facilitator".
Meanwhile, Cross reported that a special prayer vigil by Zimbabwean exiles
will be held outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Saturday at 429
Strand from 2 to 6 pm.
By Violet Gonda
20 April 2007
Scores of activists from the group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of
Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) who were arrested on Thursday for protesting at the
ZESA offices were released on Friday afternoon. But several people are said
to have been badly beaten, including Clarah Makoni and Angeline Karuru, who
had taken food to the victims at one of the police stations.
WOZA coordinator Jenni Williams told us both girls were severely assaulted
before they were released. According to Williams, Karuru was released at
midday on Friday while Makoni was released Thursday evening. But there are
now concerns for 18 year old Clarah's safety as she is reported to have gone
Members of the pressure group were arrested during Thursday's sit-ins at 8
local offices of the electricity supply authority. 82 people spent the night
in custody while five, who included four mothers and a minor, were ordered
to report to the police on Friday morning. All the detained were finally
released and told that the police will proceed by way of summons, but the
whereabouts of Clarah Makoni remain unknown.
The WOZA coordinator told us that the badly beaten Makoni had been released
Thursday night but ordered to report back to Bulawayo Central Police Station
at 8am on Friday. According to Williams she went back to the police station
although she was obviously very ill and vomiting. She said: "We are
extremely worried for her safety."
The group said the police deny holding her although the activist reportedly
phoned the WOZA leaders from a number within the police station. Williams
said she indicated that she was feeling unwell but had been ordered by two
police officers to show them the home of Magodonga Mahlangu.
WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu had themselves been
involved in a dramatic car chase with the police on Thursday.
The 18 year old activist was among the group that was arrested and tortured
after the Valentine's Day protests in February. She is reported to have
sustained an inflamed kidney at that time.
Her friend Angeline Karuru confirmed that they had been arrested and heavily
interrogated by police who asked them why they were bringing food to the
police station. Karuru who had taken food to her detained mother said she
was beaten on the feet.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tichaona Sibanda
20 April 2007
The ruling Zanu (PF) regime have started undermining President Thabo Mbeki's
mediation efforts by claiming his country is training MDC activists in
South Africa is understood to have taken exception to these claims and
immediately dispatched it's intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrills to Harare
for an urgent meeting with Didymus Mutasa, the country' state security
Not only are the claims damaging to South Africa, but it's feared it will
also derail mediation efforts by Mbeki until the 'air is cleared' according
to analysts. The regime would be happy to delay mediation efforts until
closer to elections so that talks would not significantly change anything.
The Financial Gazette reported on Friday that the police, desperate to make
terrorism charges against a group of detained opposition activists stick,
made the damaging claim in court this week that a South African government
security agency trained MDC activists, including an MP, in acts of
insurgency and terror.
But the MDC was quick to discredit the claims saying the majority of those
accused have never travelled outside the country, let alone outside the
capital Harare. MDC MP for Budiriro, Emmanuel Chisvuure said the activists
are even laughing at the accusation.
'Take for instance the case of Nyasha Chikombe, this is his second month in
Harare from the rural areas, he doesn't have a metal identification card as
he's still using a paper one. Now how could he have travelled all the way to
South Africa? As I said time will come when they shall have their day in
court when it would be proven beyond doubt that they are being framed,'
Thirteen MDC members, including Glen View legislator Paul Madzore and his
young brother Solomon, are being charged under the Criminal law Act for
training as insurgents, bandits, saboteurs or terrorists. The investigating
officer in the case, Wellington Ngena, on Tuesday alleged in court that
"between December 2006 and March 2007 in Pretoria and Orange Free State in
South Africa, the MDC activists attended or underwent a course of training
on how to draw up detailed plans for dummy runs and decoys, creation of
dilemmas for the Zimbabwe government and how to use them."
Alec Muchadehama, the defence lawyer told The Financial Gazette yesterday
that before a court appearance by his clients on Monday this week, the
police had accused them of having been trained by the highly sophisticated
The Scorpions are the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) - an arm of
the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa. The division is an elite
anti-corruption unit comprising mostly intelligence, financial and forensic
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
UN official decries Southern Africa's "quiet diplomacy" towards Zimbabwe's
Friday, April 20, 2007
The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Miloon
Kothari, has described the "non-response" by the African Union (AU) and
southern Africa to the "oppressive" Zimbabwean government as "shocking" and
He was critical of regional leaders' reaction to the Zimbabwean government's
forced evictions during Operation Murambatsvina (Clean out Filth) in 2005,
which left more than 700,000 people homeless or without livelihoods. "The
recent clampdown on the opposition, the lack of transparency, has made it
difficult for us to track down those affected by the operation," he added.
The rapporteur said the government's promises to provide the deserving
displaced with decent and affordable accommodation in subsequent campaign,
Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (Live Well), had been a "failure".
Soon after the sudden eviction campaign in 2005, he and several other
international and regional human rights experts had warned that Zimbabwe was
"very, very close to a complete collapse of the society", but the region had
chosen to ignore the "early warning".
His efforts, as well as those of other agencies, to hold Zimbabwe's
government accountable for the consequences of the campaign since 2005 had
been caught up in a flurry of diplomatic manoeuvrings, led by the AU and
South Africa, who insisted on pursuing "quiet diplomacy".
Zimbabwe not alone
There were other countries in the region, and elsewhere in the world, with
the same tendencies as Zimbabwe, which were "cutting across a human rights
approach and not to give preference to the needs of the most vulnerable;
reluctant to pursue housing policies which were inclusive and underlined the
need for mixed neighbourhoods".
Kothari is in South Africa to look at access to and affordability of
adequate housing, land and civic services, homelessness, evictions, security
of tenure, women and housing, non-discrimination, and the rights of
He said even "progressive" countries like South Africa were evicting the
poor from the inner cities in their attempt to "create world-class cities".
According to the Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions, a Geneva-based
nongovernmental organisation, up to 26,000 squatters living in inner
Johannesburg, South Africa, were suffering widespread human rights
violations as a result of the city's redevelopment plan.
"Countries are adopting a neoliberal approach, be it privatisation of
essential services, such as water, with the installation of prepaid water
meters, which creates other problems. Even in countries with strong human
rights commitment, such as South Africa, there is a big gap between the
recognition and the detailing of the recognition," Kothari commented.
"There is often contradiction between economic policies which necessitate
eviction, which leads to further segregation along economic lines, as
happened under Operation Murambatsvina, and even the recent evictions in
Luanda (Angola's capital)," he added.
According to the rapporteur, thousands of poor people in Luanda have been
forcibly removed to make way for new developments. Last year 600 people were
removed from poor areas on the outskirts of Luanda, near the official
residence of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, to make room for the
expansion of a government-sponsored housing project, ironically called 'Nova
Vida' or New Life.
"Providing adequate housing is a huge challenge, and Luanda is an extreme
example. It was originally built to accommodate 400 or 500 people but it is
home to four to five million people, and 90 percent of them live in slums,"
Countries often cited the market as a stumbling block to providing
affordable adequate housing to the poor, said Kothari, because governments
were reluctant to intervene for fear of destabilising the economy. The
existing housing finance system in most countries did not meet the needs of
the bottom 20 percent of the global population, and was geared to the
lower-middle and middle classes.
IRIN is a UN humanitarian news and information service. Articles do not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
Monsters and Critics
Apr 20, 2007, 15:11 GMT
Musina, South Africa - On the 27th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence
this week, hundreds of young Zimbabweans were scouring the
150-kilometre-long barbed-wire border fence with South Africa for holes
through which to wriggle free of the hardship wrought by President Robert
While ruling party faithful were being treated to rousing music and military
displays in Harare, a group of migrants were passing their belongings across
the border fence in broad daylight.
