HARARE, Zimbabwe (AFP)--Zimbabwe's main opposition movement has won a
historic victory over President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, official
results showed Saturday, but the outcome of the presidential vote remained
The results in 18 of the 23 constituencies where ballots were being double-
checked were unchanged after the recount of a March 29 vote, officials said,
confirming victory for the Movement for Democratic Change.
The remaining five constituencies weren't sufficient for Mugabe's ruling
Zimbabwean African National Union - Patriotic Front, which has controlled
the parliament without interruption since 1980, to gain a majority of seats.
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told AFP that the results of the
recount showed the electoral system was transparent, saying: "The recounting
was not meant to try and offset the outcome."
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the recount was "a waste of time".
"It was never necessary to begin with because we knew we had won and we have
won and this has been confirmed again," Chamisa said.
Electoral commission chairman George Chiweshe said there had been no "major
changes" in the parliamentary results and that a recount of votes in the
presidential election also held on March 29 should be completed by Monday.
"We trust that by Monday, April 28 this process will have been
concluded...leading to the announcement of the result of the presidential
election," Chiweshe told reporters in the capital Harare.
"But I can't say exactly when the results will be coming," he continued.
Four weeks after the elections, no results from the presidential vote have
been released despite mounting international pressure.
The police have also detained more than 200 opposition activists and raided
the offices of the country's main independent election-monitoring body.
The MDC has accused the authorities of delaying tactics in order to mount a
campaign of intimidation against the opposition, saying that 15 of its
activists have been killed so far in politically-motivated attacks.
The authorities haven't confirmed any of the deaths claimed by the
opposition, dismissing the reports as "lies" aimed at stirring up unrest,
and have accused MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai of treason.
Tsvangirai, who says he won an outright majority in the presidential
election over the 84-year-old Mugabe, was in South Africa and not expected
to return for the end of the recount on Monday, Chamisa said.
Mugabe supporters say no candidate won and there should be a run-off.
The U.K. and the U.S. have put pressure on Mugabe to concede defeat, with
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer arguing that post-election
violence makes a second round of voting impossible.
Frazer, the main U.S. envoy for Africa, was on a tour of the region aimed at
cutting off support for Mugabe. She said Thursday that Tsvangirai had won a
clear victory and should head any new government.
Frazer met Tsvangirai earlier and has also held talks with South African
officials and Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, a Mugabe ally. She was
due to meet Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa on Sunday.
In the U.K., Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned the spiraling violence in
Zimbabwe and pledged intensified international action following a planned
U.N. Security Council debate next week.
"I condemn the violence against those who voted for change. Their voices
must be heard," Brown said in a statement that also called for a U.N.
mission to verify human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
He has previously said that "no one believes" Mugabe won the election.
Mugabe, a former guerrilla leader and a hero of Africa's national liberation
movements, has presided over a sharp economic decline in recent years, with
inflation officially at 165,000% - the highest in the world.
Meanwhile, Angola on Friday authorized a Chinese ship loaded with arms
destined for Zimbabwe to dock in Luanda but said it wouldn't be allowed to
unload the weapons following an international outcry.
Port officials said Saturday the ship hadn't yet arrived in Luanda.
The U.S. earlier urged China to turn back the shipment amid fears that the
arms could be used for repression by Zimbabwean security forces.
The U.K. has called for an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
Sat Apr 26, 11:57 AM ET
HARARE (AFP) - A partial recount of ballots in Zimbabwe's presidential
election should be completed by Monday after which the result will be
announced, the head of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said on Saturday.
"We trust that by Monday, April 28 this process will have been concluded...
leading to the announcement of the result of the presidential election," ZEC
chairman George Chiweshe told reporters in Harare.
Chiweshe said the presidential candidates or their agents are expected to
meet next week to compare results they will have gathered at each polling
"I don't know whether they are going to bring the same figures and everybody
is going to agree from the word go, or whether they will (bring) various
figures which need to be looked into and checked and argued about," Chiweshe
"But I can't say exactly when the results will be coming," he added.
Four weeks after the southern African country went to the polls, results of
the presidential vote are still unknown.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai
says he won the race without need for a run-off, but the ruling ZANU-PF
party of veteran leader Robert Mugabe said the election produced no outright
Chiweshe dismissed claims that his agency is doctoring figures to rig the
"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.
Sat 26 Apr 2008, 14:59 GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said on Saturday
it would invite candidates to verify the results of the March 29
presidential elections from Monday, before the results are publicly issued.
"We trust that by Monday this process (of compiling recount statistics) will
have been concluded," ZEC Chairman George Chiweshe told a news conference.
"Immediately thereafter (we) will invite the ... presidential candidates or
their agents to a verification and collation exercise, leading to the
announcement of the results of the presidential election," he said.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says its leader Morgan
Tsvangirai beat veteran President Robert Mugabe outright in the poll. The
MDC accuses Mugabe of delaying results to rig victory and has rejected the
possibility of a run-off.
Sat 26 Apr 2008, 11:45 GMT
LONDON (Reuters) - The government said on Saturday it deplored the
escalating violence against opposition supporters in Zimbabwe a month after
elections there and called for a United Nations mission to inspect human
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is seeking an arms embargo on President
Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party, said Britain would step up diplomatic
efforts ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on the former British colony.
"The coming days will be critical. We will intensify international action
around a UNSC discussion on Tuesday. We will press for a UN mission to
investigate the violence and human rights abuses," he said in a statement.
"The whole international community must speak up against the climate of
fear in Zimbabwe."
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has said it won the March 29
parliamentary and presidential elections, and a partial recount ordered by
Mugabe confirmed it had pushed ZANU-PF into second place in parliament for
the first time in 28 years.
However, the official results of the presidential vote have still not been
released despite the fact Mugabe has called for a re-run.
"If there is a second round, the international community will insist that
there are international monitors deployed and SADC and AU principles
upheld," Brown said.
"I welcome the positions taken by the UN Secretary General, by African
leaders, by Europe, by the US and by all those who want to see a return to
democracy in Zimbabwe.
"We, and others, stand ready to help rebuild Zimbabwe once democracy
returns. I pledge that Britain will be in the vanguard of this effort."
(Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2008, 16:13 (BST)
In the fourth week since Zimbabwe went to the polls a violent crack down is
clearly underway, warns Christian humanitarian agency Tearfund.
As Zanu PF militias target those suspected of voting for the opposition MDC,
Tearfund partner, The Churches in Bulawayo (CIB) today released a statement
calling for action in response to confirmed reports of widespread torture,
beatings and harassment of community members.
CIB confirmed that its member churches would be "immediately opening its
doors so as to shelter the victims of harassment". They are also calling on
the government to release the presidential results immediately and for
increased international efforts to resolve the crisis before the situation
degenerates into a "bloodbath".
Since the elections, property has been destroyed and seized. Communities
have been threatened with further violence if they fail to vote for Robert
Mugabe should a run off ballot take place.
While the South African Development Committee (SADC) leaders have called for
release of the presidential results, they consistently avoid open criticism
of Mugabe, says Tearfund. And while President Thabo Mbeki has claimed that
there is "no crisis" in Zimbabwe, Tearfund partner organisations are
reporting something quite different.
“Talk of a run off is frightening as people are still waiting for the result
of the Presidential elections," says Pastor Promise Manceda of Zimbabwe’s
Christian Alliance, who explains that a simple tally of polling station
votes would quickly yield the results. "Worse still in the outskirts of
Bulawayo, militia are reported to be undergoing intense training. Such a
heavy presence and involvement of the military is having a traumatic affect
on the population."
Tearfund’s partners have reported violence in rural areas, particularly in
those areas scheduled for a recount. "We have heard that a regional meeting
had to be cancelled because staff members are too afraid to leave their
families. Fear and confusion are spreading across the country in this vacuum
of uncertainty and threat," says Karyn Beattie, Tearfund’s Disaster Response
Manager for Zimbabwe. "We are very concerned for the safety of people, those
just simply trying to exist – although there is nothing simple about
existing in a country in collapse.”
There is increasing concern for church leaders and staff of civil society
groups, who have courageously spoken out, demanding a democratic and
peaceful transition. Tearfund calls on SADC, the African Union and UN to
intervene and ensure that the results of the elections are not falsified and
that the democratic right of the people of Zimbabwe to choose their leaders
Tearfund is sustaining a feeding programme through local churches to support
some 35,000 people - orphans and vulnerable families – although the current
situation is hindering logistic movements. Food, water and nearly all basic
necessities have become all but unavailable to the vast majority.
To make a donation to Tearfund’s Zimbabwe Crisis Appeal call 0845 355 8355
or visit www.tearfund.org
Sat Apr 26, 7:39 AM ET
HARARE (AFP) - At least 15 opposition supporters have been killed in
political violence in Zimbabwe since elections last month, the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told AFP on Saturday.
"So far we have recorded 15 but the carnage is worse than that because of
the iron curtain that has been imposed on the villages. People are being
killed like flies and buried in the villages," said MDC spokesman Nelson
One of those killed was allegedly shot on Friday by men in military uniform
in Makoni, a district east of the country, according to a newly elected
lawmaker for the area.
"I understand that a number of people were abducted by people in military
uniform and taken to ....(a) camp. Some people went to seek their release
and that was when this woman was shot in the stomach," said Webber
The victim was identified as 40-year-old Tabitha Marume, an opposition MDC
Seven others were injured in the confrontation and three were examined by
doctors and released, he told AFP. Four are still in hospital, he added.
Police were not available for confirmation.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
April 26, 2008
Hundreds of MDC supporters and officials that were arrested by police at the
party headquarters in Harare on Friday are still in detention. The offices
at Harvest House were raided as part of a campaign by police to confiscate
documents and information relating to the elections held last month. MDC
spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said property was destroyed in the building and
police confiscated all computers and equipment used by the MDC at their
election command centre.
The police also raided the offices of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN) on Friday, and searched for what their warrant termed “subversive
material”, but no arrests were made. They asked the programmes manager,
Tsungai Kokerai, to accompany them to the police station “to assist with
investigations”. No arrests were made.
Harare based journalist Angus Shaw said information on the arrests has been
extremely difficult to come by. The state media confirmed that 215
supporters and officials are in the cells. The police spokesperson,
Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, reportedly said that the
arrested would be screened for various crimes, but most are suspected of
involvement in political violence. Yet reports from around the country say
that it is the police, armed soldiers and ruling party youths who are
conducting the violence.
