Mugabe Threatens to Meet Street Protests of Election Count
in Zimbabwe With Force By MICHAEL WINES
Published: April 3,
HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 2 - President Robert G. Mugabe warned
Zimbabwe's political opposition on Saturday against taking to the streets to
protest its defeat in parliamentary elections this week, saying that his
government "can also raise mass action against mass action, and there would
naturally be conflicts, serious conflicts," as a result.
delivered the warning as fliers circulated in Harare urging citizens to
reject the results of Thursday's elections, which gutted the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, or M.D.C., of what little political clout it
But there was little evidence that Zimbabweans were prepared
to protest the elections, which the M.D.C. has repeatedly called fraudulent.
And the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said Saturday that his party
still had no strategy to respond to the outcome, which it has called
With all 120 legislative races decided, Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, won 78 seats, versus 41
for the M.D.C. One seat was won by an independent.
The outcome was a
blow to the opposition, which won 57 seats in the last election, in 2000,
and had been predicting gains in this week's balloting. Because Mr. Mugabe
personally fills 30 other seats in the 150-member Parliament, the election
results mean that his party has gained the two-thirds majority it needs to
change Zimbabwe's Constitution as it chooses.
Western governments and
human rights groups had joined the opposition in denouncing the elections as
rigged even before the vote was held. Many reports have accused Mr. Mugabe's
government of using a sheaf of tactics, from threats to deny food to
opposition voters to gerrymandered legislative districts, to ensure its
The opposition party said again on Saturday that the government
had condoned fraud both during Thursday's vote and in the counting
afterward. But two days after the elections, it has yet to detail those
charges, and so the complaints remain difficult to verify or
As the last results trickled in on Saturday afternoon, a
delegation of election observers from South Africa declared that the
elections reflected Zimbabweans' preferences, and said it had seen no
evidence of fraud during its two weeks here.
That conclusion was not
unexpected; South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, had said the vote would
be fair even before he dispatched observers. But the declaration added a
veneer of credibility to Mr. Mugabe's claims that he had run an honest
election before the world's press and outside observers, albeit ones largely
friendly to his rule.
A more impartial measure may come in when the
nongovernmental Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which dispatched 6,000
unofficial observers to monitor the elections, releases its first assessment
of the vote.
In the meantime, Mr. Mugabe, the nation's leader for 25
years, on Saturday savored his party's victory with a show of serene
confidence in front of perhaps 100 foreign journalists invited to Zimbabwe's
State House, the massive, colonial-style residence near central
Sitting on the mansion's verandah, flanked by two immense
stuffed, amber-eyed lionesses, Mr. Mugabe offered a slightly surreal report
on the week's events to journalists whom his government has frequently
castigated, and who have often sneaked here under the threat of imprisonment
to evade a virtual ban on foreign reporting on Zimbabwe's
All appeared to be forgiven. Aides offered the journalists a
free jet ride to Victoria Falls, on the other side of the country, and
enthusiastic hands shot up to accept.
Greeting the reporters, Mr.
Mugabe asked with a smile, "Are you afraid?" He later added a quip about his
stuffed bookends. "You are well protected against my two lions," he said.
"They are very friendly lions, in the nature of their master."
off-the-cuff remarks, Mr. Mugabe complimented the opposition for what he
called a tolerant and orderly campaign, and compared its drubbing to a
defeat in sports. "The losing side, although it gets disappointed, must not
look on it as the end of the world," he said, "and must be sporting enough
to accept defeat and not look for excuses."
Indeed, he said, ZANU-PF
was prepared to work with the opposition in Parliament to deal with
Zimbabwe's difficulties, which include a collapsed economy to
But Mr. Mugabe's demeanor changed when the
question of protests against the vote was raised. Any protest that might
lead to violence would be met with "law and order instruments," he said, an
apparent reference to police and military forces that have crushed other
protests, notably a June 2002 national strike called by the M.D.C. He also
called the opposition's supporters "a very violent people" whose protests
have destroyed businesses and damaged innocent people's vehicles.
short order, Mr. Mugabe rejected accusations of election fraud as sour
grapes from his opponents, said his party had yet to decide how to change
the Constitution, and denied the nation was short of food, despite many
international reports and news accounts to the contrary. And he said that
there was no need for anyone to debate who would succeed him as president.
Asked when he might retire, Mr. Mugabe, who is 81, replied, "When I'm a
Fury grows at Mugabe's rigged
poll Christina Lamb, Harare
was mounting on the leadership of the Zimbabwean opposition yesterday to
call on supporters to take to the streets to remove President Robert Mugabe
after a third rigged election in succession. Final results from
Thursday's parliamentary election gave the ruling Zanu-PF a sweeping
two-thirds majority, despite huge outdoor rallies for the opposition and
what had seemed like a new mood of defiance across the country. After the
announcement, Mugabe, 81, joked that he would quit only "when I am a century
Losing candidates from the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) arrived from all corners of the country at Harvest
House, the party headquarters in Harare, clutching dossiers with details of
electoral fraud in their constituencies.
they hugged each other. Some wept as they recounted tales of the military
being bussed in to their constituencies, their voters being turned away from
polling stations and attempts to bribe their election agents as the party
was almost wiped out in rural areas.
"We can't believe this,"
said Prosper Muchyami, the MDC chairman in Manicaland province, where the
party won only two out of 15 seats in spite of an apparent upsurge in public
"This is the work of a sophisticated dictator. We
will never beat Zanu-PF while it is in power. We need other
One of the most surprising defeats for the MDC came
at Chimanimani, in southeastern Zimbabwe, where Roy Bennett, a white farmer,
won the second-largest majority in the 2000 election. Heather, his wife,
stood in his place after he was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for
pushing the justice minister in parliament.
had huge support," she said yesterday. "But many of my people went to vote
and found they were not on the list. It was just so
"It's a total disappointment," said Ian Kay, a
white farmer who was badly beaten when his farm was taken and who contested
the seat of Marondera. "The critical thing is for the leadership now to
After collating the reports from its
candidates, the MDC held an emergency meeting of its national executive
committee to decide how to respond. The idea of mounting legal challenges,
as was done after the 2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential elections,
was discarded. So were suggestions of an armed struggle.
"We have to re-strategise from the grassroots," said Morgan Tsvangirai, the
MDC president. "Given our experience of the past five years, with 39 cases
against the last elections still pending, we have no confidence in the
judicial process. We were in parliament the past five years and the
legislative process hasn't helped us either. The only way forward now is
He did not rule out mass action, though aides
said he was thinking in terms of a one-day strike rather than a movement to
bring down the government. MDC candidates were instructed to go back to
their constituencies and consult supporters before returning for a final
decision tomorrow. Many of them left disappointed.
discovered the leadership has no plan B," said one from Manicaland who, like
many MDC activists, has suffered imprisonment, torture and has lost his job
because of his political affiliation. "We are going away empty handed. All
this sitting around at tables achieves nothing. We should be talking regime
Welshman Ncube, the party's secretary-general,
admitted the results had come as a huge shock. "We knew they were going to
do it, but we still hoped," he said. "We had such amazing attendance at
rallies with thousands of people that we started to think we could
Journalists and diplomats who travelled across the
country last week found people openly criticising the government, emboldened
by a lack of food.