European Pressphoto Agency (epa) photographer Kim Ludbrook watched as four
Zimbabweans, some of them wearing conspicuously bright clothing, wormed
their way into the country just under 200 metres from a South African army
Zimbabwe is haemorrhaging citizens, mostly the young and able-bodied, to its
wealthier neighbour, as many as 49,000 a month, according to some estimates.
Widespread hunger and poverty triggered by mass unemployment and record
inflation of over 1,700 per cent, is spurring this human tide southwards on
a journey fraught with dangers.
The migrants must first cross the Limpopo River that forms the natural
border between the two countries and teems with crocodiles when swollen by
Once through the three-metre-high border fence, the migrants are shepherded
by paid 'leaders' across farms and game reserves to quiet roads where
illegal taxis wait to transport them in the dead of night to the city of
Johannesburg and beyond.
Inside South Africa thieves known as 'amagumaguma' often lie in wait in the
bush to relieve the migrants of money and valuables, often down to their
shoes. Those without cash to hand over are often beaten.
Last month brothers Stephen, 23 and Joseph, 26, from a village in central
Zimbabwe showed Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa ugly welts on their arms and
legs dating from their encounter with the 'amagumaguma.'
Dierk Lempertz, who runs a game reserve outside Musina, found a Zimbabwean
woman naked, 'nearly dead' on his land after she had been robbed and raped,
allegedly by thieves.
Between 2 and 3 million Zimbabwean illegals, including many professionals,
are estimated to be living in South Africa, where they find work as domestic
workers, gardeners or traders.
With unofficial unemployment in South Africa estimated at around 40 per
cent, Zimbabwean migrants represent unwelcome competition for low-paid jobs.
Each day, between 130 to 150 Zimbabweans are detained at a repatriation
centre near Johannesburg and dropped back across the border, from where most
simply launch a fresh attempt at jumping the border.
As farm labourers in Musina, Stephen and Joseph earn 400 rands a month (56
dollars), a fraction of what locals earn, but around four times the salary
of an office worker in Zimbabwe.
'The situation at home is more and more desperate. Anyone who can is going
overseas,' said William, 35, a gardener in the leafy Johannesburg suburb of
Althought South Africa and former colonial power Britain are the favourite
destinations of Zimbabweans, other southern African countries, including
poor countries such as Zambia and Malawi, are also witnessing influxes.
Despite the spillover of the Zimbabwean problem, leaders in the region have
been loathe to criticize former liberation-struggle icon Mugabe.
South African President Thabo Mbeki has been appointed the region's point
man in Zimbabwe, amid warnings from Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
that: 'South Africa cannot perform magic to solve the problems in Zimbabwe.'
Moeletsi Mbeki, the intellectual and businessman brother of South Africa's
leader, worked as a journalist in Zimbabwe in the 1980s. This week he
scathingly described the government's policy with Harare as a 'do nothing
while appear to be doing a lot' approach.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Friday April 20, 2007 11:16 PM
By ANGUS SHAW
Associated Press Writer
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - African Anglican bishops have issued a message to
Zimbabweans that was broadly supportive of the government, sharply
contrasting with an earlier call from Catholic leaders for President Robert
Mugabe to step down.
An Anglican pastoral letter released to coincide with this week's
independence celebrations acknowledged Zimbabwe's economic crisis ``rendered
the ordinary Zimbabwean unable to make ends meet.''
The 14 Anglican bishops blamed the worsening plight of poor Zimbabweans
largely on Western economic sanctions.
``So-called targeted sanctions aimed at the leadership of the country have
affected the poor Zimbabweans who have borne the brunt of sanctions,'' the
bishops said after a meeting of the central African Episcopal Synod.
Western governments dispute that claim, arguing targeted sanctions on
Zimbabwean assets abroad and travel restrictions only affect rulers and
policymakers. The sanctions were imposed to protest Mugabe's human rights
Investment and foreign loans to Zimbabwe have dried up in six years of
political and economic turmoil following the often-violent seizures of
thousands of white-owned farms that began in 2000.
Even with the sanctions, the European Union and the United States are still
among the nation's top five trading partners.
Zimbabwe's nine Catholic bishops marked Easter with an unprecedented call on
Mugabe to end oppression and leave office through democratic reform or face
a mass revolt.
Their pastoral letter accused the ruling elite of racism and corruption and
fomenting lawlessness and violence to cling to power and wealth, factors
they said led to the economic meltdown. The letter decried
state-orchestrated intimidation, beatings and torture. Predicting further
bloodshed, it said the country had reached a flash point.
The Anglican church has been traditionally muted in its criticism of the
government, with its leaders generally toeing the ruling party line.
Prominent among the signatories to Friday's Anglican letter was Harare
Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, frequently praised in the state media for his
``progressive sentiment.'' Kunonga has denounced some black clergy as
``Uncle Toms'' and puppets of whites and Britain and the United States for
their criticism of Mugabe.
The opposition has denied government charges it mounted a campaign of
violence, alleging eight petrol bombings since early March were
stage-managed by state security agents, possibly using disgruntled
Demonstrations and a national strike in the past month have been thwarted
largely by the heavy deployment of police and troops. Police crushed a
prayer meeting March 11 the government said was a political protest banned
under sweeping security laws. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other
leading pro-democracy activists were hospitalized after being assaulted by
police while under arrest.
Fri Apr 20, 2:37 PM ET
DAKAR (AFP) - Former African leaders are ready to help South African efforts
to resolve the political and economic crises in Zimbabwe, ex-Mozambican
president Joaquim Chissano said Friday.
"We support the efforts which are being made by the (southern African) heads
of states (but) we are at their disposal in case they want to invite us to
join in these efforts," Chissano, a widely respected figure in Africa, told
AFP in an interview.
The 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) last month
appointed South African President Thabo Mbeki to facilitate talks between
President Robert Mugabe's ruling party and the main opposition Movement for
"Let them (SADC) work first and if they encounter any difficulties then we
can advise on how to come out of the difficulties," said Chissano, who once
headed the African Union and was used by continental leaders to defuse
crises in various regions.
Zimbabwe is reeling under social, political and economic crises battling
four-digit inflation, sky-high unemployment and food shortages.
Mugabe, who has been in power since his southern African country gained
independence from Britain in 1980, has meanwhile seen his standing among
many plummet from a liberation hero to a despot who brooks no opposition.
The 83-year-old leader and his coterie face sanctions from the West and
critics who accuse him of stifling democracy and human rights raised an
outcry recently after government forces recently arrested and assaulted
Chissano, one of the few African leaders to have voluntarily stepped down
from office, was appointed by the African Union in 2005 to try and help
solve Zimbabwe's political problems but Mugabe rejected him as mediator.
In December he became the UN special envoy to help end the 20-year conflict
in northern Uganda which has claimed tens of thousands of lives and
displaced around two million.
Chissano, whose persuasive skills are legendary, managed last weekend to get
the Ugandan government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to renew
their ceasefire and agree to resume peace talks to end the brutal
The rebels had pulled out of the talks in south Sudan's capital Juba in
December, requesting a new venue and mediation after they lost faith in the
southern Sudanese mediators.
"We have succeeded to bring back the negotiations to Juba. We have created
conditions for the talks to continue non-stop," said Chissano.
Since leaving office in 2005, Chissano has set up a club of former heads of
states and government to help advance post-conflict peace-building and
reconciliation efforts in Africa.
The South Africa-based Africa Forum has 35 members.
By Carole Gombakomba and Jonga Kandemiiri
20 April 2007
The Zimbabwean government has expressed its displeasure at mounting activism
by church leaders who have taken President Robert Mugabe to task for the
poverty engulfing the country and for a rising tide of violence against his
Police in Chivhu, a town in east-central Zimbabwe, detained a Roman Catholic
priest overnight for questioning from Thursday to Friday after he read a
pastoral letter from the Zimbabwe Conference of Catholic Bishops from his
pulpit last Sunday.
Sources said Father Xavier Mukupo of Gwandachibvuwa Mission in Chivhu was
released Friday evening with no charges brought against him.
