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Zimbabweans feel change in the air as factions talk of deal to end Mugabe rule

Globe and Mail


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

April 1, 2008 at 9:21 PM EDT

HARARE — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is in the midst of the most
severe crisis of his tempestuous political career, with factions in his
ZANU-PF party beginning to suggest that he must leave office.

"It seems there is movement in ZANU-PF, people reaching out to the
opposition to talk about a deal," said a well-connected Western diplomat in
the capital. But, the diplomat said, it also would not be a surprise to see
the government declare victory at any moment, and move quickly to quash any

More than three full days after Zimbabweans went to the polls, there is no
official winner in either the parliamentary or presidential vote. The
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has repeatedly claimed
victory, but the government says it will accept none but the official
results released by its electoral commission, and there is no sign of when
those will come.

The delay is one of two things. It may be a strategy by the ruling clique in
ZANU-PF to stall the vote count in order to inflate the party's purported
share before declaring victory by a narrow margin. Or it may be a reflection
of chaos and frantic scheming in his inner circle of advisers, who realize
the end has come.

"Either scenario is very possible right now," the diplomat said.
A reliable ZANU-PF source told The Globe and Mail of a late-afternoon
meeting at party headquarters in which some losing electoral candidates
openly said that the President must step down. A senior ZANU-PF figure said
that some of those closest to Mr. Mugabe, having seen the electoral results
that confirm his defeat, are fearful for their own future and frantically
discussing if and how to make overtures for some sort of deal with the

Last night, Mr. Tsvangirai, in his first public appearance since the
election, insisted to a gathering of journalists and diplomats that his
party is not in talks with the government. But in his cheery insistence that
the MDC will wait for the official tally — "the people of Zimbabwe have
waited this long for freedom and I think they can wait far, far longer" —
there was a hint that he believes his party now has momentum and control.

And in fact, the MDC's tally of votes closely matches a sophisticated
analysis of poll results done by independent election monitors.

The official results late last night, with 176 of 210 polling stations
reporting, gave a narrow lead to the opposition — both the MDC and a
breakaway opposition faction.

Several ZANU-PF insiders told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Mugabe has refused
to accept the possibility of a run-off, required if neither candidate has
50-per-cent-plus-one of the vote, because that would be "humiliating" for a
man who has held the post for 28 years, and because ZANU-PF, having drained
the last of the country's foreign-exchange reserves to bribe voters in
Saturday's poll, has no cash left to mount another campaign.

A key determinant of Mr. Mugabe's other options is the security and military
apparatuses that have long buttressed his rule. There is no sign that
Zimbabweans intend to take to the streets to force him out of power. But Mr.
Mugabe's actions may depend on how much support he believes he has from the
security forces.

There are signs that they are split. A retired general, who spoke directly
with air force chief Perrence Shiri, told The Globe that Mr. Shiri said, "We
cannot just support him if he has lost." A retired army officer, who remains
well connected with the forces, said that Mr. Mugabe met with his most
senior military officers in the early hours of yesterday morning to tell
them he intended to declare victory and wanted a commitment of their backing
in the event of unrest. They refused to give it to him, the officer said.

The senior military staff know that their troops, poorly paid rank-and-file
soldiers who have been hit hard in Zimbabwe's 100,000-per-cent inflation,
"are with the people, not with the President," the officer said. "They said,
'No, we cannot, we will not stand by your side,' " he said, and that
convinced Mr. Mugabe that he needed instead to find a way to negotiate an

"Because if he is going to announce the results as they are [with an
opposition victory], he will need some assurances."

Some regime insiders say that Mr. Mugabe himself is prepared to accept
defeat, but that some of his security chiefs are blocking him. Augustine
Chihuri, in particular, the head of the police force, is said to be opposed
to anything but a declaration of victory.

Two key issues appear to be hardening the position of members of the ruling
clique, and making them reluctant to consider any option but a declaration
of victory. The first is potential prosecution for human-rights abuses and
corruption, either by a new government or an international body. The second
is their wealth, most of it acquired through illegal expropriation or
profiteering in the past few years.

"The question in Zimbabwe now is, What do you own and what do you lose?"
said a Harare lawyer who acts for several of the most senior members of
government. "There is a huge system in Zimbabwe now where ZANU-PF
distributes everything. Everything is attached to their name. In fact, it's
not a system, it's a culture."

He said his clients are convinced they will lose the land they received in
Mr. Mugabe's highly politicized land-redistribution program, which seized
the vast commercial farms held by a small number of white farmers and gave
them out, supposedly to landless black Zimbabweans, but mostly to cronies of
the President.

The lawyer's view was echoed by a prominent Harare businessman with very
close ties to the regime. "If Tsvangirai is clear on his land policy, we
won't have a problem with him, but if he is to give this land back to the
whites, then we have a problem," he said.

With a report from Shakeman Mugari

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Tsvangirai MDC may turn to rival faction to break deadlock

New Zimbabwe

By Lindie Whiz
Last updated: 04/02/2008 01:38:08
ZIMBABWE’S opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan
Tsvangirai admitted Tuesday that with the partial parliamentary election
results showing a dead heat with the ruling Zanu PF, seats won by a rival
MDC faction and independent Tsholotsho MP Jonathan Moyo could play a major
role in handing them a parliamentary majority.

MDC vice president Thokozani Khupe told reporters in Bulawayo that their
data collected at about 80 percent of the 206 contested seats showed they
had secured 98 seats, Zanu PF 72 with the rival Mutambara-led MDC faction
and Moyo holding 14 seats.

She said they had no data from the other 20 percent of constituencies –
which might well be won by Zanu PF.

Flanked by senior MDC officials Eddie Cross and Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo, Khupe
spoke of “the 14 seats held by our colleagues” – a clear pointer that both
Zanu PF and her MDC party are considering the possibility none will have a
sweeping majority, let alone the desired two thirds which would enable them
to change the constitution.

