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'Securocrats' wield real power in Zimbabwe

The Telegraph

By David Blair
Last Updated: 10:37pm BST 01/04/2008

In a country of sycophantic cabinet ministers and powerless civil
servants, real authority in Zimbabwe is wielded by the hard-line
"securocrats" who command the armed forces.

These are the only men whose opinions President Robert Mugabe cannot
afford to ignore. All have been rewarded for their loyalty, notably with
farms seized from white owners.

Apart from Mr Mugabe, they have more to lose from political change
than anyone else.

Chief among them is Air Marshal Perence Shiri, the commander of the
air force. During the bush war of the 1970s Mr Shiri, 53, fought white rule
in Mr Mugabe's guerrilla army.

He attained notoriety after the transfer of power to black Zimbabwe in
1980. Mr Mugabe made his trusted acolyte commander of a highly sensitive
army unit called the Fifth Brigade.

Mr Shiri was given the task of suppressing dissidents among Zimbabwe's
minority Ndebele tribe.

He went about this with gusto, commanding a unit which murdered about
8,000 people and tortured or abducted tens of thousands more between 1983
and 1986, making him one of the most feared men in Zimbabwe.

It also made him an ideal hard-liner for Mr Mugabe to rely on. Mr
Shiri was duly promoted to command the air force in 1992. He is a key member
of the Joint Operations Command (JOC), a committee of military chiefs, which
briefs Mr Mugabe on the security situation at least once a week.

When the JOC gathers, Mr Shiri will be joined by General Constantine
Chiwenga, the army's chief of staff. Throughout his military career, Gen
Chiwenga, who also fought in the war against white rule, has been seen as a
highly political officer, closely aligned to Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

The third key figure in the triumvirate of securocrats is Augustine
Chihuri, the national police commissioner. Mr Chihuri has infuriated the
opposition by making it explicitly clear that all Zimbabwean policemen must
support Zanu-PF.

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Opposition leader insists Mugabe defeated

Tsvangirai denies secret talks underway to avoid runoff vote with Mugabe

Apr 01, 2008 05:28 PM
The Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe – The main opposition leader insisted Tuesday he has won
Zimbabwe's presidential election outright and denied persistent reports he
was negotiating to ease out President Robert Mugabe, who has led the country
from liberation to ruin.

In his first public comments since Saturday's election, Morgan Tsvangirai
said he was waiting for an official announcement of the results from the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission before he would enter any talks with Mugabe.

A businessman close to the state electoral commission and a lawyer close to
the opposition said earlier the two men's aides were negotiating a graceful
exit for Mugabe, the country's leader of 28 years. Both sources spoke on
condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Several
diplomats said they had heard similar reports of secret negotiations but
could not confirm talks were under way.

"There are no discussions," Tsvangirai said. "Let's wait for ZEC to complete
its work, then we can discuss the circumstances that will affect the

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga also denied it, telling the
British Broadcasting Corp. "There are no negotiations whatsoever, because we
are waiting for the presidential results, so why do we need to hold any
secret talks?''

Tensions rose as people stayed away from work to await results. A senior
police officer, Wayne Bvudzijena, went on state radio to say: "Our forces
are more than ready to deal with perpetrators of violence.''

Paramilitary police have stepped up patrols in Harare and Bulawayo, the
second-largest city, and several roadblocks have been set up at strategic
entries to the capital. The opposition has most of its support in urban

Tsvangirai said he had won more than the 50 per cent simple majority needed
for victory. Mugabe has made no statement about the election.

The businessman said Mugabe has been told he is far behind Tsvangirai in
preliminary results and that he might have to face a runoff. He said the
prospect was too humiliating for the 84-year-old Mugabe, and that was why
the president was considering ceding power in this Montana-sized country in
southern Africa.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a coalition of 38 Zimbabwe civil
society organizations, said its random representative sample of polling
stations showed Tsvangirai won just over 49 per cent of the vote and Mugabe
42 per cent. Simba Makoni, a former Mugabe loyalist, trailed at about 8 per

In Washington, Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council,
said "it's clear the people of Zimbabwe have voted for change. It's time for
the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to confirm the results we have all seen
from the local polling stations and respected NGOs.''