The destruction of commercial farming -
combined with Mugabe's decision to outlaw international food aid so all
distribution remained under party control - has left about half of the
country on the verge of starvation and created a new mood of anger. Yet the
MDC won just 41 out of the 120 seats, 16 fewer than in the last
election. "Obviously we now need to go back to the drawing board," said
Ncube. "The majority of Zimbabweans are beaten, desperate and think it's
beyond their capacity to defeat this dictatorship. We have to decide how to
He ruled out mass action, pointing out that the party is
committed to peaceful means.
"This is a completely different
situation to Ukraine," said David Coltart, the party's legal affairs
spokesman, referring to the "orange revolution" in which rigged election
results were overturned by mass protests in Kiev.
"We don't have
independent radio stations that can call people out. We don't have
sympathetic neighbouring states to provide bases. The design of our major
cities, with most of the population living in satellites outside, makes it
easy to block arterial roads in and stop any massing of people."
party's main fear is that supporters who take to the streets will be fired
on by a military still loyal to Mugabe, who has given senior officers farms
and diamond mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
victory won't buy him a single grain of maize. What we need to do is
maintain the morale of our supporters and wait for this edifice to crumble,"
Such a restrained attitude was attacked by Pius Ncube, the
Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, who has been one of the bravest critics of
"The MDC should have had a plan B," he said. "Instead of going on
being oppressed by the same dictator, why can't the MDC think of a plan to
get him out, to tell him, 'We won't let you bully us any more, shoot us if
you want'. The MDC must act. They can't expect people to act by
However, the archbishop said he believed nothing would
happen. "Here in Zimbabwe people are so pushed around by Mugabe they usually
just take the results and say, 'Ah, ah, what a pity'.
"They want to
leave it up to God. What I say is God helps those who help themselves."
'We never got the money they promised' Anne Wayne
meets some of Zanu-PF's former enforcers who switched sides - and now fear
for their lives 03 April 2005
By his own admission, he had
committed arson, tortured grandmothers and led the invasions of white-owned
properties, but it was the results of Thursday's parliamentary elections
that devastated the former Zimbabwean secret
Paradoxically, the man once employed as an enforcer for the
ruling party had ended up one of the most ardent supporters of a former
white farmer's bid for Parliament. The incumbent MP, Roy Bennett, was
imprisoned last year after a scuffle with the Justice Minister, Patrick
Chinamasa. Mr Bennett's wife, Heather, decided to stand in his
"I am so disappointed," said Lazarus Shave. "I am so much sympathy
for Mrs Bennett ... I did work for the CIO when Roy was MP. I supported
Mutezo in the [Zanu-PF primary] election. He was not the candidate that the
government wanted so five men came to me and beat me three weeks ago. Now I
want to work for the MDC and I will not beat anyone any more." His refusal
to join in the campaign of intimidation against MDC activists had led to
threats on his own life, he said.
In the run-up to Thursday's
controversial elections, The Independent on Sunday conducted clandestine
interviews with secret policemen, ex-youth militia and war veterans. All
said that the continued hunger, lack of jobs and the infighting resulting
from the imposition of Joyce Mujuru over a more popular candidate as
vice-president meant they were no longer willing to fight for the
government. Ms Mujuru's appointment led to the suspension of six provincial
party chairmen last December, and the expulsion of the Information Minister,
Jonathon Moyo, from the government.
According to Mr Shave, Zanu-PF tried
to reassert control with beatings, rigged elections and denial of food. One
member of the notorious youth militia known as the Green Bombers recalled:
"They used to give us pills before we went to beat people, but never food.
We beat up one old man, he must have been in his 60s, Moses Mpande, for
criticising the lack of development in the area. He kept apologising but
none of us stopped."
The ex-militia member, who begged to remain
anonymous, was terrified of retribution. He said that many thousands of
young Zimbabweans who had been forced into the militia training camps had
fled the country; others remained outwardly loyal but had voted for the
"They promised us jobs if we went through Border Gezi [camps], but
we never got anything," he said. "I registered to vote last year and I am
going to vote MDC."
Another youth, who asked only to be identified as
Sikhumbuzo, agreed. "[In 2002] Zanu used to get us to stay outside polling
stations to frighten away the opposition. If the MDC came, we would chase
them away. But we never got the money or jobs that they promised us; all we
got was beer."
After he was seen talking to election monitors this month,
Sikhumbuzo was told that he would be unable to buy maize in his village
because he was an MDC supporter. The incident severed his links with the
ruling party and now, he says, he has been campaigning for an MDC
Ben Ncube, 42, a veteran of the liberation struggle during the
1970s, said he was also voting for the MDC in his Matebeleland constituency.
"I used to support the government and they made a lot of promises about land
and money during the 2000 elections, which were repeated in 2002. Now I know
because of my tribe I will never get land," he said in a Bulawayo safe
However, all the ex-enforcers agreed on one thing. "The government
will never have a shortage of people to do its dirty work," said the furtive
Green Bomber. "Look how many people are hungry. Look how many people have no
jobs. All they have to offer is a little bit and people here will do
anything they want."
THE one agreeable aspect of a Zimbabwean election, from a
selfish journalistic point of view, is that it is safely predictable. No
hack is going to end up with egg on his face by forecasting victory for
Robert Mugabe, who won his sixth term in office last Thursday.
Zimbabwean electoral system is elaborately calibrated to ensure such
predictability, including the right of the president to nominate 30 of the
country's 150 MPs - a less democratic arrangement than in most parliamentary
systems, but more democratic than Scotland, where party leaders nominate 56
of our 129 MSPs.
Who said post-colonial Africa was full of unstable
régimes? Executive President Mugabe, who is both head of state and head of
government, is as solidly and unchallengeably in control as Labour in
Lanarkshire. It goes without saying that this steel template of personal
absolutism did not accidentally evolve: someone must deserve the credit for
forging it. And it's another triumph for Britain, as the commentators used
to shout excitedly, on grainy black-and-white Pathe newsreels: the midwives
of Mugabe's Zimbabwe were the same sweetie wives in the Foreign Office who
gave us Suez and every other geopolitical car crash that the limp-wristed
Wykehamist psyche could contrive.
In the case of Rhodesia, the King
Charles Street clowns were matched in fatuity by their masters. Harold
Wilson, whose insight into foreign affairs could have been inscribed on a
grain of rice and still left room for the Old Testament, turned Britain's
unnecessary confrontation with Southern Rhodesia into a virility symbol. He
did so partly out of pique at being defied, partly because it was a useful
opportunity to posture in front of his party as the champion of
decolonisation and scourge of what had recently emerged as the British
Left's pet preoccupation: "racialism" - later abbreviated to
This obsession, which quickly blossomed into full-blown
hysteria, had nothing to do with the welfare of black people in Africa but
everything to do with the prejudices of white lefties residing in Hampstead
(in those days Islington had not yet emerged as the capital of Utopia). To
them it was a matter of indifference that millions of Africans were being
terrorised by communist guerrilla movements: any black African who hankered
after a multi-party state and parliamentary democracy was "outwith his frame
of reference", in the moronic Marxist semantics of the brain-dead academics
who were the backbone of Britain's armchair revolution.