Since late last month, Catholic churches throughout Zimbabwe have been
posting and publicly reading a pastoral letter entitled "God Hears the Cry
of the Oppressed" which is highly critical of the Mugabe government. Drafted
by Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops, it told Harare it must stop state-sponsored
harassment of the opposition and warned President Mugabe that he could face
a mass uprising by the restive population.
"Zimbabweans are angry, and their anger is erupting into open rebellion,"
stated the bishops, deploring "state arrests, detentions, banning orders,
beatings and torture, and vote rigging," urging Harare to draft a
constitution that meets people's needs.
National director Alex Chaumba of the Catholic Commission for Justice and
Peace told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
the pastoral letter is in such great demand throughout the country that all
8,000 copies printed so far in Shona, Ndebele and English have been
This week a senior government official accused churches of meddling in
politics and sowing disunity under the cover of prayer meetings. The
state-run Herald newspaper quoted Economic Development Deputy Minister Aguy
Georgias as saying that instead of preaching hope clerics were spreading
despair about the economic situation.
He said church leaders should not sacrifice the pulpit to political
expediency. Churches working under the banner of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign
recently held a prayer meeting attended by some leaders of the political
Baptist Pastor Ray Motsi of the Bulawayo-based Christian Alliance, a member
of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that preachers
cannot ignore politics when the country has fallen into a moral crisis.
By Blessing Zulu
20 April 2007
Another showdown was looming between the Zimbabwean opposition and
authorities as the Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by Morgan
Tsvangirai called rallies in several provincial cities and police attempted
to impose strict conditions.
The Tsvangirai faction called weekend rallies in Masvingo, Mutare, Rusape,
Zvishavane and Gweru. But police said they would not be allowed to sing
political songs, use loudspeakers, bullhorns or whistles, and would be held
responsible for any violence that occurred during or after the meetings,
opposition officials said.
MDC Manicaland spokesman Pishai Muchauraya told reporter Blessing Zulu of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mutare police authorized a rally under
MDC leaders said they would proceed with the rallies and disregard police
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena recently produced bullhorns and whistles
at a news conference, saying the items proved is bent on overthrowing the
Defense Minister Sydney Sekeramai was quoted Friday in the state-controlled
Herald newspaper accusing the MDC of being a Western tool for terrorism.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa rejected the charge, saying Harare was provoking
the opposition and trying to destabilize it with an ongoing crackdown in
which suspected state agents have abducted and beaten scores if not hundreds
Chamisa said the purpose of the weekend rallies was to give supporters
feedback on the crackdown, crisis mediation by South African President Thabo
Mbeki, and the presidential and parliamentary elections slated for March
Saturday 21 April 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - The Save Zimbabwe Campaign says it is planning to hold more
prayer rallies in cities across the country and in foreign cities that host
a sizable population of Zimbabwean exiles.
Save Zimbabwe is a coalition of churches, civic groups and opposition
political parties campaigning for a peaceful and democratic resolution of
Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
"Our aim is to pray together with Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and we
will be launching prayer meetings in Britain, Canada, New Zealand, South
Africa and Botswana in the coming two months," said Reverend Ray Motsi of
the Christian Alliance that is among the organisers of prayer meetings.
"We are praying for (the resolution of) Zimbabwe's problems which are
economic and political. We will not keep quiet because we will not be doing
our duty in the face of the hardships and suffering faced by the people of
Zimbabwe," he added.
Save Zimbabwe last week successfully held a prayer rally in Bulawayo
city to seek divine intervention in Zimbabwe's crisis. But another prayer
meeting by the group in Harare last month ended in chaos when armed police
violently broke up the meeting, shooting dead one opposition activist, Gift
Tandare, in the process.
Main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and scores of his Movement
for Democratic Change party activists were also arrested and later brutally
assaulted and tortured by the police after the aborted prayer meeting in
President Robert Mugabe accuses religious leaders critical of his rule
of being collaborators with the MDC in a Western-led plot to topple his
The church leaders and the opposition deny being puppets of the West
and in turn accuse Mugabe - Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence from
Britain in 1980 - of ruining the country's once brilliant economy.
Zimbabwe, once a model African economy, is in the grip of an
unprecedented economic meltdown that is shown in the world's highest
inflation of nearly 2 000 percent, shortages of food, rising unemployment
and poverty. - ZimOnline
April 21, 2007
Simon Mann, the alleged mastermind of a foiled coup in Equatorial Guinea,
told a court that his confession was dictated to him by Zimbabwean security
agents who coerced him into signing it.
The Briton, who is serving a four-year jail term in Harare, told an
extradition hearing at Chikurubi maximum security prison that the security
agents took him to the airport and showed him a plane that they said would
be used to fly him to Equatorial Guinea if he did not sign.
Mann and 61 other men were arrested when their plane landed at Harare in
March 2004. He was charged with buying weapons that prosecutors alleged were
to be used to topple President Nguema, the ruler of the oil-rich West
Mann said he and his co-accused were in transit to the north of the
Democratic Republic of Congo to fulfil a security contract. (AFP)
Mail and Guardian
Mail & Guardian reporter
20 April 2007 11:59
President Thabo Mbeki's bid to broker a political settlement in
Zimbabwe could be an uphill battle, given this week's insistence by
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF that there can be no talks before the
opposition changes its ways.
An official in Zanu's information department, privy to the party's
deliberations on Mbeki's initiative, said the thinking in the party is that
"elections are around the corner, and people will do their talking through
the ballot, not over a table with the opposition".
In the party's official mouthpiece, the People's Voice, Zanu-PF
spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira said this week that the opposition should
change "its stance on national issues" and plead with the Western countries
to lift international sanctions before any dialogue could take place.
Lovemore Madhuku, whose pressure group National Constitutional
Assembly is agitating for a new Constitution, reinforced the scepticism. "We
knew these talks were never going to succeed, it is Mugabe's technique of
"Mbeki will never be allowed to play his expected role by
Zanu-PF. The tone of Mugabe's speech during independence celebrations said
it all. They don't want to negotiate with the opposition."
Madhuku added that Mugabe had agreed to negotiate with the
opposition at the SADC summit only because he waited to avoid further
alienating the grouping's presidents.
Marking independence celebrations on Wednesday, Mugabe returned
to his vitriolic style, accusing the opposition of being "shameless local
puppets" used by Western powers to "effect a regime change" and "criminal
elements" spreading anarchy.
"Clearly that's not the language of someone interested in
dialogue," said Madhuku.
The pronouncements by Mugabe and his lieutenants have generated
concern that Mbeki, even when acting with an SADC mandate, could encounter
the same resistance from Zanu-PF he has experienced in trying to mediate in
his capacity as South Africa's president.
Writing online from London, Zimbabwean journalist Mtulisi
Mathuthu said Mbeki should try to understand Mugabe's character. "The
genuine Mugabe comes out naturally; [he is] a volcanic, sabre-rattling and
quarrelsome loner with a frosty inner weather, more ready to fight and
'crush' than to chatter a discourse," Mathuthu wrote.
Mbeki's team, headed by Provincial and Local Government Affairs
Minister Sydney Mufamadi, has met the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), and will this week meet civic groups to gather information on
the best way forward.
In a joint document submitted to Mbeki, the opposition has
demanded a new Constitution to level the electoral framework they believe is
tilted in favour of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
"The opposition will never get a new Constitution," said the
Zanu official. "What the party will concede to are amendments to
controversial pieces of legislation such as the media laws, the public order
Act and the electoral laws," he said.
But the opposition remains optimistic. Said
Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, MDC deputy spokesperson: "I'm reasonably
optimistic we'll find a solution. I don't think Mugabe can run away from
The Mail & Guardian has learnt that Mbeki has written letters to
Mugabe and the two leaders of the MDC formations, Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara, asking for a clear commitment to dialogue.