At his news conference, Tsvangirai spoke as if he already had been declared

"For years we have trod a journey of hunger, pain, torture and brutality,"
he said. "Today we face a new challenge of governing and rehabilitating our
beloved country, the challenge of giving birth to a new Zimbabwe founded on
restoration not retribution, on love not war.''

As Zimbabweans wait for the returns, "our country is on a precipice, on a
cliff edge," said Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change.

The situation remained fragile and could deteriorate without a Mugabe

Martin Rupiya, a military analyst at South Africa's Institute for Strategic
Studies and a former lieutenant-colonel in the Zimbabwe army, said he had
heard of the military's involvement in negotiations for Mugabe to step down.

The election result "has compelled the military, the hawkish wing and the
other moderate, to begin to reconsider accommodating the opposition," he
said. "Because of the nature of the wins they have been forced to

Political analyst John Makumbe said he had learned from military sources
that they would respect the results of the elections. The day before the
elections, security chiefs had warned they would not serve anybody but
Mugabe and would not tolerate an opposition victory.

The electoral commission has released results for 182 of the 210
parliamentary seats – giving Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change 92
seats, including five for a breakaway faction, to 90 for Mugabe's ruling
party. At least six Cabinet ministers have lost their seats, according to
the official results.

The commission has offered no results in the presidential race.

Zimbabweans still fear that Mugabe may declare himself winner, as he has in
previous elections that observers said were marked by rigging, violence and

Should he consider stepping down, he would have to weigh the concerns of
those who have profited from his patronage, a group that includes top
military leaders, party officials and business people. They receive mining
concessions, construction contracts and preferential licenses to run
transport companies and other businesses.

Marwick Khumalo, head of the Pan-African Parliament observer mission, told
South African radio that leading members of Mugabe's party were
contemplating defeat with trepidation.

"I was talking to some of the bigwigs in the ruling party and they also are
concerned about the possibility of a change of guard," he said. "ZANU-PF has
actually been institutionalized in the lives of Zimbabweans, so it is not
easy for anyone within the sphere of the ruling party to accept that 'Maybe
we might be defeated or might have been defeated.'''

At independence, Mugabe was hailed for his policies of racial reconciliation
and development that brought education and health to millions who had been
denied those services under colonial rule. Zimbabwe's economy thrived on
exports of food, minerals and tobacco.

The unraveling began when Mugabe ordered the often-violent seizures of
white-owned commercial farms, ostensibly to return them to the landless
black majority. Instead, Mugabe replaced a white elite with a black one,
giving the farms to relatives, friends and cronies who allowed cultivated
fields to be taken over by weeds.

Today, a third of the population depends on imported food handouts. Another
third has fled the country as economic and political refugees, and 80
percent is jobless. Life expectancy has fallen from 60 years to 35, and
shortages of food, medicine, water, electricity and fuel are chronic.

The economy is in dramatically worse shape than in past elections. Former
Mugabe loyalist and Finance Secretary Simba Makoni, who finished a distant
third according to the independent projection, drew open support from other
leaders in the ruling party, bringing divisions among the elite into the

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Rumors, Reports and Riddles

ABC News

Zimbabweans Anxious to See Change at the Top After Elections
Reporters Notebook
HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 1, 2008

On a "normal" day, Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, reminds me of Chicago or any
other American urban metropolis filled with people who are racing here and
there. On a normal day, you will find young mothers walking with
blanket-bound babies on their backs, motorcycle deliverymen weaving in and
around traffic or uniformed school children chasing one another.

But today is not a normal day, for it has been four days since the 2008
"Harmonized" all-government elections. Days later, announcements of election
results are trickling down to an increasingly impatient public.

