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Zimbabwe election recount finds broken seals on ballot boxes

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 6:02pm BST 21/04/2008

Zimbabwe's regime has been accused of a "concerted effort" to rig the
election for Robert Mugabe as it emerged that seals protecting ballot boxes
have been broken.

A partial recount of the election - which was held on March 29 - is
now taking place in 23 constituencies.

A source at the recount at the Bulilima East constituency said: "There
are 57 ballot boxes from 57 polling stations. We examined all the boxes from
the presidential election and the seal on every one is slit.

"There is a foreign observer here so we hope this has been noted."

The seals guard the keys to the padlocks on the boxes, which contain
all the voting materials from a polling station, including the voters' roll
and ballot papers.

Diane Kohler-Barnard, an election observer from the Southern African
Development Community and an MP in South Africa's opposition Democratic
Alliance, spent three days monitoring the recount.

"From what I have seen and experienced in Zimbabwe over the past three
days, it is clear that the process of recounting the contested wards from
the recent elections is fatally flawed," she said.

"The process had been marred by delays, administrative problems and
the clear political intent of blaming the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) for all the problems associated with the recount.

"Of particular concern was the evidence of ballot box tampering that I
witnessed personally, which points to a concerted effort to rig the election
results in order to bring about a Mugabe 'victory'."

She said Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission had tried to obstruct outside
monitoring by "deliberately" giving false information about the venues for
the recount.

"There is no doubt that the situation in Zimbabwe is at breaking point
as anger over the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's failure to release the
results of the presidential election escalates," she said.

Under the Electoral Act, a second round should have been held last
Saturday if - as is almost certain - neither Mr Mugabe nor Morgan
Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, gained above 50 per cent of votes.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said the conduct of the recount
"only serves to fuel suspicion that President Mugabe is seeking to reverse
the results that have been published, to regain a majority, and to amplify
his own count".

In a parliamentary statement, Mr Miliband called on African leaders
not to recognise Mr Mugabe as Zimbabwe's legal president.

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Zimbabwe vote recount 'fatally flawed' - observer

2008-04-21 14:34:29

JOHANNESBURG (Thomson Financial) - A South African member of parliament
taking part in a regional observer mission monitoring a controversial vote
recount in Zimbabwe said on Monday that the process was "fatally flawed".

"From what I have seen and experienced in Zimbabwe over the last three days,
it is clear that the process of recounting ... is fatally flawed," Dianne
Kohler-Barnard said in a statement.

She cited ballot-box tampering designed to bring about a "victory" for
President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front party.

The vote recount from last month's parliamentary and presidential elections,
which was ordered by the Zimbabwe Election Commission and began on Saturday,
is taking place in 23 of the country's 210 constituencies.

Critics say the recount is aimed at securing continuing power for Mugabe and
ZANU-PF against a challenge from the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).

The MDC has said it will refuse to recognise the result of the recount.

According to initial results, ZANU-PF lost control of parliament for the
first time since independence from Britain in 1980 in the March 29
elections, while the result of the presidential vote held on the same day
has not yet been announced.

"Of particular concern was the evidence of ballot box tampering that I
witnessed personally, which points to a concerted effort to rig the election
results in order to bring about a Mugabe 'victory'", Kohler-Barnard said.

The South African opposition parliamentarian, who was in Zimbabwe from
Friday as part of the 40-member Southern African Development Community
(SADC) mission to Zimbabwe, returned home on Monday, her aide told AFP.

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Zanu-PF manipulating figures through vote recount

By Tichaona Sibanda
21 April 2008

The MDC claimed on Monday that the vote recount exercise was being used by
the regime to ‘doctor’ figures to allow Robert Mugabe to qualify for a
run-off with Morgan Tsvangirai.

Eddie Cross, the party’s policy co-ordinator and MP for Bulawayo South, said
that in practical terms the Electoral Commission only needed to verify the
votes through official documentation (V-11 forms) that all parties signed at
the end of the electoral process. The forms were signed in triplicate and
were counter-signed by polling officers and agents from all parties that
participated in the elections.

‘Those documents are there and contain the true reflection of what went on
in the polling stations. It’s clear from the documents that Tsvangirai beat
Mugabe by a very wide margin and this exercise is meant to try and
manipulate that outcome,’ Cross said.

According to Cross, the legitimacy that Robert Mugabe has been so craving
has been ‘blown into pieces’ and he no longer has any reputation to speak

The MDC contends that the vote recount in nearly all the 23 constituencies
has been seriously marred by irregularities, due to the high number of
ballot boxes that have been tampered with.

The process had also been dogged by delays, administrative problems and a
clear political intent of blaming the MDC for all the problems associated
with the recount.

There has been repeated miscommunication of venue addresses for the recount,
which resulted in party agents and electoral observers going to the
incorrect venue. This undermined the observation process and contributed to
further delays.

Books containing the names of individuals who worked at several counting
stations were missing, bringing counting to a halt in a number of areas,
while on a number of ballot boxes the seals holding the keys for the two
padlocks on each box had been broken.

All of theses problems pointed to the fact that a number of ballot boxes had
been tampered with, rendering the entire exercise of recounting the
contested ballots a futile one, Cross said.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mugabe minister accused of gun threats

Chris McGreal in Harare
The Guardian,
Monday April 21 2008

Zimbabwe's health minister armed himself with a Kalashnikov and threatened
to kill opposition supporters forced to attend a political meeting unless
they voted for President Robert Mugabe in a second round of the presidential
election, according to witnesses.

The accounts of the incident involving Dr David Parirenyatwa, and witness
reports of other forced meetings at which Zanu-PF members of parliament and
senior military officers oversaw the beating of people who voted against
Mugabe in last month's elections, establish a direct link between the
highest levels of the ruling party and what the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change described yesterday as a "war" against the people.

An affidavit made before a commissioner of oaths by an opposition activist
names Parirenyatwa, along with a deputy minister and other senior ruling
party officials, as threatening to kill MDC supporters. "[They] came to
Musama business centre in Murewa and threatened MDC supporters with death if
they 'revote' MDC in the anticipated election rerun," the affidavit says.
"Shops were forced to close down, people were forced to attend the Zanu-PF

Other witnesses confirm the account by the opposition activist, whose name
is known to the Guardian but who is afraid to be identified publicly.

The meeting, on April 10, came as Zanu-PF began what has become an extensive
campaign of beatings and intimidation in areas where Mugabe and the ruling
party lost ground in the presidential and parliamentary elections.

In the following days, party militias and the army established torture camps
in several provinces, where MDC members were taken to extract the names of
opposition activists and deter the opposition from campaigning before what
is expected to be a run-off between Mugabe and the MDC's candidate, Morgan
Tsvangirai, if and when the results of the presidential election are finally

The targeted areas include Murewa in Mashonaland East, where two of the
city's three constituencies are held by Zanu-PF, one of them by
Parirenyatwa. The MDC won the third constituency, Murewa West.

According to the affidavit, Pariren-yatwa - who is on a list of senior
Zanu-PF officials barred from entering the EU and US - arrived in Murewa
West for a political meeting which the local population was told to attend
or face beatings or arrest. The health minister was accompanied by Joel
Biggie Matiza, the deputy rural housing minister who is also a Zanu-PF MP
for the area, as well as the ruling party's defeated local candidate, Lilian

Another witness at the meeting said: "These MPs had guns, they were
intimidating people. They said 'this city is ours. There is no room for
sell-outs to the whites. If you support the opposition you must leave or we
will kill you'." At least one shot was fired into the air to intimidate

Parirenyatwa and the other MPs then broke up an MDC meeting elsewhere in
Murewa West. A witness said the health minister was carrying a Kalashnikov.
"People of Murewa West constituency are now living in fear because of the
death threats issued by Zanu-PF MPs and thugs," the affidavit said.

Ward Nezi, the MDC candidate who defeated Zemura, said his supporters were
terrified. "People are being beaten all over the place in my constituency,
beaten up and hospitalised," he said. "My opponent is one of those involved.
They cannot accept defeat."

Ruling party MPs and senior military officials have incited violence in
other areas. Ordo Nyakudanga, a Zanu-PF MP, and Bramwell Katsvairo, an air
force colonel, oversaw a forced meeting in Mutoko last week at which
opposition supporters were allegedly identified and severely beaten.
Witnesses say that at the end of the meeting Nyakudanga and Katsvairo sent
soldiers to hunt down people who had refused to attend. One of them was
Tendai Chibika, who was afraid he would be identified as an opposition
supporter. Soldiers found him in nearby hills and shot him dead.

Zanu-PF militias also abducted two brothers, Promise and Ofias Tumu, who
remain missing four days later.

In Mudzi, another Mashonaland town, a man called Temba Muronda was abducted
last Thursday and found beaten to death at the weekend.

Besides the beatings, some opposition supporters have allegedly been
tortured by having burning grass or molten plastic bags dropped on to their

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, which has documented abductions and
assaults, said: "This campaign of terror has been widespread across the
country and is being perpetrated against any person who is suspected to have
cast their vote against the ruling party, as well as their families."

Abel Samakande, the new MDC MP for Mutoko East, once a Mugabe stronghold,
said many of his supporters had gone into hiding. "Our members are not
sleeping in their own houses. Some sleep in their gardens, some sleep in the
hills, because they usually come to get you at night. People are terrified,"
he said. "During daytime I can move around with other people. In the night I
hide - and I am the MP."

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Zimbabwe recount worthless: Britain

Yahoo News

Mon Apr 21, 11:08 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) - Britain on Monday condemned the ongoing recount in Zimbabwe's
contested general elections as a worthless exercise aimed at allowing
President Robert Mugabe to "steal" the vote.

"No-one can have any faith in this recount," Foreign Secretary David
Miliband said, questioning the security of the ballot boxes held by the
authorities since March 29 and saying election officials had been arrested.

"The ballot boxes have been kept in uncertain conditions," Miliband said in
a written statement to parliament that marked a hardening of Britain's
criticism of Mugabe's rule in the former British colony.

The arrests of more than a dozen Election Commission officials was a clear
attempt to "threaten and punish" independent-minded polling officers, said
Miliband, who also slammed the "ludicrously slow" pace of the partial

"This only serves to fuel suspicion that President Mugabe is seeking to
reverse the results that have been published, to regain a majority in
parliament, and to amplify his own count in the Presidential election.