Many of those detained already needed medical treatment after being beaten
and tortured in the rural areas from where they fled. Shaw said he drove by
the police station on Friday and saw women with babies on their backs,
children and youths, hardly the types to conduct a violent campaign against
the government. With no information available, it is not clear when they
will be released.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
CONTINUED ARRESTS AND HARASSMENT OF ELECTION OFFICERS
25 April 2008
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) wishes to express its serious
concern about the escalating arrests, detention and harassment of presiding
and polling officers from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), in the
context of the ongoing controversial recounts.
Since 29 March 2008, many presiding and polling officers have been arrested
and accused of having been part of a plot to rig the elections in favour of
candidates from the Movement for Democratic Change. In this on-going
exercise, 34 Presiding Officers have been arrested in Masvingo province
alone during the recounting process which commenced on 19 April 2008. The
presiding officers are currently detained at Masvingo Central Police Station
and are being represented by ZLHR lawyers.
Over and above the arrests, non state actors such as ZANU-PF officers and
war veterans have attempted to extract ‘confessions’ from these hapless
presiding officers. Notable is the unlawful detention and assault of one of
these presiding officers in an attempt to make him write a statement
incriminating himself of having misled voters who required assistance and
having made them vote for the opposition when they desired to vote for the
The war veterans and ZANU-PF officials have attempted to justify their
unacceptable conduct by saying that they were ‘taking instructions from
Harare’. There is no lawful justification for non state actors to involve
themselves in relation to detainees and the investigation of alleged
criminal conduct. This is the role of the police, and non state actor
participation constitutes unacceptable interference in such processes which
must be condemned and must cease forthwith.
ZLHR reiterates its calls for transparency and non-interference by state and
quasi state functionaries in an already heavily disputed electoral process.
The involvement of non state actors in interrogating presiding officers
raises concerns as to whether this is due process at work, justifiable
prosecution or merely persecution. The arrested presiding officers are
public servants who have served the nation devotedly under extreme hardships
for years on end under conditions which amount to a contemporary form of
slavery as defined under international law.
Involvement of this range of actors must be seen and condemned for what it
is - an intimidatory tactic to compromise their ability to carry out their
constitutional duties without fear or favour. It will also have a residual
impact in the event that a run-off is held which will require these public
servants to once again provide their services in the electoral process.
ZLHR also takes note of the extreme violence which has engulfed the nation,
particularly in rural areas, as is the place where the unlawful detentions
and assault noted above occurred. We thus demand that the undignified
attacks upon these long-suffering presiding officers ceases forthwith and
that police carry out their duties without interference from other players
and without fear or favour to ensure that all people are safe and duly
protected by law.
We also demand that the various departments of the administration affected
by the unlawful threats and the arrests of members of staff take a stance
against the harassment of their members – the entire governance and
administrative system is at stake as teachers and other state employees have
been forced to flee their workstations for fear of victimisation. The entire
electoral process has been subverted.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights Statement concerning
ongoing cases of organised violence and torture, and of intimidation of
medical personnel, from April 22nd to April 24th 2008 dated April 25th 2008
The number of victims of organised violence and torture presenting to
members of ZADHR continues to escalate, with 62 patients being documented in
the last 3 days alone. The numbers quoted under-reports the true total as
full documentation (e.g. confirmation of suspected fractures by Xray) of a
number of cases has not yet been completed.
Sixty two cases were assessed and treated, including 9 women, one of whom is
84 years old and sustained serious facial injuries when she was struck in
the face with stones on opening her door to unknown assailants. The youngest
patient seen was a one year old baby boy who suffered gastroenteritis with
dehydration following sleeping in the ‘bush’ with his mother after their
home had been burnt down. 23 cases were from Karoi; otherwise there was
still a concentration in Mudzi, Mutoko and Murewa with 12.
As in previous reports, the commonest problem was soft tissue injury,
frequently with large haematoma formation, sometimes with ulceration and
sepsis requiring surgical debridement, especially if there had been more
than 24-48 hours between injury and presentation.
In this series there were 20 facial injuries, including 13 of the eye. A 34
year old man was beaten, lost consciousness for a few minutes, and woke to
find that his right ear had been cut off, and a 26 year old had such a deep
laceration of the base of the nose that it appeared to be falling off.
Several days after suturing the nose was healing well.
Four cases of burns were seen, two in which people had been trapped inside
their houses which had been set on fire. There were 5 further cases of
falanga (beatings on the soles of the feet which frequently result in
chronic pain on walking). One sixty year old man had clinical fractures of
his left ulna (forearm) and three bones in the left hand, and there were 2
cases of radiologically confirmed fractures of the (left) ulna. Many
patients had multiple wounds, for example a 50 year old man with an axe
wound to the back of the head, extensive soft tissue injuries especially to
the buttocks, with haematoma formation, and injuries to the soles of the
feet due to falanga.
Severe psychological stress is common to all these cases, including the few
without major physical findings. One 37 year old woman who related that her
husband and son had been killed during the violence accompanying the 2002
election suffered moderate soft tissue injury from being beaten but
presented, essentially, with extreme anger resulting from her cattle being
stolen, her crops destroyed and her house burnt.
Increasing number s of reports have been received by ZADHR of medical and
other health personnel suffering intimidation and physical threat. This is
either because they have been perceived to be ‘opposition’ supporters or to
have voted for the ‘opposition’, or because they have treated or might in
the future treat ‘opposition’ people who have been injured. To date few of
these reports have been confirmed. However, in one mission hospital where
most of the medical and nursing staff (amongst others) were said to have
been put on a list of people to be beaten up for perceived political
affiliations, three cases of beatings were indeed attended to by medical
personnel. However the police were called, four arrests of perpetrators of
the violence were made. The hospital never closed. As recently reported in
The Lancet (2008;371:1059-1060), the resilience and dedication of health
workers in Zimbabwe is remarkable.
We re-emphasise that we can only report on those who have been able to
access health facilities staffed by ZADHR members. We have received reports
of widespread violence in remote rural areas where victims have no access to
medical care, and there have also been reports of perpetrators blocking
access of victims to medical attention. It is therefore likely that the
numbers reported here represents only a small fraction of those injured.
ZADHR again appeals to the international community of health workers,
including the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the Zimbabwe
Medical Association to bring whatever effective pressure is within their
capability to bear on the Government of Zimbabwe to stop these grotesque,
cruel and shameful acts of violence, and to be prepared to actively defend
their colleagues facing intimidation and physical threat.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Staff ⋅ April 26, 2008
Jacob Zuma condemned on Friday a police raid on opposition party
headquarters in Zimbabwe, adding that it appeared “somebody is sabotaging
the elections” there.
The ANC president told The Associated Press in an interview that incidents
like Friday’s raid on opposition headquarters in Harare make the country
resemble a police state.
“Why should the police come in, why should they do this?” he asked after
reading a news report about the raid, in which heavily armed police shoved
or beat scores of people, arrested hundreds and seized materials on vote
counting. The offices of independent election observers were also targeted
in the raid.
Both groups have claimed the opposition, lead by Morgan Tsvangirai, won the
March 29 presidential elections. Zimbabweans are still awaiting official
results, amid charges that President Robert Mugabe is using violence and
stealth to hold on to power.
Zuma called the delay in announcing the results “unexplainable”, and said
“it cannot be supported”.
Asked whether the delayed announcement suggested Mugabe did not win the
elections, Zuma said “it is difficult to speculate, except that somebody is
sabotaging the elections”.
Incidents like Friday’s raids are “creating a situation where people could
say this is now a police state,” he said.
Zuma said the situation in Zimbabwe “is going beyond the point where people
should just look at it”, adding that action is needed “as urgently as
He said that in order to resolve the “impasse” in Zimbabwe, Mugabe and
Tsvangirai will have to sit down for talks.
Asked about a South African court’s decision earlier this month to prevent a
shipment of arms from China from transiting to Zimbabwe, Zuma said it
highlighted the region’s determination to prevent an escalation of violence
Authorities in Mozambique, which also borders on Zimbabwe, which is
landlocked, refused the Chinese freighter carrying the arms permission to
Zuma was speaking on a visit to Paris, the last leg of an ANC delegation
tour that has also taken him to Germany and Britain, where he held talks on
Thursday with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
25 April, 2008
Protestors from the Revolutionary Youth Movement of Zimbabwe (RYMZ) in South
Africa have alleged that the SA police assaulted them and used teargas as
they disrupted a demonstration at the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria. The group’s
patron, Reverend Mufaro Hove, said about 1000 activists had participated in
the protest march, and they intended to hand over a petition to Zhong
Jianhua, the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa. The petition calls on China
to stop all arms sales to Zimbabwe because the country is not at war.
Reverend Hove said he had visited Sunnyside Police station and was informed
that 129 activists were in detention at various police stations. Among the
detained is the group’s President Simon Mudekwa and their secretary general
Hove said the 2 youth leaders alleged that they were assaulted by police
when they were arrested. A female activist named Princess was beaten with a
rifle butt. It is believed she was pregnant. Hove said the activists also
alleged that police threw teargas into an enclosed vehicle that contained 30
of the arrested.
These details were confirmed by Gabriel Shumba, director of the Zimbabwe
Exiles Forum, who helped to organise the protest. But we were not able to
reach the SA police for comment. We will keep trying.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
New York Times
By BARRY BEARAK
Published: April 27, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe — I had never been arrested before and the prospect of
prison in Zimbabwe, one of the poorest, most repressive places on earth,
seemed especially forbidding: the squalor, the teeming cells, the
possibility of beatings. But I told myself what I’d repeatedly taught my two
children: Life is a collection of experiences. You savor the good, you learn
from the bad.
I was being charged with the crime of “committing journalism.” One of my
captors, Detective Inspector Dani Rangwani, described the offense to me as
something despicable, almost hissing the words: “You’ve been gathering,
processing and disseminating the news.”
And I’d been caught at it red-handed, my notes spread across my desk, my
text messages readable on my cellphone, my stories preserved by Microsoft
Word in an open laptop.
At one point, 21 policemen and detectives milled about my room at a small
lodge in Harare, the capital. They knocked against one another as they
ambled about, some kneeling, some on tiptoes, searching for clues in the
cabinets and drawers. Men with rifles guarded the door.
They immediately found my two United States passports, ample evidence of
subterfuge. One contained work papers indicating I was a reporter; the
other, the one with my visa, said I had entered the country as a tourist.
“But you’re actually a journalist?” I was asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“And you are not accredited in Zimbabwe?”
“No, I’m not.”
I had concerns well beyond myself, for certain Zimbabweans had been
assisting me. Messages between us lived on in the phone. Whatever bad times
lay ahead for me, I imagined things would undoubtedly be worse for these
others, these friends.