Today, the only groups of people you will find on the street are huddled
around cars and trucks as the hourly election results are broadcast over the

After each broadcast, people on the street respond with the word "handidi."
In Shona, the national language of Zimbabwe, the term translates to: "I
don't want."

Of course no one on the street dares to declare their opinion too openly
while groups of uniformed riot police patrol nearby. Most people just walk
away from the radio broadcast as silently as they approached it.
But some have vehemently decided to publicize their words in the form of
graffiti. The familiar theme concerns thievery by the current ruling party,
Zanu-PF. "No Money Zanu-PF Mbana" is prominently sprayed in black paint
across numerous buildings and guard walls in the city.

"The old man has many tricks," says 20-year-old More Blessing, a maid at a
large hotel in Harare. "He wants to teach us a lesson, and he is playing
with minds."

Early on Sunday, the morning following the elections, more reports or rumors
swirled around the results.

A Web site dedicated to tracking the outcome of the highly contested
elections,, declared that Morgan Tvsangrai, the
presidential candidate for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the
major opposition to Robert Mugabe, who has served as headed of the
government since 1980, had received 67 percent of the vote.

But with no official declaration by Zimbabwe's electoral commission, these
results currently reflect only the hope that can be seen on the faces of
people walking the streets here today.

"People will cry or celebrate," says Mamoka, a Harare taxi driver. "We know
the truth. They promised the elections to be free and fair. But look at what
is happening, he is making us wait, for what?"

As we drive in his taxi we pass more graffiti on the walls. Seeing me snap
pictures, he pauses, "What are you doing? If they catch you they will wipe
your feet — they will beat you and blame you for those words."
And so, every hour people make their way to the closest radio to listen the
official results. I sit in the taxi and listen. I look at Mamoka's face; it
changes as more parliamentary seats are announced in Zanu-PF's favor.

At the end of the broadcast there is still no announcement concerning the
presidential race. "What can I do?" he asks rhetorically as he starts the
car and we drive off.

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White House spokesman says Zimbabweans voted for change, wants officials to release results

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: April 1, 2008

WASHINGTON: The White House said Tuesday that Zimbabweans voted for change
in the weekend elections and urged Zimbabwean officials to go ahead and
announce the results.

Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council, did not say
embattled Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe had lost but said his comments
were based on information from poll-watchers fielded by the U.S. government
and non-governmental organizations.

"It's clear the people of Zimbabwe have voted for change," Johndroe said in
a statement. "It's time for the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to confirm
the results we have all seen from the local polling stations and respected

President George W. Bush's administration has been saying since shortly
after Saturday's voting that the election results should be release soon.

At the State Department on Tuesday, deputy spokesman Tom Casey said the
United States "want to see, again, that the results of these elections and
the will of the Zimbabwean people be honored, be honored both in the
counting of the ballots and in the release of the results."

He said the same need for speedy release of election results holds for "any
government officials who might, as a result of those elections, find
themselves soon to be out of office."

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Mugabe's control of Zimbabwe weakens

International Herald Tribune

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe speaking at a news conference in Harare on Tuesday. Thokozile Khupe, left, the party's deputy president. (Reuters)

HARARE, Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe's decades-old control of Zimbabwe seemed to erode further on Tuesday, as diplomats, analysts and opposition members contended that negotiations were under way for Mugabe to step down after trailing in the race for the country's next president.

In a nighttime address on Tuesday, Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition candidate who appeared to be the front runner in the election, strongly denied that his party had been in discussions over Mugabe's resignation, saying that he would await for the results of the voting to be announced before declaring himself the winner.

But in an atmosphere of confusion and recrimination, in which the government has still not released the outcome of Saturday's voting, a Western diplomat and some prominent analysts here and abroad said that Tsvangirai was in talks with advisers to Mugabe, amid signs that some of those close to Mugabe may encourage him to resign. The negotiations about a possible transfer of power away from Mugabe began after he apparently concluded that a runoff election, which seemed likely given projections of the voting, would be demeaning, the diplomat said.