Khupe said in all but 27 constituencies tallied, the MDC had calculated that
Tsvangirai would secure 56 percent of the vote in the presidential race,
with Mugabe on 37 percent and former finance minister Simba Makoni a distant
third with 10 percent.

"We are closely monitoring to see if ZEC [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] is
reporting exactly what we have, and figures are correct," Khuphe told a
press conference.

She said they were concerned by Zanu PF's big winning margins in Mashonaland
constituencies, whereas the MDC wins in its urban strongholds appeared
slim – something that can become a factor in the presidential ballot.

"We need to verify the Mashonaland votes where for instance Zanu PF is
getting 14 000 and we are getting 1 000. But it is also important to point
out that in most instances where we have lost a parliamentary seat; we have
won the presidential vote. We are the outright winners," Khuphe said.

Cross said there were "serious attempts" by Zanu PF to rig the presidential
poll, "but the plan ran into number of problems", among them “the ZEC's
unwillingness to co-operate”.

“They are reporting the results truthfully,” Cross said.

He said the other "obstacle" was diplomatic pressure from foreign countries.
Cross claimed that security chiefs had also informed Mugabe that they would
back him if he declared himself winner and there were public uprisings.

Cross claimed a “compromise” had been reached to reduce Tsvangirai’s vote to
under 50o percent, in the process triggering a second round of voting
between him and Mugabe to take place within three weeks.

Cross alleged that Zanu PF had "carefully selected constituencies where they
have absolute control and have been successful in ballot stuffing there”.

He added: “They are preparing themselves for defeat without disgrace.”

The ZEC and Zimbabwe government have both cautioned the MDC against making
unofficial projections on voting patterns, fearing that may trigger violence
if the outcome is different.

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ZEC invites candidates for presidential poll count

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 04/01/2008 22:24:32
THE body running Zimbabwe’s elections moved to allay fears of vote rigging
on Tuesday, by inviting presidential candidates or their chief election
agents to attend the collation of election data from across the country.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) also urged Zimbabweans – still
awaiting full results after voting in general elections on Saturday – to
remain patient.

“We want to urge voters to remain patient as we go through this meticulous
process,” the ZEC said amid growing domestic and international pressure to
release the results of the weekend poll which the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) claims it has won.

The ZEC said in order to preserve the credibility of the presidential
election ballot, candidates or their election managers were free to attend
the collation of data from around the country – a clear indication that the
presidential election outcome could still be days away from being announced.

President Robert Mugabe, seeking a sixth term, is pitted against his main
rival, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and his former finance minister Simba
Makoni, who defected from Zanu PF.

The United States, Britain, Canada and five other European countries urged
the ZEC to speedily announce the poll results amid claims by the MDC that
Zanu PF was planning to rig the outcome.

The National Association of Non Government Associations (NANGO) said the ZEC’s
delays in announcing the results undermined the credibility of the polls.

“NANGO still awaits ZEC to honour its commitment to address civil society
concerns regarding the number of ballot papers printed, the number of ballot
boxes, the number of voter registration cards and the number of postal
voters,” NANGO said in a statement.

“This lack of information combined with the delay in the announcement of the
election results fosters civil society’s uncertainty and undermines the
credibility of the election results. NANGO thus calls upon ZEC to ensure to
resolve the delays in the proclamation of election results.”

Zimbabwe held four joint elections for senate, parliament, local government
and president for the first time, a fact the ZEC has seized on to shield
itself from public criticism over delays in announcing results.

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Hope's hanging by a thread

With official election results still unknown, and a history of vote
rigging, Zimbabwe may not shake Mugabe


 Wed, April 2, 2008

In Zimbabwe's last presidential vote in 2002, early indications were that
Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would win and
oust President Robert Mugabe.

After several days of vote counting (and rigging), it was announced that
once again Mugabe had won (56% to 42%), and that the next presidential
election would be in six years.

No rational person believed that outcome, with the possible exception of
prime minister Jean Chretien, who supported Mugabe and opposed Commonwealth
efforts to condemn the tyranny being unleashed on the unfortunate citizens
of Zimbabwe.

Last weekend Zimbabwe voted again -- for the president, House of Assembly
and Senate. This time no American, British or European Union observers were
invited (or allowed) to assess the honesty, openness or fairness of the

Instead, 47 "observers" from the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) and African Union (AU) -- would team up with observers from Russia,
China and Iran (whose democratic credentials are legendary) to ensure the
election was "free and fair."

By yesterday, there were still no "official" results from voting that had
taken place on March 29.

Britain's Daily Telegraph, however, reported that Tsvangirai was eight
percentage points ahead of Mugabe, but unlikely to win an absolute majority,
thus necessitating another vote in 21 days.


A third candidate for president, Simba Makoni, an independent, whom Mugabe
dismissed as "a frog trying to inflate itself up to the size of an ox", had
enough votes to deny Tsvangirai the necessary 51%.

So by Zimbabwe rules, as defined by Mugabe, it is no sure thing that Morgan
Tsvangirai will be president -- especially when the army and security forces
have said they will not honour a Tsvangirai victory.

Also, the "counting" of votes is not yet completed (i.e. "fixed.")

It turns out that for some 6 million registered voters, 9 million ballots
have been printed.

Tsvangirai has claimed that in 28 rural constituencies, 90,000 names were on
voter rolls that could not be accounted for.

Where 20,000 mail-in, or postal ballots, were necessary, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission had printed 600,000.

The MDC also says that for 50,000 soldiers, police and civil servants,
600,000 ballots had been ordered.

As well as giving police and teachers raises leading up to the vote, Mugabe
also gave 450 cars to medical workers in a "retention program," as well as
60 buses, 90 ambulances, and 100 generators for hospitals.

He distributed 200 computers and TV sets. All 48 hours before the vote.