The opposition has responded positively. But according to party
insiders, Mugabe will make it clear that he has to be recognised as a
legitimate leader and demand the lifting of sanctions before negotiations
can take place.
International PEN (London)
April 20, 2007
Posted to the web April 20, 2007
Source: Writers in Prison Committee, International PEN
Person(s): Gift Phiri
Type(s) of violation(s): assaulted , detained , released , tortured
(WiPC/IFEX) - WiPC is seriously concerned about "The Zimbabwean" reporter
Gift Phiri, due to stand trial on 25 April 2007 on charges of working as a
journalist without official accreditation and "publishing false news". WiPC
is concerned about the treatment Phiri received while in police detention
earlier this month, particularly allegations of torture. It fears that the
charges against Phiri are politically motivated and in direct contravention
of his right to freedom of expression. WiPC is calling for a full
investigation into the torture allegations and for the charges against Phiri
to be dropped.
Phiri, chief reporter of the independent UK-based newspaper "The
Zimbabwean", was arrested in Harare on 1 April. He was briefly detained at
Sunningdale Police Post before being transferred to Harare Central Police
Station. Following his arrest, police reportedly went to Phiri's home where
they confiscated his computer and some business cards.
Phiri was detained for four days, in violation of his right under Zimbabwean
law to be brought before a competent court within 48 hours of his arrest. He
was initially accused of being involved in recent bombings against police
stations in Harare, then of "publishing falsehoods" in connection with a
series of recent articles on state activities, including repression of
opposition supporters. During his detention Phiri was severely beaten and is
believed to have been tortured. Access to Phiri by his lawyers and by
doctors was restricted.
Following intervention by his lawyers, Phiri was brought before a judge on 5
April and charged with working as a journalist without official
accreditation and publishing false news under sections 79 (1) and 80 (1) (b)
of Zimbabwe's draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
According to his lawyer, Phiri had been forced to sign a confession to this
effect. Phiri was released on bail of 100,000 Zimbabwean dollars (approx.
US$400) and a trial date was set for 25 April. The judge ordered the state
to investigate allegations that the police had tortured Phiri and report on
this at the next hearing.
On his release Phiri was immediately hospitalised to receive treatment for
injuries sustained during his detention. According to "The Zimbabwean", he
had been severely beaten on his buttocks and on the soles of his feet and
one finger had been broken. Phiri remained in hospital for five days. "The
Zimbabwean" reports that he is still in pain and suffering nightmares and
has been recommended to attend torture counselling.
Phiri's arrest and detention came two days after a death threat was made
against him and Wilf Mbanga, editor of "The Zimbabwean" and founder of the
banned independent newspaper "The Daily News". On 30 March, "The
Zimbabwean"'s office in the UK was sent a copy of a letter dated 22 March,
purportedly from the President's Office to the Zimbabwe Intelligence Corps
(ZIC), listing 27 individuals targeted for execution by the ZIC and the
"Zanu PF Security hit squad". The "death list" included Phiri and Mbanga,
whose names were circled. The newspaper doubts the authenticity of the
letter but sees it as a clear attempt to intimidate journalists and
Phiri's case forms part of a wave of repression against journalists,
opposition leaders and human rights activists in Zimbabwe that has included
numerous arrests, abductions, beatings, torture and killings. A few of the
attacks against journalists since February 2007 include: the abduction and
murder of former Zimbabwean Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) cameraman Edward
Chikombo; criminal charges against ZBC journalist Andrew Neshamba which
could lead to a prison term of up to 15 years; and threats of government
reprisal against Jan Raath and Peta Thornycroft, foreign correspondents for
"The Times" and the "Daily Telegraph", respectively. For more information on
these and other attacks, see http://www.ifex.org/fr/content/view/full/77/
Send appeals to the Zimbabwean authorities:
- asking that an independent investigation is conducted into allegations
that Phiri was assaulted and tortured by police officers and forced to sign
a confession, and to ensure the culprits are identified and brought to
- asking them to drop charges against Phiri, which WiPC fears are
politically motivated and contravene his right to freedom of expression
under Article 19 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, to which Zimbabwe has acceded
- asking that the trial, if it goes ahead on 25 April, meets international
human rights standards for a fair and public hearing
- asking that they ake measure to curb attacks against journalists freely
exercising their right to freedom of expression in Zimbabwe
His Excellency President Robert G Mugabe
Office of the President
Samora Machel Avenue/ 3rd Street
Box 7700, Causeway
Fax: +263 4 734 644
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Information and Publicity
The Hon Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
Office of the President
Samora Machel Avenue/ 3rd Street
Box 7700, Causeway
Fax: +263 4 734 644
Salutation: Dear Minister
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
Zimbabwe Republic Police
PO Box 8807, Causeway
Fax: +263 4 253 212
Salutation: Dear Commissioner
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Zimbabwe in your
country, and to WiPC if possible.
Please send appeals as soon as possible. Check with WiPC if sending appeals
after 10 May.
International PEN, the worldwide association of writers with 144 Centres in
101 countries, exists to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation
among writers everywhere, to fight for freedom of expression and represent
the conscience of world literature. International PEN's Writers in Prison
Committee (WiPC) works on behalf of persecuted writers worldwide and
monitors the cases of writers who have been imprisoned, tortured,
threatened, attacked and killed for the peaceful practice of their
professions. WiPC campaigns to end these attacks and oppose suppression of
freedom of expression wherever it occurs.
For further information, contact Tamsin Mitchell, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or the WiPC, International PEN,
Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6ER, U.K., tel: +44 207 405
0338, fax: +44 207 405 0339, e-mail: email@example.com, Internet:
**Updates IFEX alerts of 9, 4 and 3 April 2007**
HARARE - A top Chinese official was to begin a visit to Zimbabwe on Friday
in a further buttressing of ties between the long-time allies, the
government in Harare said.
Jia Qinglin, chairman of the national committee of the Chinese People's
Political Consultative Assembly, was leading a delegation of top officials
on a four-day visit, according to an information ministry official.
The official said he would be meeting President Robert Mugabe and speaker of
parliament John Nkomo and handing over a gift of Chinese tractors.
The government-run New Ziana news agency quoted Nkomo as saying the visit
was a sign of burgeoning relations between Harare and Beijing.
"As you know, President Robert Mugabe has been to China and was
well-received and this continues to strengthen our relations, that is
between China and Zimbabwe in various aspects, cultural, economic and also
political so we are excited that they are coming and we look forward to
hosting them," Nkomo said.
Zimbabwe and China have relations dating back to Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation
struggle when Beijing provided arms and training to the black nationalist
movement fighting the white minority government of Ian Smith.
The friendship was rekindled when Mugabe, shunned by former friends in the
West over the political crisis in his country, adopted a "Look East" policy
forging stronger ties with countries like China, Malaysia, Indonesia and
Since the launch of the policy China has supplied passenger and military
planes including two for free, hundreds of buses to augment the state
transporter's depleted fleet and tractors to boost agricultural production.
Beijing also funded a Chinese language and culture institute at Zimbabwe's
main university while Zimbabwe's national carrier increased the number of
flights to China early this year. -Sapa-AFP
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Depression has set in in once flourishing rural townships.
By Mike Nyoni in Zvishavane (AR No. 109, 20-Apr-07)
Religious holidays in Zimbabwe are about much more than sacred observance -
they are also a time for traditional rites and family reunions. At Christmas
and Easter, people travel long distances from the towns, and sometimes from
other countries, to visit their relatives, usually at the family's rural
On a recent trip to the countryside, however, this IWPR contributor found
that the traditional pilgrimage back to rural homes during the holidays is
almost a thing of the past, as people are deterred by poverty, political
upheaval and the state of the roads.
The drive from the coal-mining town of Zvishavane, 390 kilometers southwest
of the capital Harare, to the communal areas of Mberengwa district is a
lonely and difficult affairs. Bus operators have long abandoned the route.