A resignation by Mugabe, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, would be a stunning turnabout in a country where he has been accused of consistently manipulating election results to maintain his lock on power.

There is no guarantee the negotiations will succeed, and the situation could still deteriorate. But the diplomat and political analysts said the opposition was negotiating with Zimbabwe's military, central intelligence organization and prisons chief.

"The chiefs of staff are talking to Morgan and are trying to put into place transitional structures," said John Makumbe, a political analyst and insider in local politics who has spoken in the past in favor of the opposition.

"The chiefs of staff are not split; they are loyally at Mugabe's side," Makumbe said. "But they are not negotiating for Mugabe. They are negotiating for themselves. They are negotiating about reprisals and recriminations and blah blah blah. They are doing it for their own security."

A spokesman for Tsvangirai, George Sibotshiwe, said, "I don't know anything about such meetings."

The diplomat who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the discussions, said the joint chiefs had entered the negotiations after receiving feelers from Tsvangirai. The Western diplomat then said the leaders of the armed forces advised Mugabe on Monday to engineer a second-round runoff in the presidential race after the election Saturday, but Mugabe responded that a runoff would be a humiliation to him.

Marwick Khumalo, head of the Pan-African Parliament observer mission, indicated in an interview on South African radio that the ruling ZANU-PF party was considering the possibility of defeat, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

"I was talking to some of the big wigs in the governing party and they also are concerned about the possibility of a change of guard," he told South African Broadcasting Corp.'s SAfm radio.

More than three days after the vote, the government had still not released any results of the presidential balloting. Under Zimbabwe's election rules, a runoff would be required if no candidate got more than 50 percent.

The Electoral Commission has slowly published the first results in the separate parliamentary race, showing a lead for Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

Out of 132 parliamentary seats so far announced, MDC had won 68, including six for a breakaway faction, according to The Associated Press. Mugabe's party had 64.

Mugabe, 84, has led Zimbabwe since 1980. Crafty and ruthless, he is not a man likely to easily give up his hold on power, analysts, diplomats and Zimbabweans have long contended.

That has left this nation, and a good bit of the world, wondering how he will survive what seems a repudiation by his cuntrymen, most of whom have become unemployed under his rule. The nation now suffers from an inflation rate of 100,000 percent.

Graham Bowley contributed reporting from New York.

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Election authorities plead for more time

Zim Online

by Sebastian Nyamangambiri and Thulani Munda Tuesday 01 April

HARARE – Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on Tuesday pleaded for more
time to count votes for a presidential election held three days ago.

The commission has not released results for the presidential poll in which
President Robert Mugabe faced his toughest challenge yet from longtime rival
Morgan Tsvangirai and former finance minister Simba Makoni.

ZEC chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeremayi said the commission was
still receiving results of the presidential vote from across the country and
would soon begin verifying the results in the presence of candidates or
their agents.

"The verification and collation of these (results) will commence in the
presence of all candidates or their national chief election agents, once all
the results have been received,” said Sekeramayi.

He added: "We therefore would like to urge the nation to remain patient as
we go through this meticulous verification process.

“The commission would, further, like to commend the electorate for showing
political maturity and tolerance before, during and after polls. We urge you
to continue in that spirit."

Only partial results for the House of Assembly election had been released by
close of business on Tuesday. The results show Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party
with 63 seats against the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party’s 62 seats, in an election that appears firmly headed for a very
close finish.

There are 130 constituencies whose results have been declared so far, which
is nearly two thirds of the 210-seat House of Assembly.

There are 80 more seats to be declared, many of them in ZANU PF’s
traditional rural support base but analysts are convinced the ruling party
can hope to beat the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC only by just a few seats.

