Mugabe's regime is ratcheting up the pressure but the cracks are starting to
show and the opposition is gaining confidence.
Sunday April 22, 2007
It is pitch dark across Harare. By 7.30pm the streets are deserted, with
only occasional car headlights moving along the unlit wide avenues, and
hazard warning lights blinking through junctions where the traffic lights no
Power cuts have got worse in the past two weeks. There is a shortage of coal
and several of the generators at Hwange power station are broken, awaiting
new parts to arrive from who knows where. The Electricity Regulatory
Commission has announced that bills will rise by 350 per cent within the
next six weeks.
In downtown Harare Gardens a humming generator keeps the spotlight running
inside the tiny Theatre In The Park - built like a traditional thatched hut,
wooden benches circling a dirt floor stage where an actor in army fatigues
is battering a dummy so hard the stuffing is oozing out on the floor. The
soldier's instructions come from a loud voice on his mobile phone; the
louder the voice gets, the more the audience fidgets.
Political satire is illegal in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe and this is powerful
stuff. The Good President tells the story of a 'gogo' - grandmother - who
comes to the city for medical treatment and tries to raise the bus fare to
return to her village to vote back the ruling President in the coming
elections. This is the same President who murdered both her sons in the
gukurahundi - the opposition purges by Mugabe in 1983 which left thousands
dead. It's a deeply taboo subject.
'The actors are brave to say this dialogue, but anyone who comes here has
courage,' says writer Cont Mhlanga. 'Last night, when we opened, the
audience was swollen by secret police, about 10 or 12 that we could tell. I
wrote this script in two days after the opposition were beaten on 11 March.
It's about the cause of our problems not being political, economical or
external, but cultural.'
Mhlanga was arrested last year for 'mobilising illegal protests against the
government through theatre'. Now he waits for them to come back, to close
his play down or worse.
All of Zimbabwe is waiting. 'Waiting for that ageing geriatric bastard to
die,' a bus driver told The Observer
Not far from Harare Gardens, in an office looking out on the towering
Reserve Bank - dubbed 'Bob's Take-Away' by Mugabe's less respectful subjects
and now occupying an entire block - a new approach to the overthrow of the
elderly dictator is being masterminded. Here a senior opposition figure said
half of the key figures in Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party were now ready to
work with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It is known that Zanu's
faction leaders - notably Solomon Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa - are
feeling the squeeze on their own economic interests.
'They are scared: Mugabe is deeply paranoid and well known for keeping fat
files on friends as well as enemies. Zanu have made their wealth, their
land, their houses and their children's foreign university fees all from
him. But they are not stupid; he is an old man. We are close to breaking
point, but we are not there yet. There is potential for serious civil
unrest, but people are frightened. But the more hunger they feel, the less
afraid they will be,' the opposition source said. Showing documents to back
up his claims, the adviser to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he believed
the end of 27 years of oppressive rule was in sight, before next March's
elections. 'We cannot ask people to demonstrate any more, to get beaten. But
we need children back in school. The investment in education that took place
in the first 10 years after independence can mitigate the present. But I
can't see us lasting another five years - something has to give now.'
For all MDC's confidence, it still has a factional split to heal while the
fear of Mugabe, his intelligence officers and the police is palpable. Two
newspapers last week ran a list of 600 names of people arrested for
'political offences'. The courts are run by political appointees although
sudden moments of justice still shine through. Journalists are routinely
arrested. People are afraid to talk openly or on the phone. Although there
are no known cases yet of anyone being arrested over the contents of a text
or email, no one takes any chances. Neighbour suspects neighbour. In the
countryside one of the few remaining white farmers keeps his family
photographs in a safe in Harare because they never know when the next attack
on their home might happen. A woman in the suburbs has a ladder against her
garden wall for a swift exit 'should they come'.
The government-run Herald runs daily articles attacking foreigners and
whites for the state of the country. This month the government extended the
two-year prison sentence for unaccredited foreign journalists entering the
country to include anyone 'harbouring' them. Last Monday a black man was
beaten up by two police officers after hugging a white Zimbabwean, an old
school friend, in a Harare street.
The Observer spoke to a mother at Harare hospital waiting for her
19-year-old son to come out of surgery - she said his leg had been broken by
soldiers just for walking past the Zimbabwe television company (ZBC)
building - a key destination for anyone plotting a coup and where last week
the guard suddenly increased.
At the same time the government cancelled licences of all aid groups working
in Zimbabwe, accusing them of working against the President. Hundreds of
thousands of people here are dependent on food handouts, especially in rural
areas where land reforms have wrecked agriculture. Information Minister
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said it was to stop those working with 'agents of
imperialism'. 'Pro-opposition and Western organisations masquerading as
relief agencies continue to mushroom and the government has annulled the
registration of all NGOs in order to screen out agents of imperialism from
organisations working to uplift the wellbeing of the poor,' Ndlovu said.
It is difficult to see for how much longer this disintegrating country can
limp on. All last week the records kept on breaking. Inflation crept above
2,200 per cent. The economy runs on two levels - the official where US$1 is
worth $250 Zimbabwean - and the illegal where the rate is $1 to between
Z$18,000 and Z$24,000. 'It makes us all criminals, we are a nation of
crooks. The only way to survive is to work out how to best break the law,' a
former farmer turned pilot said as he described the convoluted and illegal
way he gets aviation fuel.
Last Wednesday, Zimbabwe's Independence Day, the goldmines stopped. The
country's biggest mine owners confirmed they had stopped production because
of a shortage of foreign currency needed to import cyanide, a key chemical
in the production process. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has not paid them
for gold delivered since October last year and new taxes being imposed - and
backdated - were 'simply crippling if not ridiculous', one mine economist
The price of a loaf of bread in the shops stood at between Z$6,000 and
Z$10,000, depending on how much air you like mixed with your flour and
yeast. Last week's biggest queues were for sugar, but stocks of the staple
food, corn meal, are low too. The big grumble at the moment is over
rip-to-the-touch-thin blue toilet paper - everyone has a joke on that
'We are in the record books for all the wrong reasons,' said an insurance
salesman. His customers' premiums rise bi-monthly. 'I don't know how anyone
can celebrate Independence Day - there is nothing to celebrate.'
And so Zimbabweans, squeezed from every possible angle, wait.
Thirty minutes drive out of Harare is the region Porta Gardens, all golden
grass and graphite trees smudged against blue skies. These plains are home
to the people ordered out of the city by men who bulldozed their homes and
street stalls. The Murambatsvina - 'Clean up Rubbish' drive - in Harare and
Bulawayo began in 2004 but is continuing. Mugabe doesn't like street
Off the main road and hidden down a red-dust track is one settlement of
about 200 people. They shelter in rubble and rags of plastic and rely on aid
handouts, fish pulled out of the nearby lake and what they can coax out of
the dry earth. Dust-caked children emerge to stare and giggle. A young woman
comes out and takes us to meet her grandfather; somehow he has kept
possession of an ancient pedal sewing machine. 'He is the one man here who
has work,' she says with pride. 'But now you have to go, as the police and
the war vets will punish us and arrest you if they see you here.'
On cue, two men with machetes turn up and it's time to retreat. People still
in the city are not always doing much better. Sarah, 27, waits for a job.
Wearing her smartest blouse and skirt, the former secretary, one of
Zimbabwe's 80 per cent unemployed, walks the 18km from her township home to
central Harare at least twice a week. 'You can't just sit at home,' she
said. 'I come just in case there is something here for me.'
She cannot afford the buses - ticket prices have risen 350 per cent in a
month - that are pushed along by tornadoes of black exhaust fumes, some
showing Chinese paintwork, products of Mugabe's 'Look East' drive. There was
the closest Harare comes to a traffic jam last weekend when some 300 police
took their new Chinese-made blue mountain bikes and matching helmets out for
a ride on Enterprise Road. 'We call the Chinese imports "zhing zhong",' said
John, 32, indicating his feet, bursting out of ripped plastic. 'Rubbish like
these shoes: they are my 5km sandals, because that is how long they last. No
one buys this stuff.'