The roads are rugged and stony at the best of times, while rain in early
April left them slippery.
These days, few people travel along the 80 km dirt road from Zvishavane to
the township of Keyara. In the past, the road would have been busy with
locals going on shopping trips to Zvishavane, and people who worked in the
cities of Masvingo, Harare and Gweru coming back home for the weekend.
On both sides of the meandering, rutted road stand collapsing huts barely
two metres high. They are home to some of the landless farmers relocated to
white-owned cattle ranches seized in the 2000 land-grab.
After a tortuous three-hour drive, we arrive in Keyara. The few remaining
general stores here are stocked with some basic commodities such as salt,
biscuits, dried fish, tea leaves and a few bags of the staple maize. Most do
not have piped water.
There is one alcohol store which doubles up as a butcher's shop, and is the
only place connected up to the national grid. Inside, a ragtag bunch of
young patrons stagger about, shouting out their drinks orders to a
nonchalant bar lady.
"The country is dead," said the owner John Mbedzi, eying the township's
dilapidated buildings and drunken youths, most of them school dropouts.
"What future does a person have if he can get so drunk at that age?"
Mbedzi has every reason to be pessimistic. Many young people in the area
have left the country in search of work in neighbouring South Africa. Others
have died of the most common cause here - AIDS-related illnesses aggravated
by malnutrition and poverty.
Once the ritual of greeting one's relatives is over, it is time to hear the
litany of people who have died since one's last visit. Tradition demands a
round of visits to homesteads to pay one's condolences.
The harvest season is over, and for the Mberengwa district, where Kiyara is
located it was a bad season. Zimbabwean agriculture minister Rugare Gumbo
admitted last week that most crops were a write-off as a result of poor
In bygone days, sunset would be followed by a cacophony of drums as families
observed rituals for long-departed relatives. These ceremonies were
accompanied by drinking, feasting and all-night dancing.
Other families would slaughter an animal to celebrate the reunion with
relatives from far-flung parts of the country. over beer, everyone would
catch up on the news.
The holiday period also offered opportunities to solemnise marriages, as the
schools are closed at this time and children can help with family chores.
But nowadays, Keyara is virtually deserted by seven in the evening. At the
alcohol store, the few stragglers slow down with their last drink, aware
that once it runs out they must go home and sleep. The public bars that the
government opened after independence have all closed down.
The headlights of a distant vehicle pierce the darkening sky, stirring some
interest among the drinkers. It could be a bus or a car containing relatives
from South Africa. There is a palpable mood of hope that the new arrivals
might pay for another beer. They could hardly deny a small gift to people
they have not seen for more than a year.
As the car draws up, someone shouts "Injiva! Injiva! Injiva!" from a dark
corner of the shop and runs out to see it. "Injiva" is an affectionate term
for young Zimbabweans returning from South Africa, who are assumed to be
Sure enough, it is a South African-registered car with the distinctive "GP"
number plate for Gauteng province.
In the past, returning "injiva" would create a carnival atmosphere in the
townships for a solid week with their lavish spending. The South African
music blaring from their car stereos would be accompanied by wild dancing.
This still happens in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, where "injiva" drive
around in BMWs and are known for their extravagant spending at nightclubs.
But in Keyara, the car turned out to contain just one "injiva"who had picked
up some passengers further up the road. He bought two beers and drove on
towards Mataga, the biggest settlement in Mberengwa district.
The drive to Mataga in the east is even more daunting, a gruelling journey
through rugged mountain passes and gullies. Despite the lush vegetation from
the latest rains, which has worsened the state of the roads, much of the
agricultural crop along the way are dead. Many rivers lack bridges so have
to be forded.
Mataga has more shops than Keyara, and serves a population of nearly 50,000
in surrounding areas. There is piped water, electricity, and a choice of
beer brands in the shops. There is a buzz of expectation among the
shopkeepers as buses from Zvishavane, Bulawayo, Chiredzi and Masvingo
offload their hungry and excited passengers.
But look further, and you will see that most buildings have been abandoned
and the paint is peeling. There is little business besides the occasional
visitors, and they have now become more frugal.
Mataga has not benefited from the nearby Sandawana mine, Zimbabwe's biggest
source of emeralds. More than 20 years since it was founded as a "growth
point", there is little industry or commerce except for grain mills and
storage facilities, butchers' shops and general stores.
People in rural Zimbabwe, unlike their urban counterparts, don't talk about
inflation - they just talk about poverty. They rarely talk politics as no
one trusts anyone any more. It is safer to talk about the heat, or the rains
or the crop situation.
The fear is pervasive. Nobody wants to hear about the presidential and
parliamentary elections set for next year. Elections are normally associated
with untold violence and mentioning them is like a bad omen.
Mike Nyoni is the pseudonym of a reporter in Zimbabwe.
Der Spiegel, Germany
April 20, 2007
SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH FORMER ZAMBIAN PRESIDENT KENNETH KAUNDA
Zambia's first president Kenneth Kaunda, 82, remembers the excitement and
inspiration as African countries began freeing themselves of their colonial
rulers. SPIEGEL spoke with Kaunda about what has gone wrong since.
SPIEGEL: Mr. President, when Ghana gained its independence from Great
Britain 50 years ago, it was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to
become independent. What do you remember when you think back to those days?
Kaunda: It was a fantastic time. I was 23 years old, really not much older
than a child, but Ghana's first president Kwama Nkrumah, invited me to Accra
for the festivities. All of Africa was celebrating, and it was truly
incredible. People were singing and dancing in the streets. We wanted to
reshape the world, and we wanted to do everything differently.
SPIEGEL: The spark quickly jumped from Ghana to other countries. Almost all
African nations gained their independence in the next decade, including
Zambia in 1964.
Kaunda: What happened in Ghana inspired us all. It was a signal. We looked
back on such horrible times -- the slave trade, colonialism. The Apartheid
regime was still in power in South Africa. Suddenly a door was opening up,
and through it we saw freedom. We all wanted it to happen as quickly as
possible. No one wanted to wait any longer.
SPIEGEL: Perhaps too quickly?
Kaunda: It's difficult to say. We were young and impetuous, we had no time
to waste, and we were also afraid that our colonial rulers would suddenly
change their minds about the whole thing. But you're right; we were on our
own from one day to the next. After decades of being told what to do, we
suddenly had to take care of ourselves. Besides, we also had to learn how to
interact with one another. When I became Zambia's first president in 1964,
my Christian faith was very helpful to me.
SPIEGEL: You come from a devout family. Your mother was a teacher and your
father a minister.
Kaunda: Love God the creator with all of your heart, your soul, your spirit
and your energy. That was how I was raised and that was how I tried to act
as president. Most of all, I tried to shape the country according to the
commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
SPIEGEL: Not exactly an easy task in a region where tribal conflicts still
shape daily life.
Kaunda: We must overcome the scourge of tribalism. That was precisely why
faith was so important. Seventy-three African tribes live in Zambia, as well
as a few white tribes: an English tribe, a German tribe, immigrants who
later came to this region. But what unites us is that we are all people, and
as such we should live together in peace.
SPIEGEL: Do you still remember your dreams?
Kaunda: Education, education, education. Before that, people had almost no
opportunities to learn something. We had all of 100 university graduates and
300 doctors in the country. Three hundred doctors for several million
people! Can you imagine that? We wanted to change all of that. We wanted to
build roads, hospitals and schools. And we were successful to some extent.
When we left the government in 1991, one of our achievements was that 12,000
Zambians had obtained university degrees. Many were sent abroad to study,
both to Eastern European countries and to the West.
SPIEGEL: But many of them never returned, instead looking for jobs abroad.
Kaunda: Yes, that is Africa's fate. People learn something and disappear.
The entire continent suffers from this emigration. We must find ways to make
life here more attractive. We can't afford to be losing our best people to
Europe or the United States.