In the 2002 presidential election, those in the countryside voting for
Mugabe got gifts of bags of grain and food -- in a country that was then
near starving.

It is worse now, with inflation touching 100,000%, if you can believe it,
the worst inflation in the world with unemployment touching 80%.

The tragedy of a corrupt Marxist tyrant in Zimbabwe is also a tragedy for
Africa in that Zimbabwe's neighbours not only tolerate what's happening
there, but condone, endorse and support it.

Mugabe should be an object lesson on how not to run a country. But most of
Africa is loath to criticize or rebuke him. It's a horrible example for the
outside world, which otherwise might be inclined to invest in Africa.

Mugabe blames whites and Britain for Zimbabwe's descent into economic and
social hell.

When Mugabe became president 28 years ago, he inherited a self-sufficient,
flourishing country from Ian Smith, and is on record thanking Smith for
Rhodesia's economic well-being.

The myth of Mugabe is that he won independence. He didn't. The real warrior
for independence was Joshua Nkomo, a jungle fighter rather than a
politician, and a man who eventually saw Mugabe as a greater menace than
those he fought against.

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The Zimbabwe solution

Los Angeles Times

To avoid the violence that has torn other African nations, allow Mugabe to
retire in peace.
April 2, 2008

Elections in benighted Zimbabwe have produced three big surprises. The first
is that 84-year-old President Robert Mugabe dared to hold them at all. After
28 years in power, Mugabe has beaten a prosperous country into ruin. Once a
food exporter, Zimbabwe is hungry, inflation is running at 200,000% and
rising, unemployment is at 80% and life expectancy has plummeted. Even so,
most expected Mugabe to succeed in rigging the presidential and
parliamentary elections to secure himself another term. The second surprise
is that even his iron control of the security forces (and truckloads of food
delivered to voters) apparently didn't do the trick. The opposition claims
victory. That's plausible, though impossible to verify until the election
commission announces final results.

The biggest surprise of all is that Mugabe has not declared himself the
winner. Rather, he has reportedly rejected a runoff election, required by
the constitution if no candidate garners 51% of the vote, as too
humiliating. Unconfirmed and sometimes conflicting reports suggest that
Mugabe's forces are negotiating with the opposition for a power-sharing
agreement that would guarantee the president immunity from prosecution if he

However unseemly the prospect of one of Africa's worst strongmen escaping
accountability, Zimbabwe's best hope lies in retiring Mugabe and his
entourage to a luxurious villa outside the country; Namibia is often
mentioned. But getting him there will require international tact. For the
British, in particular, mum's the word. Each time Whitehall condemns Mugabe,
it gives him occasion to charge Britain with trying to reimpose colonial
imperialism. Instead, the international community could quietly signal that
if power-sharing negotiations are occurring, the world will support any
peaceful settlement and work with the victors to rebuild the shattered
country. If talks fail -- or if no offer of immunity or refuge is
forthcoming -- Mugabe might well cling to power and order the military into
the streets. Bloodshed could ensue. We've seen this movie before, most
recently in Kenya, and the atrocities that followed will haunt that nation
for years to come. Zimbabwe is not plagued by Kenya's deep ethnic divisions.
There is still time to prevent violence.

In the long run, the only solution to Zimbabwe's agony is good governance.
Whether Mugabe departs gracefully or dies in office years from now, Zimbabwe
will need international help to end the culture of kleptocracy and to learn
from bitter experience how better to govern itself.

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New Zimbabwe govt faces huge economic hurdles

ABC Australia

Inflation is so high in Zimbabwe that the currency is meaningless, life
expectancy is less than 40 years and roughly one quarter of the population
is infected with HIV. (AFP: Alexander Joe)

If Zimbabwe is lucky enough to achieve a peaceful transition of power, the
new government's biggest challenge will be the country's disastrous economy.

Experts estimate that one third of the population - including many of the
country's professionals - have left the country in the past few years.

Inflation is so high that the currency is meaningless, life expectancy is
less than 40 years and roughly one quarter of the population is infected
with HIV.

Zimbabwe was once known as the bread basket of Africa but many white farmers
have now emigrated, some to Australia, and have no intention of returning.
Farm productivity has crashed, with their land mostly in the hands of Mugabe

So how would a new government get Zimbabwe get back on its feet?

Allistair Norvall was just one of the thousands of Zimbabwean farmers who
were forced from their properties in the first years of this century under
President Robert Mugabe's land resettlement program by the so-called war

"The one day I was speaking to one of the war veterans who was living on one
of the next door farms and he said to me, 'They should round up all the
white people and throw them into tanks of acid, and that would be the way to
sort out the white people'," he said.

He arrived in Australia in 2003 and shortly after, told Radio National's
Street Stories how his family was terrorised over 18 months.

"They were furious, the war veterans on the farm, and they said, 'Right, we
are going to kill a white manager or their children'," Mr Norvall said.

"At that point I came to the realisation that it wasn't worth dying for and
that we should look for another position."

Bread basket to basket case
The country that was once one of the richest in Africa, based on a thriving
agricultural sector, is now a basket case.

The farmers that fled have taken their expertise with them and five years
on, Mr Norvall, for one, has no intention of retuning to his homeland.

"What we experienced in Zimbabwe I'd be reticent to go and try that out
again. I don't think we'd go back," he said.

Tracey Mays has a similar story to tell. She is a migration agent and a
Zimbabwean who has helped many of her countrymen and women come to

"Most of the people that I deal with were farmers who had been chased off
their land by Mugabe's war vets. They had lost everything. A lot of them got
out with barely their lives," she said.

"They've had to deal with a lot of trauma for themselves and their families,
and I think now they look at their lives in Australia and think, at least we
have a certain future here or as certain as the future can be, whereas going
back to Zimbabwe, who knows what's going to happen?

"But I don't think right now there'd be many that would be thinking about
going back."