One of the cops gripped the phone. “You’re in terrible trouble,” he
admonished. His tone was menacing but there was also an odd curl to his
smile that I took to be an invitation.
“Can you help me?” I whispered.
His right thumb was nimbly working the keypad of the phone, but then it
dropped to his side and he used it to massage his forefinger, sign language
for the universal lubricant of the greased palm. In a few minutes, I
negotiated safe passage to the bathroom and left him $100 in my shaving kit.
Then we stood shoulder to shoulder. “What’s this?” he’d demand accusingly as
we scrolled through the messages. Each time I’d nod yes, he’d hit delete.
The crowded room was hot. Already, I felt jailed. I needed a breath of air,
but when I moved toward the door, Detective Jasper Musademba, a well-built
man in a jacket and tie, stopped me. He had been the most threatening of the
police. “If you try to go outside...” he said sternly, stopping in
midsentence. He made his hand into a gun and pulled the trigger.
“You’ll kill me?” I asked.
“Good,” he remarked wryly. “Then you’ve seen that movie.”
An Electoral Limbo
I’d come to Zimbabwe to cover the March 29 elections, momentous times in a
contentious country. History was taking a gallant turn against long-shot
odds. Robert Mugabe, the enduring political chameleon who’d led the nation
since its liberation from Britain in 1980, seemed on the cliff edge of
Day after day, Zimbabwe languished in a peculiar limbo. While the government
refused to release the results of the presidential race, totals already had
been posted at every polling station and there were solid reasons to think
that Mr. Mugabe, the 84-year-old president, had suffered an unexpected
This must have come as a shock to the “old man,” as Zimbabweans call him,
not only since the election apparatus was so slanted in his favor but
because he considered himself the father of his people. Knowledgeable
sources told me the rebuke had at first left President Mugabe depressed and
ready to concede.
His power had flourished through methodical cruelty, including the murder of
thousands of people in the dissident stronghold of Matabeleland. As he and
cronies then acquired lavish mansions and enormous bank accounts, he thrust
the nation into a calamitous economic meltdown, the main precipitator being
a misbegotten takeover of productive farms from white landowners.
Mr. Mugabe, who holds the genuine bona fides of a liberation hero, likes to
present himself as one of freedom’s great champions. Maintaining a veneer of
democracy is important to his image. Civic groups are permitted to meet so
long as their messages fail to reach the masses. Courts can convene so long
as Mr. Mugabe reserves the right to sweep aside inconvenient decisions.
Elections can be held so long as political adversaries survive beatings and
jailings and torture — and the results can be reliably rigged.
On April 3, the day I was arrested, my means of observing these mechanisms
oddly shifted from a vantage point outside to one within. My own freedom
would depend on those remnant smidgens of civil liberty still granted the
citizenry — and on the many brave people who carry on unbowed against
The veneer of freedom Mr. Mugabe permits the press is applied with the
thinnest of coats. Though some independent weeklies are allowed to publish,
the state controls the only daily newspaper and television station. Most
Western reporters are routinely denied entry.
I was new to Africa. My wife, Celia Dugger, and I arrived in January as The
New York Times’s co-bureau chiefs in Johannesburg. With elections coming in
Zimbabwe, I soon made two trips to Harare, each time taking ritualistic
precautions for safety. I left my credentials and laptop at home, entered
the country as a tourist and interviewed people only behind closed doors.
Each night, I destroyed my notes after e-mailing their contents to myself at
an Internet cafe. I wrote my articles only upon returning to Johannesburg.
But the presidential election presented new complications. Daily articles
needed to be filed. I had to openly work the streets, then go back to a room
with a reliable wireless link to transmit from my laptop. Over time,
normally wary reporters began taking risks that mocked earlier prudence,
announcing their names and affiliations at opposition news conferences.
Necessity numbed my own caution. My articles required continuous updating
for The Times’s Web site, so there I’d be in downtown Harare, a backpack
slung over my shoulder, dictating quotes from my notebook and spelling names
into the wavering connection of the mobile phone. Early on, I had asked that
my byline be kept from the articles. But other reporters were less guarded
about revealing themselves in print. I eventually followed suit.
I was staying at York Lodge, a collection of eight cottages spread around a
lovely expanse of shrubs and lawn. At age 58, after 33 years as a reporter,
I’d like to think I have a nose for trouble, alert to danger like some
frontier cavalry scout who tenses up at the sound of a suspicious birdcall.
But the police had been at the lodge for 45 minutes before I knew a thing. I
was filing another update for the Web site when I left the room for a
breather at about 4 p.m. Maria Phiri, a tall, wiry detective in hoop
earrings and a red dress, called out, “Hey you!” I was stunned.
Several men hurried my way. Their very first question had me reeling.
“Who are you?”
A Land of ‘No Law’
Two reporters were rounded up at York Lodge; two others were warned away
before returning from the field. The other unfortunate was Stephen Bevan,
45, an able British freelancer who works for The Sunday Telegraph.
We were taken in a pickup truck to the Harare Central Police Station, a
large colonial-era complex colloquially known as Law and Order. The
detectives’ evident glee at our capture was soon tempered by the arrival of
a familiar and implacable foe, Beatrice Mtetwa, the nation’s top human
She is a striking woman with rectangular glasses and a neatly trimmed Afro.
“There is no crime called ‘committing journalism,’ whether it is with
accreditation or without,” she informed us privately in her exaggerated,
lawyerly diction. This was actually news to us — and quite a relief. In
fact, the law had been amended in January. It was now only illegal to
falsely claim to be accredited, and neither Stephen nor I had done that.
But Ms. Mtetwa also explained the sinister realities of a woebegone place:
“Ultimately, there is no law in Zimbabwe. Your governments can’t apply
pressure; the British and the Americans have negative influence here. The
police will hold you as long as they want.” She was president of the nation’s
law society. The police had beaten her with truncheons the year before.
Her colleague, Alec Muchadehama, had recently spent time in the Harare
Central cells that now loomed before us. “This is one of our worst places,”
he told us gravely. “You’ll need to brace yourselves.”
The human mind is actually good at such things. It doesn’t take much time to
think of greatly admired people who have been wrongly locked up in the jails
of the world. I already knew a dozen civic leaders in Zimbabwe with horrid
tales of time in custody. Some were beaten, most often around their torsos
and the soles of their feet. Some were simply held in the vile cells.
I managed to call Celia with a borrowed phone. My wife somehow knows how to
all at once be emotionally distraught and serenely levelheaded. She was
already strategizing about how to free me; at the same time she was getting
ready to assume the newspaper’s Zimbabwe coverage from Johannesburg.
“Don’t worry, whatever the cells are like I can handle it,” I told her,
attempting a tough guy’s bravado. I added a reporter’s inside joke. “Really,
anything is better than having to file four stories a day for the Web site.”
Not long after midnight, Detective Musademba escorted Stephen and me to the
jail. Electricity no longer works in much of the decrepit complex. The
hallways were entirely desolate and silent but for the squeaking of our
shoes and intermittent drips from exposed pipes.
At such an ominous time, my senses felt eerily deprived, except for smell.
With every step, the odor of the urine-soaked lockup grew a bit stronger.
The Cell Door Slams Shut
The uniformed jailers wrote our names in a ledger and asked us to empty our
pockets. I was flush with $4,000 cash, an amount meant to last weeks in a
nation where credit cards were of little use. About $150 of that had been
converted into the ludicrously inflated Zimbabwean currency; crammed in my
pants were bundles of $10 million bills that piled up four inches high.
The jailers patiently counted the sum before stashing it in a safe. There
was never an attempt at a shakedown. Bribery was more on our minds than
theirs. Stephen doled out $40 for the tenuous privilege of spending our
initial hours on a wooden bench in the admittance area instead of the
Sleep was impossible. The bench was hard, the room cold and noisy. Near
dawn, one of the bribed night crew, fearing his supervisors, rousted us from
the bench and hastily herded us upstairs into an unlighted empty cage.
“You can’t be found wearing your socks,” he warned urgently. “It’s not
allowed. You can’t wear more than one shirt either. Hide these things.”
The heavy bars then clanged shut; a padlock clicked. We couldn’t really
observe the surroundings until morning, when the first sliver of sunlight
pierced the one narrow window at the ceiling.
The cell was about 7 feet wide and 15 feet deep. Three bare shelves of rough
concrete extended a body’s length from both of the longer walls. Only the
top slab left enough space for a person to sit upright, albeit with slouched
shoulders. There was a circle of concrete in a corner to be used as a
toilet. Behind it was a faucet. Stephen tried the knob. It did not work.
The floor was filthy. The odor of human waste infected the air. More
bothersome were the bugs. “Cockroaches the size of skateboards,” I quipped.
This was hyperbole. The insects were mostly tiny and black, others short,
white and wormy. We were soon sharing our clothes with them.
At about 7 a.m. the cells were emptied for “the count,” a routine taking of
attendance in a large room farther upstairs. I clumsily hid my socks in my
pants and buttoned one shirt to completely cover the other.
There were about 150 inmates, many of them staring our way. We were older;
we were the only whites. We joined them on one side of the open room. As
names were called, prisoners were obliged to acknowledge their presence and
shift to the opposite wall. I parroted some of the others, using the Shona
word “ndiripo” when my turn came. The gesture drew some cheers and applause.
It seemed an icebreaker, and before the session was over, we were being
tutored in how to say “mangwanani,” or good morning.
Prison movies had made me fear predation. But the inmates were instead a
forlorn lot, a fair selection of Harare’s downtrodden, people who’d once had
decent jobs and who’d now been reduced to scrounging and worse. Two of the
more personable ones were car thieves. Only because their families were
starving, they said. Two others, Donald and Lancelot, were accused of
poaching after cutting the hindquarter off a deer that had been hit by a
We mingled easily, swapping stories and comparing bug bites. Most were in a
worse fix than we were. None said they’d been beaten; they weren’t political
types. But few had lawyers — and many were jailed without their families
knowing. This had dismal implications. The jail provided prisoners no food.
If no one knew you were there, no one knew to bring you something to eat.
At breakfast, Stephen and I were allowed downstairs and pointed toward a
well-stuffed wicker bag. The empathetic wife of the British ambassador had
personally overseen preparation of our first meal. Sandwiches of bacon and
eggs were triple-wrapped to hold their warmth. Tea, coffee, cocoa and sugar
were packed in little bags to use with a thermos of hot water. There were
juice boxes, soda cans, chocolate bars, hard candies and breath mints.
Neither of us had much appetite, but we were enormously grateful. Thwarted
as journalists, we now had renewed purpose.
We could feed the hungry.