"If that is the case, then what we are witnessing is a charade of
democracy," he said.

The electoral commission -- a body whose leadership is appointed by
Mugabe -- began Saturday a partial recount in 23 out of 210 constituencies.

"We can have little confidence that whatever is ultimately announced as the
presidential election results will not have been sullied and contaminated by
rigging during this recount," Miliband said.

Miliband, who is currently in Pakistan, echoed Prime Minister Gordon Brown's
view at the United Nations in New York last week that Mugabe was attempting
to "steal the election" from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change

Citing testimony from non-governmental organisations, Miliband also
condemned what he said was Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party's "campaign
of violence" against ordinary Zimbabweans who voted against him.

"Evidence that they (abuses) are taking place is irrefutable," he added,
saying it was a cynical attempt "to punish people for the choices they have
made and to intimidate them into submission" ahead of any second round vote.

Mugabe himself has accused Britain of trying to interfere in his country's
sovereignty and of sponsoring violence by backing Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC.
Britain rejects the charges.

Miliband said in his statement that London supported "all those working for
democratic change" in Zimbabwe and was working with southern African states
to pressure the president to release the election results.

He called for those states to do more to condemn the situation in Zimbabwe,
saying Mugabe's actions "pose a threat to democracy and to the values that
SADC (the Southern African Development Community) and AU (African Union)

"Democratic legitimacy throughout Africa is at stake," he added.

The president of the African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma, is to meet
Brown in London Wednesday. A spokesman for the prime minister told AFP he
"would be surprised" if Zimbabwe was not on the agenda.

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British foreign secretary accuses Zimbabwe's Mugabe of using violence to steal election

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: April 21, 2008

LONDON: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called Monday for African
leaders to do more to intervene in the postelection crisis in Zimbabwe,
saying President Robert Mugabe has unleashed a campaign of violence as he
attempts to steal the country's elections.

The leaders and general public in neighboring countries must increase
pressure on Zimbabwe's longtime leader and refuse to legitimize his regime,
Miliband said in a statement to lawmakers.

Miliband said the world should take a lead from South African dock workers
who refused to offload a weapons shipment bound for Zimbabwe. South Africa's
leadership has been reluctant to criticize Zimbabwe publicly.

"It is important that African leaders do more to engage directly in this
crisis to help resolve it," Miliband said in the statement. "Ordinary
Africans do not condone the way in which President Mugabe is clinging to
power and beating his own people to death to ensure he retains it."

Results from the March 29 presidential vote in Zimbabwe have not been

"This only serves to fuel suspicion that President Mugabe is seeking to
reverse the results that have been published, to regain a majority in
parliament, and to amplify his own count in the presidential election,"
Miliband said. "If that is the case, then what we are witnessing is a
charade of democracy."
Legislative election results that gave the opposition a majority in
Zimbabwe's parliament for the first time also are in limbo, with a partial
recount under way.

Miliband said the international community has little faith that the recount
in 23 constituencies — all won by the opposition — will be accurate. The
ruling Zanu-PF party needs only nine seats to regain control of parliament.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change claims postelection
violence has displaced 3,000 people, injured 500 and left 10 dead. There is
no way to verify the claims because of reporting restrictions in Zimbabwe.

"Our message is simple. Zimbabwe is on a knife edge: inflation is
incalculable, life expectancy the lowest in the world and human rights
abuses commonplace," Miliband said. "Those metrics will all deteriorate if
President Mugabe is allowed to steal this election."

But he said Britain is ready to offer a major package of aid and assistance
if there is a "return to real democracy and good governance within

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Mugabe 'beating own people to death, says UK government

Irish News


Britain accused Robert Mugabe today of 'beating his own people to death' in
a desperate attempt to cling on to power.
As international observers criticised an elections recount in Zimbabwe,
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also raised fears the country’s
president was orchestrating a “charade of democracy”.

A recount in 23 constituencies has been ordered after Mr Mugabe’s Zanu PF
party lost control of parliament in elections three weeks ago.

The results of an accompanying presidential poll have still not been
released amid concerns that Mr Mugabe is seeking to rig the results.

“No one can have any faith in this recount,” Mr Miliband said in a written
statement to the House of Commons.

He suggested that the arrests of 13 employees of the Electoral Commission
and the “ludicrously slow” recount meant Mr Mugabe was seeking to regain his
majority in parliament and improve his count in the presidential contest.

“If that is the case, then what we are witnessing is a charade of
 democracy,” Mr Miliband said.

“We can have little confidence that whatever is ultimately announced as the
presidential election results will not have been sullied and contaminated by
rigging during this count.”

Mr Miliband praised dockers in Durban, South Africa, who turned away a
Chinese ship with weapons destined for Zimbabwe.

“The reaction of South African dockers to the direction to unload arms they
believed destined for Zimbabwe shows that ordinary Africans do not condone
the way in which President Mugabe is clinging on to power and beating his
own people to death to ensure he retains it.”

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), claims he won an outright victory in the presidential election.

Independent observers say he is more likely to face a run-off election
against Mr Mugabe, 84.

MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said there were clear signs of
irregularities in the recount and South African politician Dianne
Kohler-Barnard dismissed it as a sham.

The opposition has also claimed mounting violence and intimidation against
people who voted for their candidates, especially in rural areas that once
were Mugabe strongholds.

Violence has displaced 3,000 people, injured 500 and left 10 dead, Mr Biti

Mr Miliband accused Zanu PF of trying to “punish people for the choices they
have made and to intimidate them into submission” in any second round of the
presidential poll.

International pressure to release the presidential election results
continued to mount, with neighbouring Malawi calling on Mr Mugabe to resume
talks with Britain, white farmers and the MDC.

Mr Miliband said Britain still felt countries in the region were best placed
to apply pressure on Mr Mugabe.

“If President Mugabe and those who keep him in office will listen to anyone,
they will listen to their peers in the region and in Africa more widely,” he

Relations with South African president Thabo Mbeki have been strained in
recent weeks as he has appeared to back Mr Mugabe in the stand-off with the
international community.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is due to have talks at Number 10 with
African National Congress president Jacob Zuma on Wednesday.

Mr Zuma, who is expected to take over from Mr Mbeki as South African
president, has been more outspoken about the need for world leaders to
challenge Mr Mugabe’s regime.

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Human Wave Flees Violence in Zimbabwe

New York Times
Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

A Zimbabwean woman with her child on her back flees across the border into South Africa at Beitbridge Border Post in Musina, South Africa.

Published: April 21, 2008

ALONG THE SOUTH AFRICA-ZIMBABWE BORDER — Sarah Ngewerume was driven to the river by despair.

 She said she had seen gangs loyal to Zimbabwe’s longtime president, Robert Mugabe, beating people — some to death — in the dusty roads of her village. She said Mugabe loyalists were sweeping the countryside with chunks of wood in their hands, demanding to see party identification cards and methodically hunting down opposition supporters.

“It was terrifying,” said Ms. Ngewerume, a 49-year-old former shopkeeper.

Last week she waded across the Limpopo River, bribed a man fixing a border fence on the other side and slipped into a nearby South African farm.

She was among the latest desperate arrivals in what South Africa’s biggest daily newspaper is calling “Mugabe’s Tsunami,” a wave of more than 1,000 people every day who are fleeing Zimbabwe across the Limpopo to escape into South Africa.

When a shallow, glassy river and a few coils of razor wire are the only things separating one of Africa’s most developed countries from one of its most miserable, the inevitable result is millions of illegal border jumpers. But South African and Zimbabwean human rights groups say that the flow of people into South Africa has been surging in the three weeks since Zimbabwe’s disputed election and during the violent crackdown that followed. One Zimbabwean named Washington, who goes back and forth across the border ferrying Super Sure cake flour and Blazing Beef potato snacks, said the government was now using food as a weapon and channeling much of the United Nations-donated grain to supporters of the ruling party.“As we speak,” he said, “people are starving.”

He seemed more defeated than anything else. “People hate the government,” he said. “But they are too scared to fight it.”

Commercials are now running on Zimbabwean TV showing grainy images of captives from the liberation war in the 1970s and reminding citizens not to disobey their leaders, recent arrivals said.

In the past, countless Zimbabwean men escaped to South Africa to drive cabs or work on construction sites and send money home. But these days, many of the Zimbabweans fleeing are women and children willing to take considerable risks to get out for good.

“We were hoping for change and waiting to see what would happen in the election,” said Faithi Mano, one of more than a dozen Zimbabweans interviewed after they had crossed the border last week. “Now, I have decided to quit that place.”

It does not look as if Mr. Mugabe, an 84-year-old liberation hero who has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years, will leave office without a fight. After early election results from the March 29 vote indicated he was losing to the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, the election commission put the brakes on announcing results. The presidential results still have not been released, and a recount begun Saturday in 23 Parliament races is now threatening to drag things out further — the opposition has deemed it “illegal.”

If there is a runoff between Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai, many fear it could get even bloodier. Human Rights Watch issued a report on Saturday saying members of Mr. Mugabe’s party were running “torture camps” where they took opposition supporters for nightly beatings.

On Sunday, the leading opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, said more than 400 supporters had been arrested, 500 attacked, 10 killed and 3,000 families displaced. The party released a detailed, day-by-day chronicle of violence that listed huts being burned, people getting cracked in the head with bottles and farms being invaded. The party blamed Mugabe supporters and sometimes government soldiers.

The government has denied any wrongdoing and accused opposition leaders of treason. Mr. Tsvangirai has said it is too dangerous for him to stay in Zimbabwe and has been spending time in South Africa.

The border between South Africa and Zimbabwe stretches about 150 miles, and it is headache-hot out here. “Beware of crocodile” signs shimmer in the sun, the grass is yellow and crisp, and at night, the trees churn with clouds of heat-crazed insects.

For the people who make it through, there is a pipeline of sympathy waiting on the other side. Fellow Zimbabweans living in South Africa — often perfect strangers — have taken in border jumpers, giving them a safe house and a warm cup of porridge, and helping them along their way to Messina, about 10 miles south, and then onward to the bigger cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Joyce Dube, director of the Southern African Women’s Institute for Migration Affairs, which tracks the border issue, said the only reason more people were not crossing was the recently beefed-up security on the South African side. “It’s getting tougher to get through,” she said.