SPIEGEL: But your Christian socialism, which included nationalization of the
economy, was considered a failure.
Kaunda: It was our bad luck that copper prices were so low at the time. It's
a completely different situation today, with prices for raw materials
shooting up all over the world. Besides, the World Bank put us under
enormous pressure, constantly urging us to privatize. But our government was
actually on the right track. You can see what's happening now. Our copper
mines are being sold off -- to the Indians and the Chinese, but also to
Canadians and Americans. We are giving up control over our riches, and it's
a disgrace. The rest of the country has also gone downhill.
SPIEGEL: This seems to be an African problem. What's causing it?
Kaunda: There are several reasons: poor government in many countries, and
then the civil wars. And don't forget the legacy of colonialism. Besides,
millions of Africans were once dragged off to Europe and America as slaves.
We started at zero, and that's only 50 years ago, not exactly a long time.
We need more time and more patience.
SPIEGEL: It isn't that long ago that Asia was just as badly off as Africa.
In fact, the Asians had even more factors working against them: fewer
natural resources and overpopulation. Nevertheless, most Asians are better
off than Africans today.
Kaunda: We have copper, gold, platinum and iron ore. The Lord has truly
blessed the land with riches. But it is also puzzling to me why we Africans
have such a difficult time managing this wealth. Sometimes I think that
there is a curse on all these natural resources. Greed, jealousy and wars
are consuming the continent.
SPIEGEL: Aren't Africans themselves responsible for most of the
catastrophes, such as the situation in Zimbabwe?
Kaunda: (Zimbabwean President) Robert Mugabe and I were good friends and
close allies in the struggle for Africa's independence. This man spent a
long time fighting for his country's freedom. He suffered and was in prison
for many years.
SPIEGEL: What happened to him that could explain why is currently ruining
Kaunda: One shouldn't ignore history when judging Mugabe today. I remember
those days well. We were a country located on a front. There was apartheid
in South Africa and what is now Namibia, the Portuguese were in power in
Angola and Mozambique until the mid-70s, in Rhodesia Ian Douglas Smith had
declared independence unilaterally and was running the country with a small
white minority. But Mugabe and the others were only released after 10 years
SPIEGEL: Did that make him bitter?
Kaunda: Isn't that understandable? When he was released from prison and, a
few years later, became Zimbabwe's first black president, (then British
Prime Minister) Margaret Thatcher said to him: Do as you wish, but don't
touch the land issue for at least 10 years. Don't throw out the ethnic
British farmers. He was president, and much of the country was still in the
hands of those who had locked him up for years. But he kept his promise.
SPIEGEL: And Great Britain?
Kaunda: The conservative administrations of Thatcher and later John Major
kept coming back to the question of land ownership, and they tried to find a
mutually acceptable solution. They wanted to see more white farmers sell
their land voluntarily. (Current British Prime Minister) Tony Blair's
socialists, of all people, were suddenly no longer interested. Mugabe was
forced to take action.
SPIEGEL: Mugabe had to throw all white settlers out of the country?
Kaunda: Ian Douglas Smith, who treated him so poorly, still lives peacefully
in Zimbabwe. We shouldn't demonize Mugabe. He went through hell.
SPIEGEL: The country has been in ruins since the land reform was put in
place. It has the world's highest rate of inflation, and 80 percent of the
people are unemployed.
Kaunda: Some big mistakes were certainly made. But not just by Mugabe. I
hope that the horrible events in Zimbabwe will be a lesson to us all,
because South Africa and Namibia could face similar developments if we don't
watch out. Much of the land in those countries also remains in the hands of
the whites, and they also have a long, painful history of colonialism and
SPIEGEL: What could these lessons be?
Kaunda: It cannot be that a few whites sit on huge estates while the
majority of the people starve. The blacks in these countries have suffered
long enough. We did not come into power in order to preserve the land
ownership of a small group of white owners of large estates. Nevertheless,
South African Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki were very
considerate toward this minority. A minority, mind you, that is responsible
for most of the country's problems. It shouldn't take advantage of this
friendly relationship, otherwise the same thing that happened in Zimbabwe
could happen there.
SPIEGEL: White farmers who have been driven from Zimbabwe had settled and
become quite successful in Zambia, of all places.
Kaunda: That's the new government's doing.
SPIEGEL: You would not have allowed them into the country?
Kaunda: I don't know.
SPIEGEL: But they are good farmers. Zambia benefits from them.
Kaunda: We don't need outside help. We do quite well on our own.
SPIEGEL: But Africa has enormous problems.
Kaunda: Africa has huge problems. AIDS. Wars. Add to that the problem of
widespread poverty. And then there is the debt burden. We have so many debts
to pay that we can no longer build schools and hospitals.
SPIEGEL: That sounds pessimistic.
Kaunda: No, no. I am 82, but I am still fighting AIDS and tuberculosis with
my foundation. Africa has learned how to handle major challenges. Africa can
fight. I am a very optimistic person. We will master our future.
SPIEGEL: Mr. President, thank you for this interview.
20/04/2007 17:22 - (SA)
Harare - Zimbabwe's central bank chief is no longer in charge of exchange
rate policy and will not devalue the sliding local currency when he makes a
statement this month, it was reported on Friday.
Zimbabwe's dollar has been on a vertiginous slide on the parallel market for
foreign currency for months now.
The greenback was trading at about Zim$16 000 per unit this week, although
the official rate until now set by Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono remains
at 250: 1.
Struggling local exporters had pinned their hopes on Gono devaluing or even
floating the dollar when he makes an interim monetary policy statement later
But Gono now says he is no longer dealing with foreign exchange policy,
reports the Zimbabwe Independent.
Responsibility for foreign exchange policy has now been transferred back to
the minister of finance, said the paper.
"We are no longer dealing with that (foreign exchange policy), we will only
be there to implement the policy," Gono told the paper.
"You must be aware the law says this is a responsibility of the minister of
finance," he adde
April 20 2007 at 12:20PM
Harare - Alarm is spreading in Zimbabwean opposition circles over
President Robert Mugabe's blueprint for "fixing" next year's general
elections as more details become known since it was announced on Wednesday.
It will maintain the ruling Zanu-PF party's numerical advantage in
parliament by increasing constituencies in its stronghold rural areas.
It will also aim to destroy the opposition seats by incorporating
slices of urban constituencies into new rural seats, enabling the ruling
party to neutralise the opposition's urban backbone.
An irate opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has demanded
that Mugabe halt implementing any measures for next year's elections before
President Thabo Mbeki's mediation has been completed.
In what has been described as clear contempt for Mbeki, Mugabe is
implementing a raft of electoral measures, despite the format of elections
being the subject of Mbeki's mediation.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced on Wednesday that among
measures approved by the cabinet was the expansion of parliament from 150
MPs to 210.
Officials said the new seats would be set up in rural areas where the
ruling party exercises near total control of the vote and the opposition is
The cabinet also unveiled a plan to ensure that most seats in urban
areas are incorporated into rural areas.
Increasing the number of rural constituencies will involve setting up
more polling stations.
This will create more opportunities for Mugabe's handpicked electoral
authorities to manipulate ballot figures.
Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson for the MDC, signalled his party would be
forced to boycott any poll where the new measures are enforced. -
Independent Foreign Service
.. This article was originally published on page 4 of Daily News
on April 20, 2007
By Trust Matsilele
UKZN-Zimbabwean students studying at the university of KwaZulu
Natal(UKZN)on presidential scholarship are alleged to be starving following
government's failure to sent finances in time to cover for their basic
An estimated number of thirty three students were sent to five of UKZN
campuses which include,Pietermaritzburg,Westville,Howard,Medical School
According to well placed sources these students are supposed to get
R3000(Z$108 000 on official market and Z$9 million on the parallel
market)per semester to meet basic expenses such as food and general expenses
but the government has even failed to provide half of that ammount.