A Deadline Looms
It was a Friday, and Fridays held a fateful deadline. If we didn’t get bail,
we’d be locked away all weekend. We were relieved to be sent back to Law and
Order, where we again found Beatrice Mtetwa, our lawyer.
The night before, I had wanly told her that the case against me seemed
hopelessly open-and-shut. I had written articles, and anyone who Googled my
name with “Zimbabwe” would have all the proof that was needed. She
harrumphed at that, insisting that even a simple database search was beyond
the technical expertise of the Harare police.
I now realized she might be right. The Criminal Investigations Department
had only a few computers, a shortage of chairs and no functioning toilet.
Detectives who earlier had seemed so competently fearsome now reminded me of
the beleaguered gumshoes on “Barney Miller.”
Detective Musademba hunt-and-pecked on an antique typewriter, making
triplicates with carbon paper. He’d sometimes shake away his boredom by
breaking into song and pounding out the beat with the palms of his hands.
Detective Inspector Rangwani, in charge of the investigation, was lamenting
his need for a copy of the updated statutes. “May I use yours?” he asked our
lawyer, who took the opportunity to hector and berate him.
“This is a police state,” Ms. Mtetwa said brassily. “The law is only applied
when it serves the perpetuation of the state. How does it feel, Inspector
Rangwani, to be used this way by the state?”
The browbeaten cop looked bedraggled, his head sagging from his neck like a
wilted house plant. He replied meekly, “Madame, I agree with you and I have
made a recommendation just as you have stated to drop the charges.”
Suddenly, the nightmare seemed to be ending with a yielding snap of the
finger. The inspector forwarded the matter to the attorney general’s office,
and the appropriate official there advised the police to set us free.
But there was then an odd delay, then an abrupt reversal, the pretense of a
working justice system lost in a maddening flicker. “The law only applies
when it serves the perpetuation of the state,” Ms. Mtetwa repeated.
Two South African television technicians had been arrested the week before
on similar charges. That morning, a magistrate found them not guilty. Yet
instead of being released, they were rearrested. Someone in the government
thought this a useful time to suppress the zeal of interfering foreign
Clemens Madzingo, the police’s chief superintendent, himself gave us the
news. He is a huge, pit bull of a man. He stood in the doorway with a
triumphant grin. New charges were forthcoming, he said. Proof of our
misdeeds would soon be excavated from files in our confiscated laptops.
“Until then, you’ll be back in the cells.”
The Hard-Liners Prevail
Things had turned badly for us; more important, things were more hapless for
Zimbabwe. The government now bizarrely announced a recount of its
unannounced election results. The hard-liners had apparently steeled Mr.
Mugabe to fight on. In a fine Orwellian touch, they had accused the
opposition of cheating. They now appeared set to finagle an election
Did our incarceration somehow suit such purposes? That possibility set us
into anxiety overdrive. Our wives, our editors, our embassies: they were all
working hard to get us out. And while these welcome efforts supplied hope,
they also left us vaguely embarrassed. If pressure could be applied on Mr.
Mugabe, it ought to be for Zimbabwe’s sake, not ours.
Jail, once so forbidding, now seemed merely dreary and depressing. How would
we keep warm? Was there a way to get clean? When will this end?
I was fortunate to have Stephen as a comrade. I once observed that while we
were amply accompanied by every sort of insect, the jail lacked rodents.
“Why would rats stay here?” he responded with his wonderful dry wit. “There’s
no food. They’ve left the country the same as everyone else.”
More than a quarter of Zimbabwe’s 13 million people have fled. The nation’s
primary income is the cash sent home by this diaspora. Soon to follow are
many inmates and guards from the jail. They wanted our phone numbers in
Johannesburg — and pleaded with us not to forget them.
We had befriended a few jailers, but those who allowed us favors would end
their shift, followed by jailers more stern, some wielding lengths of rubber
hose. Our socks went on, our socks came off. Sometimes we were left alone;
sometimes we were stuffed in with many others. I delivered a parental
lecture to a young cellmate who’d cut a man with a beer bottle in a bar
We continued to share our food. But even this enjoyable gesture of charity
could trigger regret. During the two daily “counts,” we’d try to note who
seemed hungriest: The acrobat? The peddler? The guy in the “69” T-shirt?
At meals, we were permitted to select only a few inmates to join us
downstairs. A short, emaciated man in a red jersey had meekly asked to be
included. “Stay close to me when they come for us,” I told him. But then I
“I was near you,” he later muttered disconsolately, “right near you.”
A Blanket, Then a Fall
Sleep escaped me. The concrete was too hard, my body too bony. I had never
so craved a pad and blanket. The insects were most annoying at night. In my
wakefulness, I’d pull my sleeves over my hands but then the stretched fabric
exposed my midriff.
One time, when able to wander the bleak corridors, I found what once had
been a bathroom, with the remnants of sinks and showers. In one corner was a
heap of blankets, stiff and moldy and fetid. I was tempted to take one but
they were simply too disgusting. I wasn’t yet that cold or tired.
Still, I had a fixation. Surely, a blanket was obtainable. We hadn’t paid
any bribes since that first night but we decided to raise the subject of
contraband blankets with a favorite jailer. “Yes, this can be organized,” he
agreed. The next day was Sunday; stores would be closed. He’d bring them
That night, we awaited his footsteps. The jail possessed no flashlights. The
guard used the tentative glow from a cellphone to find the right key. “I’m
sorry but one blanket is very thin,” he quietly apologized. Stephen and I
vied in self-sacrifice for the lesser covering, and I won with quicker
The top shelf in the cell was seven feet off the ground. I climbed up and
smoothed the flimsy material over the concrete, but when I stepped down I
lost my balance and grabbed a swatch of fabric instead of the sturdy ledge.
I tumbled sideways, my hand grasping at empty air. I bounced off one
concrete slab on the opposite side and then fell flat on my back.
That was how I spent my fourth — and final — night in the Harare cells, in
pain, slapping at bugs, still unable to sleep.
The Bail Hearing
Detective Musademba collected us in the morning for a bail hearing. The
transport was an old pickup whose engine required a rolling start. He
recruited Stephen to help push. I was excused because of my backache.
The courthouse is called Rotten Row, after a nearby street. It’s a circular
five-story structure built around four elaborate saucers that once fed into
one another as a fountain. With the nation insolvent, there’s no money to
maintain either ornamentations or courtrooms. Floors are filthy. Microphone
stands have no mikes. The building’s clocks are each stymied at 7:10.
Our hearing was pro forma; the magistrate released us each on bail of 300
million Zimbabwean dollars, about $7, and the police were ordered to
surrender our seized passports into the custody of the bailiffs.
The real showdown only came later, a hearing when Beatrice Mtetwa would
argue we never should have been arrested at all. I sat fretfully in the
“dock,” the enclosed rectangle reserved for the accused. Across the room in
the witness box stood Superintendent Madzingo, the brawny police chief who’d
pledged to scavenge through our incriminating laptops. What did he have?
Nothing, it turned out. He testified that “critical new evidence” had caused
the attorney general’s office to reverse its initial decision to let us go,
a hasty fiction that was not even loitering in the rough vicinity of the
When asked to provide documentation, he tendered the printout of an article
scooped off my desk at York Lodge, something I’d brought to Harare as
background for a possible feature article about a political candidate.
Ms. Mtetwa proceeded to hang up Mr. Madzingo like a side of beef.
“Who is the author of that article?” she asked.
The article wasn’t mine. It had been written by one of the all-time-greats
of The New York Times, Anthony Lewis.
“Can you tell us the date of that article?”
It was published in 1989.
Magistrate Gloria Takundwa first covered her giggles with fingers, then with
the loose sleeve of her black robe.
Freedom, and Uncertainty
Beatrice Mtetwa said it was fortunate the case was before a magistrate. Most
were independent, many were courageous. They were leftover gloss in Mr.
Mugabe’s veneer of freedom. Justice was seldom found in higher courts.
The magistrate announced her decision on April 16. While we had expected it
to go our way, our minds were infused with our lawyer’s admonition: the law
only matters when it serves the interest of the state. We suspected that the
government intended to rearrest us, which turns out to be true.
But whatever the intentions, we were better prepared. We fled quickly from
Rotten Row, our car pirouetting through the streets until we were sure we
weren’t followed. We waited in the parking lot of a pork production plant
until word came that our passports had been recovered.
Then, by prearrangement, we rendezvoused with a driver in a fully gassed
car, avoiding the country’s airports and heading northwest through the
winding roads of the Matuzviadonha Mountains, toward the Zambezi River and a
small border crossing into Zambia.
I had left the cells with a case of scabies, an infestation of microscopic
mites that swelled my hands and wrists to nearly twice their size. But I am
better now, back in Johannesburg, with Celia, with our sons, Max, 17, and
In the meantime, Zimbabwe is beset with paroxysms of violence. Thuggery,
torture and murder are familiar implements in Robert Mugabe’s tool kit.
Political opponents are being brutalized, as are everyday people whose
voting defied him. The presidential election results are still unannounced.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare, Tom Chivers and agencies
Last Updated: 2:22pm BST 26/04/2008
A partial recount of votes in Zimbabwe's disputed election has shown
that President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has not regained control of the
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party gained a
parliamentary majority for the first time in 28 years in last month's
elections. A recount was required in 23 of the 210 constituencies.
So far fourteen have been recounted, with the original result
confirmed in all 14. This means that even if Zanu-PF wins all the remaining
seats, it would still fall short of a majority.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has decried the escalating violence that
has followed Zimbabwe's elections, saying that Britain will step up
diplomatic efforts ahead of a UN Security Council meeting.
Zimbabwean security forces staged a series of violent raids on critics
of Mr Mugabe, arresting hundreds of opposition activists, election monitors
and even hospital patients.
"The coming days will be critical. We will intensify international
action around a UNSC discussion on Tuesday. We will press for a UN mission
to investigate the violence and human rights abuses," Mr Brown said in a
"The whole international community must speak up against the climate
of fear in Zimbabwe."
In the capital, Harare, heavily armed riot police smashed their way
through groups of injured opposition supporters, including women and
children, who had fled from the violence being meted out in rural areas by
thugs deployed by Zanu-PF.
The group was gathered outside the headquarters of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, which the police then stormed, arresting an
estimated 300 people.
In the first raid on the offices since the disputed March 29
elections, police also confiscated computers and all the party's election
materials including data it used to predict results.
Many MDC supporters in Zanu-PF strongholds have had their homes razed
in arson attacks, while hundreds have been treated for serious injuries,
particularly in the east of the country.
Members of the security forces have said that they received orders to
go "back to the bush" to protect the land and to soften up the population
for a re-run of the presidential poll.