Feeding the people
The unwillingness of farmers to return to Zimbabwe will be just one of the
challenges facing Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai - if he does succeed
Robert Mugabe.

Rebuilding a devastated economy will be a massive task.

Dr Geoffrey Hawker is the head of the Department of Politics and
International Relations at Macquarie University, and the president of the
African Studies Association.

"He will call for international support and aid, especially from his
neighbours in the region," he said.

"Countries like Australia are going to be very important. We have been in
the past, we can be so again."

But how will a new government feed its population?

"The only answer I can see is for the close-by countries - and it's South
Africa that matters here - to come in with emergency supplies. I mean, I
think it's simply as brutal as that," Dr Hawker said.

"But the agricultural land is rich. Given a little bit of time, they can get
the crops growing in, the seeds in and that, but takes a season or so. In
the short term it is emergency relief.

"I think that is going to be exceedingly difficult. It is true that most of
those white farmers that were there before are not likely to return.

"I think what that is going to need is an injection of external development
assistance and technical help with agricultural extension services."

Dr Hawker says although Zimbabweans have been leaving the country, fleeing
into Botswana and South Africa illegally, for example, they often return.

"But it is true, the professional classes are gone - [to] Canada, Britain
especially," he said.

"I think a lot of them would return under a new regime and that is one
bright prospect that really does have a lot of talent out there in the
diaspora that can come back."

It is a monumental job to rebuild an economy that has been laid waste, but
Dr Hawker has hope.

"It's a beautiful country. It's rich, it's fertile, it's had famously an
educated and able people," he said.

"I know it doesn't look like it at the moment, but they are the historical
facts of the matter.

"I know there's a huge job to be done but if the neighbours are willing, and
you've got to include South Africa here, then sure, it's going to take time
but it can definitely be done."

- Adapted from a story first aired on PM, April 2.

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Mugabe's supporters plot his exit

Toronto Star

Apr 02, 2008 04:30 AM
Craig Timberg
Darlington Majonga
The Washington Post

HARARE–Some members of Zimbabwe's jittery ruling elite have concluded that
President Robert Mugabe must step down after apparently losing an election
last weekend and have begun reaching out to opposition leaders to resolve
the four-day-old political standoff, according to ruling party members,
diplomats and political observers.

Mugabe, 84, has made no public appearance since Saturday, when he pledged
not to rig the results and to abide by the vote totals. But behind the
scenes, his future is the subject of wrenching discussions inside his ruling
party, the sources said.

Though the sources said unofficial contacts between ruling party and
opposition members were underway, opposition leaders repeatedly and
vehemently denied there were any discussions, or that there would be any
deal with Mugabe before the election results were officially published.

The presidential election has so far yielded no official results, and
yesterday the electoral commission, controlled by Mugabe allies, urged
patience. But a growing list of indicators, including a rigorous statistical
model based on a sampling of publicly posted vote tallies, now points to a
victory by long-time opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, showing he got
something near 50 per cent of the vote, over Mugabe's roughly 42 per cent.
An independent candidate got 8 per cent.

A Mugabe loss, if confirmed, would end 28 years of unbroken rule in which he
took the nation to the pinnacle of African progress before plunging it into
one of the continent's worst political and economic crises.

The outpouring of voter rejection Saturday appears to have overwhelmed the
many political advantages Mugabe enjoyed, including almost total control
over the flow of information and voter rolls that systematically excluded
many of his most fervent detractors.

"It's clear that (Mugabe) has lost the vote," said Dumisani Muleya, a
political reporter at the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper. In interviews,
several senior advisers to Mugabe had told him that "they're trying to find
some way to resolve this issue."

Perhaps the most important group in the discussions is the leadership of
Mugabe's historically loyal security apparatus.

The "securocrats," including top members of the police, military and
intelligence service, reportedly are split over whether to act to keep
Mugabe in power or to urge him to accept defeat.

A retired general, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the air force
chief has refused to back military action to protect Mugabe, while the
police force is steadfast behind him.

Among the immediate questions is whether Zimbabwe will conduct a runoff, as
required by the constitution if no candidate tops the 50 per cent mark.

Tsvangirai asserted at a news conference last night that he had passed that
point in the first round, making a runoff unnecessary. But the independent
monitoring group that analyzed the posted vote tallies projected his victory
as falling barely short of a majority.

Mugabe is said to be reluctant to engage in a second round of voting, which
could lead to a wider margin of defeat by consolidating opposition to his
rule, according to sources and news reports.

Discussions in the ruling camp were said to be turning yesterday to the vast
list of decisions that a Tsvangirai government would quickly face.

Among them: Would he pursue criminal action against Mugabe for possible
crimes against humanity? Would he purge a military built more to battle
Mugabe's enemies than outside forces? Would he reverse the land seizures
that began in 2000 and return commercial farms to their previous owners,
most of them white?

A ruling party businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a
Tsvangirai victory might be accepted if he agreed not to take away farms
that Mugabe had doled out, to peasants as well as political cronies.

"If he gives this land back to the whites, then we have a problem with him,"
the businessman said.

Analyst John Makumbe, a longtime Mugabe critic, said anxiety within the
ruling party was running high.

"They are not really unified," he said, predicting that Mugabe's departure
was imminent. "They know they cannot make it. They know he cannot survive a
second round" of voting.

Liberal MP Keith Martin, who has visited Zimbabwe several times in the last
five years, said Canada would press the opposition to offer Mugabe safe
conduct into exile and legal immunity.

"That's why he's been hanging around: fear of prosecution," said Martin
(Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca).

The political stalemate has captivated Zimbabweans, especially in Harare,
the capital, where a blizzard of rumours dominated an anxious day of

The president's fall would be exceeded, in terms of historic importance
here, only by the end of white supremacist rule in 1980, when the nation was
called Rhodesia and faced a tenacious guerrilla force led by Mugabe.

He has ruled the country ever since.