Labour the sole culprit. The Tories were equally to blame. Harold
Macmillan's "wind of change" speech was a gratuitous piece of rhetoric which
committed the inexcusably unstatesmanlike folly of arousing vast
expectations in advance of what was bound to be an extremely difficult
disengagement from empire. Combined with Iain Macleod's precipitate rush to
decolonisation and American pressure in the same direction, any hope of a
stable post-colonial Africa vanished. Even blatant Soviet ambitions to
control the strategically vital Cape route did not deter dogmatic British
It was small wonder Ian Smith and his supporters, after
the collapse of the Central African Federation, opted for unilateral
independence from Britain. They were aware of the communist threat to their
continent and the support of the then economically gigantic South Africa
made their move viable. Under sanctions, the Rhodesian economy thrived in
response to enforced diversification, giving the black population a standard
of living they could never dream of now. Unfortunately, this was not matched
by an equally paced advance towards power sharing. Although the final
elections under the old government in 1979 were racially equitable, Smith
had moved too slowly, just as his British opponents had moved too
What brought down Rhodesia was the Portuguese domestic coup of 1974
which gave Marxist régimes power in Mozambique and Angola. Such allies
greatly enhanced the prospects of the Zanu and Zapu movements, united as the
Patriotic Front (PF) and admitted to the notorious conference at Lancaster
House in 1979. To this day, Ian Smith swears that Lord Carrington, British
foreign secretary, gave him a guarantee that the conference would not result
in Mugabe coming to power. The rest is history. By the late 1980s there were
8,850 Soviet advisers, 53,900 Cuban troops and a large number of East
Germans swarming over the African continent. Only the collapse of the Soviet
Union saved Africa from the immediate consequences of western delusion and
In 2000, Mugabe lost a referendum on proposals to alter
the constitution, giving him extra powers. That reversal was seen by
star-gazers in the west as a significant setback. They did not know their
man. He simply resolved never to lose any vote again.
His attitude to
objective truth is of the Goebbels school: "We will not seize land from
anyone who has a use for it," a euphoric BBC reported him as promising on
the day he returned from exile in 1980. "Farmers who are able to be
productive and prove useful to society will find us cooperative." The
problem is, it is difficult to be productive and useful to society when you
are in plaster, after being beaten up by Zanu (PF) thugs.
for this season's maize crop are that it will be the smallest in decades.
Last year Mugabe rejected food aid, declaring a record maize crop of 2.4
million tons; the reality turned out to be one-sixth of that estimate.
According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet), food-price
inflation was at 143% last November; but between December 22 and January 10,
mealie meal increased in price by almost 50% and meat by 10%.
any point between 1964 and 1979, Britain could have come to an accommodation
with Rhodesia, to prevent the creation of a socialist tyranny; but vanity
and deference to the crass demands of the doctrinaire Left led to the
present crisis. More seriously, Zimbabwe epitomises post-colonial Africa.
Behind the windy UN rhetoric, a continent is slipping remorselessly back
into the Stone Age.
Zimbabwe uprising in face of 'sham' election fails to
JOE DOUGLASS IN HARARE AND TREVOR
DESPAIRING Zimbabweans yesterday resigned themselves to the
continuing rule of president Robert Mugabe.
While opposition leaders
had called for a Ukraine-style popular uprising in the face of elections
which have been condemned as unfair, street protests failed to materialise
On the busy streets of the capital, Harare, there was little
sign that Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party had maintained its 25-year grip on
power in parliamentary elections condemned worldwide as a sham.
country whose economy is in tatters with more than 80% unemployed, and where
the 30,000 police and army officers drafted in for election day maintain a
threatening presence on every street corner, there is little visible
From the businessmen to the banana sellers to the beggars, the
people of Zimbabwe have had little choice but return to
Wellington Gasela, 24, a bus conductor in Harare, said: "I had
hoped that this time there might have been change, and Mugabe might have
listened to the message to leave.
"But now I realise that was just a
dream. I may as well wait for a horse to grow horns as to hope that Zanu-PF
Although a few rural constituencies had still yesterday to
return their results from the voting on Thursday, Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Union - Patriotic Front party had secured 71 of the contested 120
The 81-year-old president also automatically appoints a further 30
posts of his own choosing, meaning Zanu-PF has secured the two-thirds
majority needed to push through constitutional reform.
in progress, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had
only won 39 seats.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, has accused the
ruling party of stealing the election, saying he was "deeply disturbed" at
fraudulent activities his party has discovered. The UK, Germany and the USA
have also called the election "flawed".
Supporters of Zanu-PF are
accused of using violence and intimidation to secure votes, in addition to
denying food aid in drought-hit areas.
Complaints also focus on the
electoral register. While thousands were turned away as their names were not
listed, others claim that the names of their dead relatives had not been
removed - "ghost voters" used fraudulently to boost numbers.
has dismissed the claims as "nonsense", while his supporters point to the
surprise defeat of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zanu-PF parliament speaker, or to
the victory of the recently sacked information minister Jonathan Moyo, now
an independent MP, as a sign that the polls were not rigged.
the election comes as two British journalists working for the Sunday
Telegraph remain under arrest after they were caught reporting without
permission, since Mugabe's draconian media restrictions denied them access.
The pair face a possible two-year prison sentence.
Mugabe had banned more
than three million exiled Zimbabweans from the poll. Exiled leaders said
yesterday that most of the 400,000 Zimbabweans who live in the UK would stay
put for the next few years.
"If Zimbabweans in the diaspora had the vote,
the results of the farcical election might have been different," veteran
nationalist Arthur Molife told Scotland on Sunday. "Most of us are here for
the foreseeable future, maybe for ever."
He added: "I think the days
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) being led by Morgan Tsvangirai
are over. The MDC should never have contested this election and now they are
talking about a peaceful uprising. Fat chance that has of
"Mugabe would put thousands of soldiers, police and riot
squads on to the streets and order them to kill ringleaders.
real result of this election is that Zimbabweans who care about their
country will be forced to leave and help form a government in
"We will restructure the old Zimbabwe African People's Union
(ZAPU), which was the original freedom movement in Zimbabwe. My bet is that
the new party's first congress will be held in Britain."
Chireka, leader of the MDC in Britain, added: "I hope to God that we do not
take up our seats in parliament. That would give Mugabe credibility. We must
stick together. Division is what Mugabe wants."
[ This report does not necessarily reflect
the views of the United Nations]
HARARE, 2 Apr 2005 (IRIN) -
Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party's resounding poll victory, clinching
two-thirds of seats in parliament, has been condemned as a sham by the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
ZANU-PF has so far
taken 71 of the 120 contested seats, while the MDC slumped to 40 - down from
the 58 seats it captured in 2000 in its maiden election.
Robert Mugabe appoints a further 30 deputies in the 150-seat parliament,
giving him the numbers required to introduce constitutional
MDC leader and former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai said
on Saturday the election was flawed and the party would be consulting its
members on the way forward.
"The MDC is a mass political movement
that cannot die simply because it has lost a flawed election. We are
considering many forms of action ... We have a genuine cause to act upon and
we shall do just that," Tsvangirai told IRIN.
The police warned last
week, ahead of the election on Thursday, that they would not tolerate any
The United States and Britain have also described
the ballot as unfair, pointing out that although it was generally peaceful
on polling day, the electoral process was heavily skewed in the government's
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice summed up the concerns:
"The election process was not free and fair. The electoral playing field was
heavily tilted in the government's favour. The independent press was
muzzled; freedom of assembly was constrained; food was used as a weapon to
sway hungry voters; and millions of Zimbabweans who have been forced by the
nation's economic collapse to emigrate were disenfranchised."