Some senoir Zimbabwe Society students expressed concern over the
worsening conditions and urged the government to care for those students as
were missing lecturers whilst fighting to get an extra job to
compernsate for their expenses.
One of the students,who are on presidential scholarship who identified
himself as Norman Chinanga(not his real name) said he has to find a
part time job to help him find something to put in the stomach,
"I partly work for a local Indian businessman especially weekends and
am paid R50 a day.Sometimes i miss lectures and that is the only way i
keep myself going as our country is facing economic meltdown",established
This is not the first time the government has failed to meet its
commitments,last year it failed to pay in time for its students at Fort
Hare University and were nearly expelled.
Taurai Zishamba doing medicine at the UKZN says the unfortunate thing
is that these students are isolated from their fellows due to political
orientation which makes it difficult for them to ask for assistance,
"It is embarrassing to see people from the same country faioling to
assist each other due to political views which differ.Some of these students
are alleged to be from the National Youth Militia as it is alleged to be
the new way of recruiting students",added Zishamba.
Some uncorfirmed reports alleges that the scholarship which is meant to
benefit the disadvantaged community is now being polarised as the
Zimbabwean president,Robert Mugabe tries to buy votes and support from
his ruling ZANU PF and army officials.It is alleged that most of these
students are either related to top army officials or top cadres of the
20 April 2007, 17:48 CET
(BRUSSELS) - EU foreign ministers will next week consider widening a travel
ban on those deemed responsible for Zimbabwe's "rapidly deteriorating human
rights, political and economic situation".
The ban currently cover some 130 people, including President Robert Mugabe,
his current and former cabinets and leaders of his ruling Zanu-PF party.
A draft conclusion, prepared for an EU foreign ministers meeting in
Luxembourg on Monday, states that "in response to the acts of violence and
abuses of human rights" in Zimbabwe the 27 EU nations "will extend the visa
The draft, to be agreed or amended by the ministers when they meet, gives no
details of which names may be added to the list but stresses the travel ban
is "exclusively aimed at those leading figures responsible for Zimbabwe's
crisis of governance and abuses of human rights".
The travel ban is accompanied by an assets freeze for those on the list and
an arms embargo. The sanctions were extended in February for another 12
The European Union slapped sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his
government after the long-serving ruler won elections in 2002 which the
opposition insists were rigged.
Last month the Germany called for tougher EU sanctions against Zimbabwe in
protest at Mugabe's crackdown on the opposition.
Long-standing political tensions in Zimbabwe deteriorated in March when
state security agents assaulted opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
scores of supporters and shot dead an activist as they broke up an
In the foreign ministers draft text, seen by AFP Friday, the EU "condemns in
particular the acts of violent expression against the opposition".
It also vows to continue contributing to humanitarian operations. EU funding
activities to the Zimbabwean people last year amounted to 193 million euros
(262 million dollars).
The ministers will also hail the efforts of Zimbabwe's neighbours to limit
destabilisation in the region and the mandate handed to South African
President Thabo Mbeki to help dialogue between the government and the
By Tererai Karimakwenda
20 April, 2007
We have received extraordinary information that journalists at the South
Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) are denied access to SW Radio Africa's
website for news on Zimbabwe. Any attempt to access our web address returns
a message that says "Access to the requested URL has been denied by SABC
We asked several journalists and an editor at SABC to access our website on
Friday. Without exception they were blocked by this message, denying them
access. We then contacted the head of television news, Amrat Manga, and he
told us he was not aware of the policy because he does not know SW Radio
Africa and had never visited the site. He said the station got its news on
Zimbabwe from journalist Supa Mandiwanzira who is the SABC correspondent in
SABC is described as a public broadcaster, but this and other developments,
suggest it is under the control of the state. Last year a list came to light
of several political commentators who were banned from being used by SABC.
The blacklist included Zimbabwe's Archbishop Pius Ncube, publisher Trevor
Ncube and human rights activist Elinor Sisulu. A documentary showing a
darker side of Thabo Mbeki was also not aired after the broadcaster dropped
it claiming it was 'unbalanced and defamed the President.'
Reverend Nick Mkaronda, director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition South
Africa Chapter, said he was not surprised to hear SABC blocks access to our
site as most people are aware of a deliberate policy at SABC to support
Mugabe in it's reports on Zimbabwe. He said sometime ago they received
information that certain people from Zimbabwe had been denied interviews
because they were critical of Mbeki and it was SABC policy not to interview
them. He added: "We don't think it is acceptable for any broadcaster in any
part of the world to be denied information because these are the very
problems we are dealing with in Zimbabwe. And when you have journalists
working at the SABC being denied information, what does it mean for the
ordinary people who are poor and suffering as a result of the policies of
"It is unacceptable because it is a violation of human rights at a national
level in terms of South Africa's constitution and laws, at a regional level
in terms of the values espoused by SADC, and at a continental and
These issues raise concern about Mbeki's suitability as the man to help
resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
International Relations and Security Network
Intel Brief by Joshua J Peterson for ISN Security Watch (20/04/07)
It is likely that violence in Zimbabwe will increase in the run-up to the
March 2008 elections in Zimbabwe due to continued attacks on opposition
party members, decaying social conditions experienced throughout the country
and the highly unlikely event of free and fair elections.
Regional powers in southern Africa and countries around the globe are likely
to become more vocal about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe and to
urge for free and fair voting in the poll.
Should President Robert Mugabe retain office, violent government crack downs
on opposition parties, most notably the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), will lead to an intensification of conflict.
On 11 March, police forces arrested and beat MDC party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, only to release him and then arrest him again on 28 March.
Government security forces did not only arrest Tsvangirai: Police also
detained more than 50 fellow opposition party members during the 11 March
incident. Additionally, numerous members of the MDC and other opposition
groups have gone into hiding as result of this latest incident of
politically-motivated violence and intimidation by government security
Mugabe claimed the raids and arrests were linked to an MDC-led firebombing
campaign, an allegation which the opposition party says is false. A police
spokesperson said the raids were also part of a campaign to prevent a coup
attempt by opposition forces, citing the guns, explosives and detonators he
said were seized during the raids.
US Ambassador Christopher Dell indicated in an interview earlier this month
with the Associated Press that government forces could have planted the
weapons. "As far as we are aware, the wave of state orchestrated violence -
including abductions, beatings, torture and the unconfirmed but possible
killings of MDC activists - continues unabated," he was quoted as saying.
"The state has clearly unleashed its thugs and sort of given them license to
follow their worst instincts," he added.
Zimbabwe's Catholic leadership has also taken a stance on the deteriorating
political situation. On 10 April, letters were anonymously posted on
churches across the country warning of a mass uprising if the upcoming
elections are not free and fair, according to media reports. This comes in
light of police breaking up a peaceful prayer meeting in March. Two people
were killed during the incident. Mugabe's response was that the violence was
"deserved" because it was an illegal meeting.
Decaying social conditions and general discontent for Mugabe's leadership
are also likely to contribute to more violence as food and gasoline
shortages affect the nation.
Further exacerbating the situation is Zimbabwe's inflation rate, the highest
in the world, which is currently over 1,700 percent. By the day of the 2008
election the International Monetary Fund estimates that inflation within the
country will have reached nearly 4,000 percent. Moreover, the life
expectancy of Zimbabweans is now the lowest in the world, 37 years for men
and 34 years for women.
Human rights watchdogs have reported human rights violations, widespread use
of torture, random beatings of Zimbabwean citizens and fear of government
security forces by the general populace. These intimidation tactics have
been effective at eliminating mass protests, thereby keeping Mugabe's
opposition from actively taking to the streets.
In February, Mugabe imposed a three-month ban on political rallies and
meetings in the capital city of Harare. Numerous opposition groups vowed to
defy this ban, and police subsequently detained hundreds of people across
the country, many of whom were MDC members.