He is waiting for his brother, an illegal in South Africa, to send him a few
dollars. 'Then I will buy Zimbabwean leather,' he says. Families whose
husbands, sons and daughters have joined the exodus abroad of three million
Zimbabweans wait for the day when they can come home. People wait for the
day when their kids can go to school - more than half of children are no
longer in school and teachers are not being paid a living wage.
'There is a significant brain drain abroad. Families are being broken up.
The middle class has been particularly decimated, which all has implications
on this country's human resources,' said Jameson Timba, of Zimbawe's Private
Theresa Makone is waiting for news of her husband, Ian. Taken from his bed
at 2am on 28 March by police, he is being held in Harare's remand prison.
Friends managed to see Makone last Monday. 'He was tortured by being hung in
a foetal position with a bar between his elbows and knees,' said a source.
His crime, said a police report, is to have had MDC whistles and merchandise
in his home. He is badly hurt and his friends are desperate to have him
treated in hospital.
Others have been luckier. Sekai Holland is in the spotlessly clean Milpark
Hospital in Johannesburg. After two attempts she was finally allowed to
leave Zimbabwe last week after the intervention of the Australian
government - her husband Jim is Australian. Holland, 64, was with Tsvangirai
and other opposition figures now famously arrested and battered at a rally
on 11 March.
Her arms are black with bruises, her ribs and wrist are broken and she is
about to have further surgery on her leg. 'We are all proud of how we
reacted on 11 March. It was a lesson for us, that what we had been failing
to get across to people was that we needed change by peaceful means - but
now the youth especially are starting to understand that. We are bringing a
new culture of non-violence, methods of passive resistance.
'As they beat us not one person wet themselves or fouled themselves, not one
asked for water. So, you see, in the battle of ideas we won. That I know
because, even as I lay in hospital with two guards with their guns sitting
on my bed, we were praying together as Zimbaweans. A list of names of those
police responsible for the beating was put under my pillow by our friends in
the militia who were ashamed of what the brutes did. Now we can be inspired
by Gandhi and Martin Luther King.'
There is a long road to freedom. The Zanu (PF) government will soon embark
on a new exercise of dishing out more land to peasants as part of an
election campaign, and people like Cont Mhlanga believe that many in these
rural areas, the areas where Mugabe can still find votes, are culturally
unable to accept that leadership is something that should be passed on.
But in his Harare office the MDC source leans forward in his leather chair
and smiles with confidence: 'You know The Last King of Scotland? Last night
I watched it for the third time. It is so familiar, it is the same as here -
only Mugabe is cleverer than Amin, but the brutality is the same. This old
man's terrible destruction of this country will end too - and soon. We will
need help from you, from the West, but you must back us, not try to overrun
us. We have the people and the ability to sort this out. Then Zimbabwe can
Robert Mugabe, 83, leader of the ruling Zanu-PF. He has presided over
disastrous land reforms, state brutality and economic woes in his once
prosperous country. Boasts of having a 'degree in violence'.
Joice Mujuru, 50, one of Mugabe's two Vice-Presidents. Married to retired
army general Solomon Mujuru, one of the country's richest men, who is seen
as the power behind her throne and lives on an illegally requisitioned farm.
Thabo Mbeki, 64, President of South Africa. Criticised for not intervening
as Zimbabwe's crisis worsened. Southern African leaders have lasked him to
broker talks between Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Morgan Tsvangirai, 55, leader of the MDC, a party started in 1999 to oppose
Mugabe's dream of a one-party state. Has survived three assassination
Arthur Mutambara, 40, head of the breakaway faction of the MDC - a split
caused in 2005 by disagreement over an election boycott. He has agreed
tacitly to back Tsvangirai as a 2008 presidential candidiate against Mugabe
to avoid splitting the opposition vote.
Dr Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbawe's Reserve Bank. He has tried to bring
order to the economic chaos and has repeatedly criticised farm takeovers. He
admitted last year that many of his business friends 'want me dead'.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: April 22, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: A militant women's pro-democracy group said Sunday that
police ill-treated and detained 18 of its members for several hours without
their clothes after they protested against power outages.
Meanwhile, police blamed government opponents for an eleventh gasoline
bombing. The attack occurred early Saturday in Harare's Glen Norah township
at a row of houses occupied by police families, the state Sunday Mail
Property was damaged, but there were no injuries, police spokesman Andrew
Phiri told the newspaper, a government mouthpiece.
"Such bombings show that thugs and people bent on causing mayhem in the
country are at work. We will not let people engage in acts of terrorism,"
the paper quoted him saying.
The government has clamped down on critics, including opposition Movement
for Democratic Change leaders who were arrested and badly beaten last month
for trying to attend an unauthorized meeting.
More than 80 members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise group were arrested in
the second city of Bulawayo for protests Thursday against power outages.
Police said it was an illegal political demonstration.
Eighteen women were stripped and held in Bulawayo police station cells. They
spent "the whole day in a state of undress," in violation of the nation's
customary moral values, the group said Sunday.
"When two members of a support team attempted to bring food, they too were
arrested," it said. The group were mostly mothers, who in the past have also
clanged empty pots and pans on the streets to protest food shortages.
One supporter, Clarah Makoni, was subjected to what officers termed
punishment that included threats of torture and being shown purported
torture cells, the group said. The 18-year-old single mother was beaten
across the kidneys by police who later drove her into the bush, a common
scare tactic, according to women's group leader Jenni Williams.
She was forced to crawl under an electric fence and run through scrubland to
the nearest road, her clothes torn and covered in dirt and vomit. She was
picked up by a passing motorist and treated for shock and vomiting spasms,
Williams said the group demonstrated with placards Thursday outside
facilities of the state power company. Zimbabweans suffer daily power
outages in the nation's worst economic crisis since independence.
Police in Bulawayo were not immediately available for comment.
The human rights organization Amnesty International on Friday said African
leaders failed to pressure Zimbabwe to observe human rights standards
enshrined in declarations by both the continentwide African Union and the
"They have allowed a culture of impunity to thrive in Zimbabwe, with
arrests, detention and torture now becoming a regular occurrence," it said
in a statement marking this week's 27th anniversary of Zimbabwe's
independence from colonial-era rule.
Prominent opposition figures as well as hundreds of other Zimbabweans have
been injured or traumatized in a surge of violence in the past month by
security authorities, an independent doctors organization reported earlier
Monday 23 April 2007
By Thabani Mlilo
HARARE - The Zimbabwe government will not repeal tough media and security
laws it has used over the past four years to shut down several newspapers
and arrest scores of journalists, new Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
Addressing journalists at the Quill national Press club in Harare, Ndlovu
said the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the
Public Order and Security Act (POSA) would not be changed because they were
necessary to control "irresponsible journalists" who wrote lies about the
"We cannot change AIPPA and POSA. These are laws that were enacted by
Parliament," said Ndlovu, appointed to the information ministry two months
ago and until now seen as moderate and friendly to the media.
The AIPPA is regarded as one of the harshest media laws in the world. Under
the law enacted five years ago, journalists are required to obtain licences
from the government's Media and Information Commission in order to practice
The commission can withdraw licences from journalists it may deem to be not
toeing the line. Journalists caught practising without a licence are
reliable to a two-year jail term under AIPPA.
Besides journalists being required to obtain licences, newspaper companies
are also required to register with the state commission with those failing
to do so facing closure and seizure of their equipment by the police.
Under POSA, journalists face up to two years in jail for publishing
falsehoods that may cause public alarm and despondency, while another law,
the Criminal Codification Act, imposes up to 20 years in jail on journalists
convicted of denigrating President Robert Mugabe in their articles.
At least four independent newspapers including the country's biggest
circulating daily, The Daily News, were shut down over the past four years
for breaching the government's media laws. Close to 100 journalists were
also arrested by the police over the same period.
But in the most gruesome case of brutality against journalists to date,
Edward Chikomba, a former cameraman for the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC) who was now a freelancer for foreign media, was late last
month abducted by suspected state security agents and found murdered several
Chikomba's colleagues in the media believe he was murdered by state agents
who accused him of supplying foreign media with footage of a bruised
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai following his torture in police custody.