With files from The Canadian Press

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Mugabe foe Tsvangirai seen as hero of struggle

Toronto Star

Opposition leader has overcome internal rivalries, ruthless government

Apr 02, 2008 04:30 AM
HARARE–Some people see Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change party, as a symbol of the struggle against
President Robert Mugabe and his authoritarian government.

Although Tsvangirai (pronounced CHANG-guh-rye) has missed a number of
opportunities, political analysts say he is still seen as a hero for
standing up to Mugabe – the country's only president since independence from
Britain in 1980.

Even though official results haven't been released, 56-year-old Tsvangirai
spoke as if he already had been declared president.

"For years we have trod a journey of hunger, pain, torture and brutality,"
he said at a news conference yesterday. "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

The self-taught son of bricklayer, Tsvangirai burst on to the political
scene in 1999 when he founded the labour-backed MDC.

He led the party to a stunning near-victory the following year in
parliamentary elections, claiming 57 of 120 seats.

Tsvangirai lost a 2002 presidential election to Mugabe, a poll widely
believed to have been rigged by the government. Mugabe rejected the charge
and accused Tsvangirai and his supporters of being stooges for white

A split in his MDC in 2005 seriously dented his image and standing, and
Tsvangirai was at risk of fading from the political scene until last year
when he and other opposition leaders were arrested and allegedly assaulted
after an anti-government rally.

His supporters say he suffered a fractured skull after a brutal beating in
police custody.

Footage of a badly bruised Tsvangirai, his eye swollen and head partly
shaved, intensified international condemnation of Mugabe's then 27-year

Shortly after, a Los Angeles Times editorial said Tsvangirai stood a chance
of "becoming for Zimbabwe what Nelson Mandela was for South Africa."

Some economic analysts remain skeptical of Tsvangirai's ability to revive
Zimbabwe's economy, saying he has neither the experience nor the policies to
do so.

Tsvangirai climbed from trade unionist to potential president by overcoming
internal MDC rivalries and a severe government crackdown. His determined
optimism has repeatedly boosted his supporters' morale despite the pressure.

The opposition leader's earthy style – focusing on the basic problems
Zimbabweans face amid a deepening economic crisis – also has compared well
with what some see as Mugabe's lofty, combative and often remote leadership.

While Mugabe, 84, has stuck faithfully to his old anti-British liberation
struggle credentials, Tsvangirai has concentrated on how the MDC would
revive the battered economy in what was once one of Africa's most prosperous

At his peak, on the eve of presidential elections in 2002, Tsvangirai was
considered by his supporters and some Western governments as Zimbabwe's only
hope of pulling out of a spiral of economic decline and social unrest.

Since losing that poll and another round of parliamentary elections in 2005,
Tsvangirai has fought an increasingly disorganized battle that has seen his
party's street protests crushed and its leaders harassed.

Tsvangirai was charged with treason in 2002 and accused of plotting to have
Mugabe assassinated, but was acquitted of the charges. Political analysts
say Tsvangirai has gained valuable experience in recent years, especially in
his relations with the outside world and through his willingness to take the
fight against Mugabe into the streets.

From the Star's wire services

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Mugabe: reaching out with resignation deal?

Christian Science Monitor

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader and President Mugabe's government deny
behind-the-scenes talks about a power-sharing deal in the wake of Saturday's
By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
and | and a Contributor
from the April 2, 2008 edition

Reporter Scott Baldauf discusses behind-the-scenes talks about a
power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe.
Johannesburg, South Africa; and Harare, Zimbabwe - Behind-the-scenes
negotiations between Zimbabwe's ruling party and the main opposition party
of Morgan Tsvangirai are under way in the wake of Saturday's elections,
according to several sources familiar with the discussions.

Under a proposed deal, President Robert Mugabe would step down, allowing his
ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
to share power in a government of national unity, a senior MDC official
confirmed Tuesday evening.

The official said that military chiefs, who are allied to Mr. Mugabe and
recently said they would not salute Mr. Tsvangirai if he was elected
president, had approached the opposition with the proposal of a national
unity government.

"Such overtures have been made, but they are still in their infancy. Our
leader [Tsvangirai] is skeptical about Mugabe's overtures because the old
man is a skimmer and is cunning," said the official, who spoke on condition
of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

A US State Department official said the talks followed projections showing
Tsvangirai would beat Mugabe in the election but fall short of the 51
percent of votes needed to avoid a runoff, according to Reuters.

Both Mugabe's government and Tsvangirai, however, denied Tuesday night that
such talks are taking place.

If, in fact, Mugabe is negotiating his way out of office, it will be a sign
of how far both the 84-year-old liberation leader and his once-powerful
party have fallen.

A slow, decade-long collapse of the economy – under the weight of Western
sanctions and self-destructive economic policies at home – has turned Mugabe
into a deeply unpopular leader. Even Mugabe's staunchest supporters, the
military and security agencies, seem to have lost the will to rig elections
in his favor or to enforce his will on the streets, observers say.

"My sense is that they were unable to rig these elections, in part because
of a lack of capacity and motivation by ZANU-PF officials and the security
agencies," says Chris Maroleng, a Zimbabwe expert at the Institute for
Security Studies in Tshwane as Pretoria, South Africa, is now called.

Key reforms prevented vote rigging

Electoral reforms, negotiated under the leadership of the South African
delegation to the Southern African Development Community, forced electoral
officials to count votes at polling stations and to announce the results at
the polling stations, Mr. Maroleng adds.

This prevented ZANU-PF officials from stuffing ballots later on at the
central counting offices in Harare. Once the votes were counted, Mugabe's
downfall was literally written on the wall.

In a press conference on Tuesday night, Tsvangirai declared victory of more
than 50 percent of the vote and said that the tallies announced by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission jibed with MDC's own figures from the polling
stations. Tsvangirai joined other MDC spokesmen in denying any negotiations
were taking place with ZANU-PF, adding that any such negotiations could only
take place once ZEC had announced the final results.