African observer team said on Saturday the elections reflected the "free
will" of Zimbabweans but stopped short of calling them fair.
political commissar Elliot Manyika dismissed claims of vote-rigging and voter
coercion as "absolute nonsense". He told IRIN the alleged politicisation of
food aid was a lie aimed at tarnishing the image of the country and
President Mugabe, who throughout the election portrayed the
MDC as a puppet of former colonial power Britain, was reported as saying
ZANU-PF's victory confirmed the confidence Zimbabweans had in his party,
which has ruled for 25-years.
"We enjoy the support of our people
based on the fact that we brought independence to the country," he told a
Having achieved a two-thirds majority, Mugabe, 81, said
he would push forward with plans to amend the constitution and introduce a
second chamber of traditional leaders, retired politicians and other eminent
Critics have alleged the new senate would be packed with
loyalists ahead of his retirement: Mugabe is also reportedly likely to alter
the law allowing him to pick a successor without having to hold fresh
While ZANU-PF has consolidated its political position, Mugabe
has not won the endorsement of western governments - key to ending his
country's isolation and restarting the financial aid Zimbabwe desperately
needs to help ease its economic plight.
"The major problem is that
the result will not change Zimbabwe's relations with the rest of the world.
African observers will declare the elections free and fair but western
countries and trading blocs, all crucial partners in the country's
donor-driven development programmes, have already declared the election a
sham," noted economist and political analyst Erich Bloch.
problems will undoubtedly get worse. Inflation will rise to unprecedented
levels as the country needs to import food, fuel and many other basic
necessities. Industrial production has declined to its lowest levels, there
is nothing to stimulate growth," commented Bloch.
Brian Kagoro said the government was aware of the need to shift gears on the
economy, and tackle the current food shortage following yet another poor
"Key in their minds is no longer [their political] survival, but
reversal of the economic crisis - which if it continues could be their
undoing - and engagement with the international community."
leadership of the MDC, however, faces searching questions over its inability
to score with the ballot box - when seemingly presented with an open goal in
the form of the government's economic record.
"The MDC has lost its
relevance. It needs to replace its top leadership, especially the
presidency, if it is to turn its fortunes around. There is also a high
likelihood of some MDC officials defecting ... to ZANU-PF," suggested
In mitigation, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (ZHRF) - a grouping
of local NGOs - alleged that a ZANU-PF victory was a foregone conclusion
given the built-in advantages the party enjoyed in the electoral
It noted the drafting of loyal security force personnel into the
electoral bodies running the poll, and the increase in constituencies in
ZANU-PF dominated regions and their reduction in MDC strongholds.
ZHRF also suggested that a culture of impunity had played a role in
influencing voting patterns.
"Although it was not as endemic as in
previous elections, the sporadic violence disrupted opposition campaigns,
lowered the visibility of the opposition and its supporters, discouraged
potential candidates from standing and scared voters away from the
It also said over three million Zimbabweans living in mainly
Britain and South Africa, who were likely to be sympathetic to the
opposition, were disenfranchised through the government's decision to reject
In response to the ZHRF's allegations that Zimbabwe had
failed to comply with Southern African Development Community electoral
protocols, ZANU-PF commissar Manyika said they were mere guidelines which no
country was compelled to follow.
"Those guidelines are not the laws
of Zimbabwe. We still have [electoral]observers in the country and I believe
they are better placed to say if the guidelines were violated," said
He described ZHRF as a western-funded, anti-Zimbabwe appendage
of the MDC.
Kagoro said that given the severe constraints the MDC faced,
the labour-backed party could be congratulated for making inroads into rural
areas, traditionally ZANU-PF territory, and winning back some constituencies
it had previously lost. "It's an indication of what could have happened in a
genuinely free election".
Tsvangirai said the party had fresh
evidence of government rigging which would be released on
'I have more freedom here than in Iraq' With the ban
on the BBC, reporting from Zimbabwe is at best problematic. In an election
week diary, Sky's David Chater explains how he went about it 03 April
"Zanu-PF blasts Sky News", reads the banner
headline on the front page of The Herald. The government was launching a
counter-attack against our report that opposition supporters in Matabeleland
were being denied supplies of maize to force them to vote for the ruling
The package, screened on Easter Sunday, was based on an interview
with the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube. He backed up his claim
by bringing a selection of his parishioners to describe at first hand how
they'd been turned away by Zanu-PF officials from food stores because they
were known members of the Movement for Democratic Change.
secretary for information and publicity, Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, called a
press conference to expose what he called "Sky News lies'', demanding
concrete proof of the allegations and labelling the story as "completely
unsubstantiated and untrue''. He went on to describe the Archbishop of
Bulawayo as "a mad inveterate liar'' and well-known rabid opponent of the
The Sky News team, producer Ben de Pear and cameraman
Garwen McLeckie were old Africa hands and had long experience of coping with
the problems of broadcasting from Zimbabwe. We light-heartedly talked the
night before about the possible repercussions of our report - a midnight
knock at the door, a prison cell or deportation. But we decided that the
facts spoke for themselves and the report was worth the risk. We were all
too aware that our BBC colleagues in Johannesburg had been denied entry into
Zimbabwe, but we were determined this should not affect the tone of our
reports or the rigour of our journalism.
a report that repeated the allegations that food was being used as a weapon
of political cohesion by government officials. This time the claim was made
by Heather Bennett, standing as a candidate for the Movement for Democratic
Change in Chimanimani. It was a seat held by her husband Roy, now doing a
year's hard labour in a prison cell for getting too physical with the
justice minister in parliament. The Bennetts' farm was taken from them a
year ago. Heather was offered a bribe: defect to the Zanu-PF and the farm
would be returned.
The report was balanced by an interview with a
government party activist who is running a former white-owned farm in
Bindura, south of Harare. The eloquently outspoken Remigious Matangira has
made a thriving business out of his 400 hectares of arable land growing
maize and bananas. His passion for that land was infectious - land he said,
which has now been returned to its rightful owners.
He denied that
food was being withheld from MDC supporters, and he claimed that there were
no shortages despite the drought. We tempered his enthusiasm by adding in
our report that the South African-based Famine Early Warning System Network
estimated that nearly six million people in Zimbabwe will be in need of food
aid before the year is out.
We know that all our reports are being
monitored by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority, but no restrictions have
been placed on us, and no official minder forced on us. The freedom to
report here is remarkable in comparison to my time in Iraq under Saddam
The day before the election, President Mugabe
holds his last rally in an opposition stronghold in Harare. After four hours
reddening in the sun, we managed to doorstep him as he came off the podium.
I asked him why he'd turned the election into a "bury Tony Blair" campaign
rather than defending the competence of his government. I asked him about
the irregularities in the voters' roll which the MDC claims contains the
names of 800,000 so-called ghost votes. His responses were curt and angry.
But at least he was prepared to allow access to him and answer the
To balance the report I added interviews of the grieving
family and friends of an MDC supporter they claimed was beaten to death by
Zanu-PF thugs, and found a woman officially registered as dead hanging up
the washing of her six children. She's an MDC
Election day is spent rooted next to a polling
station giving live updates for Sky News every hour. A brief respite to
investigate reports that Zanu-PF are bussing voters from rural areas into
Harare. The story doesn't stand up. We get soaked in a tropical downpour.
News spreads about the arrest of the Sunday Telegraph team found outside a
polling station without accreditation.
The Pope is
receiving the last rites. As the first election results start to come in,
calls to the foreign desk go unanswered.