South African military helicopters thunder over the Limpopo and soldiers prowl the border roads, searching car trunks for human cargo. Crews of men in red jumpsuits drip with sweat as they fix the fences. But it is a cat-and-mouse game. No sooner have they patched a hole than it is punched through again.

The fence runs for miles, a shining metal snake going up and down the tawny hills. It used to be deadly, electrified by a high-voltage current. That was in the 1980s, when South Africa and newly independent Zimbabwe were practically at war. Back then, many people were going the other way, fleeing South Africa’s repressive apartheid government to escape to Zimbabwe. At the time, Zimbabwe was one of Africa’s stars. Mr. Mugabe had turned a relatively small, landlocked country into an economic powerhouse that produced beef, grain and tobacco.

“Bob Mugabe was my hero,” said a white Zimbabwean farmer who drove into Messina the other day for supplies. He did not want to give his name because he went on to criticize Mr. Mugabe’s more recent policies and said he was afraid he could be evicted from his farm for doing so. “I know it sounds funny, but it’s true. You have no idea how beautiful Zim was.” Zim is the affectionate nickname for Zimbabwe.

But in the late 1990s, Mr. Mugabe felt he needed to deliver on long-promised land reforms, and Britain, the former colonial ruler, was stalling on paying for them. Mr. Mugabe then encouraged blacks to seize white-owned farms. Whites fled, industrialized agriculture crashed, and today the inflation rate is more than 150,000 percent. Supermarkets often have no food, and 80 percent of the people have no jobs.

The Movement for Democratic Change ran on these woes, and in 2002 it nearly won power, though the elections were marred by violence and intimidation.

This time there was hope that things would be different. Recent arrivals say that a few weeks before the vote, the bullying suddenly seemed to let up — perhaps, some thought, because the ruling party was sure it would win. But when the first results showed Mr. Mugabe losing badly, the government went silent. There were some talks about Mr. Mugabe stepping aside. Then the crackdown began.

Ms. Ngewerume, the escaped former shopkeeper, said opposition supporters in her village in central Zimbabwe became easy targets because they had danced and sung in the streets after early results were tacked up on polling station doors. When the final results did not come, they went into hiding. But the thugs found them anyway, she said.

“I can’t see how Mugabe could win again after all this,” she said.

But, she added, many opposition supporters probably would not take the chance again to cross “the old man,” as Mr. Mugabe is often called.

Ms. Ngewerume was visibly pained just talking politics as she stood under a tree on a farm near the border. “I just want to go there,” she said, stabbing her finger vaguely south, in the direction of Johannesburg. “I’m just struggling to go forward to get something better.”

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Campaign against Zim arms gains momentum

Mail and Guardian

Johannesburg, South Africa

21 April 2008 04:41

      A campaign to prevent arms currently aboard a Chinese ship from
reaching Zimbabwe gained momentum on Monday with trade unions calling on
their counterparts not to allow the vessel to dock at any African port.

      The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) called for
an international boycott of the vessel.

      "Cosatu is doing everything possible to alert the international
trade-union movement to the danger to the workers of Zimbabwe if the cargo
is allowed to be unloaded and delivered to [Zimbabwe President Robert]
Mugabe's forces.

      "The federation is writing to its comrades in other federations,
including those of Angola and China, to enlist their support for the
international workers' boycott," the union said in a statement.

      South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu)
secretary general Randall Howard also called on trade unions and employers
in all African countries to prevent the vessel from docking and to refuse to
handle or transport its "lethal cargo".

       "We have a moral obligation to provide solidarity that does not
allow the Mugabe regime to continue to undermine human and trade-union
rights with impunity.

      "We are not puppets of any imperialist forces as we equally
deplore imperialism that undermines the sovereignty of African nation states
to determine their own destinies," he said.

       The ship, the An Yue Jiang, carrying three million rounds of
7,62mm bullets (used in the AK47 assault rifle), 69 rocket-propelled
grenades and mortar bombs and tubes docked in Durban on April 14.

      It, however, left on April 18 after the Durban High Court
ordered that its controversial cargo could not be transported across South
Africa to Zimbabwe. Satawu members also refused to offload the cargo from
the ship.

       Anglican bishop Rubin Phillips, with Patrick Kearney, a former
activist and executive of the Diakonia Council of Churches, applied to the
court to prevent the weapons from reaching Zimbabwe.

      The tense political situation in Zimbabwe has been described as
a "crisis" since its March 29 election results have yet to be released, a
ploy, the Zimbabwean opposition claims, by Mugabe to hang on to power and
resist a change in government.

      The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), to which
Satawu is affiliated, had already prevented the vessel from docking in
Maputo after making an urgent request to the Mozambican government not to
allow it to enter the port there.

       "Satawu wishes to commend the Mozambican government for the
correct moral stance they had taken to advance the possibilities of genuine
democracy, peace and economic development," the union said.

      It said it had learned that the vessel was on route to Angola to
offload the cargo and transport the weapons over land.

      "We shall not rest until the weapons destined for Zimbabwe are
returned to Beijing. We shall not become an accomplice to the repression and
brutality of the Zimbabwean masses who only yearn for peace and genuine
democracy," Howard said.

       "In the Zimbabwean context, we are happy to be accused of being
puppets of genuine democracy underpinned by a culture of respect for human
and trade-union rights, which we continue to struggle for in Africa and
beyond, " said Howard.

      The international campaign to prevent the arms from landing on
Zimbabwean soil was themed: "Workers of the World Unite in Solidarity with
the workers and people of Zimbabwe for Democracy, Peace and Food! Not Lethal
Weapons to Kill and Repress! Return to Beijing Now!". -- Sapa

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Tsvangirai seeks Nigerian help in Zimbabwean political crisis

Monsters and Critics

Apr 21, 2008, 17:07 GMT

Abuja - Nigeria's urgent intervention is required in the current political
crisis in Zimbabwe, opposition Movement for Democratic Change(MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai said Monday in south- west Nigeria.

Tsvangirai said Nigeria's former president Olusegun Obasanjo was his mentor
as he visited Obasanjo at his farm.

The MDC says it won 111 seats in the 210-seat parliament in March 29
elections, while Tsvangirai polled 50.3 per cent of the presidential
ballots, but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has refused to release final

The electoral commission is currently recounting votes in some
constituencies as demanded by the ruling ZANU-PF of President Robert Mugabe.
The party says there was no outright winner in the presidential poll and a
run-off vote is needed.

'Nigeria played a significant role during our struggle for independence, and
the crisis in Zimbabwe requires the attention of a country like Nigeria,'
Tsvangirai said.

He said that the MDC would also reach out to the African Union. Meanwhile,
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) met a week ago to mediate
in the crisis.

'With the situation we are facing in the country, especially with regard to
the violence and the manipulation of the electoral commission, we require a
broader dimension,' he said.

Tsvangirai said that as the father of the nation, Mugabe would be assigned a
significant role if the MDC came to power.

'He played a significant role in the struggle for liberation of the country,
and whatever transpires cannot take away that contribution,' he said.

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan has criticized the inaction of
African leaders on the Zimbabwean crisis.

Current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he would discuss the issue at
the ongoing UN trade and development conference in Ghana.

Tsvangirai is scheduled to meet with Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua
before leaving for Ghana where he planned to meet Ghanaian President John

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Tsvangirai appeals for UN intervention in Zimbabwe


Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:04pm EDT

By Kwasi Kpodo and Daniel Flynn

ACCRA, April 21 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
appealed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday for the world body
and the African Union to intervene in his country's post-election crisis.

Tsvangirai held talks with Ban for around half an hour on the sidelines of a
U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) meeting in Ghana's
capital, Accra.

"He appealed for an intervention by the African Union and the United Nations
since he feels there is no progress in the efforts made by the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC)," Michel Montas, Ban's spokeswoman, said
in New York.

She said Ban had again called on the authorities to release the results of
the country's disputed March 29 elections.

"He appealed once more for the release of the electoral results as soon as
possible and said that he would consult the president of the African Union
(AU) on possible ways forward," Montas told reporters at U.N. headquarters.

A joint AU-U.N. mission to Zimbabwe was proposed at last week's AU-U.N.
Security Council summit in New York, but Ban said he would have to discuss
any specific measures with the AU.

Zimbabwe's opposition says Tsvangirai won last month's presidential polls
and that President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since independence in 1980,
is attempting to cling to power by delaying declaring the results.

Zimbabwe also announced a delay on Sunday in a partial recount of the votes
in a parallel parliamentary election, extending a deadlock in which the
opposition says 10 of its members have been killed and hundreds arrested.


The recount could overturn the parliamentary results, which showed Mugabe's
ZANU-PF losing its majority to Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) for the first time.

African leaders have come under international pressure to take strong action
to help resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe, a once prosperous nation whose
economy is in ruins, beset with 165,000 percent inflation and mass

Former colonial power Britain accused Mugabe of trying to steal the election
and urged African leaders to do more to help resolve the dispute, saying
democratic legitimacy throughout the continent was at stake.

SADC and the African Union have called for the results of the presidential
election to be released but Thabo Mbeki, president of regional power South
Africa, and other African leaders have faced accusations of being too soft
over the issue. (Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau at the United
Nations; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Ralph

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Widespread Political Violence Reported in Zimbabwe's Rural Areas


By Peta Thornycroft
21 April 2008

Zimbabwe's private hospitals are full of people who have suffered violence
since results of parliamentary elections were announced early this month.
Peta Thornycroft reports from Harare that the victims, mostly from President
Robert Mugabe's traditional political strongholds, say that the people who
attacked them accused them of supporting the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change.

Tafadzwa Chinogure, a 31-year-old peasant farmer, lies in a Harare hospital
[Sunday]. His right leg is broken, his left leg has a deep stab wound, his
left arm is broken, and he has heavy bruising across his back.

Chinogure says his attackers were ruling Zanu PF supporters who came just
after midnight one night last week and beat him and his wife, who is also in
the hospital.

He said the Zanu PF broke into his home and accused him of being MDC, and
started beating him with big sticks, and they used a knife on his leg. He
said they broke the window and door of his house and took away his
ground-nut (peanut) harvest.