'A new Zimbabwe'?

"The vote on Saturday was a vote for change, for jobs, and to build a new
Zimbabwe," said Tsvangirai, the former union leader, at a press conference
in Harare. "There is no way the MDC can enter discussions with ZANU-PF until
ZEC announces the results."

Even so, diplomats in Harare confirmed that negotiations were in fact going
on. An African diplomat, who refused to be named, said the deal had been
brokered by South Africa, but added that it was unlikely that the MDC would
agree, considering Mugabe's political history of reneging on agreements.

"Remember in 1987, Mugabe lured [the rival militia movement] ZAPU to form a
government of national unity but went on to 'swallow' the party," says the
diplomat. "Tsvangirai is old enough to remember that."

Experts say it would be naive to assume that Mugabe or the ZANU-PF will
simply hand over the keys to the government after losing an election. These
negotiations, if they are occurring, will be part of a longer process of
ensuring that ZANU-PF continues to play a role in Zimbabwe's government,
even if the MDC takes power.

"I think that Robert Mugabe has lost the election, but he has not lost
completely the House of Assembly," says Gordon Moyo, director of Bulawayo
Agenda, a coalition of civil society groups in Bulawayo. "So in these
negotiations, he may be telling MDC: 'You will not be able to pass any major
constitutional changes through Parliament. We are going to block you.' It
would be better to have a peaceful transition."

• A journalist who could not be named for security reasons contributed from

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Talks May End Mugabe’s Rule in Zimbabwe

New York Times

Published: April 2, 2008
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 talks were under way for the 84-year-old leader to
step down after trailing in Saturday’s election.

Morgan Tsvangirai, who appears to be leading in Zimbabwe’s presidential
election, speaking to reporters in Harare on Tuesday.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition candidate who appears to be ahead in the
voting, denied in an evening address that his party had been in discussions
over Mr. Mugabe’s resignation, saying he would “not enter into any deal”
before the vote results were officially announced.

But his denial was at odds with a flurry of accounts that the two sides were
having discussions about a possible transfer of power.

The nation’s election commission has yet to release any results in the
presidential race, only a steady trickle of outcomes in contests for
Parliament. But a projection by an independent civic group, based on data
from polling stations, gives Mr. Tsvangirai a lead of about 49.4 percent to
41.8 percent, raising the prospect of either outright defeat for Mr. Mugabe
or a runoff should neither one win a majority.

Indeed, The Herald, Zimbabwe’s state-run newspaper, reported Wednesday
morning that “the pattern of results in the presidential election show that
none of the candidates will garner more than 50 percent of the vote, forcing
a re-run.”

Mr. Mugabe, who has governed Zimbabwe with an iron grip for the past 28
years, has allowed the uncertainty about the election to continue for more
than three days, defying widespread expectations that he would declare
himself the winner rather than relinquish power.

The fact that he and the country’s security forces have so far remained on
the sidelines hinted at the possibility this impoverished nation of about 12
million, with its collapsed economy and nearly worthless currency, could be
on the verge of historic change.

Mr. Mugabe was advised by the leaders of the armed forces to engineer a
second-round runoff, according to a Western diplomat who spoke on condition
of anonymity. But Mr. Mugabe, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders,
responded that it would be a humiliation, the diplomat said.

A resignation by Mr. Mugabe would be a stunning turnabout in a country where
he has been accused of consistently manipulating election results to
maintain his lock on power.

Even Mr. Tsvangirai’s address to the nation, in which he confidently
predicted victory, stood in a stark contrast with the state of the
opposition just a year ago, when Mr. Tsvangirai and 49 other antigovernment
protesters were sent to a Harare hospital after being arrested and beaten by
the police for holding a protest meeting.

“The chiefs of staff are talking to Morgan and are trying to put into place
transitional structures,” said John Makumbe, a political analyst and an
adviser to a coalition of civic groups. Mr. Mugabe “is dependent on the
state’s coercive apparatus, and if these chiefs tell him this is the way
things are, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”

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

A businessman with strong associations with the ruling party, the Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front, said the military chiefs discussed
several options with the humbled president, including the out-and-out
rigging of the election, moving along to a rigged runoff and even possibly
“eliminating” Mr. Tsvangirai.

Harare, the capital, was abuzz on Tuesday with such so-called insider
accounts, each one undoubtedly taking new plot twists as they went from
secondhand to thirdhand and further on.

A variety of people were included as intermediaries between the two sides or
as compromise candidates for vice president.

South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki, was frequently mentioned as a broker
between the sides, and some versions had Mr. Mbeki in the city.

The sheer variety of the accounts cast some doubt on them all. While most
renditions had President Mugabe relinquishing power, others said he was
stubbornly hanging on and about to appear on TV to declare victory.

Tendai Biti, the secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change,
Mr. Tsvangirai’s party, called the stories about secret talks “all rubbish.”
He added, “Assuming there were talks, I wouldn’t tell you. But there were no
Neither President Mugabe nor Mr. Tsvangirai had made a public appearance
since election day until Mr. Tsvangirai’s Tuesday evening press conference.
He said he did not mind the tedious wait for results: “Robert Mugabe has
said he’s an honest man. I hope that when the results are announced it’s a
true reflection of the vote and that there’s no reason to investigate
fraudulent activities.”

In 2002, Mr. Tsvangirai said he was robbed of the presidency when a
last-minute deluge of votes fell Mr. Mugabe’s way.

This time, the two sides agreed that the results at each polling station
would be posted once the votes were counted. Observers for the Movement for
Democratic Change photographed each tallying of the votes, and the party’s
early calculations of the vote gave it a lead of 60 percent to 30 percent.