A smaller faction of the MDC led by academic Arthur Mutambara has so far
grabbed five seats in rural areas.

The Tsvangirai-led MDC says figures collated by its own people shows it
winning against ZANU PF and the opposition party has accused the ZEC of
delaying the issuing of the results in a desperate attempt to fix the vote
in favour of Mugabe’s government.

With no results whatsoever on the presidential poll, projections by civic
groups and speculation by the media has filled in the gap.

For example the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has
said its projections show, Tsvangirai taking 49.4 percent of the
presidential vote against Mugabe’s 41.8 percent with Makoni winning 8.2
percent. Such a result would mean a second round run-off between Tsvangirai
and Mugabe to determine eventual winner.

Unnamed ZANU PF officials have been quoted by international media as having
said that projections by the ruling party showed Tsvangirai getting 48.3
percent, against Mugabe's 43 percent, with Makoni taking eight percent – a
scenario that would also lead to a run-off.

Tsvangirai and Makoni’s camps have indicated they would close ranks behind
one candidate in the event of a run-off.

The elections, billed Zimbabwe’s most important since independence from
Britain 28 years ago, have been held amid an acute recession blamed on state
mismanagement and seen in the world’s highest inflation of more than 100 000
percent, spiraling poverty, shortages of food and every basic commodity.

Political analysts say support from the military and a skewed political
playing field that disadvantages the opposition are enough to ensure victory
for Mugabe’s government despite an economic crisis that the World Bank has
described as the worst in the world outside a war zone.

Meanwhile international pressure continues mounting on Mugabe’s government
to expedite the release of results, with the United States and Britain
leading the call on the ZEC to stop delaying results.

Current European Union (EU) president, Slovenia, has also urged the
Zimbabwean authorities to urgently disclose the winners of the weekend
presidential, parliamentary and local government election.

"This would end the current uncertainty and prevent the risk of rising
tensions," the EU's Slovenian presidency said in a statement.

Washington called on the ZEC to stop delaying results and urged Mugabe’s
government to respect the outcome of the poll if the opposition won.

Zimbabwe’s military commanders said during the run-up to the polls that they
were prepared to salute Mugabe only, in what was seen as a threat to stage a
coup in the event the veteran leader lost.

"We want to see the presidential vote count be released as soon as possible.
Delays in that vote counting and delays in the release of the results are
troubling, certainly given all the problems that we noted prior to the
election," State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters. – ZimOnline.

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At last I can stop being a chicken in a run, but I will want revenge

The Times
April 1, 2008

After 24 years of reporting on Robert Mugabe’s ruinous regime, our
correspondent dares to hope that the old crocodile has finally slunk off
Jan Raath
As rumour swirled tonight of a power-sharing deal that would bring an end to
28 years of rule by President Mugabe, I finally allowed myself to wonder
whether this was the moment that Zimbabweans had been waiting for.

The country has weathered economic catastrophe, reducing the land that once
fed much of Africa to stark famine, and has seen its highly developed
infrastructure collapse.

For the first time, we sensed that the word “change” could become reality.

As a witness to the decline of my adopted country I felt a thrill of
something that felt at once like happiness and anger. These feelings I share
with many others, some of whom will no doubt want revenge.

Related Links
a.. Zimbabwe endgame as Mugabe nears exit
As the day began, I sat in my office with the television on. ZTV was
broadcasting the third list of the day of results from the parliamentary
election and, as it has in every other election announcement in the past two
days, it declared one victory to the MDC, the next to Zanu (PF), and then
the MDC again, and so on, as if it was dealing out a pack of cards.

On Monday the pattern was curious, then today as it went on it didn’t dawn
on me – I just found myself saying that they wouldn’t be carrying out this
charade if they were confident of winning or of having rigged it.

Then I found myself saying that Robert Mugabe and the Joint Operational
Command, the cabal of spooks and generals who manage Mr Mugabe’s political
survival, didn’t know what to do.