Chinogure, who is married with two children, comes from a village about two
hours drive northeast of the capital. He can name his attackers, among them
the local winning Zanu PF councilor. He says after destroying his home, they
took all his property including his summer harvest, which was in a shed.

Chinogure is one of hundreds of people from deep rural areas hospitalized in
Harare as a result of similar attacks. Without exception they say that their
attackers, and they can name many of them, were local Zanu PF political
personalities, youth militia, sometimes soldiers, and groups of men calling
themselves war veterans.

Most of the attacks have been in the northeastern part of the country in the
Mashonaland East province, which has been a ruling Zanu PF stronghold since
the 1970's, in the latter years of Zimbabwe's liberation war.

The best known Zanu PF legislator in this region is long serving Health
Minister David Parirenyatwa. Numerous attempts to contact him were

Meanwhile, Mutare, in the east, was also busy as people streamed into urban
areas for help. Reports from independent sources in different parts of the
country indicate political violence is spreading across many parts of the
southeast, north and western parts of the country.

The Movement for Democratic Change says that at least 10 of its supporters
have been killed, hundreds hospitalized and about 3,000 displaced. MDC
Secretary General Tendai Biti said at a press conference in South Africa
that Zimbabwe resembles a war-zone.

"By yesterday (Sunday), at least 500 people one way or the other ... had
actually been hospitalized," Biti said. "As we sit here, hundreds of huts
and houses are being burnt. And a case of internal refugees has developed,
internally displaced people have developed in Zimbabwe."

Relatives of a 55-year-old MDC activist who was killed last week near Karoi,
about 200 kilometers north of Harare, say his attackers were driving
vehicles supplied by a well-known Zanu PF politician in Mashonaland West,
who is living on a confiscated white-owned farm he was given in 2003. The
politician did not answer his mobile phone last week.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told VOA he did not know about the
incidents because he was off duty. There was no one else available from the
police to comment. No one has been arrested in connection with any of the
violence across the country.

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'We have complete faith in President Mbeki'


     April 21 2008 at 01:54PM

Port Louis - Regional leaders want South African President Thabo Mbeki
to continue mediating in the Zimbabwe crisis despite opposition calls for
him to be replaced, the prime minister of Mauritius said on Monday.

Navin Ramgoolam confirmed that a meeting of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) here had asked Mbeki to carry on mediating.

"We have complete faith in President Mbeki," said Ramgoolam. "We have
renewed our confidence in him by asking him to continue the work of
mediation and find a solution to the situation in Zimbabwe."

As president of the leading regional power, Mbeki has come under fire
for his muted response to the controversy concerning the failure by Robert
Mugabe's regime to release March 29 presidential election results.

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai last Thursday called
for Mbeki to be relieved of his duties as mediator after he had said he saw
no crisis in Zimbabwe.

But SADC secretary general Augusto Salomao said late on Sunday a
summit here of the 14-nation regional grouping had heard a report by Mbeki,
mandated to the mediation task by the SADC, and "asked him to continue his
efforts to find a solution to the situation in Zimbabwe."

The SADC's position on Zimbabwe was discussed on Sunday on the margins
of the summit on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius on the theme of

However no mention was made of Zimbabwe in a final communique.

Earlier this month, SADC leaders called on Zimbabwe to release the
delayed results of the presidential election as soon as possible.

On Thursday Tsvangirai said he had made a request to Zambian President
Levy Mwanawasa, current SADC chairperson, to begin a new mediation effort.

"I made a specific request to President Mwanawasa to say he needs to
lead a new initiative, an initiative that will expand beyond that of Mr

Mbeki has been widely taken to task for his failure to publicly
criticise his northern neighbour under a policy known as quiet diplomacy.

Even his own ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has
described the situation in Zimbabwe, where inflation is running at over 165
000 percent, as dire.

Tsvangirai reiterated his conviction that he had won the election
without any need for a second round run-off against Mugabe.

The parliamentary and presidential elections, held on the same day,
have racked up tensions between the opposition and the government in
Zimbabwe, which is already gripped by a grave economic crisis.

Electoral authorities have ordered a recount of ballots for the
presidential and parliamentary votes cast in 23 out of the country's 210
constituencies - most of them won by the opposition. - Sapa-AFP

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Humanitarian operations curtailed by violence

Photo: IRIN
War veterans
HARARE, 21 April 2008 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's post-election violence is hampering the activities of humanitarian organisations and making the country's already dire food situation even more precarious. One-third of the population, or about four million people, are receiving food aid.

An official of the National Association of Non-governmental Organisations (NANGO), an umbrella body for humanitarian and civil organisations, who declined to be identified, told IRIN they were "concerned that post-election violence is brazenly denying people access to already scarce food ... It is becoming very difficult for humanitarian workers to get out there and extend food to needy communities."

''It is becoming very difficult for humanitarian workers to get out there and extend food to needy communities''
Zimbabwe is expecting another poor harvest after incessant early rains were followed by a prolonged dry spell this season, coupled with a shortage of agricultural inputs and the under-utilisation of farming land by resettled farmers, all being compounded by an upswing in political violence.

The areas hardest hit by political violence, the NANGO official said, were rural communities in the districts of Mutoko, Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe and Dande, in Mashonaland Central Province in northern Zimbabwe. These were once political strongholds of the ruling ZANU-PF, but had backed candidates of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the elections on 29 March.

The official said there were "many other disturbing cases", and cited incidents of political violence in Mashonaland East Province, in the northeast of the country, as well as in the Mutasa and Rusape districts in Manicaland Province, in eastern Zimbabwe.

"Some of our members have told us it is now risky to continue with operations in violence-prone areas. Any contact with communities can be perceived as political, and that becomes dangerous when the government has banned rallies," she said.

"For instance, a child rights organisation reported that their meeting with village heads in Rusape became tense because there were people who thought that the use of the term 'rights' meant that the NGO [non-governmental organisation] was out to campaign for the opposition."

"Operation Mavhoterapapi" (Who did you vote?)

Veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation war, the youth militia of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, and soldiers have reportedly established bases in the country's rural areas, where they are assaulting alleged opposition supporters as part of "Operation Mavhoterapapi" (Who did you vote?).

According to victims of the operation, it is a strategy to flush out those who campaigned for the MDC ahead of an expected second round of voting in the presidential elections, although the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has yet to publish the results of the first round.

The MDC claims its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the first round of voting by the required 50 percent plus one vote, and that a second round of voting is unnecessary, but Mugabe's party, ZANU-PF, claims there was no outright winner.

The ZEC, whose functionaries are appointed by Mugabe, has also begun a recount in 23 constituencies in response to a request by ZANU-PF after it lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since independence in 1980.

The ZEC parliamentary results gave Tsvangirai's MDC 99 seats, while Mugabe's ZANU-PF secured 97. A breakaway faction of the MDC garnered 10 seats and ZANU-PF's former minister of information, Jonathan Moyo, who ran as an independent, won his seat.

The African Union (AU) said it was concerned about the delay in announcing the presidential results, as this "creates an atmosphere of tension"; the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said Zimbabwe was in a "rather dangerous situation".

Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the MDC party led by Tsvangirai, said at a press briefing on 20 April in Johannesburg, South Africa, that 10 MDC members had been killed since the 29 March poll, 3,000 had been displaced and 500 hospitalised in political violence.

"There is a war in Zimbabwe being waged by Mugabe's regime against the people; the regime has unleashed violence on the people. The police have been turning a blind eye," Biti said.

Johnson Chibuya, 43, of Donzve village in Mashonaland East province's Mutoko district, about 190km northeast of the capital, Harare, is among hundreds of villagers seeking refuge from ZANU-PF's retribution at the MDC headquarters in the capital, awaiting "whatever form of help" he can get, he told IRIN, supporting himself on a pair of crutches.

Torture camps

A week ago, Chibuya, his wife and three school-going children were force-marched to a bush camp near the village by militias led by a soldier known only as "Crunch", where they joined other suspected MDC supporters who had been rounded up in the area.

''Three of our assailants were busy digging what they said was the grave, in which they would bury us, just like the sell-outs were treated during the (liberation) war''
"We were about thirty-five people there, and were made to sit in front of a bonfire that Crunch and the militia had set up. Three of our assailants were busy digging what they said was the grave, in which they would bury us, just like sell-outs were treated during the [liberation] war," he said.

"We were made to chant anti-British slogans before ... beating [us] with logs, steel rods and stones. I passed out, and when I came to, my colleagues were all down, with the militias pacing up and down," Chibuya told IRIN.

At dawn other villagers were ordered to bring an ox-drawn cart that transported the seriously injured to the Harare-Mutoko highway, where they were dumped. Chibuya was taken to the nearest clinic by a passer-by and was referred to a Harare medical centre, where his injuries were treated.

"I have learnt from a fellow villager who is here that they went on to burn my house and granary, just like they have done to numerous others. That means I don't have a home, I don't have food and I don't know when I will be reunited with my family, that is, if they are still alive," Chibuya said.

The villager told Chibuya that his family, in spite of their injuries, were hiding out in the nearby hills and the militias had warned people not to give them food. Schools are scheduled to reopen next week, but it is uncertain whether Chibuya's children will be able to enrol, or whether the schools will open.

Michael Zireva, 50, another victim seeking refuge at the MDC headquarters, told IRIN that the militia had raided his home in Murewa, about 100km northeast of Harare, tied him up and brought him to his cattle and goat pens where they doused the livestock with petrol before setting them on fire.

"It took me two whole generations to build a herd of ten cattle and fifteen goats. I can't understand the kind of cruelty that I saw and I escaped. What am I going to feed my family on when this madness is gone? Where will I get money for school fees?" Zireva said.

The militia also stole 150kg of maize, stored from his last harvest, and then razed his home. He does not know where his family is, or whether they are alive.


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Calls for Mbeki to engage leaders on Zimbabwe


April 21, 2008, 15:00

United Democrattic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa has written a letter
to President Thabo Mbeki.

Holomisa is requesting that the president meet with the collective
leadership of South African society to discuss two issues - South Africa's
involvement in Zimbabwe crisis and the future of the Scorpions. Holomisa
says there is still no legitimate reason to dissolve the Scorpions.