“Morgan came and told us that Mugabe will concede,” said Lovemore Madhuku,
who heads the National Constitutional Assembly, a collection of civic
groups. Mr. Tsvangirai briefed its leaders before his press conference. “He
believes he has won. But what if Mugabe also believes he has won?”

Officially, most results for the 210 Parliament seats have been announced:
Mr. Mugabe’s party has so far won 79 seats, compared with 77 for Mr.
Tsvangirai’s, and 5 for other candidates.

Many Zimbabweans have known no other leader except Robert Mugabe. He was a
hero of the nation’s independence struggle against white minority rule, and
he was hailed during his early years in power for policies of racial
conciliation and the health and education advances he had brought to those
denied them under colonial rule.

But Mr. Mugabe has also been a ruthless autocrat who has unleashed campaigns
of murder and terror against his opponents, analysts and critics contend.

In 2000, he ordered the takeover of white-owned farms, a decision that cast
Zimbabwe into an economic free fall that seems to have no end. Inflation now
runs at 100,000 percent.

About a quarter of the population has fled. Most of those remaining behind
are unemployed. Zimbabwe is a paradigm of destitution.

“People are dying for change,” said Mark Tichagarika, a driver in Harare.
“Everyone is talking about the election, at work, in the bus queues, in the
shops. When will we finally get a change?”

He considered his own question. “Only the old man knows.”

Graham Bowley contributed reporting from New York.

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Zimbabwe's Long Wait for Freedom

Oh My News

Appeal for restoring democracy in Zimbabwe

Masimba Biriwasha

     Published 2008-04-02 18:14 (KST)

India's National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has condemned the
"delay tactics" in announcing election results that are being employed by
President Robert Mugabe's government.

"While upholding the democratic right to dissent and protest, we denounce
and condemn this effort by Mugabe to hold back the election results," said
Dr Sandeep Pandey, the national convener of NAPM and Ramon Magsaysay awardee
in 2002.

"Zimbabwe has been reeling under the repressive and undemocratic actions of
President Robert Mugabe over the past 28 years," he said.

Despite indications that the presidential and parliamentary elections held
recently were won by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, putting
to an end, at long last, the dictatorial rule of 84-year-old President
Mugabe, there's been a suspicious and prolonged delay in the announcement of
the voting results.

"The move towards democracy in Zimbabwe is held in suspension. People's
movements in India demand that the election results be announced at the
earliest, and not tampered with," said Magsaysay.

All over the blogosphere, bloggers are calling for Zimbabweans to exercise
peace and calm till the results are announced so as not to give Mugabe to
unleash violence against the people using the state's armed forces.

"It might be that in the dark, you reconcile yourself to the idea that your
light is the only one in the darkness, and that it must be hidden behind
your eyes because the winds would blow it out," said Martin Meenagh on

"Because there are more people like you than you realize and there is more
sense to what you want than you might see in the shadow of evil. One day,
your faith in your free Zimbabwe will take wing," he added.

Results of elections held on Saturday in Zimbabwe are yet to be announced,
raising levels of tension and anticipation within the country and

President Mugabe's 28 year rule has all but crippled the country, reducing
it to a laughing stock throughout the world. The country is currently
experiencing the worst inflation rate in the world, now pegged at over
150,000 percent.

According to the UN, Zimbabwe has the lowest life expectancy in the world.
Female life expectancy stands at 34 years, while for males it is 37 years.

The political and fallout in Zimbabwe has had a ripple bulldozer-like impact
on other sectors in the country that whoever is declared the winner will
have their work cut out for them.

However, it is clear that retaining Mugabe as the leader of the country will
only result in more of the same, meaning more suffering for the majority of

Many Zimbabweans, particularly in urban areas and in the Diaspora are
convinced that if Mugabe steps down, the country will be able to get back on
its feet.

"It's clear that [Mugabe] has lost the vote," said Dumisani Muleya, a
political reporter at the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.

But as it is, the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe will have to wait as
patiently as they have wait for the fortunes of the country to turnaround
under the leadership of Mugabe.

It's amazing how one man's hand can be a grip on a whole people's destiny
for so long.

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Will Zimbabwe explode?

Toronto Star

With violence in the air, everyone's wondering how the military will react
to election

Apr 02, 2008 04:30 AM
Olivia Ward
Foreign Affairs Reporter

As Zimbabwe's strongman President Robert Mugabe clings to power amid
widespread claims that the opposition won last Saturday's poll, the fate of
the destitute country lies in the hands of its security forces.

Mugabe's friends and foes fear the official results could touch off
explosive violence if he orders a crackdown on the opposition, or protesters
rise up and clash with security forces.

The result of the back room debate among top security officials is now a
life and death matter for Zimbabwe's future.

"The military has an enormous stake in the outcome," said Zimbabwe-born
security expert Knox Chitiyo on the phone from London.

"Behind the scenes there are moderates who believe it's better for Mugabe to
step down and avoid a bloodbath. And hardliners who are ready to crush the
enemy once and for all."

Mugabe and military officials have said they would not accept a victory for
the opposition, opening the way for a bloody crackdown and street protests.
However, political analyst John Makumbe told Associated Press that he had
learned from military sources they would respect the results of the

But, says Chitiyo, who heads the Royal United Services Institute's Africa
Program, "the country is highly militarized, with the military having a hand
in everything from the grain marketing board to the banks. They are thinking
not just about loyalty to Mugabe, but their own survival."

Members of the security forces have also benefited far more than ordinary
Zimbabweans from the redistribution of formerly white-owned land, a plan
that had disastrous results for the economy.

Reports of talks between Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition
party, and a former army chief hinted that Mugabe might accept a deal to
hand over power peacefully without prosecution for alleged crimes ranging
from brutal repression to corruption and mismanagement that has bankrupted
the once prosperous southern African nation.

But both Tsvangirai and the Zimbabwean government have denied that they were
negotiating the resignation of Mugabe, a one-time independence hero who has
ruled the country for 28 years.