HARARE, Zimbabwe - President Robert Mugabe said Saturday that he
hoped to stay in power until he was 100 as he celebrated an overwhelming
victory in parliamentary elections that all but his supporters and a few
African neighbors said were rigged.
The opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, or MDC, refused to accept the election results, saying
Thursday's vote was flawed - a view shared by the United States and Britain.
The MDC held talks with southern African observers to point out huge
discrepancies in the results but made no attempt to organize mass
"This is a moment of victory for my party and the victory
of my party translates itself, naturally, into a victory for our country,"
the 81-year-old Mugabe declared as results showed that he had cleared the
two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution.
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, won 78 seats,
while the MDC got 41, according to final results issued Saturday by the
chief election officer. An independent candidate picked up one seat. Under
Zimbabwean law, Mugabe has the power to appoint an additional 30 lawmakers
in the 150-seat chamber.
The results clear the way for Mugabe to set
up a second parliamentary chamber representing traditional chiefs, retired
politicians and other eminent Zimbabweans without holding a referendum.
Critics charge the autocratic Mugabe wants to pack the senate with cronies
to cement his influence and to pick a successor without
But Mugabe made it plain that he didn't plan on stepping
down any time soon.
"When I am a century old," he laughed, responding
to a question about his retirement plans.
He was only half
Mugabe, one of Africa's longest serving rulers, has no
obvious heir apparent. His appointment of Joyce Mujuru as the country's
first female vice president - and thus a potential successor - sparked a
power struggle last year.
Parliament speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa,
once tipped to take over from Mugabe, lost his seat in Thursday's elections.
Jonathan Moyo, the former information minister and architect of Zimbabwe's
repressive media laws who was sacked after he challenged Mujuru's
appointment, was elected as an independent in a rebuff to
The MDC held crisis talks but came up with no clear plan of
"Today the world has seen the extent to which Mugabe is
determined to hold on to power without due regard to the people," MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai said at a news conference after the meeting of the party's
"This election cannot be accepted as a
reflection of Zimbabwe's will," he said.
At his news conference,
Mugabe called on the opposition to accept defeat gracefully and said he
would be willing to work with it inside and outside parliament. But he made
it clear that he would not tolerate even peaceful protests by MDC
"They are not a peaceful people," Mugabe said. "Law and
order instruments will be used to prevent any mass action that is likely to
lead to lawlessness in the country."
Mugabe shunned the colorful
traditional attire he wore on the campaign trail in favor of a sports jacket
and tie but revealed his eccentric traits by standing between two life-sized
stuffed lions in front of the state palace.
Police set up checkpoints
on the roads leading to Harare to contain any trouble. Streets bustled with
people shopping and going to work, reflecting a mood of widespread weariness
with politics in a nation beset with crippling unemployment and
Norbert Ncube, a roadside cigarettes and phone
card vendor, said the results did not seem credible.
"ZANU-PF had a
majority in parliament in the past five years, but during that time we have
seen factories shut down, jobs disappear and economic hardships increase. It
will be worse now that they have more than the two-thirds majority," Ncube
Nearby ZANU-PF supporters sang, beat drums and danced in
Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk 50 percent during the past
five years, and the unemployment rate is at least 70 percent. Agriculture -
the country's economic base - has collapsed, and at least 70 percent of the
population live in poverty.
Mugabe tried to rally support after the
opposition's strong showing in 2000 with a land reform program aimed at
righting racial imbalances in ownership inherited from British rule.
Thousands of white-owned commercial farms were redistributed to black
Zimbabweans in an often violent campaign that has crippled the
HARARE: A Southern African observer mission has found
discrepancies with the official results in 32 of the 120 contested seats in
Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections, a spokeswoman said on Saturday.
President Robert Mugabe's ruling party won a two-thirds majority in the
elections that the opposition slammed as a "massive fraud" and refused to
recognize the outcome.
"There are major queries at 32 constituencies,
that's more than 25 per cent," said Nomfanelo Kota, spokeswoman for the
observers from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC).
"The results that the candidates themselves signed at the polling stations
were not the same as the results announced on national television," she
said. "This doesn't mean that there are necessarily huge discrepancies in
the figures," she cautioned.
A news conference by the SADC delegation
scheduled for Saturday was delayed while the observers sought
clarifications. But a spokesman from the Zimbabwe Elections Commission (ZEC)
denied that there were problems with the results. "The commission has not
received any queries from anywhere," said ZEC spokesman Utloile
Mugabe vows to eradicate opposition after observers endorse
election victory By Peta Thornycroft in Harare (Filed:
South African government observers yesterday gave President
Robert Mugabe's victory in Zimbabwe's election a clean bill of health,
endorsing his Zanu-PF party's grip on power which will enable him radically
to alter the country's constitution.
The decision of Mr Mugabe's most
important regional ally to endorse the results of Thursday's parliamentary
election - in which Zanu-PF won an overwhelming majority of seats - came
despite widespread complaints of electoral fraud and the opposition's total
rejection of the outcome.
The group's leader, labour minister Membathisi
Mdladlana, who weeks earlier predicted that it would be free and fair,
declared that the landslide win by the Zanu-PF "reflected the will of the
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the defeated Movement for
Democratic Change, disputed the outcome. "We have rejected the results
because we don't believe they reflect the will of the people," he said. "I
don't think any sane person would endorse these elections. Today the world
has seen the extent to which Mugabe is determined to hold on to power
without due regard to the people."
According to final results
released yesterday, the ruling party won 78 seats compared with 41 for the
opposition MDC. One seat went to an independent candidate.
has the power to appoint another 30 MPs to the 150-seat chamber.
two-thirds majority, Mr Mugabe is set to change the constitution to ensure
that the MDC never again fights a presidential election.
At the age of 81
and with his term in office due to expire in 2008, Mr Mugabe and his
lieutenants want the constitution altered so that should he step down, or
die, one of his Zanu-PF deputies would take the post of president, instead
of an election being required.
Before the poll, a senior Zanu-PF leader
told The Telegraph on condition of anonymity: "We don't want to have to
fight Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008."
However, this newspaper has learnt that
the MDC leader has decided against mounting a legal challenge to the result,
since the High Court refused even to consider clear evidence of vote-rigging
and electoral fraud in the equally disputed 2002 presidential
With the higher courts overwhelmingly staffed by judges bribed by
gifts of the most fertile white-owned farms, Mr Tsvangirai did not expect
justice then or now, allies said.
The near-demolition of the MDC will
make it possible for the Zanu-PF regime to keep its machine of repression in
place, continuing to deploy tens of thousands of intelligence operatives,
policemen and Zanu-PF militants within party security structures to prevent
spontaneous or planned opposition protests.
In spite of this, MDC
polling agents have begun providing details of breaches of the election laws
after a peaceful polling day and only limited violence before the
A repeated complaint is that local officials were not allowed to
release results from polling stations as the Electoral Act requires.
Instead, policemen used radios to pass results to the secretive National
Logistics Committee in Harare, a body staffed by Mr Mugabe's cronies, where
they were supposedly being collated.
This led to delays of up to 12
hours before results were released and it is here that Mr Tsvangirai
believes most of the manipulation took place.
"We had no access to that
committee, nor did the observers," he said. South African observers admitted
at their media briefing that they did not visit the committee - and that
they did not know it existed.
The extent of Mr Mugabe's victory has left
the MDC with few practical options and there was increasing despair among
the party's senior leaders.