In the letter to the president, Holomisa says there seem to be differences
of opinion among South Africans on how to handle the Zimbabwe crisis. He
says the handling of Zimbabwe's post election crisis is coupled with
uncertainty about what a South African delegation under his leadership is
currently doing in Zimbabwe.

Holomisa's letter further states that while the mediation in Zimabwe is a
South African Development Community (SADC) initiative, the UDM still feels
that president Mbeki is still representing South Africa when mediating in
the affairs of Zimbabwe.

Presidential spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga could not confirm whether the
letter has already been received. But he says the presidency will respond to
the UDM as soon as it receives the letter.

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Zimbabwean unrest will hit SA hard: ANC


April 21, 2008, 19:45

The ANC says a destabilised Zimbabwe will hit South Africa hard. Speaking
during meetings with in Berlin with political parties from Germany, Brazil
and India, ANC Treasurer General Matthews Phosa, says plans for the ANC to
meet with Zanu-PF were being put in place.

The meetings are focused on common issues including HIV/Aids, food security
and climate change, but the world's attention remains firmly on Zimbabwe and
Phosa says the ANC is setting up talks.

"It’s a very serious situation and we want to, in a comradely way, interface
with Zanu-PF. The preparations are underway, our guys who need to make
contact are doing so and when the right time comes, we will make it known.
We don't want secret meetings, we want open dialogue with our colleagues,"
says Phosa.

The talks will not be limited to Zanu-PF. There will also be meetings with
the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) and other parties.

Tonight ANC President Jacob Zuma will take part in a north-south debate in

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'Zimbabwean govt must not undermine constitution'


April 21, 2008, 12:30

ANC President Jacob Zuma says the Zimbabwean government
must not undermine its own Constitution and take the country down a path of
deeper conflict. He made the comment at the start of a three country
European tour.

Zuma's first stop on the European tour is Germany where he
is meeting with the German Social Democratic Party, the Congress Party of
India and the Workers' Party of Brazil. Its a long standing partnership to
address common issues. Zuma says they will discuss ways to influence their
respective governments in dealing with the programmes of addressing the
plight of the poor.

But the topic of Zimbabwe is still the one everyone is
asking about. The ANC President said the Zimbabwean constitution was being
undermined:" The Zimbabwean State has been for a long time expected to
operate within its Constitution, I think its is a little bit out of the way
to be seen to be undermining your own Constitution. We call on the
Zimbabweans not to take the country on a path into deeper conflict.

He added that it was undeniable that South Africa was
feeling the impact of the crisis. "Our calling on the Zimbabweans to do
whatever they can to to resolve the issue is not just a concern in general,
it is very specific because we are affected in the throughout the region,
particularly in SA."

The dlegation will also visit London and Paris to answer
questions from current and prospective investors.

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Mbeki is a mediator in meltdown
April 21, 2008


Thabo Mbeki was always on a hiding to nothing. Anyone taking over from
Nelson Mandela, the world's favorite leader, was bound to suffer by
comparison. But the South African president's failure to deal robustly with
Robert Mugabe after the Zimbabwean election fiasco has exhausted not just
the patience of the rest of the world, but that of his own citizens, too.

It was all so different a decade ago when Mbeki was Mandela's deputy and
anointed successor. True, those who had known him as a charming and amusing
student at the University of Sussex were surprised at how glum and dour he
became on entering government. But Mbeki decided that there was no point in
trying to compete with Mandela's charisma, and presented himself as an
intellectual and a technocrat -- the man capable of turning Mandela's vision
of a better life into a political reality.

He cultivated the image of an independent and original thinker, and
determinedly rejected populism. First, he risked unpopularity by lobbying
the ANC to swap the armed struggle for negotiations with the apartheid
regime. Then, in power, he took difficult decisions on the economy. He was
shocked to find that the white regime had bequeathed a siege economy close
to collapse rather than the stashes of cash needed to provide new homes with
water and electricity for the black population. He rebuilt the economy,
championing free-market economics to attract foreign investment, control
inflation and create new jobs, rather than giving in to his communist and
trade union comrades who wanted pay rises in the public sector. He played a
leadership role in forming the African Union and its New Economic
Partnership for African Development.

But the disdain he developed for what others thought of him -- he wanted to
be respected, not liked -- led him into an intellectual arrogance. It
tripped him up mightily over the issue of AIDS. His ideological distaste for
white colonialism fed a fixation that the idea of AIDS being primarily
sexually transmitted was an attempt by white scientists to paint blacks as
promiscuous and Africa as a place of disease and hopelessness. For years, he
refused to make antiretroviral treatment for HIV infection available.

Mandela became publicly cool towards his successor.

But it was on the growing economic and political chaos in Zimbabwe that he
has most disappointed. As international concern grew, Mbeki remained
quiescently supportive.

Why? Was it out of respect for Mugabe's status as a battlefield leader of
the liberation struggle, against which the backroom boy Mbeki felt inferior?
Or out of a resentment at the condemnation by white nations, including
Britain, the former colonial power? Or because he thought the best way to
bring change was by what he called "quiet diplomacy" behind the scenes?

Last year, he conducted private negotiations with Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF.

He had some success. He forced a change in Zimbabwe's election rules that
required the results at each individual polling station to be nailed up on
its door. This is what, this time, allowed independent observers to work out
that Mugabe had lost. But the talks broke down without achieving a
substantive agreement on political succession.

After the elections, other African nations appointed Mbeki as mediator
between Mugabe and the poll winner, Morgan Tsvangirai. But he has been seen
as too partisan towards Mugabe, pronouncing that there was "no crisis" and
then giving permission for a shipment of Chinese arms to pass through South
Africa to Zimbabwe, despite pleas that it should be quarantined until the
crisis is over.

Tsvangirai called for him to be replaced as the key mediator. Thabo Mbeki,
he said, had lost all credibility. It was hard not to agree.

Paul Vallely is a columnist for The Independent in Britain.

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MDC supporters charged


21/04/2008 19:41  - (SA)

Harare - Dozens of Zimbabwe opposition activists appeared in court on Monday
in the violent aftermath of last month's elections as the government
rejected claims that it was arming groups of vigilantes.

Around 30 people were brought before Harare Magistrates Court to face public
order charges in connection with a general strike last week called by the
opposition in a bid to force the result of last month's general elections.

Prosecutors say they were behind a series of violent incidents during the
strike on Tuesday of last week, including the burning of commuter buses.

As the first two defendants were marched into the dock, their lawyer urged
the court to adjourn their case, claiming they had been assaulted while in
the custody of the security forces.

"We urge the court to direct that the state investigate allegations of
assault," said their lawyer, Alec Muchadehama.

"We are applying that the trial be postponed to a suitable date for us to
have access to all state papers and take instructions from the accused
persons who are denying the charges."

Frivolous charges

MDC secretary for legal affairs Innocent Gonese said opposition supporters
were being hauled before the courts while none of the ruling party militias
had been arrested for the alleged murders and assaults of opposition

"We have made numerous reports of attacks on our supporters and the police
usually don't take any action," Gonese said outside the Harare court.

"On the other hand we have lots of our supporters arrested on frivolous
charges. We have gone through this route before and at the end of the day
the charges are dropped for lack of any evidence."

In a press conference on Sunday, the party's secretary general Tendai Biti
charged that 10 MDC supporters had been killed and thousands forced to flee
their homes following attacks by pro-Mugabe vigilantes.

However Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said on Monday the claims
by a "desperate" MDC should be treated with contempt.

"The vigilante groups are those that you find in the media, in ... Mr Biti's
head," Matonga said on SA public radio.

"There is nothing of the sort. These are imaginary vigilantes."

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'One of the lost ones'

I was one of the "lucky" ones born after the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980. I also got a medal like the others when I was in grade six in 1992, for being one of the first independent generations. Now I am a boy aged 28 after 28 years of independence i have nothing and I have known only one president the honorable RGM. But how honorable is my life my excellence. To start with I am in exile (self imposed/refugee) in a country that is struggling with its own problems of rebuilding after the apartheid era. The great imbalances that exist here in South Africa are but a great challenge on there own. A country trying but struggling to create a credible livelihood for its own citizens has its borders ballooning with over 3 million Zimbabweans among other refugees from all over the continent and beyond. I am one of them my president. Though educated and having achieved a lot for people my age I sat at home suffering from professional redundancy. After completing your studies at college you expect to start something on your own or to get a job. I got nothing, I had my business ideas and your government either stole them or pushed me down/aside. I was not Zanu-Pf, I was not old enough and I was not loyal to get funding. But how long are you going to punish us for your failures, we are but the products of your loins and suffering. I am part of the generation that respected you and had hope in the prosperity of "the Zimbabwe". When your first wife passed on I cried, I cried for the love of her and the pain of loosing a grandmother figure because she was the same age as my grandmother by the way. But now I wonder why I felt sorry for you at all, you are not feeling sorry for me, for us and for our country. You are not feeling sorry for my father and others; he worked as a company clerk for 20 or so years and has nothing. A man who's savings where eaten up or blown away by this monster you have crafted with ingenuity. The monster called inflation that you created and failed to manage because when you started destroying our once good farmlands and evergrowing industries you where part of the conspiracy that has led to your own demise. Now you baby of mismanagement, misrule and corruption has outgrown you and you put the blame on us (learn a lesson or two from Akon). The land question had to be addressed and I concur 100% but not the way you did sir. The living conditions had to be addressed too, but not by destroying peoples homes Mr. President or caretaker whatever they call you these days. The education system needed a bit of adjusting but not the imminent destruction it has undergone. Our environment needs to be sustainably managed to meet our needs and the needs of the future generations but it will bleed and die if the Chinese continue to loot our resources and give you weapons to kill us your children. I have lost respect for you, for what you stand for and sometimes I wish God would do his part, which is inevitable of course. But the choices I have already made of respecting each being as long as they live holds me back I love you as a fellow man but I must say I despise/hate you as a president and how ironic that is. Elections by the way are also held to express the will of the people sir, caretaker President or just Grandpa. You don't change how people feel if you brutalize them, you don't win their hearts if you threaten them, you wont even win their votes even if you kill their brothers, their mothers their fathers their sisters. They will hate you more, and they will despise you even more. And even if you eke a re-run/run-off, the peoples will, will always prevail. I wonder how you are dealing with your conscience now because you have/you are trying to cheat, to steal the vote and reverse the will, the desire and the only hope that people had. Some things change but some things take time to change and when they do change they can never be reversed and one of those things is the will of the people it is final it is permanent it is irreversible and inevitable and it is what it is 'the will of the people'.
From babavabonzochaivochaivo

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Bulawayo Morning Mirror update

As many of you would have heard by now Mags was released on Tuesday
on bail. At this stage they have seized her travel documents and she
is confined to our home in Bulawayo. We are hoping to get a
relaxation on the bail order when she comes before the courts
tomorrow (Tuesday). In fact we are hoping that the case will be
dropped as it is not an offence to practice journalism in Zimbabwe
and in the cases against assorted foreign journalists in Harare, the
attorney General has declined to prosecute.