In a New York Times opinion piece yesterday, South African journalist Heidi
Holland – granted a rare interview with Mugabe – described the 84-year-old
autocrat as a "precariously balanced figure" who is capable of sacrificing
the welfare of the country for his own sense of righteousness.

Canadian Jim MacKinnon, who has visited Zimbabwe regularly for the past
seven years, said that under Mugabe, violence has become predictable.

"In 2003, there was a women's organization that held a demonstration on
Valentine's Day and handed out roses to the police. It was completely
non-political, but they broke it up with tear gas."

MacKinnon, the southern Africa co-ordinator for Oxfam Canada, said that the
presence of former ruling party minister Simba Makoni as a presidential
candidate helped to keep violence in check during the campaign.

"Makoni had a certain amount of the security forces behind him, and it was
very clear they were not behind Tsvangirai."

What would happen if Tsvangirai were declared winner is unsettling his
supporters, as well as Mugabe's. While no official results have been issued
on the presidential poll, Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, and a
split-off opposition party, have a narrow lead over Mugabe's ZANU-PF in the
parliamentary voting.

Before the election, police chief Augustin Chihuri said: "We will not allow
any puppets to take charge," a reference to Britain, which some of
Zimbabwe's pro-independence allies blame for plotting to overthrow Mugabe.

"At this point, our gains should never be reversed," Chihuri said.

For many of Zimbabwe's 12 million impoverished people, the gains are few and
dwindling as inflation tops an unprecedented 100,000 per cent, and those
with jobs have to choose between buying food or walking to work.

Zimbabwean security expert Martin Rupiya told the BBC that, although many in
the security forces are loyal to Mugabe, 30 per cent or fewer are actually
politicized. "The rest are suffering with the people."

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The truth is that Zimbabwe represents a colossal failure of diplomacy


And the consequences have been shocking
Apr 2 2008 by Tomos Livingstone, Western Mail

Peter Hain, the former anti-apartheid campaigner and Cabinet Minister, calls
for the world to act now to help Zimbabwe

AS BRITAIN’S Africa Minister eight years ago I recall being asked what would
happen to Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe. It will get worse and worse was my
prediction, unfortunately proving distressingly and horribly true.

Mugabe has stolen elections before. But, in this latest one, the verdict of
his long-suffering people has been resounding which is why announcement of
the official results have been held back so that they can be moulded.

But no amount of poll rigging (including using dead voters), intimidation or
brutality against opponents could hide the bravery of Zimbabweans in
resolutely voting against him, as confirmed by independent monitors.

For the first time Zimbabweans could see results as they were posted up in
their own community. For the first time, they have been able to safeguard
the ballot by sending results to independent monitoring centres which show a
clear win for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

This is a moment of truth for its African neighbours. An African solution to
this African crisis is needed now, even more than before, when prevarication
and complicity from African leaders has enabled Mugabe to persist with his
despotic rule.

Though embarrassed by Mugabe, they have deferred to him as the heroic
liberation leader of decades ago rather than the corrupt tyrant he became.
In so doing they have turned their backs on the people. It was left to
Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu to give voice to principle.

For me this has been painfully poignant. I was thrilled at Mugabe’s 1980
landslide win in the country’s first ever democratic election after
generations of racist white minority rule.

But over the past 10 years especially, Mugabe has savagely prostituted the
freedom struggle he once led so ably. With murder, torture, maiming,
incarceration and intimidation of opponents, he copied the very techniques
of repression used against him.

This was once the jewel in Africa’s crown, a beautiful and hospitable land
to visit, with the highest standards of education on the continent, good
infrastructure, and a strong economy.

Yet Mugabe has all but destroyed the country, turning a booming agricultural
sector – a breadbasket not just for his people but surrounding nations too –
into a barren wasteland, with food imported and its distribution manipulated
to garner political support for the ruling clique.

With incompetence and corruption institutionalised, inflation has surged to
a mind-boggling 100,000% (the necessary currency notes for bread today being
heavier than the loaf itself). Unemployment is a staggering 80%, power cuts
are rife and starvation widespread.

The impact on neighbours has also been destabilising. Millions of refugees
have escaped into South Africa and other nations, with all the pressures
that means.

His black tyranny is an ugly stain on Africa, almost as abhorrent as the
white tyranny of apartheid I and my parents fought so hard to defeat.

What people have been unwilling to acknowledge about Mugabe is that he has
never been susceptible to diplomacy. I recall trying to disabuse some of my
Foreign Office officials of this, and also arguing with friends in southern
African governments.

The truth is that Zimbabwe represents a colossal failure of diplomacy – for
Britain, for South Africa, the EU, UN, Commonwealth – for everyone
concerned. And the consequences have been shocking.

Already there are reports that Opposition MDC leaders have gone underground
because their lives are in danger. The MDC say they are determined to avoid
another Kenya, and have urged their supporters to remain calm – despite
increasing provocation from Mugabe’s forces. A prominent MDC leader and
newly-elected MP, Mrs Sekai Holland (a grandmother who was savagely beaten
last year, and who is now in hiding) sent out this message, “Non-violence is
our battle cry. That will empower us to deliver the Zimbabwe we want.”

The international community must insist that the democratic verdict is
upheld and that there is an orderly transfer of power, with Mugabe and his
elite offered a safe passage if they wish. This requires global engagement
from the United Nations in New York to Beijing (which has been bankrolling
Mugabe as it buys up the country’s rich resources).

Above all, it requires Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the Southern Africa
Development Community to engage and speak with the same voice of democracy
as should Europe and the UN. Pretoria could if necessary pull the plug on
the regime by calling in debts and banning economic assistance.

Meanwhile there should be an international movement of solidarity with
Zimbabweans and against Mugabe, both to support local resistance and to
lobby governments and global institutions.

The people of Zimbabwe need our help. And they need it now.

Peter Hain is MP for Neath

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