Mr Tsvangirai is in an unenviable position.
He knows the evidence of his victory in 2002 is in box files gathering dust
on shelves in his lawyer's library and that he will not be given a chance to
fight again in 2008.
For five years he has struggled to keep a lid on
groups of youths, mostly in urban areas, who believe that the ballot box has
failed them and see violence as their only option. He also knows that the
MDC is heavily in debt.
Some hard-core veterans of five years of
detentions and torture are discussing, among themselves, whether to break
ranks with MDC policy and go for targeted acts of violence.
unwilling to wait for Mr Mugabe either to die or step aside for his chosen
and obedient successor - the vice president, Joyce Mujuru - and see what
happens. "The MDC failed us although we know it was impossible to defeat
Zanu-PF as they control everything," said a man in his early 20s who has
seen the inside of more police cells than any of the party's
"We know we cannot even discuss this with the leaders because
they are determined to keep to non-violence, but we have nothing to
Such opposition activists have no faith that the MDC could or
would organise the peaceful "uprising" that was suggested by Zimbabwe's
outspoken Catholic Bishop Pius Ncube, if Mr Mugabe won last
Topper Whitehead, an activist and veteran of the two previous
violent elections said yesterday: "If I had access to the ballot boxes it
would take me five days to find out how Zanu-PF manipulated the
"If they allowed the MDC the electronic version of the voters'
roll I would uncover it in 24 hours."
Statisticians at the University
of Zimbabwe say the voters' roll of 5.8 million, or almost half the
population, may be overstated by more than a million.
Police set up
checkpoints on the roads leading to Harare to contain possible trouble, but
in the capital there were no signs of demonstrations - or celebrations -
over the outcome.
Streets bustled with people shopping and going to work,
reflecting a mood of widespread weariness with politics in a nation that is
beset by crippling unemployment and inflation.
Wife of imprisoned MP defeated by 'rigged vote' By Peta
Thornycroft (Filed: 03/04/2005)
The wife of a white Zimbabwean MP who
was jailed last year has accused the election authorities of rigging the
result after she stood in his constituency.
Heather Bennett, 43,
campaigned in place of her husband Roy in the Chimanimani area of eastern
Zimbabwe after his attempt to run for office from behind bars was ruled
She was defeated by 4,000 votes, but said that the constituency,
a rural area populated mainly by poverty-stricken peasants, appeared to have
"grown" by 6,000 voters overnight.
"I am sure it was rigged but I
don't know how, and I don't mind except for the people down there who were
devastated after we lost," she said.
Mrs Bennett, who said she was "fed
up and annoyed" at not winning, added: "Personally, I am glad I don't have
to go to parliament, but I am upset for people who worked so hard and
believe that the results did not reflect the numbers who voted for
Mr Bennett was sentenced to a year's hard labour last October for
pushing over the former justice minister Patrick Chinamasa during a
Mr Chinamasa, who has helped himself to three
commercial farms since Robert Mugabe began his purge of white farmers in
2000, had incensed Mr Bennett by accusing him of being "descended from
thieves and murderers".
Critics say that his conviction, handed down by a
Zanu-PF-dominated parliamentary committee that found him guilty of
"contempt", was an act of revenge against Mr Bennett for his prominent role
in the opposition MDC Party.
Mr Mugabe first launched a vendetta
against Mr Bennett after he took office in the Zanu-PF stronghold in 2000,
sending in thugs to attack his coffee farm in Charleswood. The stress of the
first attack led to Mrs Bennett suffering a miscarriage. Two of their farm
workers were killed, while her husband was repeatedly arrested and beaten by
police. The family was finally evicted from Charleswood last
Mrs Bennett, who has two teenage children, expressed her
determination to carry on with her political fight. She said: "I will go
back and maybe try again in local government elections until Roy gets out of
Africa: A reality check on
aid African poverty has been called 'the greatest
tragedy of the present civilisation'. Christina Lamb reports on what is
being done about it
Anyone who doubts
that Britain still carries influence in Africa needed only to pay a visit to
Zimbabwe during the run-up to last week's elections. Half the country is on
the verge of starvation; life expectancy has fallen to 33; 80% of the
population is unemployed. Yet far from addressing these issues, President
Robert Mugabe ranted about Britain at every single rally, accusing Tony
Blair of "spending sleepless nights plotting to bring down the Zimbabwe
Throughout the campaign, the
state-owned Herald newspaper carried full-page advertisements headed, "2005
Anti-Blair Campaign", and ending "Bury Blair, Vote Zanu-PF!" Even in
non-electoral times, it runs a daily UK Watch on its front page. To most
Zimbabweans, struggling to feed their families after Mugabe banned foreign
food aid, blaming it all on Blair does not seem an obvious vote
Like many African leaders, Mugabe seems
to have a love-hate relationship with its former colonial power, denouncing
Britain yet proudly opening parliament in his gleaming Bentley. His wife
Grace was one of Harrods's biggest customers until the European Union
imposed a travel ban. Many of his ministers send their children to school in
While Mugabe claims to see British
interference behind everything from stealing fish in Lake Kariba to the
country's fuel crisis, others in Zimbabwe believe Whitehall has been too
quick to wash its hands of its former colony. John Worsley-Worsick, the
chain-smoking head of Justice for Agriculture, a pressure group for white
farmers who have been expelled from their land in the past five years,
argues that the British government reneged on the Lancaster House Agreement
signed at independence, under which it agreed to underwrite land reform. "By
doing that, the British government threw us to the wolves," he said. "They
need to re-engage with Zimbabwe. Mugabe is right - the land was stolen, but
not by us."
Zimbabwe encapsulates the "damned if
you, damned if you don't" problem of dealing with Africa. In Kenya, too,
Britain seems to take up more column inches than its own opposition since
the British high commissioner started criticising the corruption of the new
government. Classic western literature about Africa by authors such as
Graham Greene and Joseph Conrad has stereotyped it as a Heart of Darkness or
the Dark Continent, a place of disease, venality and the white man drinking
gin and tonics in fly-ridden bars. Equally, Britain's image on the continent
has not been helped by the spectacle of public-school coup-plotter Simon
Mann, now in jail in Harare, trying to take over Equatorial
It is against this backdrop that Blair
has bravely made a call for new international action over Africa, the
centrepiece of Britain's agenda as head of the Group of Eight rich nations
this year. "There can be no excuse, no defence, no justification for the
plight of millions of our fellow beings in Africa today," he said last month
at the launching of the report of the Commission for Africa that he set up
in February 2004, to study how the continent can be
The 493-page report called for an extra
$25 billion a year in aid, rising to $50 billion later on. Launched with
great fanfare, the report was seen by many on the continent as a
public-relations stunt by a western leader discredited for his enthusiastic
support of the war in Iraq. But for more than half the population of Africa,
surviving on less than $1 a day, the commission may be the best hope in
The 17-member group contained eight
Africans, including President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania and Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, and apparently consulted with a wide number of
ordinary Africans. Their report called African poverty "the greatest tragedy
of the present civilisation", and states that Africa must accelerate reforms
while the developed world has a responsibility to both provide aid and stop
doing things that hinder the continent's
If $25 billion seems an enormous amount
of money, it is only a third of what is being spent in Iraq. Bob Geldof,
whose favourite tune these days is western injustice towards Africa, claims
that all that is needed from the rich to save Africa is the price of "half a
stick of chewing gum a day from everyone". America has already balked at the
$12 billion it is expected to cough up, but it sounds a lot less when
compared to the $9 billion a year spent by Americans on going to the cinema.