Margaret is in good spirits and has been completely overwhelmed by
the incredible show of support from all her readers around the world,
and from her friends here at home and abroad. At this stage she is
not feeling up to communicating herself but has asked me to convey
her heartfelt thanks to you all for your support, e-mails and good

She also feels extremely complimented by the fact that we believe her
arrest was largely as a result of confusion by the Zimbabwe State
Authorities who could not decide whether she was the Sky
correspondent Emma Hurd or our free lancing risk taking 24 year old
daughter! Both of whom are now safely out of the country.

She was however a little peeved by my reference to her as a '60 year
old', when in fact she is only 59 and three quarters! She has asked
me to correct this misconception!

All things being well I am sure that Mags will be writing again by
the end of this week.

Thank you all again for your support.

Rick Kriel

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Media Talk: Zimbabwe - Where Next?


13 Norfolk Place, W2 1QJ

£7 (online), £8 (regular)

Thu 24 April at 7.30pm

Moderated by George Alagiah (presenter for BBC News and BBC World and
specialist on Africa and the

Developing World).

With the continued uncertainty surrounding the elections results in Zimbabwe
George Alag iah (BBC) talks to

returning journalists Patr ick Smith (editor of Africa Confidential), Danie
l Howden (deputy editor of The

Independent) and Laur a Lynch (Europe Correspondent, CBC News - Radio) as
well as Terera i Karimakweda

(journalist with SW Radio Africa, specialising in Zimbabwe). We discuss the
problems in covering Zimbabwe so far

and ask what the future may hold.

Is this the end for Mugabe? Will there be a second round and will the
violence increase? Will anyone be held

accountable, how will the economy be rebuilt and what role will Zimbabwe’s
neighbours play?

Plea se book online at www.front linec

For mor e informat ion plea se cal l 0207 479 8950.

Front l ine hos ts a weekly program of ground-bre aking documentary scr
eening s, di scuss ions that

examine the role of the media , and e vening s with some of the wor ld’ s be
st journal is ts ,

photographer s , f i lmmakers and camer amen. I t is London’ s leading
centre for discuss ion and

debate on the i ssue s that shape the news industry .

Al l Front l ine e vent s are open to the gener al publ ic, unle s s otherwi
se sta ted.

Plea se note tha t a s of the 1st of January 2008 the pr ice for t icket s
purchased on the door goes up

to £8 for ta lks and £6 for scr eening s. The pr ice for t ickets purcha sed
onl ine stay s the same .

Events at Front line at a g lance :

Sun 27 Apr 08 at 6.00pm – Preview Screening: The Age of Terror – War on the
West - £5 (online) £6 (regular)

Mon 28 Apr 08 at 7.30 – Screening: The Last Jew of Babylon with Inigo
Gilmore - £5 (online) £6 (regular)

Tue 29 Apr 08 at 7.30 – Media Talk: The Real Africa - £7 (online) £8

Thu 01 May 08 at 7.30 – Media Talk: Does the News Industry Value Fixers? -
£7 (online) £8 (regular)

Fri 02 May 08 at 10.00 p.m. – World Press Freedom Day Debate: New Media is
Killing Journalism - £7 (online) £8 (regular)

Fri 02 May 08 at 7.30 p.m. – Screening: India’s Missing Girls - £5 (online)
£6 (regular)

Tue 06 May at 7.30 p.m. – Media Talk: Demystifying the Congo - £7 (online)
£8 (regular)

Wed 07 May 08 at 7.30 p.m. – Media Talk: Congo Session: In the picture with
Marcus Bleasdale- £7 (online) £8 (regular)

Sun 11 May 08 at 4.30 – Screening: The Greatest Silence – Rape in Congo - £7
(online) £8 (regular)

Mon 12 May 08 at 7.30 – Screening: The UN in Congo - £5 (online) £6

Al l F ront l ine e v ent s a r e org ani s ed by the F ront l ine Club Cha
r i t able Trus t (Re g i s t e r ed Cha r i t y No.

1111898). We a r e not for profi t organi s a t ion and a l l door ta k ings
a r e r e inv e s t ed in the F ront l ine e v ent s

progr amme.

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An exercise in patience

Sophie Shaw, a Harare-based development worker, witnesses slow progress at one of the weekend recounts as Zimbabwe's post-election paralysis continues,
Monday April 21 2008
A Zimbabwe polling agent holds voting papers during a recount

A Zimbabwe polling agent holds voting papers during a recount. Photograph: Desmond Kwande/AFP/Getty Images

Four policemen at a roadblock carrying assault rifles direct me. It's six miles (10km) down a dirt road to the district administrator's office where the recount is taking place. The road is bad - nobody in a government Mercedes has been to this remote corner of Manicaland since the last election.

The office must have looked grand once, but it is now grim. There are broken panes, piles of rat droppings and a strange photo of President Robert Mugabe from two decades ago; a young-looking 65-year-old with a grimace for a smile. The compound is packed with bored police, tense party activists and anxious presiding officers, who may be joining colleagues in prison accused of corruptly inflating the opposition vote three weeks ago. They are in for a hot wait in the sun, perhaps for several days, sleeping where they can, before they are summoned.

A platoon of police and electoral commission officials is extracting sorry-looking ballot boxes from a storeroom. At the end of a long night of counting on March 29, presiding officers at 10,000 polling stations around the country recorded their results, inventoried their boxes and sealed them with padlocks and wax. Now one has a hole bashed in the side; others are not securely fastened.

In a "boardroom" furnished with wobbly tables and broken chairs, Priscilla is in charge of the recount. She carries her authority well. She is from Harare and works for "a government agency, not the electoral commission, but I'm acting for the electoral commission". She welcomes foreign observers and I sit next to a large Angolan from the Southern African Development Community team. He soon falls asleep as the rising sun, the throng and activity push the temperature above 30C.

But before Priscilla can start, Lovemore, the new Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP for this area, elected by a whiskery majority of 20, objects to the recount. It is illegal and he demands that it be stopped. He and Priscilla, who is determined to press on, argue for an hour. Their exchange is tenacious and passionate, but logical and respectful. They reach a typically Zimbabwean compromise. Priscilla will proceed, but Lovemore will explain to the room what is wrong.

He clears his throat theatrically: "Respectfully madam, I want the electoral commission to tell us here present who called for this recount – was it themselves or the Zanu-PF? And I want to see the written application for a recount. Was it submitted less than 48 hours after the original vote? If not, this recount is illegal. I also want to know if the original results recorded will be produced? And where have these ballot boxes been kept? And who has had access to them? And if there are any differences between the original results and what we see today, I want you madam to hold an inquiry to find out why. Until these questions are answered the MDC takes part in this recount under protest."

While Priscilla happily ignores these awkward questions and bustles around to get things moving, Lovemore comes over to tell me more. He won his seat despite intimidation of voters and attempts by the ruling Zanu-PF to monitor individual votes. Now Zanu-PF is trying to overturn his victory. It needs to snatch back a dozen marginal constituencies to regain a parliamentary majority. Lovemore has heard that on April 9, 11 days after the election, a group of Zanu-PF officials, helped by the electoral commission and the police, broke into the ballot boxes, took out MDC votes and replaced them with forged papers marked for Zanu-PF. Witnesses are ready to testify to this in court, but their safety needs to be guaranteed.

Meanwhile, Priscilla has the first ballot box open. There are problems – first a security tag has the wrong serial number, then the number of votes does not match the number of names ticked off the electoral roll. Priscilla looks wrathfully at the presiding officer, but he manages to talk his way out of trouble.

The counting is paint-dryingly slow. The presiding officer holds each vote up for scrutiny by party agents. There are protracted arguments about individual papers – does a cross made with red ink mean that a ballot is spoiled? And once the presidential votes have been counted, the process is repeated for the senate, parliamentary and local council elections. Then the presiding officer, who looks like he wants to vomit up his fear, painstakingly goes through the electoral roll, checking that the number of names ticked off equals the number of votes cast. It's 1pm before the first box is finished. We've been at it for five hours.

The results are announced. Lovemore is pleased that the votes match what he noted down on election night. This first box, at least, has not been tampered with. There's a change of mood in the room as the presidential result is announced: Tsvangirai 164, Mugabe 106, Makoni 5. These figures have been suppressed for three weeks and for many in the room it's the first partial confirmation of rumours that the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has won and may even have scored the magic 50% that would give him the presidency immediately.

Lovemore is in reflective mood as the day drags on. He is frustrated that Tsvangirai is out of the country, but what else can the leader do? He might be killed or arrested if he returns. Ordinary activists are being beaten and burned out of their homes by Zanu-PF youth. Lovemore fears that Mugabe plans to grind those who supported the opposition into submission and then call for a run-off presidential vote. That would give the MDC a desperate dilemma – whether to try to win a dirty fight or to boycott and hand Mugabe a default victory. Even with such a feeble mandate, Mugabe might try to soldier on for a few more years, at least while he has the strong backing of his South African counterpart, Thabo Mbeki.

The Zanu-PF candidate, Charity, is a bright young woman who explains to me that Zanu-PF is modernising and reaching out to the disenfranchised 52% of the population. She has a point – the MDC is a notoriously chauvinistic party. Lovemore shrugs his shoulders when I ask him why: "The country has to eat before we can worry about advancing our women". I don't get the feeling Lovemore spends much time worrying about Zimbabwe's non-advanced women, but it is true that women suffer the brunt of hunger and poverty resulting from the economic collapse.