Mr Mugabe has yet to announce the result of presidential election,
despite his government insisting that it must go to a second round.
A security guard at the MDC's headquarters described what happened.
"They grabbed people off the pavement. Then they went upstairs and started
dragging people down. I think they must have got 300 of them because they
filled up one big police bus and then the bus came back again and took the
next ones. Then they brought a big police truck and took the last.
"I estimate they took 300 people. There is no one left inside now,
just us security."
The offices of the country's only independent election monitor, the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network, were raided by intelligence officers and
files and computers were removed.
Its chairman, Noel Kututwa, said that he and other senior staff had
gone into hiding. A warrant shown during the raid said that the authorities
were looking for subversive material which could be used to overthrow the
He also said they had confiscated lists of names and addresses of
thousands of people who had been hired by the network as observers for the
There were reports from central Zimbabwe that the rural Driefontein
hospital run by the Roman Catholic Church was closed down on Wednesday after
men calling themselves war veterans kidnapped patients and beat up medical
The patients were suspected MDC members and had been admitted for
treatment after suffering beatings. MDC welfare personnel who had been
trying to find both the patients and the doctors from the hospital have
since been detained.
Nelson Chamisa, an opposition spokesman, said: "This is systematic
harassment. What is clear is that these people are desperate and they can do
April 25, 2008 – The Southern African Development Community is negligent in
responding to Zimbabwe’s crisis and must begin urgent political intervention
to stop the violence and resolve the four-week electoral standoff. Freedom
House is deeply concerned about new reports of a worsening humanitarian
crisis caused by government forces cracking down on members of the political
opposition, civil society and ordinary citizens.
Today, Zimbabwean security forces raided the offices of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, arresting hundreds of people and seizing
files on the March 29 presidential election. In addition, similar raids
occurred at the offices of the independent Zimbabwe Elections Support
Network, which performed a parallel vote tabulation of the election.
The raids were the latest in a series of attacks that opposition and
independent religious and human rights groups say has left at least 10 dead,
hundreds wounded and displaced 3,000 families.
“The regime of President Robert Mugabe is instigating this violence and
refusing to respect the will of the Zimbabwean people,” said Daniel
Calingaert, Freedom House deputy director of programs. “Nearly a month after
the elections, any results that would be released are highly suspect and the
conditions for a credible second round do not exist at this time.”
A recount from the presidential election is underway in 23 constituencies,
even though the Zimbabwe Election Commission has yet to release official
results of the presidential vote. A South African member of the SADC
observation team dismissed the recount as “fatally flawed.”
“SADC works on the important principle that African problems require African
solutions,” said Calingaert. “Solutions to the Zimbabwean crisis are needed
now, more than ever.”
Thomas O. Melia, Freedom House deputy executive director, said South Africa
has a crucial role to play in resolving the crisis.
“Successive South African governments have said that the country ought to be
a permanent member of the UN security council,” noted Melia. “Now is the
time for South Africa to demonstrate that it is up to the challenge of
providing effective leadership in a time of crisis in its immediate
Zimbabwe is ranked Not Free in the 2008 edition of Freedom in the World,
Freedom House’s survey of political rights and civil liberties, and in the
2007 version of Freedom of the Press.
Southern Africa is paralyzed by a hoary old drama—how to persuade an
independence leader to go.
By Scott Johnson and John Barry | NEWSWEEK
May 5, 2008 Issue
Gangs loyal to Robert Mugabe have covertly rampaged across Zimbabwe's
countryside for weeks. They wield axes and crowbars as well as AK-47s; some
wear Zimbabwean military uniforms. Survivors tell of witnessing awful
sights. A villager being lashed to the door of his house and set afire.
Another who was draped in flaming plastic before the thugs torched his
house, drenched his goats in fuel and ignited them, too.
On the surface, Zimbabwe's meltdown seems to be proceeding at a stately
pace: government officials say they need to recount results from the March
29 general elections, and every few days they release a revised total from
one disputed constituency or another. But opposition supporters and much of
the outside world recognize this as a sham—"If [Zimbabweans] had voted for
Mugabe, we would have the results" by now, Jendayi Frazer, the assistant
secretary of State for African Affairs, said last week—and with each passing
day resentments are hardening. The economy has ground to a halt. (In one
five-hour period last week, inflation climbed 5 percent.) And the thugs are
able to continue their dark work.
A region that has witnessed unprecedented growth and political stability is
now consumed by an all-too-familiar problem—how to persuade a Big Man to go.
"It's like the last days of Mobutu," says opposition activist Simon Spooner.
It's a scary analogy: by the time Mobutu Sese Seko ended his 30-year reign
over the Democratic Republic of Congo (then called Zaire), the country had
sunk into a civil war that would kill 4 million people at home and spread
across the region.
Mugabe is not likely to leave gracefully. A leader in the bush war that
overthrew white minority rule in 1980, he helped make the new nation of
Zimbabwe a model for the rest of the continent. His transitional government
included two white ministers from the previous regime; he made education a
top national priority, and he helped turn Zimbabwe into one of the most
agriculturally productive and stable countries in Africa. But he's failed
his country the same way so many other African liberation leaders failed
theirs—by seeing himself as indispensable. In 2000, to gain support, Mugabe
began seizing land from white farmers and giving it over to
liberation-struggle veterans who knew nothing about raising food. Today the
country is starving, and the war vets have become regime enforcers.
If anything, the fact that the March vote wasn't rigged outright was
surprising. "Six months ago people at State were saying there wasn't going
to be any significant change in Zimbabwe in this administration's tenure,"
says Michelle Gavin, a Zimbabwe expert with the Council on Foreign
Relations. Western poll monitors were barred from the country during the
March vote, but independent African observers were allowed—and many of them
were equipped with mobile-phone cameras, to transmit vote counts as soon as
they were posted. The coverage wasn't total, but it was good enough to keep
challenger Morgan Tsvangirai from being openly robbed.
While Frazer was forceful in her comments last week, Washington knows that
only local actors can show Mugabe the door. Zimbabwe's neighbors have been
reluctant to challenge a man they used to idolize. But many do not want to
be dragged down by some hoary decolonization drama. Mozambique, Namibia and,
until late last week, Angola took a huge step by refusing to let a Chinese
freighter enter their ports carrying nearly 80 tons of assault-rifle
ammunition, mortar shells and grenades en route to Mugabe's security forces.
Last week Tanzania's president, Jakaya Kikwete, raised the possibility that
his country's troops might be used in Zimbabwe. "We will certainly consider
it if asked," says a senior Tanzanian official who asked not to be named on
such a touchy subject. "If we get there, to a point where military action is
needed, if it's a multilateral project, then we'll do it. At the moment we
do not think that will be necessary."
There's one big obstacle: Thabo Mbeki. South Africa's lame-duck president is
the most powerful actor in the region, and so far he's resisted any calls to
get tough with Mugabe. Mark Gevisser, Mbeki's biographer, says the two
leaders have had a deep personal connection since the days when both were
struggling against white rule, years after most other African countries had
achieved independence. "Mbeki made a point of telling me that he considered
Mugabe to be a father figure," Gevisser says, adding that Mbeki (19 years
younger than Mugabe) has never emerged from the shadow of his old mentor.
No one knows whether a peaceful transition is possible. "It's going to be
difficult to choreograph, very complicated—with one central question being
how to manage the security forces," says Mark Bellamy, a longtime State
Department Africa hand now at the Center for Strategic & International
Studies. Tsvangirai, who is widely believed to have won the March vote, has
promised that Mugabe will be shielded from prosecution if he steps down, but
Mugabe's senior security officials have no such guarantee. "Some of these
guys are war criminals or abusers of human rights at the very least," says
one well-placed Western diplomat in Harare, asking not to be named on such a
sensitive topic. "They definitely know that if Mugabe gets a golden
parachute they're not going to get one, and they're doing everything they
can to keep him in there." For now Mugabe's enforcers are standing tough.
NEWSWEEK has obtained a memo from an internal briefing to a group of police
and intelligence officers by Zimbabwe's deputy minister of Home Affairs. "We
are a Liberation Movement and will not hand over power," it says. It speaks
MDC PRESS STATEMENT
25 April 008
The MDC is outraged and dismayed by the continued abuse of innocent
civilians by ZANU PF through the use of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
We note that as in previous cases such as Murambatsvina where Zimbabweans
were displaced from their homes at the hands of the police on the orders of
the Mugabe government it is mostly women and children that are not only
exposed to the vagaries of the cold whether but also are having to deal with
the social trauma that is inflicted on them as a result of the abuses.
It should be noted that each time the ZANU PF leader, Robert Mugabe makes
some inflammatory statements about his perceived enemies, it has been
followed by a wave of violence in the country and we would want to believe
that the current wave is no different to previous ones. We call on ZANU PF
leaders especially their President, Robert Mugabe to issue a condemnatory
statement and order a stop to violence forthwith.
Today the ZRP raided Harvest House in Harare, the Headquarters of MDC Morgan
Tsvangirai and indiscriminately arrested youths, staff members and displaced
people from rural areas who had sought refuge in the building. It will be
noted that all the displaced people are victims of state sponsored violence
since the results of the March 29, 2008 Parliamentary elections were
Some of these people have had the misfortune of having their homes, food,
clothes and other personal belongings either burnt or destroyed by ZANU PF
agents and thugs. The further assault on their right to seek refuge, smacks
of sheer cruelty and unabated brutality.
The further raids on ZESN offices by the ZRP speaks volumes of ZANU PF's
intention to silence voices and subvert the will of the people expressed so
loudly in the March 2008 elections. It will be noted that the MDC National
Council unequivocally resolved that the ZEC should forthwith respect the
will of the people and dignity by immediately releasing the results of the
The use of the ZRP and other states agencies to brutalize and harass
innocent Zimbabweans whose only crime was to exercise their democratic right
is unacceptable and is an affront to human dignity. The MDC calls upon the
ZRP to behave in a manner consistent with a professional police force and
desist from allowing it to be used as an instrument of oppression and terror
by the regime of Robert Mugabe.
As the MDC led by Professor Arthur Mutambara, we call on SADC to immediately
send a delegation to Zimbabwe to investigate the human rights violations
that are taking place in the country now. We further call upon SADC, African
Union and the rest of the international family to assist Zimbabwe in all
possible manner so as to avert an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe. In the
meantime, we call upon all human rights groups to urgently assist in
providing shelter and support to all persons displaced by the political
Priscilla Misihairabwi- Mushonga
Deputy Secretary General
Friday, 25 April 2008 12:54
BY TRUST MATSILELE
JOHANNESBURG – All people identified with Zanu P(F)face a blockade at
the South African border by civil and other organizations seeking to bar
them from entering the country.