The realisation was almost blinding, that the man who has never been short
of cunning to outwit all those he disagreed with – from Tony Blair to the
man waiting at the back of the queue for a loaf of bread – had suddenly been
stripped of his invincibility.

When you are in the thick of this stuff you don’t think, you’re too busy .
writing about it. Profundity and revelation is a luxury. Like eating.

It was a special moment this morning when I gave a lift to a policeman
hiking to the girls’ school that had been a polling station and where he
said that he was to be on standby. He was in a rage about the dragging out
of the election announcements. “We must have change now,” he said.

Levity helps at these times. “Mugabe’s been declared the winner,” I
announced to friends waiting at one of the three press conferences that were
meant to be addressed by Morgan Tsvangirai but that didn’t happen.

Then I said: “April fool!” They laughed, because today suddenly something
felt as if it was slipping away: Mugabe, the past eight horrible years of
being on the edge, of feeling like a chicken in a run waiting to be snatched
by the cruel beak of a swooping crow, the sickness of adrenalin that oozes
all the time into the stomach, gnaw, gnaw, gnaw.

Then someone who ought to know what he is talking about drew me to a seat in
the emptying conference hall and whispered: “They’re talking.” He wouldn’t
say anything else.

It has happened. It is slinking off into the gloom, the old crocodile that
has breathed terror into all of us, that makes people whisper when they say
the word “Mugabe”, that has crushed not just agriculture and industry and
the economy but worse – that crushed hope and forced mothers with their
babies strapped to their backs to crawl under the barbed wire fence in to
South Africa.

At times of momentous change like this it is difficult to predict how you
will feel. When, at last it seemed as though Mr Mugabe’s rule was close to
an end, there was a feeling of almost divine relief.

I felt a surge of something that was happy anger and, I’m afraid, I wanted

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Morgan Tsvangirai: an opposite who now has to prove he can do more than just oppose

The Times
April 2, 2008

Jan Raath in Harare
Morgan Tsvangirai owes the wave of national adoration and the votes he won
at the polls in part, at least, to the cruelty of President Mugabe’s regime.

People cite the “ABM factor” — Anybody but Mugabe could stand against the
President in a free and fair election and win. But Mr Tsvangirai has
established redeeming credentials. Even before the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) was founded in 1999, the executive leader of the national
labour movement had begun to be seen as the one to break Mr Mugabe’s hold on
the state of Zimbabwe.

He was a Lech Walesa and a Frederick Chiluba — who brought the end of Zambia’s
one-party state rule in 1991 — combined. He was lively, assertive and with a
knack of leadership from more than a decade as the secretary-general of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. More than that, he was the polar opposite
of Mr Mugabe — amiable, approachable, brave, gregarious, quick to laugh and
with an irreverently witty streak.

He had no basic education to speak of, leaving school at the age of 16. But
he caught up with studies in middle- age, graduating in 2001 from the John
F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with a diploma in the
Executive Leaders In Development Program.

Mr Tsvangirai was the natural choice for the inaugural leadership of the MDC
when it was founded in 1999. In 2000 he mobilised a movement against a draft
constitution contrived by Mr Mugabe, posing the first credible threat to the
Mugabe Government for 20 years.
He went on to propel the MDC in the next three elections to the point where
Mr Mugabe could beat him only by murdering and maiming the movement’s
supporters, and by vote-fixing.

But Morgan the Redeemer is unlikely to convert to Morgan the Fixer, able to
restore the economy, rebuild infrastructure and take tough decisions on
exchange rates and World Trade Organisation protocols.

Mr Tsvangirai’s record inside the party is poor. Party workers who have been
with him for years describe him as vacillating, indecisive and, unlike Mr
Mugabe, easily persuaded to change his views.

Three years after the party was founded he was reportedly being ruled by
“the kitchen cabinet”, an informal clique of aides by whom party policy was
decided, while the national executive committee was ignored.