At a snail's pace, I watch five out of 39 boxes being recounted during the day. It's going to take at least three days to finish the recount, maybe more. But despite the flaws in this weary process, there's no sign yet that anybody has stuffed any of the boxes.

So why on earth are so many hundreds of people spending so long on this pointless exercise? Maybe the rigging will be done tomorrow or next week, when the observers are so weary that they've stopped noticing what's happening. Maybe this huge exercise is simply intended to buy time for a dying regime. Zimbabweans love to "make a plan" to address their difficulties. Maybe Mugabe's plan is to soften the country up for a bloody run-off. Maybe his friends need time to get money out of the country. Or maybe there is no plan and he's just clinging on because he knows nothing other than power. After all, he was voted out of office three weeks ago, so every day he hangs on to the presidency is a victory.

• Sophie Shaw is a pseudonym

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Hush in a land that has ground to a halt

Business Day

21 April 2008

Wilson Johwa


Political Correspondent

TWO or three South African Police Service trucks packed with
failed border-jumpers still arrive at the town of Beitbridge every day.
Sometimes hired buses also bring illegals to the International Organisation
for Migration’s refugee reception centre on the Zimbabwe side.

But the numbers are hardly comparable to the multitudes waiting
in the queue snaking out of SA’s passport control, waiting to enter SA. On
the footbridge, shoppers and still others walk, albeit only at day for fear
of being mugged after dark.

When the power goes off in Beitbridge, as it frequently does, so
does the water and the cellphone network. But there is quiet acceptance of
the situation, just as the country’s politics is the subject of hushed
discussions among friends.

Zimbabwe feels like a place that has ground to a halt.

There are hardly any buses or minibuses on the roads, so any
means of transport will do. Much of the country feels deserted and many
people seem to be making plans to leave.

Politics appears to be the stuff of those who cannot leave
immediately. Activist groups speak of addressing the media in SA or opening
an office in Johannesburg.

Along Beitbridge’s main thoroughfare there is no whiff of
politics, not in conversations or on posters. The pretence of normality is

It is the same in Harare, where despite the ashen complexions
and Vaseline-shiny faces, plans are being made. For instance, 23-year-old
Grace, who is in the military police, takes my number and wants me to help
her get a job in SA where her young sister is living. It is the same in most

“People are tired. They are weak and hungry. They have lived
through so much and they don’t want to get beaten," said former
parliamentarian Trudy Stevenson, explaining the lack of enthusiasm for a
presidential runoff election.

Beneath the Shona hubbub, there is little information or
explanation of why election results have not been announced. Newspapers do
not help. They resort to blatant misinformation. Public radio is no better.

Ahead of last Friday’s independence celebrations, the radio
profiled long-dead national heroes and played some of their favourite
music — American jazz or seventies hits.

The unease is part of the daily reality manifested by extreme
politeness to strangers. In the traffic, a minor transgression is likely to
yield an apology. But Harare’s emptiness is accentuated by the lack of
traffic, let alone traffic jams. Traffic is made up mainly of vehicles of
the remaining companies that can afford fuel. Commuters are forced to use
the overburdened, inefficient trains.

But it does not look so bad for the police and army, who have
their own buses. Occasionally, a white bus with Zimbabwe’s national
colours — also Zanu (PF)’s colours — down its side goes by. Found all across
the country, they are part of the fleet bought with taxpayers’ money and
distributed nationwide by President Robert Mugabe during the election

Food is the preoccupation in most places. Bread is unavailable
and where it appears, long queues quickly form. Mealie meal has not been in
the shops since the end of last year. Many of those who have it get it from
relatives in the rural areas. Sweet potatoes are, in places, the new staple.
But because of the season’s heavy rains, the prediction is that food will
run out long before the next harvest.

Cresta Oasis is a city hotel where breakfast now resembles a
frugal African meal, with chicken livers added. Some days hard scones take
the place of bread. But the staff are exceedingly polite, doting on the
black-only clientele with none of the haughtiness Jo’burgers complain about
it. “How was the food? It’s important to enjoy your money when you pay for
breakfast,” says one without a hint of irony.

At Agriculture House, the head office of the Commercial Farmers’
Union , president Trevor Gifford is having a busy day responding to media
inquiries. He says two black farmers along with white landowners were
targeted in a mass mobilisation campaign ahead of an expected runoff in the
presidential election . He says it all started after the ruling party’s
politburo meeting after the March 29 elections.

Mbare is one of Harare’s oldest suburbs. If there is to be a
protest in Harare, it will start in Mbare, which still has the hordes,
though the market is a shadow of its former self — thanks to the government’s
Operation Murambatsvina (Clean Up).

Liquo r store owner James Mambo says that since the elections he
has had record sales. To replenish his stock he has to join the queue at the
brewery before dawn. During working hours or at the weekend, customers come
in and just stay. “It’s all because of the political stress,” he says.

Bulawayo, the country’s second-largest city, is the worse for
wear. There is little sign it used to be Zimbabwe’s best-run city. Gaping
potholes can be found in virtually all the roads. Garbage is no longer
collected in the townships, leading to infestations of rats. The tap water
is murky brown and does not appear safe to drink. When the sun sets,
everybody retreats indoors, partly because there is never any transport to
get around, but also because of the all-consuming darkness. It is hard to
find any functioning public lights.

As a Jehovah’s Witness, Julian did not vote. But she follows the
latest developments on satellite TV. Inviting friends over for a braai is
something she and her husband can no longer afford. She complains that since
the end of last year there has been no learning in the schools. Teachers
simply sit in the staff room.

Julian is animated by President Thabo Mbeki’s comment that there
is no crisis in Zimbabwe. “What planet is he living on?” she asks.

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NCA urges people to defend themselves


The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) strongly condemns the Zimbabwe
Republic Police's failure to protect suspected opposition supporters across
the country that are being targeted and indiscriminately brutalized and
tortured for allegedly voting for the MDC.

We further condemn the behavior of some police officers who are taking part
in these acts of harassing ordinary citizens in the streets. We hereby
highlight to the security services of our motherland their duty: to protect
the people of Zimbabwe. The NCA stresses that the police should cease being
partisan, and act professionally, refuse to be reduced to a party militia.
The Zimbabwean police should start executing their duties so as to protect
their mothers, fathers, siblings, sisters and brothers.

The NCA expresses its dismay over reports that some uniformed forces (army
and police) have been spotted escorting criminal elements, raising fear and
substantiating suspicions that the move is sponsored by the state. We
deplore the militarization of the state by the Harare regime. Mugabe has
lost elections and is holding on to power through the assistance of the army
and the police. Thus we call on security forces to be on the side of the
people. The will of the people should be respected.

The NCA in light of the developments in the country implores all Zimbabweans
to protect themselves from ZANU-PF hooligans and militia. We urge
Zimbabweans to organise themselves in each and every corner of the country
and form defense brigades to protect themselves against organised state
brutality and detestable elements in our societies. Let the masses of
Zimbabwe awaken to the fact that the government is at war with its people,
thus the need to protect themselves. Let there be back up squads in suburbs
to protect citizens' houses, property and human lives from ZANU-PF
malcontents. Youths should organise and patrol their localities during the
night to save their mothers, sisters and brothers from ZANU PF vampires’
purporting to be war veterans.

In the wake of Friday's attacks in Warren Park the NCA calls those that go
to Pubs for drinking to be organised, vigilant and alert (be ready to
react). We urge such to move in groups of six and above. We urge them to
defend themselves. When leaving these drinking places we urge people to be
in groups. Never walk alone.

Meanwhile the NCA is busy compiling names of alleged perpetrators who in the
fullness of time will be summoned to answer at an impartial judiciary system
for these gross human rights violations. Anyone who might be having names
and/or information leading to the identification of perpetrators of these
atrocities can contact any of NCA offices across the country.

There is a possibility of making our independence real.
Bumbiro Ngarinyorwe Nevanhu

National Constitutional Assembly,

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Are we back to 1978?

By Gandanga K

Information reaching us from Zimbabwe is that a draft order dated April 15
and lodged at the Supreme Court seeks to declare Chiota and Shumba duly
nominated as candidates in the presidential election. This is good news for
Robert Mugabe and his illegal government. What this means is, if Tsvangirai
and his Movement for Democratic Change were to boycott the re-run of the
presidential elections as has been in the news recently, then there would be
other takers thereby giving legitimacy to Mugabe’s embattled government.

This scenario reminds me of Ian Smith’s Internal Settlement of 1978 that
gave birth to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa who led the UANC,
Rev Ndabaningi sithole of Zanu (Ndonga) and Chief Chirau who were considered
to be moderates by Ian Smith signed the agreement that gave birth to
Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. By coming up with the idea of the Internal Settlement,
Smith thought that he was going to dupe the Zimbabwean masses by ‘giving
them a black leader’, thereby perpetuate his minority rule in a disguised
way. Smith didn’t want to face the Patriotic Front, made up of Zanu and
Zapu. The liberation fighters coming through the Zambian and Mozambiquen
borders were regarded as ‘terrorists’ by the Smith regime.

If we look at our present situation, we can see that Mugabe doesn’t want to
face the MDC in a free and fair election in the same way Smith avoided the
Patriot Front. Mugabe is however not using the word terrorist to describe
his adversaries. To him the MDC and its leadership are regarded at ‘British
Puppets’. He would rather influence the courts to revisit a case they had
long presided over to declare Justin Chiota of the Zimbabwe People’s Party
(ZPP) and Gabriel Shumba of United People’s Party (UPP) duly nominated
presidential candidates. This will pave the way to their participation in an
election where the results would be a forgone conclusion. As far as I am
concerned, we are now back to 1978 with Justin Chiota and Gabriel Shumba
taking the roles once occupied by Abel Muzorewa and Ndabaningi Sithole.
Simba Makoni may as well fail to see the ploy and throw himself into the
election re-run as our new Chief Chirau. There is no documented evidence to
support that Chief Chirau had a vibrant political party, and neither does

Back in April 1978, Muzorewa won the majority of the votes in the ‘staged’
elections. Zimbabwe-Rhodesia’s new government was in an impossible position,
they were a black majority government who were still having to live with
sanctions, which had been expressly imposed until a black majority
government came to power. These sanctions were kept firmly in place under
the pretext that the elections had excluded nationalist leaders. By trying
to stifle and exclude the MDC which has a large following and that seems to
have won both the parliamentary and presidential elections, the Mugabe
government may find itself exactly where Ian Smith was 30 years ago. Time
will tell.