Speaking at a civic society meeting convened by the Congress of South
Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) at Cosatu House last week delegates agreed that
targeted sanctions against supporters of the military junta ruling Zimbabwe
would be a step towards ending the country's crisis.
Delegates also warned SADC and the Africa Union not to continue
inviting the illegitimate Mugabe regime for International meetings as they
were denying recognizing defeat they suffered last month at the hands of the
Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of COSATU, said mobilisation for
massive demonstrations such as has never been seen before was already
underway in all country's provinces that would see the junta bowing to
"The demonstration we are planning for May 10 will be a massive one
and it will take place concurrently in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth,
Pretoria and Johannesburg," said Vavi.
Addressing the meeting Elinor Sisulu of the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition lamented that the emergency had reached alarming levels that
needed to be addressed as citizens were now facing a brutal environment
similar to that of 2002 elections.
"We have in our possession documents highlighting meetings of the
Joint Operation Command, Chiefs, Governors and also war veterans stating
that systematic attacks launched by the Mugabe regime are under way and
should be completed soon," said Sisulu.
Friday, 25 April 2008 06:27
Cashflow crisis also hits HIV patients
Scores of nongovernmental (NGO) and humanitarian organisations are
threatened with collapse after Zimbabwe’s central bank failed to release
money needed for their operational costs.
Cephas Zinhumwe, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of
Nongovernmental Organisations (NANGO), the national NGO umbrella body, said
the financial situation for his members was “desperate”.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in September 2007 demanded that all
foreign currency deposits of foreign funded NGOs and humanitarian
organisations were kept by the central bank on their behalf. The
organisations then had to maintain ‘mirror’ accounts, which reflected the
amount of foreign currency in their local banks, which was then reconciled
by the central bank.
Zinhumwe said, when the programme was introduced, organisations would apply
to the central bank to access foreign currency. Foreign embassies and United
Nations agencies were excluded from the RBZ’s foreign currency management of
“Initially, it took about three days to get foreign currency cleared by the
RBZ. As far as I know, it now takes more than three months before being
cleared to use your money by the RBZ. Some of our member organisations have
not been able to access their money since the beginning of the year and they
say they are facing closure because they have not been able to pay workers,
rentals and to run programmes for which they are funded,” said Zinhumwe.
He said since last year, NGOs had tried, without any success, to meet with
the RBZ Governor Gideon Gono.
[xhead]Situation is grave
Zinhumwe said the RBZ strategy to manage the foreign currency had
exacerbated the foreign currency shortage and impacted negatively on an
already collapsing economy.
“Indications are that since that decision was taken, foreign currency
inflows have reduced dramatically. Some organisations are looking at the
option of opening off-shore accounts, but there are very stringent
requirements that have to be met in order to get such accounts. But the
situation is very grave. Another month or two of this then NGOs will close
en masse,” he said.
Thabani Moyo, the Information Officer for Crisis Coalition, a grouping of
pro-democracy organisations, said the move was a deliberate attempt by the
government and the RBZ to financially throttle NGOs.
“The government has for years accused the NGO sector of supporting the MDC.
The same government tried two years ago to shut down NGOs through the
proposed NGO Bill, which was never signed into law,” Moyo said.
Moyo said in the run-up to the elections, Zanu (PF) had used scarce foreign
currency reserves to bribe voters ahead of the poll.
“The RBZ was responsible for the purchase of farming equipment and buses,
which were used by the ruling Zanu (PF) to entice and bribe voters. The RBZ
cannot use the people’s money to prop up the ruling party.”
Vukile Mkushi, a programme officer for a civic society organisation that he
declined to name, said he had not been paid since the beginning of 2008.
“By the end of April, I would have exhausted all my savings because we are
now in the fourth month without receiving a salary. My wife, who is paid in
local currency, has been keeping the family going and I am getting
frustrated with the RBZ for failing to give us our money,” he said.
The scarce availability of foreign currency is also affecting people living
with HIV and AIDS.
[xhead]HIV drugs in short supply
Lindiwe Mhunduru, the spokesperson for the country’s largest medical aid
service provider, Cimas, said her organisation had stopped supplying
antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for HIV positive clients.
“The inability to get hard currency to import ARVs has in part caused the
disruption. Some of the drugs that are manufactured locally were in short
supply and we could not buy the quantities which we required,” she said.
Mhunduru said foreign currency was needed to both import the drugs and to
equip local manufacturers to ensure adequate supplies, while other ARV drug
manufacturers had stopped production because of a government price control
regime that forced companies to sell commodities at unrealistic prices.
This, according to Mhunduru, had forced medical aid service providers to
approach the government.
“We understand that medical aid societies and service providers have set up
a task force which is preparing a paper detailing foreign currency
requirements for pharmaceutical and other service providers to be submitted
to the government.”
Reverend Maxwell Kapachawo, Zimbabwe’s first religious leader to publicly
disclose his HIV status, said: “My salary has not come in as one of the
people who work in the NGO sector because of problems at the Reserve Bank.
“Now I am told that my medical aid company cannot access foreign currency to
provide the life-saving (ARV) drugs. The Reserve Bank should do all in its
power to provide foreign currency so that ARVs are available at affordable
Now I am told that my medical aid company cannot access foreign currency to
provide the life-saving antiretroviral drugs.
Friday, 25 April 2008 13:03
HARARE – The military junta ruling Zimbabwe claimed this week that it
had recovered more than 200 000 hectares of formerly white-owned land from
ruling party loyalists who had taken more than one farm.
Minister of Land Reform, Didymus Mutasa, told State radio that the
amount of land recovered from the ruling party loyalists was changing all
the time. He said he would not know for some time how much land had been
finally recovered from those who grabbed more than they are allowed, but
that it would be redistributed to people who applied for land, but had so
far not received any.
The few white commercial farmers left on their properties said
recently they could see no evidence that Cabinet ministers, judges, bank
managers, senior army personnel and other leaders, had abandoned any of the
farms they took. In fact, senior army officials are scrambling for the
remaining 300 productive white-owned farms.
For example, Police Assistant Commissioner Veterai this week stepped
up demands on a farm in eastern Zimbabwe and told the white owners, Jessie
and Digby Nesbitt and their family, they must leave the land immediately.
Veterai, who already has one farm, is ignoring a recent court order
prohibiting his confiscation of the farm and his illegal occupation of the
Friday, 25 April 2008 13:54
ACDP SAYS THE AU AND UN MUST INVESTIGATE REPORTS OF ASSAULT AND
TORTURE OF ZIMBABWEAN CIVILIANS.
Rev Kenneth Meshoe, MP and President of the ACDP today called on the
AU and UN to investigate reports of torture and assault of Zimbabwean
“The latest reports about the assault and torture of known opposition
supporters in Zimbabwe warrant an immediate investigation by both the
African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN). While the ACDP supports calls
for the Zimbabwean crisis to be addressed by the UN Security Council, we
nevertheless believe that in the light of the atrocities committed by
militias comprising war veterans and members of the Zanu-PF’s youth wing, an
immediate intervention must take place to stop the suffering of innocent
people, whose only ‘crime’ was to exercise their democratic right to vote
for a candidate and party of their choice.
The ACDP calls on the appointed AU mediator in the Zimbabwean crisis,
President Mbeki, to visit hospitals and clinics where tortured and
brutalized members of the opposition have been receiving medical treatment,
and then prevail on the Zimbabwean President to clamp down on groups and the
militia responsible for terrorizing innocent civilians.
The AU must disqualify the 84 year old Mugabe who is an embarrassment
to the African continent and take heed of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s appeal
for SADC leaders to persuade Zimbabwean President to step down.
The ACDP supports calls by the Human Rights Watch, a respected
non-governmental group that monitors human rights across the globe, for the
African Union to step in immediately to address the crisis and protect
For more information please contact:
Rev Kenneth Meshoe, MP and President of the ACDP: 082 962 5884
Released by Liziwe Ndalana
Media Liaison, ACDP Parliament
Tel 021 403 2284 or 072 199 30126
firstname.lastname@example.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from
Friday, 25 April 2008 12:59
HARARE - Veteran British human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, is
preparing a case for a central London court to obtain an arrest warrant and
extradition order against Robert Mugabe, according to documents made
available this week.
His case against Mugabe, the civilian head of the military junta
ruling Zimbabwe, is supported by affidavits from three Zimbabwean torture
“They implicate Mugabe in the authorisation and condonement of
torture,” Tatchell said, adding: “I also have affidavits and reports from
human rights groups attesting to the widespread use of torture with the
knowledge and consent of the Zimbabwean government and its security and
The seasoned campaigner against Mugabe, Tatchell said he was seeking
legal authority to be issued under Britain’s Criminal Justice Act 1988,
which outlaws torture, and the UN Convention Against Torture 1984.
“If an arrest warrant and extradition order is granted, it would mean
Mugabe could be arrested and extradited to Britain from any of the 100-plus
countries with which Britain has an extradition treaty,” he said. Those
countries include Malaysia, South Africa, and Thailand, “all of which he has
visited recently,” he added.
Friday, 25 April 2008 13:38
HARARE - The losing Zanu (PF) Senate candidate for Gutu, General
Vitalis Zvinavashe, has blamed Zimbabwe’s dictator, Robert Mugabe, for the
party’s poor showing in Masvingo Province after a recount of ballots in his
constituency failed to change the party’s fortunes.
The former army commander also urged fellow Zanu (PF) candidates at a
counting centre in the province to live with the reality that they had
indeed lost the elections to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zvinavashe, a former army commander who once vowed he would never
salute Tsvangirai, spoke on Wednesday while addressing Zanu House of
Assembly and local council election candidates during the recounting of
ballots for three constituencies at Gutu rural district council offices in
“There is no need to fight over these results. We must accept the
reality that we have lost these elections to the MDC. What is important is
to live together in peace, both losers and winners. We do not want violence
in this area. We are relatives,” he said.
Zvinavashe startled election officials and agents when he publicly
suggested that Zanu (PF) candidates in Masvingo had lost because of the
party’s presidential candidate - Mugabe.
“Most of us lost these elections not because we are not popular in our
constituencies. We lost these harmonised elections because of one man.
People rejected us because we were campaigning for Mugabe. People in
Masvingo have rejected him and we became collateral damage. There is no
reason to fight with the MDC over this election. The real problem is that
man not us,” he said. - Agencies
Friday, 25 April 2008 13:14
HARARE – The MDC government-in-waiting has written formally to the
Police Commissioner and the Commander of the armed forces. In the public
interest and for the record, these letters are reproduced here in full.