In 2004 thugs loyal to the “kitchen cabinet” were assaulting their
opponents, seizing their party vehicles and, on occasions, forcibly driving
people out of the party headquarters and occupying the premises for several
weeks. Mr Tsvangirai ignored appeals to stop the violence that was fouling
his party’s reputation.

In 2005 the MDC split into two factions. The national executive committee
was voting on whether to participate in elections for the new senate. The
vote went against Mr Tsvangirai, who walked out in a fit of pique. In an
astonishing act of dishonesty he told the waiting press that the committee
had supported his position.

In January, during the last of numerous attempts to reunite the two
factions, Mr Tsvangirai held out for only one more candidate than he has
been offered in the elections; it was part of a pact jointly to field
candidates with the other faction, led by Arthur Mutambara.

The plan was to avoid the obvious trap of splitting the opposition vote. The
next morning Mr Tsvangirai, pressed by militants, was demanding 20 more
seats. The pact collapsed.

The effect has been painfully apparent in the elections, with Mr Mugabe’s
Zanu (PF) party taking about six seats that were needlessly contested by
both MDC factions.

Morgan Tsvangirai

— Born in Gutu, Central Zimbabwe, the son of a bricklayer and the eldest of
nine children

— Left school at 16 without qualifications. From 1974 worked in Bindura
Nickel Mine, rising up through trade unions

— In 1984 he spent nine months in Britain, witnessed the miners strike and
met Arthur Scargill

— In 1988 elected secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU). He transformed it into a powerful opposition force

— In 1997 he organised a series of nationwide strikes against tax increases,
provoking an attempt on his life

— In 1999 he formed the Movement for Democratic Change party and in 2002
narrowly lost the elections to Mugabe, inflicting an unprecedented blow to
the Zanu-PF’s grip on power In the same year, he was secretly filmed
allegedly discussing the president's 'elimination', leading to a treason
charges of which he was finally acquitted in 2004

— The party split in two in 2005, key leaders charging Tsvangirai with poor
leadership and inability to plan ahead

— He suffered a suspected fractured skull, brain injury and internal
bleeding after police arrest last year for taking part in an allegedly
illegal prayer meeting

Sources: Times archives

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A very African solution: Robert Mugabe stays to look down on his people from an 8m villa

The Times
April 2, 2008

Jonathan Clayton, Africa Correspondent
A power-sharing deal between President Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change would be a very “African solution to an
African problem”.

If, as was expected tonight, a deal is struck that allows Robert Mugabe to
remain in Zimbabwe, the 84-year-old will live out the rest of his life in
luxury in the 8 million retirement home he built during his 28-year rule.
He will be free to entertain acolytes in his splendid villa built at
taxpayers’ expense within view of the people he has reduced to penury.

Some may not begrudge him such a retirement: they are prepared to pay any
price to see him out of power.

Western countries, particularly Britain, will hate the deal, but Mr Mugabe
has outfoxed them throughout his career. “Yes, it is an African solution to
an African problem – but remember, most African leaders believe the Zimbabwe
crisis is as much the fault of the United Kingdom as it is of Mugabe,” a
source close to the negotiations told The Times.

The former colonial power is seen as having reneged on the Lancaster House
agreement that gave Zimbabwe independence in 1980 by failing to help to end
land inequality whereby 4,000 white farmers occupied 96 per cent of
productive agricultural land.
Diplomatic sources said that negotiations were focusing on a power-sharing
deal that would involve roles for both Zanu (PF) and the Movement for
Democratic Change.

Such a deal would be aimed at honouring Zanu (PF)’s historic role in
“liberating” the country from British rule. It conveniently also means that
while Zanu (PF) is still in government Mr Mugabe has de facto immunity from
prosecution for “crimes” committed in office.