Free and fair elections in 2008 are highly unlikely to occur, due to a
strong precedent of unfair and corrupt polls. Previous contests, both
parliamentary and presidential, have been marred by allegations of
corruption and voting fraud by opposition groups.
International observers have also called election results into question,
though they were not unanimous in their opinions.
Furthermore, opposition parties have challenged election results in
Zimbabwean courts, the rulings of which have been in favor of Mugabe's
Civil society groups in South Africa called the 2005 parliamentary elections
unfair, and voiced pessimism that MDC members could hope for a free and fair
vote in the future. Amnesty International also lambasted the elections,
citing intimidation and human rights violations as affecting the results.
At a press conference after the 2002 elections, journalists and diplomats
burst into laughter when a South African international observer blamed
voting delays on "administrative oversights," then added that the election
Regional and international powers are likely to become increasingly vocal
and adamant about the situation in Zimbabwe, An increase in sanctions
already in place will further galvanize some countries' continuing
disapproval of Mugabe's political actions.
Zambia was the first regional power to openly criticize Zimbabwe in March,
saying the situation was too serious to remain silent. This is especially
important as Zambia is set to take over the presidency of the South African
Development Community in August. South Africa, the region's strongest and
most influential power, adopted a policy of quiet diplomacy regarding
Zimbabwe, citing the lack of results gained from open criticism on the parts
of other countries. Botswana has not yet openly criticized Mugabe; however,
legislators there are seeking to recall their ambassador to Zimbabwe.
Malawi's government has said it is too early to take a stance on the
political situation in Zimbabwe.
Regionally, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, a member of the
African National Congress, has sharply chastised Mugabe for "attacks on
democracy and human rights."
As elections draw near, these organizations have vowed to keep pressure on
Zimbabwe over the current political and social conditions.
Most of the country's neighbors have functioning democracies with healthy
economies, both of which Zimbabwe had hoped to set in place after gaining
independence in 1980, the same year Mugabe began his rule.
Internationally, the EU has said it was "deeply concerned" about the
situation in Zimbabwe, adding that it was time to end the "brutality." The
EU and the US have already imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, and the US is
investigating what more could be done in conjunction with other countries to
These powers have already spoken out against the arrest of opposition leader
Tsvangirai and strongly voiced the need for transparent electoral practices
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
President's independence anniversary speech sidesteps negotiations with the
By Norman Chitapi in Harare (AR No. 109, 20-Apr-07)
Those hoping for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to shed light on the
burning issue of talks between the ruling ZANU-PF and opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, MDC, during his independence anniversary address this
week were left disappointed.
Local observers and diplomats were looking for clarity from the Zimbabwean
leader following dismissive comments in The Voice, the ZANU-PF mouthpiece,
earlier this week, where the paper said no talks would take place until the
MDC stopped acting like "puppets of the West".
During his address to 40,000 people at the Rufaro stadium in Harare on April
20 to mark 27 years of independence, Mugabe made no mention of negotiations.
Nevertheless, he made clear his line of attack in any future talks, accusing
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai of being under the influence of western leaders
and describing the MDC protests last month as indicative of a new "militant
criminal strain" in local politics, which he said would be dealt with firmly
by the police.
Mugabe said although the whole of Africa had declared him duly elected in
2002, Tsvangirai had chosen to go along with the verdict of western leaders
who said the election had been rigged, therefore challenging his legitimacy.
This had led to the imposition of so-called targeted sanctions on Mugabe and
senior members of his party and government.
"President Mugabe lives in a fool's paradise," quipped a western diplomat
after the address, which saw Mugabe laying the blame for Zimbabwe's economic
woes at many doors save that of his government.
The diplomat said Mugabe was misinformed if he believed that targeted
sanctions were the source of the country's economic meltdown, "This is an
economy that has been badly managed for a long time. The economic crisis in
Zimbabwe began well before the MDC was formed. How then can he blame
sanctions over his disputed re-election, when they were only imposed in 2002
and are directed at a few individuals?"
In vague acknowledgement of the failure of his land reform policy, which saw
white farmers removed from their farms and replaced with ZANU-PF supporters,
Mugabe did however warn that people resettled in the past seven years who
did not become productive farmers would be kicked off the land.
To placate a restless civil service, Mugabe said government was providing
subsidised transport and had set up a fund to build houses for government
But he attributed the decline in the country's once buoyant tourism industry
to veld fires last year. And against widespread evidence that declining
mineral production was caused by price distortions and a skewed exchange
rate, Mugabe blamed the slump on smuggling of precious minerals "by some of
our greedy people".
"Very soon we will catch up with you," he warned. "How can you have a Benz
for yourself, for your wife, for your child and for your nephew? Where did
you get the money?"
In the past, these have remained empty threats. Critics blame the smuggling
mainly on people in Mugabe's inner circle and therefore expect no action.
Mugabe reiterated his desire for government to take a 51 per cent
shareholding in foreign companies operating in Zimbabwe, a threat, which has
stalled further investment in the mining sector in the past two years.
He blamed the country's inflationary scourge on government opponents seeking
to turn the people against the state. He said that retail and manufacturing
sectors were hiking prices without any regard to cost factors "to cause
disquiet across sectors of our society".
Whether Mugabe's ongoing discourse of blame will scupper any chances for
talks between the ruling ZANU-PF and the MDC remains to be seen.
Commented a Harare-based analyst, "Mugabe wants Tsvangirai to recognise him
as the legitimate president of the country. Once that happens there would be
no need for western governments to maintain so-called targeted sanctions on
The analyst believed that such a concession, though not inconceivable, would
be hard to extract from the MDC as it was the "very foundation of its
He said the only way the MDC would make such a climb-down would be to
extract reforms in the electoral system in readiness for next year's
election. "Time is not on their side and the MDC needs all the time it can
get to prepare for the joint elections in 2008," said the analyst. "They
wouldn't want to be bogged down in negotiations at the expense of a new
constitution, voter registration and a level playing field."
The diplomat said that mediation between ZANU-PF and the MDC by South
African president Thabo Mbeki needed everybody's support to succeed. "This
is the best chance Zimbabwe has to get out of this quagmire. The leaders
will need to approach the whole process with a positive attitude, otherwise
it is doomed," he said.
Norman Chitapi is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
20/04/2007 17:22 - (SA)
Johannesburg - An illegal diamond miner in eastern Zimbabwe bled to death
after being shot by police in a raid on a hideout in the country's rich
Marange diamond fields, said reports on Friday.
The panner was shot dead after attacking two police officers using an iron
bar and a knife, Obert Benge, the officer commanding Manicaland province
told the state-controlled Manica Post.
"We are no longer on the defensive, but on the offensive," Benge told the
"We will continue hitting them hard where it matters most because force is
proving to be the only language the panners understand."
The dead man, Samuel Musimwa, was shot through the thigh and died before
reaching hospital, the paper quoted another police spokesperson, Brian
Makomeke as saying.
Musimwa is the second person to have been shot dead by police this year. An
illegal gold miner was shot dead by a police patrol near the central mining
town of Shurugwi in January.
In the latest incident, at least 35 other miners were arrested in the raid
on their mountain hideout.
Last year President Robert Mugabe's government gave villagers in the
impoverished Marange district permission to start mining the Chiadzwa
diamond fields, despite claims to the area by an international firm.
Tens of thousands of fortune-seekers flocked to the area, and many are
reported to have struck it rich.
But the government, worried by massive losses in potential revenue as a
result of the free-for-all, has now fenced off the diamond fields. Miners
require a letter of clearance from the police to enter the area, reports
Central Bank governor Gideon Gono estimates the total loss to Zimbabwe's
struggling economy as a result of illegal diamond mining and smuggling in
the last nine months to be in the region of $400m.
A countrywide government-driven blitz against illegal miners and dealers has
seen more than 30 000 people arrested since November. More than 250 of those
have been jailed for periods of up to five years.