The footage sparked international condemnation of Mugabe and his government.
Another journalist Gift Phiri, who works for the United Kingdom-based, The
Zimbabwean weekly newspaper, was earlier this month also abducted by the
police who allegedly severely assaulted and tortured him.
Quizzed by journalists at the Quill, Ndlovu professed ignorance of the
abduction of journalists although he said in some cases police arrest
journalists for writing "blatant lies".
He said: "I am not aware of such acts (abductions of journalists). I do not
have any report from the police or the responsible ministry that there has
been any abduction. What you call abductions may be arrests of some
journalists for writing blatant lies."
Ndlovu said the Daily News - which was shut down for failing to register
with the state media commission - could still be allowed to reopen if it
complied with requirements. He did not say what these requirements are.
"As far as I am concerned, The Daily News failed to comply with the law
(AIPPA) and when asked to do so it failed to satisfy the responsible
commission . . . if it complies with requirements, it would be allowed
back," said Ndlovu.
The Daily News, which was closed down in 2003, has since then filed several
applications to be registered, which the media commission has however turned
down, forcing the paper to appeal to the courts. The matter is pending. -
Monday 23 April 2007
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party has set in motion a
campaign of violence and intimidation and gerrymandering to ensure a
predetermined outcome even before the first ballot is cast in the March 2008
parliamentary and presidential elections, analysts said.
Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980,
has in the past been accused by the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party of cheating his way to victory in major elections since
Political analysts said the campaign of violence, which has seen opposition
figures being brutally assaulted and tortured by state security agents, was
meant to intimidate and weaken the MDC, which has been the most potent
threat to Mugabe's rule.
"The government's critics see the attacks on the opposition as the beginning
of a strategy to ensure that the MDC will be unable to win even a reasonably
fair presidential race," the New York Times newspaper said in a recent
Analysts said violence and terrorism charges slapped on opponents in recent
weeks were a tactic to bog down the opposition in endless court appearances,
while the clock ticks towards March 2008.
This was also meant to drain its war chest for the polls and leave it
without any financial resources during the election time, the analysts said.
The MDC charges that Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis has been
caused by disputed elections but Mugabe in turn says he has won fairly and
charges that the West is funding the MDC to topple him as punishment for
seizing white-owned commercial farms.
But hundreds of MDC supporters have died in political violence mostly
unleashed by war veterans, ZANU PF youths and security agents since 2000 as
Mugabe fought for his political life amid growing disenchantment over his
controversial and often populist policies.
Analysts said last week's creation of new boundaries for urban and
peri-urban areas by the government was meant to dilute the MDC's support in
its urban strongholds ahead of next year's vote.
The MDC has enjoyed overwhelming support in urban areas, where workers are
battling with a deep economic crisis that has pushed inflation to 2 000
percent and left eight in every ten people without a job and spawned acute
shortages of foreign currency and food.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo said new boundaries which would
incorporate rural wards in Mashonaland provinces into Harare Metropolitan
Provinces would be gazetted by the government soon. A similar exercise would
be undertaken in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province.
Political analysts said the result would be more urban constituencies with
rural wards and ZANU PF would claim it has made inroads in re-capturing
urban votes from the MDC.
"In politics it is called gerrymandering, a process by which urban and
peri-urban areas are divided or expanded by the ruling government as to
weaken the strongholds of the opposition political parties," John Makumbe, a
political commentator and known Mugabe critic said.
"MDC's strongholds are in the urban areas, so they are trying to weaken it
by incorporating some parts of rural areas into Harare Province ," Makumbe
The analysts said while ZANU PF and the MDC were preparing for political
talks under the stewardship of South African President Thabo Mbeki, Mugabe
was forging ahead with a process to ensure victory even if elections were to
be free and fair.
Mugabe and ZANU PF have enjoyed strong support in rural areas, which bore
the brunt of the country's bloody 1970s liberation struggle. The MDC has
failed to penetrate the rural areas partly because of violence and
intimidation against its supporters in these areas.
The MDC says only a new constitution and internationally supervised
elections will guarantee a free vote but analysts said even if that were to
happen, pre-election violence and gerrymandering would guarantee ZANU PF
"We are getting into a phase where an election is simply to endorse a
pre-planned result because if you tamper with the electoral process and
unleash so much violence, and put that together with the apathetic nature of
the Zimbabwean voter, then you have a guaranteed victory," Eldred
Masunungure, chairman of the political science department at the University
of Zimbabwe said.
"ZANU-PF is a cunning political animal and it will stop at nothing to make
sure there is little room to wriggle for the MDC," Masunungure said. -
Monsters and Critics
Apr 22, 2007, 8:23 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - Police in Zimbabwe say there has been another petrol
bomb attack on a police camp in the capital Harare, a newspaper reported
The latest attack, which occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning,
was on a house in a police camp in Harare's low-income Glen Norah suburb,
the state-controlled Sunday Mail said.
The two families in the house were not injured when the attackers threw the
three petrol bombs and a teargas canister into the building, the paper said.
Police have arrested one suspect in connection with the incident.
The attack, which shattered a window and burnt a curtain, was the tenth
since last month. The bombings have previously targeted police camps, a
passenger train and two stores.
'Such bombings show that thugs and people bent on causing mayhem in the
country are at work,' police spokesman Andrew Phiri told the paper.
As police, we will not let people engage in acts of terrorism.
The government and state media blame the attacks on the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai. But his party says
state agents are stage-managing the attacks to justify a crackdown on the
A group of opposition activists are in police custody over their alleged
involvement in the attacks.
Opposition MP Paul Madzore and 11 other MDC members are facing charges of
undergoing training in neighbouring South Africa to terrorize the
government. They deny the charges.
The MDC's Tsvangirai, who was himself arrested and severely assaulted in
police custody in March, says in the past three months 600 MDC members have
been abducted and tortured by state agents.
He said 150 of them had suffered life threatening injuries.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Mail and Guardian
Fran Blandy | Johannesburg, South Africa
22 April 2007 07:20
The clock is ticking for Pretoria, whose mediation in Zimbabwe's
political crisis is off to a sluggish start as looming elections leave
little time to bring about results, according to analysts.
International hopes are pinned on President Thabo Mbeki's
ability to initiate talks between President Robert Mugabe's ruling party and
an opposition that he has set about brutally crushing over recent weeks.
However, with Mbeki's limited mandate to go where he and others
have failed before, less than a year until Zimbabwe is expected to hold its
elections and Mugabe as bullish as ever, many expect the process to be a
According to political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki South Africa's
much-criticised policy of quiet diplomacy was a "do-nothing scenario".
"The government's response, I think, is to be seen to be trying
to do something, but there is no threat to its own interest which makes it
want to make a serious investment to bringing about change in Zimbabwe,"
said Mbeki of the South African Institute of International Affairs.
Two past mediation efforts, by president Mbeki and former
Mozambican counterpart Joaquim Chissano, ended in stalemate, and yet again
Mugabe seems unwilling and Mbeki unable to force the opposing sides to solve
When asked whether time was running out for South Africa, an
expert in regional politics at Pretoria's University of South Africa, said:
"Most certainly, they have got the mandate and they will try their best, but
the prospects of success are unlikely."
This week Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma warned that
South Africa could not be expected to "do any magic" with its troubled
neighbour while her deputy, Aziz Pahad, said that the mediation efforts were
only at the "pre-dialogue" stage.
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party seems intent on making it as difficult as
possible for mediation to succeed, refusing to talk until the opposition
toes its line.
"They must sever their diabolical links to former colonisers and
embrace democratic principles to ascend to political power," said an
editorial in the latest edition of the party mouthpiece, The Voice.
"If that is not done, then there is no chance Zanu-PF can talk
to them as it is tantamount to supping with the devil."
Lovemore Madhuku, head of Zimbabwe's National Constitutional
Assembly, said Mugabe had shown no interest in dialogue and had only agreed
to mediation to appease his peers in the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), who asked Mbeki to step in last month.