Apart from doubling current levels of aid, the commission called on America
and Europe to abolish the trade barriers and agricultural subsidies that
give their farmers a hugely unfair advantage over producers in Africa. The
West pays out $350 billion a year in agricultural subsidies. Every cow in
Europe receives almost $2 a day in subsidies, double the average African's
There is a tendency to find Africa's
problems so overwhelming as to be insurmountable. War and disease,
particularly HIV, stalk the continent. The past three decades have seen a
fall in life expectancy and per-capita income. The numbers are intimidating.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 4m people were killed between 1998 and
2002. In 1960, there was the same pessimism about Asia. Yet since then, life
expectancy in South Asia has increased from the age of 44 to 63, and in East
Asia it has leapt from 39 to 69. Turning Africa around is possible, and some
economists believe the turning point might even be
In the decade ending in 2002, 16 sub-Saharan
African countries sustained average annual-growth rates of 4% or higher.
Ethiopia notched up average growth of 6%, while Mozambique sustained growth
of 7%, partly as a result of aid flows of more than $100 per citizen per
year. The number of civil wars dropped from 15 to 9 between 2002 and 2003.
More than two-thirds of the countries have had some sort of multi-party
election in the past five years.
Africa is not going to turn around without outside help, the commission also
focused on the corruption of its leaders. Sadly, the generation taking over
is offering little hope. The president of Kenya has taken to his bed rather
than deal with his country's problems; the president of Malawi fled the
palace because of ghosts, then locked up journalists who wrote about it. As
the report notes: "Africa has suffered from governments that have looted the
resources of the state; that could not or would not deliver services to
their people . . . that maintained control through violence and bribery; and
that squandered or stole aid."
That should not be
an excuse to turn our faces away from the suffering of millions of ordinary
Africans trying to feed and educate their children. But it is a description
the people of Zimbabwe would recognise.
Christina Lamb's The Africa House is published by
Christina Lamb takes part in the
Africa 2005 debate at the festival on Saturday, April 16 at 10.30am
destroying itself, other African leaders stand accused of complicity, and
the West moralises over aid and debt. Time, says Fred Bridgland in
Johannesburg, for some painful decisions
Africa passed through a
threshold this weekend, replete with huge dangers for the continent after
Robert Mugabe rigged massively, with devilish cunning and ruthlessness, a
Zimbabwean parliamentary election that has given him a huge majority and
carte blanche to continue the destruction of his country that he began more
than five years ago. Mugabe won a two-thirds majority, which permits him to
change the constitution however he wants, in spite of having engineered an
economy that is the fastest collapsing in the world with the world's top
inflation rate - in excess of 600%. He won despite having given his people
80% unemployment, famine, and a collapsed health service which has seen life
expectancy fall to 33 from 63 at independence, and which is unable to help a
population so widely infected with HIV that 500 Zimbabweans die each day
The fraudulent poll spells disaster for ordinary Zimbabweans
and enhances the riches of the avaricious military men, corrupt civil
servants and bent judges he has gathered into his inner coterie.
the poison unleashed by Mugabe were only to destroy his own beautiful
country, it could perhaps be dismissed with an unfortunate, helpless shrug.
But the poison has flowed beyond Zimbabwe. It has infected such men as South
African President Thabo Mbeki and Tanzanian President Ben Mkapa, who both
validated the Zimbabwe poll as free and fair before it had taken place. It
is Mkapa's view that Mugabe is a "champion of democracy".
Mkapa's substantiations have infinitely more international bearing than
Mugabe's predicted election swindle. Both Mbeki and Mkapa are point-men in
Africa's projection of itself to the world beyond, and particularly to
international financiers, of a new, squeaky clean Africa where transparently
good governance prevails. Mbeki calls it the African
Mbeki is the leader of this rebirth through the
reconstituted African Union - which replaced the moribund Organisation of
African Unity - and his Nepad brainchild, the entirely laudable New
Partnership for Africa's Development, a Marshall Plan under which African
states commit themselves to good governance and democracy.
one of 17 members of Tony Blair's Commission for Africa, which calls for the
rich West to give an extra £26 billion in aid to Africa each year, plus a
bonus of lower tariff barriers in exchange for improved African governance
and liberalisation of markets.
The 453-page tome that is the Commission
for Africa's blueprint will be near the top of agenda when the G8 meets for
its annual summit at Gleneagles in July.
Mbeki and Mkapa will be
guests at discussions on matters relating to Africa. The theatrics can be
forecast almost to the last syllable and stage movement. They will argue -
despite all evidence to the contrary - that the Zimbabwe election was free
and fair; that Mugabe now wants to re-engage with the West; and that since
his people are starving as a result of prolonged drought, international food
aid should be resumed as a matter of humanitarian duty.
truth will be that Zimbabwe's people are starving. But not from drought,
rather as a result of Mugabe's deliberate destruction of the commercial
agriculture system that was the backbone of the economy. This will confront
the G8 and its citizens with the most painful of moral dilemmas. Do they
respond to the appeal and pour in food aid that saves people, particularly
children, from starvation, knowing that Mugabe will take all the credit and
consolidate his iron rule?
After all, despite the many short comings of
Westerners, stinginess when it comes to appeals to help the wretched of the
Earth is not one of them. Or do they say no to Mbeki and Mkapa; that it is
necessary to let Zimbabweans starve in order to hasten the downfall of the
monster Mugabe, perhaps in the form of a people's uprising or a military
coup, and thus accelerate the recovery.
The debate will
be intense and right will not be the entire prerogative of one side. Mbeki
and Mkapa could, of course, by July have eased the dilemma by unequivocally
condemning the human rights abuses of Mugabe and, in Mbeki's case, have
hastened his downfall by severing Zimbabwe's oil and electricity supplies
which come from South Africa.
The latter is a mere pipe dream. Which
raises the following question: what is the point of the Commission for
Africa if its two African point-men prate about good governance while
supporting the very opposite in practice? There are other big questions to
be asked anyway about the commission, quite apart from the moral dilemmas
raised by the Mbeki, Mkapa and Mugabe act.
Few of the commission's ideas
are new. Most have been tried before, including throwing money at Africa,
with questionable results. Unfortunately much of that money has been given
to regimes whose favourite pastimes include grand larceny. This, one knows,
is a favourite refrain of right-wingers who care little for Africans; but,
unfortunately for others who do love what is good and vibrant about Africa
and the warmth of so many of its ordinary people, it happens to be
General Sani Abacha, the late Nigerian military dictator, managed
to steal as much as £3bn in fewer than five years and siphon it back to
Europe, where it accumulated interest in a Swiss bank account. In total, it
is estimated that Nigerian politicians have spirited £56bn to banks in
Europe and the Cayman Islands.
In Malawi, finance minister Friday
Jumbe recently sold off the country's grain reserves, which created famine,
and pocketed £2.1 million which he used to build an upmarket hotel in
Blantyre, his country's commercial capital.
And as a rising young
politician, Mkapa will clearly remember the billions of pounds that the West
showered on Tanzania from the 1960s to the 1980s for a succession of
favourite projects of the late President Julius Nyerere that nearly all
proved disastrous. The African political scientist Ali Mazrui described the
cult of uncritical adulation of Nyerere, accompanied by outpourings of
foreign aid, as "Tanzaphilia". Good-natured but slightly crazy British
Fabians, whose ideas had been laughed out of court by their fellow Britons
back home, were hired by Nyerere as advisers to foist their sociological
musings on Tanzanian villagers.