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One man's misrule

International Herald Tribune

By Jeff Jacoby Published: April 21, 2008

In retrospect, it was an exercise in naïveté to have imagined that
Zimbabwe's brutal strongman, Robert Mugabe, would relinquish power just
because he had lost an election. It has been more than three weeks since the
March 29 vote in which Mugabe's party, known as ZANU-PF, lost control of the
lower house of Parliament. Yet official results in the presidential contest
between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai have yet to be

There isn't much doubt who won. Public tallies posted at each polling
station showed Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change,
garnering more than 50 percent of the vote. Were the electoral commission to
certify those tallies, it would mean Mugabe's 28 years at the top had come
to an end. But the electoral commission, like everything else in Zimbabwe's
government, is controlled by ZANU-PF. So there will be no official results
until the books have been cooked to Mugabe's satisfaction.

Meanwhile, the regime's thugs have been busy, staging raids against foreign
journalists and opposition-party offices, invading farms owned by white
Zimbabweans, terrorizing voters in the countryside. U.S. Ambassador James
McGee warned last week that Mugabe's goon squads were carrying out "threats,
beatings, abductions, burning of homes, and even murder" in areas where the
opposition party ran strong. A group of Zimbabwean doctors say they have
treated more than 150 people who had been beaten since the election.
Hundreds more have been detained, and the MDC says at least two of its
workers have been murdered.

Not for the first time, Mugabe is viciously stealing an election, and not
for the first time, the international community is doing nothing to stop
him. Particularly feckless has been South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki.
More than any other regional leader, he could exert the leverage to force
Mugabe to abide by the voters' decision. He has refused to do so.

A week after the election, Mbeki insisted there was "a hopeful picture" in
Zimbabwe; several days later he held a friendly session with Mugabe, then
declared to the world that "there is no crisis in Zimbabwe" - merely a
"natural process taking place."

Is it any wonder that Africa is so often thought of as the planet's most
miserable continent?
"By failing to come together to denounce Mugabe unequivocally," The
Economist concluded, Mbeki and other African leaders "have not only
prolonged Zimbabwe's agony; they have damaged the whole of southern Africa,
both materially and in terms of Africa's reputation."

Rarely has one man's misrule so horribly wrecked a country. The MDC's David
Coltart, a member of Zimbabwe's Parliament, surveyed some of the data
recently in a study for the Cato Institute in Washington:

In a country once known as Africa's breadbasket, agriculture has been all
but destroyed. Manufacturing has collapsed. So has mining - gold production
has fallen to its lowest level since 1907, even as world gold prices soar to
record highs.

Thanks to ZANU-PF thuggery, 90 percent of foreign tourism to Zimbabwe has
evaporated. Insane economic policies have fueled an inflation rate of well
over 100,000 percent. Zimbabweans by the millions have fled the country, and
80 percent of those who remain live below the poverty line. Death from
disease and malnutrition has exploded. Life expectancy for men in Zimbabwe
has fallen to 37 years, 34 years for women.

Mugabe and his loyalists stop at nothing to ensure their grip on power,
Coltart writes. As of 2004, an astonishing "90 percent of the MDC members of
Parliament elected in June 2000 had suffered some human rights violation; 24
percent survived murder attempts, and 42 percent had been tortured."

The government, meanwhile, is now accusing Tsvangirai of treason. State-run
media claims he was plotting with Britain to overthrow the regime. But the
real menace is Mugabe, who was preparing at week's end to receive a 77-ton
shipment of Chinese arms, including AK-47 rifles, mortars, rocket-propelled
grenades, and more than 3 million rounds of ammunition. What is he planning
to do with so much additional firepower? That, Zimbabwe's deputy information
minister said, is "none of anybody's business."

On Thursday, a South African government spokesman belatedly acknowledged
that the situation in Zimbabwe "is dire." Now maybe he'll say how much more
dire it must get before South Africa - or any other country - finally does
something about it.

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In full: Miliband Mugabe statement

15:32 GMT, Monday, 21 April 2008 16:32 UK

Here is Foreign Secretary David Miliband's written statement on Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe elections:

The constitutional crisis in Zimbabwe continues as President Mugabe persists in his ambition to steal the election.

It is over three weeks since the elections were held but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is yet to announce the Presidential results.

More worryingly President Mugabe and his ZANU(PF) party have unleashed a campaign of violence against those ordinary Zimbabweans, sixty percent of them, who in spite of everything voted against him.

Political refugees from the rural areas that were once President Mugabe's heartlands but have had the courage to express their opposition peacefully through the ballot box have been pouring into urban centres to receive medical treatment and support.

Local and international NGOs are highlighting these abuses daily. Evidence that they are taking place is irrefutable. I believe all would join the government in condemning absolutely these acts of violence which are cynically intended to punish people for the choices they have made and to intimidate them into submission should any second round of the presidential election be called.

Meanwhile in spite of numerous legal protests by the opposition, the Electoral Commission has begun a recount in 23 constituencies. No one can have any faith in this recount. The ballot boxes have been kept in uncertain conditions. The Electoral Commission has seen 13 of their number arrested in a clear effort to threaten and punish those who did their job independently.

The count itself is proceeding at a ludicrously slow rate. This only serves to fuel suspicion that President Mugabe is seeking to reverse the results that have been published, to regain a majority in parliament, and to amplify his own count in the presidential election.

If that is the case, then what we are witnessing is a charade of democracy. We can have little confidence that whatever is ultimately announced as the presidential election results will not have been sullied and contaminated by rigging during this recount.

We continue to engage intensively to resolve this crisis and our action is focused in three areas. Firstly, we continue to work to support all those working for democratic change in Zimbabwe. In spite of the challenges they face, civil society in Zimbabwe remains committed to democratic and peaceful change. We applaud and support their efforts.

Secondly, we continue to work with states in the region. We believe they are still best placed to apply pressure on President Mugabe and those who surround him, many of whom recognise that it is time for change.

I welcome the statements of the African Union and of the Southern African Development Community calling for the presidential results to be released. That SADC states met in an extraordinary session in Lusaka and discussed Zimbabwe and its crisis for over 13 hours shows their concern at what is happening and the threat that it poses to the stability and security of their region.

But, as the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said, it is important that African leaders do more to engage directly in this crisis to help resolve it.

The reaction of South African dockers to the direction to unload arms they believed destined for Zimbabwe shows that ordinary Africans do not condone the way in which President Mugabe is clinging to power and beating his own people to death to ensure he retains it.

If President Mugabe and those who keep him in office will listen to anyone, they will listen to their peers in the region and in Africa more widely. But if they will not, Africans and their organisations should be clear in their public condemnation of what is happening and should withhold their recognition of President Mugabe's regime.

His actions pose a threat to democracy and to the values that SADC and the AU espouse. Democratic legitimacy throughout Africa is at stake.

Thirdly, we are working through the international community as it remains united in standing up for democracy, it reinforces the confidence of democratic forces, and speaks with a clear voice about the value not just to Zimbabwe but to the whole region of following the will of the people.

At the UN Security Council session in New York last week, my Rt. hon. friend the prime minister joined other voices from Africa, Europe and Latin America, along with the UN Secretary General in calling for the election results to be released and in condemning the delay and violence.

The UN Secretary General has called for international monitors to observe any second round in Zimbabwe. We support that call and underline, as SADC leaders themselves did when meeting in Lusaka, that SADC observers must return now to observe the recount.

They should be present in Zimbabwe until the election results are announced, so they may witness and ideally prevent the violence that is now occurring.

The European Union, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and many other states have called both for restraint within Zimbabwe and for credible results now to be released.

My Rt. hon. friend the prime minister, my noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown and I continue to engage in intensive private discussions with African leaders and others with influence within Zimbabwe and the region.

Our message is simple. Zimbabwe is on a knife edge: inflation is incalculable, life expectancy the lowest in the world and human rights abuses commonplace. Those metrics will all deteriorate if President Mugabe is allowed to steal this election.

But if a government that reflects the will of the people is allowed to emerge, Zimbabwe can begin the painful journey to recovery and once again become a full part of the international community.

Britain has always supported the Zimbabwean people. We are the second largest bilateral donor. We spent £45 million last year on support for the poorest and most vulnerable Zimbabweans.

Our support helped feed up to three million people and provided treatment for more than 30,000 HIV/AIDS patients.

That support will continue. It has become even more necessary in this period when President Mugabe has unleashed his youth militia on the people.

But when there is positive change on the ground in Zimbabwe and a government that is prepared to introduce sound governance and respond to the needs of ordinary Zimbabweans, Britain will play a full part in supporting recovery and development.

It will be a huge task. But the Zimbabwean people will have the full support of the UK and the wider international community. The UK and other donors are ready to give that support when there is a return to real democracy and good governance within Zimbabwe.

I am sure the whole House will join the government in committing.

JAG - special appeal communique Dated 21 April 2008

Email: :

JAG Hotlines: +263 (011) 610 073, +263 (04) 799 410.  If you are in trouble
or need advice, please don't hesitate to contact us - we're here to help!

Dear Friends, Politicians & our Caring World.

This is an urgent appeal for a peaceful solution in Zimbabwe.  Love has met
and always will meet every human need. Let's show the world that we have
the sense to work out our differences around a table, that there is NO need
for violence.  Let's uplift each other, we are one family and blood shed is
only going to end in disaster with loss of loved ones on both sides.

Please drive with your headlights on until a peaceful solution has been
achieved in Zimbabwe, this will symbolize:
. an appeal to leaders, soldiers and police to come from a space of love and
. a gesture of love for each other and towards Zimbabweans to keep hopeful
for brighter days
. symbol of lighting the way forward in a peaceful manner
This message can be expressed by all parties, ZANU PF, MDC and others, it is
not against anyone, only for peace.

Shining Love & Light for Zimbabwe

Please forward this on, let's start a global procession of lighting the way
forward with love.