"We knew these talks were never going to succeed, it is Mugabe's
technique of buying time," he told the Mail and Guardian.
With elections a matter of months away, the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change is currently refusing to take part as scores of its
members are beaten up and its rallies banned.
The analyst Mbeki, who is the president's brother, said the
South African government had no drive to do anything serious about the
situation across the border as its dominant political elites were not
affected by it.
He said these elites were only concerned with wealth
redistribution, and the millions of Zimbabwean refugees pouring into South
Africa only affected the country's poor, who had to compete with them for
"So it's not the elite that get affected, it's the poor that get
affected. In this situation there is no need for South Africa to take any
action about what is happening in Zimbabwe because it doesn't affect their
interests." -- Sapa-AFP
22nd Apr 2007 13:55 GMT
By a Correspondent
ZVISHAVANE - Religious holidays in Zimbabwe are about much more than sacred
observance - they are also a time for traditional rites and family reunions.
At Christmas and Easter, people travel long distances from the towns, and
sometimes from other countries, to visit their relatives, usually at the
family's rural home.
On a recent trip to the countryside, however, this IWPR contributor found
that the traditional pilgrimage back to rural homes during the holidays is
almost a thing of the past, as people are deterred by poverty, political
upheaval and the state of the roads.
The drive from the coal-mining town of Zvishavane, 390 kilometers southwest
of the capital Harare, to the communal areas of Mberengwa district is a
lonely and difficult affairs. Bus operators have long abandoned the route.
The roads are rugged and stony at the best of times, while rain in early
April left them slippery.
These days, few people travel along the 80 km dirt road from Zvishavane to
the township of Keyara. In the past, the road would have been busy with
locals going on shopping trips to Zvishavane, and people who worked in the
cities of Masvingo, Harare and Gweru coming back home for the weekend.
On both sides of the meandering, rutted road stand collapsing huts barely
two metres high. They are home to some of the landless farmers relocated to
white-owned cattle ranches seized in the 2000 land-grab.
After a tortuous three-hour drive, we arrive in Keyara. The few remaining
general stores here are stocked with some basic commodities such as salt,
biscuits, dried fish, tea leaves and a few bags of the staple maize. Most do
not have piped water.
There is one alcohol store which doubles up as a butcher's shop, and is the
only place connected up to the national grid. Inside, a ragtag bunch of
young patrons stagger about, shouting out their drinks orders to a
nonchalant bar lady.
"The country is dead," said the owner John Mbedzi, eying the township's
dilapidated buildings and drunken youths, most of them school dropouts.
"What future does a person have if he can get so drunk at that age?"
Mbedzi has every reason to be pessimistic. Many young people in the area
have left the country in search of work in neighbouring South Africa. Others
have died of the most common cause here - AIDS-related illnesses aggravated
by malnutrition and poverty.
Once the ritual of greeting one's relatives is over, it is time to hear the
litany of people who have died since one's last visit. Tradition demands a
round of visits to homesteads to pay one's condolences.
The harvest season is over, and for the Mberengwa district, where Kiyara is
located it was a bad season. Zimbabwean agriculture minister Rugare Gumbo
admitted last week that most crops were a write-off as a result of poor
In bygone days, sunset would be followed by a cacophony of drums as families
observed rituals for long-departed relatives. These ceremonies were
accompanied by drinking, feasting and all-night dancing.
Other families would slaughter an animal to celebrate the reunion with
relatives from far-flung parts of the country. over beer, everyone would
catch up on the news.
The holiday period also offered opportunities to solemnise marriages, as the
schools are closed at this time and children can help with family chores.
But nowadays, Keyara is virtually deserted by seven in the evening. At the
alcohol store, the few stragglers slow down with their last drink, aware
that once it runs out they must go home and sleep. The public bars that the
government opened after independence have all closed down.
The headlights of a distant vehicle pierce the darkening sky, stirring some
interest among the drinkers. It could be a bus or a car containing relatives
from South Africa. There is a palpable mood of hope that the new arrivals
might pay for another beer. They could hardly deny a small gift to people
they have not seen for more than a year.
As the car draws up, someone shouts "Injiva! Injiva! Injiva!" from a dark
corner of the shop and runs out to see it. "Injiva" is an affectionate term
for young Zimbabweans returning from South Africa, who are assumed to be
Sure enough, it is a South African-registered car with the distinctive "GP"
number plate for Gauteng province.
In the past, returning "injiva" would create a carnival atmosphere in the
townships for a solid week with their lavish spending. The South African
music blaring from their car stereos would be accompanied by wild dancing.
This still happens in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, where "injiva" drive
around in BMWs and are known for their extravagant spending at nightclubs.
But in Keyara, the car turned out to contain just one "injiva"who had picked
up some passengers further up the road. He bought two beers and drove on
towards Mataga, the biggest settlement in Mberengwa district.
The drive to Mataga in the east is even more daunting, a gruelling journey
through rugged mountain passes and gullies. Despite the lush vegetation from
the latest rains, which has worsened the state of the roads, much of the
agricultural crop along the way are dead. Many rivers lack bridges so have
to be forded.
Mataga has more shops than Keyara, and serves a population of nearly 50,000
in surrounding areas. There is piped water, electricity, and a choice of
beer brands in the shops. There is a buzz of expectation among the
shopkeepers as buses from Zvishavane, Bulawayo, Chiredzi and Masvingo
offload their hungry and excited passengers.
But look further, and you will see that most buildings have been abandoned
and the paint is peeling. There is little business besides the occasional
visitors, and they have now become more frugal.
Mataga has not benefited from the nearby Sandawana mine, Zimbabwe's biggest
source of emeralds. More than 20 years since it was founded as a "growth
point", there is little industry or commerce except for grain mills and
storage facilities, butchers' shops and general stores.
People in rural Zimbabwe, unlike their urban counterparts, don't talk about
inflation - they just talk about poverty. They rarely talk politics as no
one trusts anyone any more. It is safer to talk about the heat, or the rains
or the crop situation.
The fear is pervasive. Nobody wants to hear about the presidential and
parliamentary elections set for next year. Elections are normally associated
with untold violence and mentioning them is like a bad omen.
Mike Nyoni is the pseudonym of a reporter in Zimbabwe.
The South African president seems prepared to alter the constitution in
order to have another term in charge of the country.
April 22, 2007 3:00 PM
Speculation is developing once again in South Africa that President Thabo
Mbeki is planning to circumvent the constitution, leading the country into
one-party rule. The theory is that he plans to run the country as the
general secretary of the ANC, rather than as president. Mbeki has been
president for two terms and under the South African constitution is
forbidden a third. He is suspected of planning to make a bid for an
extension to his rule at the ANC's policy conference, to be held in June.
The power struggle within the ANC is becoming increasingly confused.
Essentially it is being fought between a president who cannot be president
and a rival who could well be in jail by the time the power struggle is
Jacob Zuma, who is deputy president of the party, but not of the nation,
announced this week that he was prepared to stand for the presidency if
called upon to do so. His announcement came after he had lost another round
in his battle to stay out of prison, when the high court ruled that
government investigators could access documents held in Mauritius, which are
expected to throw more light on corruption charges against him. Zuma is
accused of soliciting bribes from European armament companies in a
multi-billion dollar arms deal. His financial advisor is already serving a
15-year sentence on similar charges.
Zuma's chances of winning the presidency are looking increasingly slim.
Apart from the criminal charges against him, the man who once said the ANC
would "rule South Africa until Jesus comes back" and described the ANC as
"more important" than the constitution, could be said to lack the
sophistication to be state president. The battle for the leadership of South
Africa is perhaps better understood as one between Mbeki and his circle and
his critics in the hard left - the South African Communist Party and the
labour federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions.
The ANC's winter policy conference is suddenly drawing attention following
the distribution of a paper entitled Discussion Document on the
Organisational Review. The document could signal "one of the most audacious
factional drives for power in the history of the modern ANC," in the words
of political scientist Anthony Butler, based at the University of Cape Town.