Deliberate failure by ZRP to carry out its constitutional duty
24 April 2008
For The Attention of Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri
RE: DELIBERATE FAILURE BY POLICE TO CARRY OUT ITS CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY
AND SELECTIVE ARRESTS AND PROSECUTION OF MEMBERS OF THE MOVEMENT FOR
In the run up to the harmonised elections, the Zimbabwe Republic
Police addressed meetings around the country calling for peace in the run
up, during and after the elections.
To a large extent, these meetings had the desired effect in the run up
and during the elections. Relative peace was maintained. The Police should
be commended for the fine effort. Alas, the post election period has
witnessed violence of no mean proportion amounting to a humanitarian crisis
The Police have turned a blind eye to the violence perpetrated on a
defenceless population by the Zimbabwe Defence forces and Zanu (PF) youth
We have it on good record that you have ordered members of the Police
not to interfere in the orgy of violence perpetrated on the civilian
population. It is clear that members of the Zimbabwe Defence forces and Zanu
(PF) youth and militia are immune from arrest and persecution despite their
brazen unlawful conduct.
Your conduct is in clear violation of the constitution which obliges
the Police, in terms of section 93 thereof, to preserve the internal
security of Zimbabwe and maintain law and order therein. You are ultimately
responsible and liable for the failure in carrying out this constitutional
We hereby demand that you order the Police to carry out their duties
in accordance with the constitution of Zimbabwe and without fear or favour.
In particular, we demand that members of the Zimbabwe defence forces and
Zanu (PF) youth and militia who have offended against the law be brought to
It is sad that the people who are being arrested, members of the
Movement for Democratic Change, are victims not perpetrators of the
We look forward to the immediate restoration of the Civilian authority
by the Police in Zimbabwe as a people's force not an organ of Zanu (PF).
Hon Tendai Biti, MP, MDC Secretary General
Unlawful Deployment of Units of Zimbabwe Defence
24th April 2008
For the Personal Attention of General Constantine Chiwenga
Ref: Unlawful Deployment of Units of Zimbabwe Defence
Section 96 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for defence forces
for the purpose of defending Zimbabwe.
We note with concern the active and extensive deployment of units of
the defence forces in the whole country, particularly the rural areas in the
aftermath of the harmonised elections (whose presidential result is still
There is no internal danger posed to the security of Zimbabwe
necessitating the deployment. Such deployment is not in support of civilian
authority, but is meant to subvert and subjugate the will of the people.
We are in receipt of detailed reports of incidences of harassment,
assault, torture, murder, burning of homesteads perpetrated by units of
defence forces or Zanu (PF) militia, commanded, and led by the said units.
This inhuman and unmilitary behaviour is punishment for the people having
exercised their democratic right to vote for the candidate of their choice
as President - Morgan Tsvangirai.
During the orgy of violence people are brazenly told they should vote
for Robert Mugabe in the presidential run-off (although results are not yet
The conduct of the defence forces against their own innocent fathers
and mothers is a callous and contemptuous disregard for their democratic
right to choose a leader of their choice and a clear breach of your
constitutional office. As Commander, Zimbabwe Defence Forces, you are
personally and constitutionally liable for the mayhem occasioned by the
Normal civilian life has seriously been disrupted. Zimbabwe faces a
humanitarian crisis on account of your serious constitutional breaches. The
Zimbabwe Defence Forces has become terror units, not defenders of Zimbabwe.
We demand that you immediately rescind the unlawful deployment with
the consequent result that all units of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces return
Hon Tendai Biti MP, MDC Secretary General
CC: Commander of Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant V. Sibanda
Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, Air Marshall P. Shiri
Mail and Guardian
Donna Bryson | Johannesburg, South Africa
26 April 2008 10:33
Resolving the thorny question of Robert Mugabe's fate may
hold the key to breaking the impasse over Zimbabwe's disputed presidential
Mugabe has not himself suggested he would be willing to
step aside if he were granted immunity for alleged human rights abuses and
allowed to fade into comfortable retirement.
But others in Africa have made that case for him -- saying
that as a one-time lion of African liberation he deserves a dignified exit,
and that other African strongmen have followed that path.
Recent flexibility within his own party could signal
movement toward such an arrangement. The strongest sign has been a proposal
by Mugabe's Zanu-PF to share power with the opposition.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change rejects
that, saying its leader Morgan Tsvangirai won outright. But the Zanu-PF
overture hints at a dawning realisation in the Mugabe camp that it has lost
its iron grip on power.
As the political camps circle each other, election
officials have yet to release the vote results, and the opposition says the
delay is part of a plot by Mugabe to cling to power while his people suffer
international isolation and an economy spiralling out of control.
Increasingly, it appears that unless Mugabe is assured of
a future, his people won't have one.
The top United States envoy on Africa, Jendayi Frazer,
told reporters in Southern Africa this week that Tsvangirai had won the
right to lead any unity government.
As to Mugabe, she said: "If he does the right thing, he
should be allowed to stay in Zimbabwe with the dignity of a former
A proposal that Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic
Change share power in a government headed by Mugabe surfaced in an unlikely
quarter on Wednesday: a column in Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper
usually devoted to denunciations of the opposition.
On Thursday, the column was back to accusing the Movement
for Democratic Change of working "to frustrate land reforms and protect the
interests of the minority landed classes", and called the unity government
But it is significant that the debate is being played out
in Zanu-PF's mouthpiece.
The idea of a coalition government -- akin to the solution
that helped calm postelection violence in Kenya earlier this year -- seems
to have galvanised diplomacy.
In Zambia on Thursday, a government spokesperson said a
national unity government in neighbouring Zimbabwe could be a "welcome
decision" if it can unite the country. The Zimbabwean opposition has called
on Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa to help mediate their nation's crisis.
US envoy Frazer, who helped mediate the Kenyan solution,
met on Thursday with officials in South Africa, where President Thabo Mbeki
has been a key mediator in Zimbabwe. On Friday she was to visit Zambia and
planned a stop in Angola as part of her Zimbabwe diplomacy.
At independence, Mugabe was hailed for campaigning for
racial reconciliation, and for bringing education and health to millions.
Today, he regularly denounces whites -- at independence
celebrations last week, he accused them of plotting to re-colonise the
Economic gains that had made Zimbabwe the region's
breadbasket have been reversed. Many of its people depend on handouts after
the collapse of the agriculture sector blamed on the seizures, often violent
and at Mugabe's orders, of farmland from whites.
Mugabe claimed the seizures begun in 2002 were to benefit
poor blacks, but many of the farms went to his Zanu-PF cronies. Political
dissenters, meanwhile, face jail and beatings.
"The man invokes conflicting emotions," Tsvangirai said in
a recent interview with the Associated Press. "The transformation he's gone
through, from hero to villain, is unprecedented."
Mugabe, though, isn't a villain to everyone. He holds
fellow African leaders in thrall with fiery rhetoric at regional meetings.
The rhetoric also plays well on the streets across Africa.
Tsvangirai has been traveling in Africa in recent days,
ostensibly rallying support. But he also has met leaders like Mozambique's
Afonso Dhlakama, head of the former rebel movement Renamo now in the
political opposition. Dhlakama urged Tsvangirai to offer Mugabe guarantees
he would not be prosecuted.
In Nigeria, Tsvangirai met former President Olusegun
Obasanjo at the Nigerian leader's chicken farm.
Obasanjo first came to power through the military in 1976,
after his own predecessor in the ruling junta was killed in a coup attempt.
He stepped down three years later after civilian elections -- becoming the
first after a long series of Nigerian junta leaders to voluntarily hand
power to an elected president.
He ran as a civilian in 1999, and was hailed as the man
who restored democracy to Nigeria. Eight years later, he tried and failed to
overturn constitutional term limits, then saw his anointed successor elected
in a vote marred by fraud allegations.
In Washington Wednesday, State Department spokesperson
Sean McCormack said the United States would welcome the intercession of
Nigeria or any other African nation with influence in Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai told reporters in Nigeria he respected Mugabe
as a liberation leader. Perhaps one who deserves a cushy retirement on a
farm somewhere in Zimbabwe. - Sapa-AP
Saturday, April 26 2008 @ 03:27 AM BST
Contributed by: Editor
HARARE - The State-controlled Herald newspaper, fearing that it could be
sued into poverty, has agreed to issue an embarrassing apology to the MDC
and to the British government admitting it cooked up fake documents.
The Herald has given assurances that it will apologize, probably in tomorrow’s
issue, for its shameful lies that the MDC was planning to give back land to
whites, recruit generals from Australia, give control of the RBZ to Germans,
and that Morgan Tsvangirai was discussing military invasion of Zimbabwe with
help from Britain.
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti, alleged to have authored the document,
mounted legal action against the Herald, threatening to sue the fledgling
State publication into poverty.
The British embassy in Harare, which also rubbished the alleged
correspondence between Gordon Brown and Tsvangirai, has also addressed a
letter to Herald editor Pikirayi Deketeke, complaining about gutter
reporting at the newspaper.
The Herald has now confessed that it cooked up the stories and documents and
has pleaded for an out of court settlement.
According to a le, from Biti’s lawyers, Mbidzo, Muchadehama & Makoni, the
MDC secretary general said: “The fact that the (Biti) document did not
emanate from Tendai Biti or the MDC was brought to your attention. This
notwithstanding, you went ahead and published stories or articles purporting
that the document was authored by Tendai Biti and MDC.”
The lawyers also stated that the forgery was so sloppy that it was difficult
for any reasonable person to assume they had emanated from Biti.
“They (MDC) say that the document was so poorly drafted, concocted and so
unintelligible (that it could not) have possibly emanated from them or their
offices,” the lawyers said.
Fearing litigation that could bankrupt the State publication, currently
teetering on the verge of collapse owing to a record low print run, the
newspaper pleaded for an out of court settlement.
The newspaper is now set to issue a front page apology to Biti and to Brown
to avert litigation.
“It’s an embarrassing episode for us,” said a senior staffer at the Herald.
“But then you can’t blame PD (Pikirayi Deketeke), because its one of those
documents he is given by George (Charamba) to unquestioningly publish
The Age, Australia
April 27, 2008
EACH day, Edwin Makotore's wife and two children hit the streets, selling
small items such as fruit to earn cash so that he can pay for the privilege
The 38-year-old is the only one in the family with a full-time job, but by
the time he has met the soaring cost of travelling to his job in a
supermarket, for wages wildly out of step with the 165,000% inflation rate,
Mr Makotore is out of pocket.