Mr Mugabe was said to be emphasising in the negotiations the need to accord
a former freedom-fight-er “respect and dignity”. In Africa this argument
still resonates and few people would want to see Mr Mugabe facing a
humiliating show trial at The Hague similar to that being conducted against
the former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

That means that Mr Mugabe’s clampdown, which some of his critics called a
genocide, on opponents in Matabeland in the 1980s will be overlooked, as
will rampant human rights abuses more recently and the seizure of
white-owned farms in the 1990s.

For his part, Mr Mugabe is expected to live out his days in the sumptuous
25-bedroom retirement home that for years he sought to avoid. The
three-storey mansion is reported to have four acres of floor space, with
Italian marble and ceilings decorated by Arab craftsmen. It sits in 44 acres
of woodland in the exclusive Harare suburb of Borrowdale.

One of Mr Mugabe’s neighbours will be Haile Mengistu Mariam, the former
dictator who killed thousands of people during Ethiopia’s Marxist
revolution. He was granted sanctuary in Zimbabwe in 1991 and has
subsequently fought off all attempts to make him face justice before
international tribunals.

Such compromises are seen as the only way to ensure that African leaders, no
matter how reluctantly, do eventually relinquish power. That may not be to
the West’s taste but it is a reality of life in Africa and one that the
victims of such regimes accept.

Kenya’s former dictator Daniel arap Moi stole billions and now lives the
life of a grand old statesman in western Kenya, often offering to mediate in
the region’s seemingly intractable disputes, among them Darfur.

“Even many of Mugabe’s opponents would not want to see him vilified before
foreign courts seen as being in the hands of colonial oppressors. It may be
nonsense but it is a sign of the strength of lingering hostility from
colonial days,” the diplomatic source added.

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Zimbabweans 'receiving no info on poll'

The Australian

April 02, 2008

THE Australian husband of a Zimbabwean opposition candidate Sekai Holland
said residents of the African country are receiving very little information
on the outcome of the weekend's election, amid mounting speculation that
Robert Mugabe will stand down.

"We're hearing nothing locally, we're getting more information from the
outside world than we are here," Jim Holland told Channel 9 from Zimbabwe's
capital, Harare.

"We've been glued to the television, but the news there is virtually

"The latest thing was just to say from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was
that they were counting the votes very, very carefully for the presidential
election, that it was a slow process, that it was taking time."

The 28-year rule of Mr Mugabe appears to be entering its final chapter today
with long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai poised to take power after general

Mr Tsvangirai, whose party has already claimed victory in Saturday's joint
presidential and parliamentary elections, also declined to declare himself
the victor or confirm that any deal was in the pipeline.

Mr Holland said there had been no news there that Mr Mugabe was due to make
an announcement.

Mr Holland's wife, Sekai, has secured a senate seat for the opposition MDC

In March last year, the Australian Government helped the Hollands flee the
troubled country after Ms Holland was brutally beaten following her arrest
at a political rally. She suffered a broken hand, broken leg and three
broken ribs.

"She's very pleased with the result, she's now a duly declared senator."

Mr Holland said he expected the MDC to have a comfortable working majority
on the basis of ZEC results.

But he said there were some concerns.

"At the moment we haven't seen any cases where they've declared a different
victor from the candidates who have actually won," Mr Holland said.

"The only manipulation possible here is the numbers of votes, that's giving
some cause for concerns, because there appear to be discrepancies in some

"And if there are discrepancies there, then we worry about discrepancies
with the presidential vote, which of course is the crucial one now."

Mr Holland said the future for Mr Mugabe rested with his security forces.

"We've heard that right from the beginning there were talks that were being
carried out by intermediaries, especially involving the security apparatus
here, because they're the key," Mr Holland said.

"It doesn't matter what Mugabe says, if he's not going to be supported by
the security apparatus - the army, the secret police, the air force, his
militia - then he has no leg to stand on.

"Now some of those did clearly feel that he had to stay on in power, and I
would presume they wanted to stage a de facto coup to announce his victory.

"Others urged caution."

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