"The genius of the paper is that it endorses familiar leftist criticisms of
Mbeki's first decade in power," says Butler. "Too much power has been vested
in one man. The movement's president has usurped powers rightfully belonging
to its general secretary... "
Fundamentally, suspicion of Mbeki's motives with regard to the presidential
succession is based on the belief that he simply will not surrender power.
It is a belief based on his record in power and what can perhaps best be
described as his curious personality.
It is a belief and a record examined in detail by James Myburgh, a former
speechwriter to South Africa's opposition leader, Tony Leon. In a PhD
dissertation at Oxford (The Last Jacobins of Africa - Thabo Mbeki and the
making of the new South Africa 1994-2002), Myburgh argues that the South
African president is no friend to democracy, citing Zimbabwe - and the ANC'S
endorsement of the rigging of the 2000 and 2002 elections, along with its
refusal to go beyond "quiet diplomacy" in dealing with Robert Mugabe ("it
has been silent rather than quiet" as the UK's Lord David Triesman, minister
for Africa, observed this week).
Myburgh goes on to give a fascinating account and analysis of Mbeki's
perverse stance on HIV/Aids, arguing that his insistence that immune
deficiency was caused primarily by malnutrition and poverty, rather than a
sexually transmitted virus, was ideologically driven. It offered a defence
of the dignity of the black majority; absolved the ANC of moral
responsibility "and placed the blame for the epidemic back onto the 'legacy
of the past'".
The question now is whether a man so driven as to stand against the world on
Zimbabwe and the HIV/Aids issue is likely to balk at what others see as
change to a crucial constitutional principle. He however, seems to regard it
as no more than a constitutional nicety.
Comment No. 542912
April 22 15:24
What a disturbing article. it seems the dreams and hopes that Mandela would
usher in an era of genuine democracy in South africa may be coming to an end
Comment No. 542962
April 22 16:20
Come off it - GrandOldMan.
The ANC sold out before they took power - see Pilger's 'Freedom Next Time'.
One of the global bastions of proto-fascist, neo-liberal sell-out, the UK,
hosted the South African ANC sell-out party.
Mandela knew this when he was released. Why do you think he's always talking
up privatisation when most South Africans live in poverty and need
There ought to be a traitors gallery somewhere in London - that'd be the
place to put up statues of Mendela, Mbeki and other ANC leaders.
Comment No. 542963
April 22 16:20
I also am an admirer of Mandela and was horrified when Mbeki said that HIV
was not the cause of AIDS.
It seems that Mandela made some serious errors of judgment in the case of
Let us only hope that he (Mandella),is is still capable of blocking this
persons intentions and perhaps even correcting the situation.
Comment No. 542970
April 22 16:29
KelvinYearwood- Sorry kelvin i lost you when you talked about "proto-fascist
that means nothing.
Perhaps if you stopped spouting slogans I might treat your views with
Comment No. 543098
April 22 18:45
GrandOldMan:"What a disturbing article. it seems the dreams and hopes that
Mandela would usher in an era of genuine democracy in South africa may be
coming to an end"
Except what were those dreams and hopes? Did Mandela ever do anything that
would suggest those dreams and hopes were real? What counts for Marxists is
power and as long as the ANC kept that all was sweetness and light. Look at
Zimbabwe for the future of South Africa. The same refusal to punish Whites
as long as they paid taxes. The same inability and frankly probably lack of
desire to help poor Blacks. The same ruthless holding on to power. The West
wanted to believe Mandela was a good man and so have created an artificial
fake Mandela. The real one is just another Mugabe.
KelvinYearwood:"One of the global bastions of proto-fascist, neo-liberal
sell-out, the UK, hosted the South African ANC sell-out party. Mandela knew
this when he was released. Why do you think he's always talking up
privatisation when most South Africans live in poverty and need government
support? There ought to be a traitors gallery somewhere in London - that'd
be the place to put up statues of Mendela, Mbeki and other ANC leaders."
Right. In reality Communism is dead. The ANC lost an ideology, but kept a
desire to hold and exercise power. Like all those other former Soviet-style
states, South Africa has become a kleptocracy. The Multinationals promised
lots of cash for the government so they, and the Whites, were left alone as
long as they gave the Party money. Calling for a return to Marxism is
pointless. It would just cause the South African economy to collapse. The
problem is you cannot take Stalinism out of people's souls and mentalities.
Once a Party Hack, always a Party hack.
garrygrolman:"I also am an admirer of Mandela and was horrified when Mbeki
said that HIV was not the cause of AIDS."
Why? What has Mandela ever done that would cause you to admire him? He
simply did not turn South Africa into a blood bath. But look at Zimbabwe -
we've been here before. Mandela has spent his years out of office defending
Saddam, Castro, Qaddafi et al. He has never had a nice word about democracy,
but plenty for Leftist dictatorships. The truth is that terrorism is a bad
school for leadership and Marxist terrorism worst of all. South Africa only
has to look at Zimbabwe to see what Mandela is really like.
garrygrolman:"It seems that Mandela made some serious errors of judgment in
the case of Mbeki."
What makes you think they are not two peas in a pod? What makes you think
that AIDS apart (and even that is not all that clear) they don't share a
common world view? Look at the deal that Mandela's ANC did with Inkatha - a
corrupt deal with people who had murdered thousands of ANC activists that
lead to a division of the spoils of office. Look at the deal the ANC did
with the Nationals - again the party that created Apartheid was allowed to
join the ruling Party. There is no low that the ANC, under Mandela and
after, would not stoop as long as it meant gaining and holding power.
Comment No. 543119
April 22 19:02
SeerTaak- An interesting if very pessimistic analysis. I cant give you any
evidence to counter what you say, but I do have a continuing admiration for
mandela despite his mistakes. I think the comparison with mugabe is harsh.
But I have to be honest and say that I agree Mandela has tarnished his
principles and associated himself with some pretty unpleasant dictators.
Comment No. 543124
April 22 19:08
What hysterical twaddle!
Firstly - Beresford underestimates the very real possibility of a Zuma
presidency. Whether the man should or should not become president - and
anyone with a brain cell is clear on that - the fact is, Mbeki has alienated
a large portion of voters with his technocist attitudes, allowing Zuma to
position himself as a populist, a bridger of tradition and democracy, and a
support of the left (to Mbeki's neoliberalism). There are no other
front-runners. Compromise candidates have not emerged. The two camps are
Mbeki and Zuma, and with Mbeki unable to serve a third term, it's Zuma plus
some heir yet to be anointed by Mbeki. The galvanising of support within the
party structures to bolster the role of the SG is precisely to balance out
any threat of the Zuma faction taking control, to prevent the country
sliding into the Zimbabwefication that a Zuma presidency could bring.
Secondly - the Constitution is sacrosanct, unlike Zimbabwe. Changing it
requires two thirds of parliament - which would require the entire ANC to
vote with one voice, and given the issue at stake - no chance of that! But
it also requires internal consistency, and the Constitutional Court will not
allow any changes that undermine that. So, sorry, hysteria misplaced. If
changing the constitution were that simple, the death penalty would have
been reinstated years ago as probably 90% of citizens favour its return
(but, thankfully, the very safeguards cited above prevent that. For those
very reasons - sometimes people need to be protected against their own
And thirdly - Mandela making errors of judgment regarding Mbeki
[garrygrolman]? You're kidding, right? This suggests that Mandela thought
highly of Mbeki and chose him as someone close to him to continue his
vision? Not a chance! Mbeki was never close to Mandela - Mandela did not do
the "appoint in your own image" thing so popular with white male recruiters.
He chose someone he wasn't partial to, who'd bring a different vision and
leadership style, someone to whom - and to whose father - he owed no
particular loyalty, beyond the general cameraderie of all struggle heroes.
There are massive differences between the two - always have been - which are
partly the differences of exile and "insile", but go way beyond that.
Comment No. 543143
April 22 19:30
I wonder what Mbeki would make of this?