With only one in five adults in employment, however, a job is a far more
precious commodity than money in Zimbabwe, and Mr Makotore is not going to
let it go.
"One day things will get better and then it will be good to have a job," he
says. "It's like an investment; I pay to keep my job because I will make
money out of it one day. Until then someone makes money out of me."
For now, Mr Makotore is a loser in an economy shrinking faster than any
other country's. But some are doing well out of the hyperinflation. Winners
include those whose mortgages were reduced to less than a single,
near-worthless banknote in months, but the real beneficiaries can be found
in Borrowdale Brooke, an upmarket Harare suburb that is a mass of
construction and palatial new houses.
Besides President Robert Mugabe's palace, ruling Zanu-PF apparatchiks and
generals have set themselves up in houses none could afford on their
Some have become extravagantly rich by manipulating the vast gap between the
official and black-market exchange rates to plunder Zimbabwe's dwindling
hard currency, and buy new Mercedes-Benz cars for about $A50 while the
country's manufacturing sector collapses for want of money.
The mansions have grown as Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by about half over
the past decade. Export earnings have dropped from about $US4.6 billion a
year to about $1.5 billion. The manufacturing sector has halved and revenue
from the tourist industry has fallen by 75%. The currency has been driven
down recently by Zimbabwe's central bank, which has been turning to the
black market in a desperate search for US dollars to pay the bills.
Zimbabwean economist John Robertson said that the Government had also been
plundering hard currency accounts held by businesses to pay off its election
campaign. Last year the Government introduced drastic controls to try to
curb raging inflation, but the measures failed.
Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)
26 April 2008
Posted to the web 26 April 2008
African religious leaders have reminded President Mugabe and his government
that they have a specific responsibility to restore peace and stability to
the country and to respect the human rights of all citizens.
The leaders said they were profoundly distressed and deeply disturbed that
after years of extreme socio-political and economic difficulties, violence
is imminent in Zimbabwe.
The African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL-Religions for Peace),
co-chaired by Catholic Arrchbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, and the
Grand Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Mubajje called for a just and peaceful solution
to the present crisis occasioned by delayed declaration of presidential
results of the March 29 elections.
"ACRL-Religions for Peace calls for a more pro-active, positive and
determined approach from the African Union and all African leaders in the
face of the imminent catastrophe in Zimbabwe, which has almost reached
crisis levels. All hands must be on deck to banish for good the unfortunate
impression that in Africa, many leaders are not interested in the democratic
dispensation their citizenry wishes to prevail."
In a statement issued Wednesday, ACRL-Religions for Peace also urged
Zimbabweans to continue the peaceful agitation for their rights, to seek
political solutions to the current situation, and to stand together to the
end, but to never resort to violence.
The organisation further called on the international community to stop the
transfer of weapons Zimbabwe, adding that what the country needs at this
moment from the rest of the world is full and effective support for every
effort or move to reach a peaceful solution.
12:15 GMT, Friday, 25 April 2008 13:15 UK
A POINT OF VIEW
By Clive James
People might want the world to intervene but it's not entirely clear
there is a world, says Clive James.
Kevin Rudd, the prime minister of my homeland, Australia, covered
himself with glory early this month by telling the Chinese leadership that
China's behaviour in Tibet raised human rights issues.
He said that Australia recognised China's sovereignty over Tibet,
which you might think was still an issue in itself for some Tibetans, but at
least he had said something. And he said it in Mandarin so the Chinese
couldn't mistake his meaning.
He sent another message, in English this time, by means of British
journalists to whom he entrusted the warning that Australia would not
tolerate the idea of the blue-suited Chinese security heavies who accompany
the Olympic torch actually doing anything about security when the torch
passed through Australia. They could model their blue suits - that would be
Put these two messages together and they added up to something the
Chinese could understand, even if they didn't like it. Liberal in the best
sense, this clarity of voice was especially welcome at a time when, back in
Australia, Mr Rudd's celebrated Summit - with a capital "s" - was producing
at least one suggestion that didn't sound very liberal at all.
Mr Rudd's Summit is billed as a meeting of all the best minds in the
country to decide what policies Australia should adopt next, Mr Rudd's own
party apparatus having apparently neglected to think of any during their 11
years out of power.
It seems that at least one of these minds has decided that any
Australians who are deemed insufficiently eco-friendly should have their
citizenship withdrawn. Speaking as one who might very well fail to meet the
criteria of eco-friendliness - I used power tools to build my windmill - I
could be a candidate for withdrawn citizenship.
The proponents of this initiative have not yet said what will happen
to those whose citizenship gets withdrawn, but in the event of a resolution
that they be deported, I am rather glad to have deported myself already. Mr
Rudd has not bound himself to any proposals that might be agreed on by his
Summit talking-shop beyond a promise to take them under advisement.
Instructions to the sea
But the possibility that at least some of the best minds might be
talking illiberal tripe must have struck him already, so it's a relief to
find that he has talked turkey to the Chinese. Not all of the turkey,
perhaps, but as much of the turkey as can usefully be talked without a
threat to intervene effectively against Chinese government policies, which
would be a task beyond even the combined ingenuity of Australia's best
When we come to the question of Zimbabwe, things get harder, and
precisely because in Zimbabwe's case an effective intervention looks a bit
less impossible than giving instructions to the sea. Economic sanctions, for
example, might work, even in the face of Mr Mugabe's time-tested capacity to
pass any imposed hardships along to his increasingly impoverished people.
In September last year Gordon Brown published an article in the
Independent in which he indicated that Britain was the second biggest donor
to Zimbabwe's relief funds, but might not continue to be so if Mr Mugabe did
not relinquish power. Mr Brown also said that, as far as he was concerned,
if Mr Mugabe was present at the upcoming EU-Africa summit then he, Mr Brown,
might have to be absent.
Mr Brown's feelings were clear enough, but as a call to action they
have been somewhat clouded by his later exhortations that the world must do
something. By the world he apparently means all the nations that have
condemned Mr Mugabe's reluctance to let go.
In this case, however, it isn't at all clear that the world can be
said to exist. The world only partly includes South Africa, for example. To
their credit, the South African courts have put a stop to the Chinese
ship-load of small arms heading for Zimbabwe, small arms which Mr Mugabe
might well have employed to influence those who have voted against him
already and thus ensure that they would be less ready to do so next time.
But the president of South Africa, Mr Mbeki, has still not told Mr Mugabe
that it's all over.
This reluctance can only encourage Mr Mugabe's apparent conviction
that it isn't all over. Similarly, alas, the UN has so far offered little
beyond an assurance that it will supply observers and helpers for a new
election, or a run-off for the old one, or whatever the event might be
called. But everybody knows that there has already been an election and
everybody suspects that Mr Mugabe lost it. If that were not so, Mr Mugabe
would have announced the result.
So we are in a condition where everybody suspects, but not everybody
says. That still gives Mr Mugabe room to believe that the time has not yet
arrived when he must deport himself to somewhere else in the world and end
his life in poverty.
For indeed there are people abroad who think that Mr Mugabe never
stole anything and that it is racism to say that he did. According to them,
Mr Smith's white government stole everything, and then the white farmers who
stayed on in Zimbabwe stole everything again, and all that Mr Mugabe ever
did was take it back, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. They are
rather stuck, though, with the question of how he contrived to make the poor
Still, even while waiting for the world to unite on this issue, Mr
Brown comes out looking determined. It hasn't been an easy fortnight for
him, because the best minds on his staff decided that it would be a wise
move for him to visit America at the same time as the Pope.
The Pope arrived in a large aircraft supplied by Alitalia and
Britain's prime minister should have arrived in a large aircraft supplied by
BA. But BA had no spare aircraft, only a mountain of spare luggage left over
from the Terminal 5 triumph. So Mr Brown arrived in America in a charter
aircraft and cut the kind of figure the British press strangely most likes
to report on: the British leader being outshone by any other leader.
It's true that Tony Blair used to be harder to outshine. But Mr Brown
also faced the problem that the Americans not only agreed with him about
Zimbabwe, they had already spoken out even more roundly. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice had called Mugabe's regime a disgrace and even Mr Bush,
putting two and two together and getting the right result for once, had
concluded that his chosen honest broker, Mr Mbeki, had not done enough
From that, you would think that Mr Mugabe would have had the tactical
sense to identify the US as the number one enemy of his regime. After all,
everybody else blames America for everything. But Mr Mugabe - and this is
almost a source of pride - continues to blame Britain. The awkward thing,
however, about Britain being placed first on the despot's list of villains
is that the onus of action is also placed on Britain.
What should the action be? I wish I knew. This week my website got a
letter from a citizen of Zimbabwe who no longer lives there but would
clearly like to live there again. He said some nice things about an article
I had written in favour of the Palestinians' desire for their own state, and
how a policy of indiscriminate suicide-bombing could only ensure that they
would never get it.
On the strength of my analysis, which he agreed with although he had
never been to the Middle East, he asked me to write something about Zimbabwe
before it was too late. Well, I've never been to Zimbabwe, and even if I
had, I doubt I could write anything that would affect the course of events
to even the smallest degree. But I feel obliged to have an opinion, as we
all do. Just imagine the kind of courage that it would take to vote against
Mr Mugabe all over again, and try not having an opinion about that.
My opinion about Zimbabwe, far from being original, is pretty much the
same as Mr Brown's opinion. I have been following Mr Brown's statements of
policy with care, not as if my life depended on them, but as if the life of
my desperate correspondent from Zimbabwe would depend on them if he were
still there. I think I can see what Mr Brown is after - he is trying to send
a message to anyone in the political class in Zimbabwe who is fearless
enough to realise that there is a better chance of the aid money being sent
in if Mr Mugabe is sent out.
In the absence of a united world, which can only mean the armed force
that the UN has conspicuously not yet mentioned, there is no other kind of
intervention available except a promise of hard currency to supplant a
currency which inflation has turned to liquid mud. To promise that, and to
promise that Zimbabwe can't have the aid money until Mr Mugabe takes off.
Where he goes to is a separate question, and less important. Where do
we go, we deported ones who have been stripped of our citizenship for
capital crimes, eco-negligence in my case, the wilful destruction of his own
nation in the case of Mr Mugabe?
There's always somewhere. Idi Amin, now a mere memory, never faced
justice in Uganda. He faced it in a hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, not
far from the Sands Hotel, where he had spent the last years of his life
finding out that no matter how much money you steal from your people, it
can't buy you immortality.
Omnipotence, yes, but only for a time, and Robert Mugabe's time has
come. All we have to do is get him to agree. Hence my message to my
correspondent from Zimbabwe, whose friends are still there to face whatever
happens next: good luck to them, and I only wish that they could depend on