I wonder whether he remembers the neo-colonial law:
"It is unlawful for african governments to do something western governments,
business & media - don't like
e.g. put interest of african majority before the interests of the white
minority i.e. correct unfair land redistribution,
e.g. trade with China,
e.g. self sufficient economic policy
e.g. banning SA/british mercenaries operating from SA - to deny brit
Has he forgotten the painful punishments he will suffer:
level 1 - a media attack i.e. South Africa - demonise the administration as
a) dictatorial, anti-democratic, tyrannical, lunatic, mad. ie this article
based on [as written] speculation, theory, suspicion, curious personality,
b) inhumane - beneath western standards ie "Mbeki refuses to buy our
extoritionately priced medicines to treat aids." How disgraceful. NB. Noone
blames the afrikaaner government for cultivating the conditions for aid to
flourish in the black community. Is it safe ot have sex in Wimbledon???
c) corrupt - a rich white businessman seduces, flatters, gives expensive
gifts to, then slips a huge bribe to a senior African occicials. the
evidence is carefully recorded & passed to the white media. Bobs your uncle
it's prime time news - flying allover the world. Destroying the credibility
of the government forever.
[Marcus Garvey life and lessons - Robert A Hill]
d) incompetent - just look at the crime rate! just because we've been
torturing, robbing, raping & killing these people for the past 300 years -
doesn't give them the right to commit crime.
level 2 - economic i.e. Zimbabwe
rig the currency market to devalue their currency & engineer inflation
lambast "their" incompetence, gloat over their strikes, starvation,
the pope orders the local catholic bishop (agent) to call for revolution
sanctions to punish civilians for not rioting when we told them to
level 3 - military i.e. Sudan
slip them arms in aid
show their burnt villages on google
it's genocide because a hollywood celebrity says so
bring in the no-fly zone
he's got weapons of mass destructution! he's got weapons of mass
occupation civil war etc. etc. for another forum
well I be damned - if this is the way the cosy white SA treat an African
leader who seems to be bending over backwards to accommodate their
colonialist appetites. I wonder what they would do if he stopped? Sounds
like white-mail to me? Praise the lord he's not me - or you guys would get
live rerun of Mao's cultural revolution.
I used to believe the british & austalian media were the worst in the world.
Looks like South Africa has joined the fray. Sir, you have seriously damaged
the credibility of the organisation that awarded you an award for
journalism. I would recommend Mbeki set up a anti-media corruption watchdog
to remove hearsay journalists from discrediting the profession.
22nd Apr 2007 13:52 GMT
By Matilda Chivasa
HARARE - Mary (not her real name), 27, from Kuwadzana, Harare's high-density
suburb, is a pitiful sight: her thinning grey hair looks lifeless as she
huddles under a green blanket in her bedroom.
She lets out a long moan and, with tears running down her cheeks, looks
searchingly at the faces around her for answers as to why, six months after
she registered for the roll-out of the government's anti-retroviral drug,
ARV, programme, she has still not been given the life-prolonging drugs.
Around the world today people infected with HIV can count on living longer
and feeling better, thanks to the advent of ARVs. But in Zimbabwe many of
those infected with HIV and suffering from AIDS-related illnesses have lost
hope of ever accessing these drugs.
Mary tested HIV-positive nine months ago when her health started
deteriorating. She was referred to an Opportunistic Infection, OI, clinic
for registration on the government's ARV programme. Harare residents can
visit clinics at Parirenyatwa, Harare Central or Beatrice Road Infectious
Zimbabwe started rolling out drugs at its OI clinics four years ago, but the
programme had largely been confined to urban areas. Harare, the capital, has
just three of these clinics, while its dormitory town of Chitungwiza has
one. The second city of Bulawayo has four.
With her elderly mother by her side, Mary endured the long winding queues at
the clinic at Parirenyatwa Hospital for registration, a process that can
take up to two months. The next step is to establish one's CD4 count before
being put onto ARVs.
When Mary was finally registered, she was hopeful that finally she would be
able to start treatment. But this was not to be, as the machine to determine
her CD4 count machine was broken every time she visited the clinic. The
medical staff at the clinic then advised her to go to a private medical
practitioner for her CD4 count - but she could not afford the service.
Now, what Mary wants the most is a hand to hold on to, a promise that she
will not have to bear too great a suffering and that she will not have to
If she had managed to establish her CD4 count, she would have had to pay a
small sum for a month's supply of antiretroviral drugs - that is, if they
were in stock at the clinic. But now, all hope for treatment has been
drained out of her and she awaits her death.
Another option for Mary, which some people in Harare are taking, would have
been to travel to a clinic in the countryside. Most Hararians go to Karanda
Mission Hospital 16 km away in Mt Darwin, where the process is faster and
where most, if not all, ARV combinations are readily available.
Francesca Benza of the Zimbabwe Aids Network said some people were now
traveling hundreds of km to mission hospitals to get ARV treatment. The
flood of Harare residents to these areas means that local residents can miss
out, however, she said.
A counselor at the The Centre, which is a non-governmental organisation in
Harare that counsels infected people and offers training on long-term
survival and coping mechanisms, stress management and ways to reduce the
spread of HIV, said some ARV combinations were not readily available at the
These include the first-line combinations, which at private pharmacies cost
between 400,000 and 500,000 Zimbabwe dollars (1,600 to 2,000 US dollars) for
a month's supply and other more expensive combinations, which cost three to
four times as much, also for a month's supply.
"There are an estimated 40,000 people currently receiving anti-retroviral
treatment at the OI clinics. This is far less than the number of people in
need of treatment," said the counselor.
"These people have to buy those drugs from pharmacies and they are very
expensive. How many people can afford a minimum of between 400,000 and
500,000 Zimbabwe dollars for a month's supply and three to four times that
amount for the more expensive combinations?
"Some are dying because they cannot have their CD4 count done because the
machines are always broken. And when the drugs are not available at the
government clinics, those without money are dying because they cannot afford
to buy elsewhere."
The counselor said clinic staff sometimes had to watch helplessly when
people reacted negatively to certain first-line drug combinations because
second or third-line combinations were not readily available.
While the counselor believes that there are about 500,000 people in urgent
need of ARVs, Zimbabwe Aids Network estimates the figure to be closer to
A general manager at one of the major pharmaceutical companies told IWPR
that their biggest problem is a lack of foreign currency to import raw
materials to produce the life-prolonging medication.
He said despite promises by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to provide foreign
currency for this purpose, nothing has been given to procure the raw
"The promise has been in the press only. Nothing has ever been given by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. We decided that it is a disease affecting almost
everyone and it is a disease affecting the poor the most because they cannot
afford the drugs. So we are manufacturing the drugs, not at a profit because
it is a sensitive issue," he said.
Despite the government's introduction of ARVs four years ago to contain HIV
in those infected, thousands of people are still dying of AIDS-related
illnesses and hospitals countrywide are struggling to deal with the growing
number of victims.
Poverty, malnutrition and people on the move are exacerbating the crisis.
Allegations of corruption around the procurement of ARVs are also rife.
There have been reports of HIV-positive ZANU-PF officials receiving
preferential treatment at public clinics and siphoning off drugs meant for
public use for their own purposes. There have also been allegations of ARVs
being stolen from public clinics and then sold by private chemists to those
who can afford them at high prices.
The economic sanctions have also taken their toll, with foreign donors
ploughing less money into curbing HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe compared with
neighbouring countries. In Zambia, for example, where prevalence rates are
similar, each HIV-positive person receives 187 US dollars annually from
foreign donors compared with four US dollars for each HIV-positive
Currently, 1,5 million Zimbabweans are living with AIDS. One in every four
sexually active Zimbabweans is estimated to be infected with the virus while
over 3,000 are said to be dying every week due to AIDS-related diseases. An
estimated 565 new infections among adults and children occur every day.
Women are hardest hit: 80 per cent of those living with HIV are women aged
15-24 years old.
The pandemic has left about 900,000 orphaned children. Zimbabwe has an
HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of about 21 per cent, down from the estimated 24,6
per cent of a few months ago - a decline which some attribute to behaviour
change and others to flawed statistics.
Matilda Chivasa is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
By Ernest Lefever
April 22, 2007
When it seemed it could get no worse, President Robert Mugabe again
tightened his grip on Zimbabwe. Earlier he had confiscated white-owned farms
and given the best to his political cronies and family. This and other
draconian measures have virtually brought the once-prosperous economy to a
virtual halt. Facing dangerous food and gasoline shortages, the country now
has the world's worst inflation.
The other day, after Zimbabwe's ruling party backed the 83-year-old Mr.
Mugabe for a 2008 presidential bid -- in effect making him president for
life -- he cracked down on the NGOs (nongovernmental organizations)
attempted to rescue the country from the misery he had created. In revoking
their licenses, according to Agence France-Presse, he followed the example
of Russia, Uzbekistan, Burma and other regimes that "restricted
foreign-based NGOs considered hostile to the regime." Specifically, Mr.
Mugabe accused Britain's Tony Blair of using such groups to overthrow his
In response to Mr. Mugabe's latest crimes, several universities have
belatedly expressed second thoughts about having given him an honorary
degree. An Associated Press story reported that the University of
Massachusetts announced it was considering revoking the honor it bestowed on
Mr. Mugabe in 1986, when he "was hailed as a humane revolutionary who ended
an oppressive rule."
Unfortunately, the University of Massachusetts got its facts wrong. The
"oppressive" regime Mr. Mugabe "ended" was really an interim arrangement
that, ironically, had organized the first free election in tropical Africa
open to all races and genders.
Further, Mr. Mugabe's political support came from the so-called
Rhodesian Patriotic Front, whose Soviet-equipped guerrillas had murdered
more than 1,900 civilians, including nine missionaries and their children.
In any event, the election was inconclusive, revolutionary violence
continued, and in April 1980, the Republic of Zimbabwe was established.
After seven years of turbulence, Soviet-backed Mr. Mugabe, emerged as
president of Zimbabwe, vowing to forge a one-party, Marxist-style state. He
used strong-arm tactics against his opposition and in 2001 emerged as a
virtual dictator, despite parliamentary trappings. It can be argued that in
1986 Mr. Mugabe's worst assaults on human rights had not yet happened, but
decades before 1986 he had already shown his dictatorial stripes. A bit of
timely research should have warned the University of Massachusetts that well
before 1986, Mr. Mugabe was a confused Marxist prepared to flout the rule of
law to serve his ambitions.
But by the mid-1980s a brand of political correctness rooted in the
radical 1960s had asserted itself in many American universities. To expose
"the true America," these revisionists had written university textbooks that
distort our history and help delegitimize our Western cultural heritage. By
insisting all ideas and civilizations are of equal value, some self-styled
multiculturalists promoted a moral relativism that subverts the crucial
distinction between right and wrong, good and evil.
This savaging of America by the adversary culture was exacerbated -- but
not caused -- by our troubled involvement in the Vietnam War. The "new
barbarians," as Daniel J. Boorstin characterized them, paved the way for
further assaults against traditional democratic values in the 1980s and
Many university presidents were influenced by this culture in their
selection of commencement speakers and recipients for honorary degrees. For
them, the cast of heroes included flamboyant Third World politicians who,
like Mr. Mugabe, delighted in thumbing their noses at the West.
Certainly there were other foreign leaders who embraced Western values
on whom the University of Massachusetts could have bestowed its blessing in
1986. Konrad Adenauer of Germany and Margaret Thatcher of Britain come to
Ernest Lefever is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center
and the author of "Spear and Scepter: Army, Police, and Politics in Tropical
Chris Atkinson, Sydney
21 April 2007
Around 100 people filled Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on April 18 to hear
visiting Zimbabwean socialist Munyaradzi Gwisai explain the background to
the Zimbabwean people's struggle for democracy.
"A new movement from below is begging to emerge", Gwisai said. "The people
are beginning to shake off fear and exhaustion" and are advancing their own
strategy to fight President Robert Mugabe's brutal rule and the economic
dictates of the International Monetary Fund and the business elite (the
Gwisai spoke 27 years to the day since Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) won
independence from British white minority rule and installed Mugabe as
president. Gwisai explained that despite Mugabe's radical rhetoric and
encouragement of black farmers to seize large farms, often owned by rich
whites, "Mugabe is a ruthless, self-serving tyrant who celebrates brutality".
Gwisai explained how the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions formed the main
opposition organisation, the Movement for Democratic Change, in the
aftermath of huge strikes in the late 1990s with the support of rich-country
governments. Gwisai was elected to parliament for the MDC in 2000 until he
and his group, the International Socialist Organisation, were expelled from
the MDC in April 2002 after openly supporting poor farmers' land seizures.
Gwisai warned the democracy movement not to rely on the "dangerous and
naive" hope that the 2008 presidential elections will be fair or that
Mugabe will recognise the result, even if South African president Thabo
Mbeki negotiates a settlement. For Gwisai, it is in "mass revolts from
below" that the hope of solving Zimbabwe's terminal crisis lays.
Gwisai also addressed a public meeting in Melbourne on April 20.
From: Australian News, Green Left Weekly issue #707 25 April 2007.
April 22 2007 at 02:21PM
At his imbizo in Soweto last week, a woman asked President Thabo Mbeki
an awkward question: why do you give Aristide a house when mine has been
She was referring to former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
who has been living in South Africa as a guest of the government for nearly
three years since he fled a revolution at home.
Mbeki did not answer her directly, but insisted the government was on
track towards meeting its housing construction targets.
Hosting such leaders at considerable expense to the taxpayer is never
very popular. The more so when they are odious dictators. But it can be a
useful diplomatic device.
South Africa took Aristide in as a favour to himself and to the
Caribbean community. Aristide was first in exile in Jamaica, but the
Caribbean countries worried that he would continue to exert too much
influence on Haiti. Better to have him far away in South Africa.
Last year something similar happened to Liberian president Charles
Taylor. With rebels clamouring at the capital city boundaries, African
leaders persuaded him to go to Nigeria.
Many other leaders have been offered safe haven, though usually not as
part of such a well-thought-out strategy. Most fled for their lives. The
Ugandan dictator Idi Amin spent 17 years in exile in Saudi Arabia before
dying there last year.
Former Peruvian strongman Alberto Fujimori fled to Japan in 2000 in
the face of resistance to his authoritarian rule. Japan offered him exile
And the brutal former Ethiopian dictator Haile Mariam Mengistu has
been living in Zimbabwe as a guest of President Robert Mugabe and the
Zimbabwean people since he was ousted in 1991.
Now the world's thoughts are turning towards the idea of offering a
"soft landing" through exile to Mengistu's host. Some countries are
contemplating offering a safe haven in a foreign country - possibly Namibia
or even South Africa - if he agrees to surrender power.
The deal is said to include immunity from prosecution for the many
crimes against his people he is alleged to have committed in 27 years of
When Mugabe visited Namibia a few months ago, it was reported that he
had discussed exile there.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders are said to be
discussing such a plan, though some member states say a SADC immunity deal
for Mugabe is not possible, because it is not within the powers of regional
leaders to offer immunity. Only Zimbabweans can do that, because he would
need immunity from Zimbabwean law.
But that is not quite true. The law against political crimes is
becoming increasingly internationalised.
This was dramatically illustrated when Chilean dictator Augusto
Pinochet, who was granted immunity from prosecution in his own country, was,
in 1998, convicted of political crimes in Spain. He was in Britain for
The Spanish court applied to Britain to extradite him. While the House
of Lords was considering the application, the British government intervened
and let him return to Chile on grounds of ill health.
There he had another battle with the national courts which he only
cheated by dying last December.
Fujimori is now experiencing something similar. For five years he
enjoyed Japanese protection from the new Peruvian government's efforts to
extradite him home.
But in November 2005 Fujimori travelled to Chile where he was arrested
and where he remains to this day, battling efforts by Peru - and a growing
chorus of international human rights NGOs - to persuade the Chilean courts
to extradite him back to Peru.
In 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was founded,
potentially extending the arm of the law right around the globe.
Max du Plessis and Andreas Coutsoudis, two legal academics from the
University of KwaZulu-Natal, argued in a recent paper that, "The world
public is beginning to demand that states utilise international criminal law
in pursuit of persons allegedly guilty of international crimes".
"The Zimbabwean human rights crisis demands a response . one way in
which states of the world - South Africa included - might respond, with
something more than a whimper, is to rely on the norms of international
Such prosecution against Mugabe and his henchmen would probably not be
possible before the ICC, because Zimbabwe is not a party to the court, they
But they say that states that have given their domestic courts
jurisdiction over international crimes may prosecute the likes of Mugabe.
South Africa could do this through the 2002 Implementation of the Rome
Statute of the International Criminal Court Act, which allows South African
courts to try people for certain crimes, even if they are committed
This growing reach of international law is quite possibly discouraging
Mugabe from accepting an exile-and-immunity deal. Particularly as he
considers the Taylor precedent.
Last year, after being elected Liberia's president, Ellen
Johnson-Sirleaf asked Nigeria to extradite Taylor to face trial. Taylor
fled, but was caught by Nigerian forces and eventually handed over to the
special war crimes tribunal in Liberia's neighbour Sierra Leone, where he
was also alleged to have committed crimes. He is due to face trial soon in
In April last year Professor Tom Lodge, formerly of the University of
the Witwatersrand but now of Limerick University, complained that Africa's
apparent about-turn on Taylor had damaged the chances of getting rid of
leaders like Mugabe.
Lodge wrote in a letter to The Guardian, "Perhaps cruel dictators do
not deserve to be treated with good faith. But harsh rulers remain in
authority and it is now less likely that they will believe any guarantees
that might be offered in future."
The African leaders claim, however, that Taylor's immunity was never
unconditional and that it was always understood that if a new democratic
government asked for him, they would have to give him up.
A South African international law expert noted this week, though, that
it was unlikely the South African government would allow Mugabe to be
"If Mugabe were ever to be offered exile in South Africa, the
government would probably give Mugabe guarantees of immunity."
Namibia might be a better bet for Mugabe, as it does not have laws
allowing prosecution for crimes committed outside its own borders.
Nicole Fritz, director of the Southern African Litigation Centre,
agrees with Du Plessis and Coutsoudis that around the world there is "an
increasing discomfort with the idea of amnesties or immunity for
perpetrators of particularly serious, systematic crimes. That said, there is
also a quite astute appreciation of the complexities involved in political
transitions, of the excruciating compromises that must be made."
This article was originally published on page 23 of Cape Argus on
April 22, 2007
is the story of one of the students who attended the meeting I spoke at
on Thursday night. The subject was quite inoccuous - corruption in local
authorites. I dealt with three the following day - one with a suspected
broken arm. They have left the city of elsewhere and are no safe. I was
followed by a land rover - but he was no match for the vehicle I was
driving. The Deputy Organising Secretary of the MDC has been arrested
together with several others in Bulawayo - they were collected from their
homes early in the morning (2 am) their whereabouts is not known at this
Please find bellow a testimony from Trust Nhubu, from NUST who was abducted
on 19 April 2007 only to be dumped close to the Botswana Border by State
Abducted, then dumped close to the Botswana border
Round about 2015hrs on Thursday the 19th of April 2007 at the end of the
ZIMCODD/ TI-Z public meeting held in Bulawayo at the Royal Hotel I in the
company of Clemence Bere(NUST SRC President), Mehluli Dube ( Vice
President), Vanencio Jachi and Admire Zaya went to Ritz to buy a couple of
drinks. From there we went to Khami Bar. When we were in the Bar four guys
approached us and said that we were under arrest and were taking us in for
questioning about statements made in the public meeting. Bere and Mehluli
managed to run away whilst we were being force marched out of Khami Bar. One
of the four guys identified himself as a CID officer from Central Police
Station; the other three did not show their identification. We were forced
into a white 323-vehicle with government number plates beginning with a 'GH'
. Three of the guys got into the vehicle with Vanencio Jachi and me. The
fourth one got into another vehicle. There was a fifth guy whom I saw
outside and recognized him as one of the people at the public meeting. He
was talking to the Officers but did not go with us.
They drove us to Mzilikazi Police Station saying they were going to detain
us there. At Mzilikazi two of them got out and went into the Charge office
only to come out minutes later taking Jachi out and leaving me in the car.
That's the last time I saw Jachi. At around 2300hrs they drove along Khami
road heading for what I later discovered to be Solusi Police sub office. At
Solusi I was beaten up. They were using their fists to hit me on the
head.They were asking for the whereabouts of Promise Mkwananzi and Clemence
Bere's residential address. They said: " munoda kuzviita vanhu vakangwara,
tinoda kukubatai muri mese, kana takubatai tinoda kukutaridzai chidzidzo
chekuti hamuna kwamunosvika. Vanhu vatirikuda ndi Mkwananzi na Bere." (You
think you are clever and untouchable. We want to round up all of you at once
and teach you a lesson just to show you, you are fighting a loosing battle).
They also said they have been seeing us in public meetings lambasting the
government and insighting violence.
While at Solusi they searched my bag and found ZIMCODD and TI-Z material
which they forced me to tear into small pieces. They then told me to put the
small pieces together and read which was impossible. They started beating me
up saying how can you fail to read when you are learned, they were saying,
" Hausi ku NUST here iwe, dotiverengera mapepa ayo, handiti wakadzidza."
(Are you not at NUST? read those papers for us, you cannot fail to read
because you are educated). After a while they disappeared around 0100hrs
only to come back after 2hrs and drove me for about 5-10kms out of
Tsholotsho. At this point I thought they were taking me into a bush to kill
me. They stopped the car and forced me out and sped off leaving me behind
around 0800hrs. I was feeling numb from the beatings, was hungry and
disoriented because I had never been to this part of the country. I just
gathered some bit of strength walked back in the direction from which we
came. I got to Tsholotsho Shopping Centre some 120kms out of Bulawayo.
While at the shopping centre I narrated my ordeal to some man who then gave
me transport to Nyamandlovu. That was now Friday. In Nyamandlovu I also
talked to someone who gave me a place to put up and also assisted me to get
transport to Norwood the following day (Saturday). I managed to get hold o
Admire Zaya and told him where I was. He then called ZIMCODD, TI-Z and SST.
Soon after I got a call from ZIMCODD that they were coming to pick me up by
then I was sleeping on the side of the road feeling tired, hungry and sick.
They picked me up 20minutes later along Nyamandlovu road.
All I can say is that those guys are serious, they are determined to crush
activism and that's when I realized how vulnerable youth activists are. As
for now I just want to go to my rural home in Masvingo and take a rest and
see my family. I am really worried about my comrade Wezhira (Vanencio Jachi)
whose whereabouts I don't know. They claim that students are 'fronts' for
other people and they continuously ask that who sent you.
The struggle in Zimbabwe is bitter, very bitter and the regime will stop at
nothing. Some of our comrades are abducted but their stories are never
heard. They try to break us but our united spirit shall never be broken.
Monday 23 April 2007
JOHANNESBURG - Experts from two United Nations (UN) food aid agencies are
due in Zimbabwe this week to assess the country's food security situation,
according to international media reports.
The Harare authorities, who have already declared 2007 a drought year,
invited the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food
Programme (WFP) to conduct a crop and food survey in Zimbabwe.
FAO's Food Emergency Officer, Kisan Gunjal, will head the UN delegation to
Zimbabwe is facing severe food shortages this year after poor harvest last
The southern African country is expected to harvest a paltry 600 000 tonnes
of grain this year, just about a quarter of the 2.4. million tonnes of grain
the country requires each year.
Zimbabwe is already importing grain from Malawi and South Africa to cover
the massive shortfall.
Zimbabwe has grappled with severe food shortages over the past seven years
after President Robert Mugabe seized white farms for redistribution to
landless blacks seven years ago.
Food aid agencies have however provided the bulk of Zimbabwe's food
requirements averting starvation for millions of Zimbabweans in the drought
prone southern districts. - ZimOnline