One consequence was the ujamaa programme,
almost entirely financed by British aid money, in which 11 million peasants
were forcibly removed from their home villages into huge collective villages
where they were to be given roads, schools, clinics and water supplies. They
were not consulted and were subjected to orders by bureaucrats. The whole
experiment ended in near- catastrophe. Food production fell severely,
raising the spectre of widespread famine. The shortfall had to be made up
with expensive imports of food which exhausted the government's foreign
exchange reserves and forced the country to rely on foreign food donations.
The great irony of the huge injection of foreign aid into the project was
that it ended up creating greater dependence on foreign aid than ever
The possibility that Tanzania's strategy might itself be deeply
flawed was never raised in Nyerere's lifetime, during which the aid
continued to flow in. Nobody questioned the course on which Tanzania had
launched itself. It was held to be a matter of ideological faith.
Tanzanian example is just one that shows that Blair's blueprint for "saving"
Africa is nothing new. It might not be the answer to some highly complex
problems which differ greatly from region to region, from state to state.
Despite more than £280bn in aid transfers to Africa in the past five decades
- the equivalent of six Marshall Plans - Africans are poorer on average than
they were 30 years ago.
In other words, the problem is not one of
shortage of aid but the more elusive problem of "bad governance". And how do
we take seriously, without making fools of ourselves, the pledges by Mbeki
and Mkapa to transparent governance when they so readily rubber stamp the
spectacularly bad and corrupt government of Mugabe?
What game is
being played here? Astonishingly, one important word cannot be found in the
Commission for Africa's recommendations on "governance": the word
"democracy". Five decades of bitter experience since African states began
achieving independence demonstrate that authoritarianism rather than lack of
aid money is the real enemy of development.
Money poured now into
Mugabe's failed state would evaporate, although one day when the tyrant
falls or dies, Zimbabwe will certainly need lots of targeted money over a
period of 20 to 30 years to help restore schools, hospitals, farms and
factories that have either been destroyed or allowed to rot. Solving
Africa's problems will be a long, patient haul, not a quick fix. The
Commission for Africa could provide momentum at Gleneagles, although the
lifting of first-world trade barriers which cost African countries £55bn
each year - twice what they currently receive in aid - would be a bigger
shot in the arm than yet more aid money.
"Western kindness and generosity
out of humanitarian concern will not save Africa from its corrupt elites,"
asserts Andrew Mwenda, the combative star columnist of Uganda's leading
daily newspaper, The Monitor. "But tough and pragmatic action
Mwenda, in spectacularly politically incorrect vein,
attacks the Commission for Africa's arguments for debt forgiveness of up to
100%, a repeat of familiar refrains from organisations such as Oxfam and
"Debt forgiveness creates a problem of moral hazard,"
Mwenda argues. "One country borrows and invests the loan wisely and repays.
Another borrows and squanders the loan, is unable to pay back and is
forgiven. Such a scheme rewards incompetence and penalises good performance,
and therefore creates a disincentive to better loan management."
points out that in 1998 Uganda was the first African beneficiary of debt
forgiveness when £1.1bn of its £1.7bn international debt was wiped off the
slate. But the law of unintended consequences followed. "Having gotten debt
relief, the government went not only on a renewed borrowing spree, but also
indulged itself in profligate public expenditure. It launched military
adventures at home and abroad and rapidly expanded its patronage networks.
Military expenditure doubled and by 2004 Uganda's debts had grown to £2.7bn
in spite of, but also because of, debt relief."
Mwenda asserts that
debt relief rarely does anything for Africa's poor. "It tends to save
incompetent regimes from collapse, and therefore sustains thieving elites in
OP-ED COLUMNIST: Another Kind of Racism NY Times ^ | April 2, 2005 | NICHOLAS
Posted on 04/02/2005 1:24:46 PM PST by
The hardest place in the world to be
an optimist is Africa.
Much of Africa is a mess, and no country more so
than Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. The continent has been held back by
everything from malaria to its nonsensical colonial boundaries, but the two
biggest problems have been lousy leaders and lousy economic policies - and
Zimbabwe epitomizes both.
What makes Robert Mugabe a worse oppressor of
ordinary Zimbabweans than the white racist rulers who preceded him is not
just the way he turned a breadbasket of Africa into a basket case in which
half the population is undernourished. It's also the fact that he's refusing
to let aid organizations provide food to most of his people. He prefers to
let them starve.
In one western Zimbabwean village, I found a woman,
Thandiwe Sibanda, who is trying desperately to keep her family alive. "I'm
the only one left to care for the children," she said. "My husband died,
along with his other wife."
So now she is trying to provide for her own
four rail-thin children as well as the two children of the other wife (who
presumably died of AIDS along with the husband - so Mrs. Sibanda will very
likely die of it as well). "All we can eat is corn porridge," she said, "and
there isn't nearly enough even of that."
Mrs. Sibanda is adopting the
same survival strategies as nearly every other peasant family I spoke to -
they are down to one or two meals a day. She pulled her children out of
school last fall to save the $2.25 in annual school fees, as are many other
families. Her daughter just had a baby a few days ago but has no milk to
feed it. The infant may be the first to die.
Jealous Sansole, a member of
Parliament who opposes Mr. Mugabe, told me that in his district, people are
already beginning to die of hunger. I didn't see that, but malnutrition is
probably speeding up deaths from malaria, diarrhea and certainly
The only reason more haven't died is food aid. Mrs. Sibanda's
village, for example, until recently received regular food distributions
from the World Food Program and the Save the Children Federation.
last year, President Mugabe declared that Zimbabwe did not need food
assistance. This was a lie, but Mr. Mugabe ordered the World Food Program
and the aid groups it works with to stop handing out food to the general
Some groups continued to distribute food that was in the
pipeline, and I visited some villages that received food until January. But
now the food aid has all ended. At an elementary school I visited, the
principal said that three-quarters of the pupils could not afford breakfast
and came to school hungry. Along the border with Mozambique, poor families
are marrying off their daughters at very young ages so they will no longer
have to feed them.
If the old white regime here was deliberately starving
its people, the world would be in an uproar. And while President Bush should
be more forceful in opposing Mr. Mugabe's tyranny, it's the neighboring
countries that are most shameful in looking the other way.
liberal tendency in America to blame ourselves for Africa's problems, and
surely there's far more that we should do to help. We should encourage
trade, forgive debts, do research on tropical diseases and distribute
mosquito nets that protect against malaria. But some problems, such as Mr.
Mugabe, are homegrown and need local solutions, like an effort by South
Africa to nudge him into retirement.
One of Africa's biggest problems is
the perception that the entire continent is a hopeless cesspool of
corruption and decline. Africa's leaders need to lead the way in pushing
aside the clowns and thugs so their continent can be defined by its many
successes - in Ghana, Mali, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Uganda and Botswana -
rather than by the likes of Idi Amin, Emperor Bokassa and Robert
There's a twinkle of hope, for Nigeria and other West African
countries have shown the gumption to denounce seizures of power in Togo and
São Tomé. But South Africa is still allowing Mr. Mugabe to cast a pall over
the entire continent out of deference for his past fight against white
Frankly, Zimbabweans have already suffered so much from
racism over the last century that the last thing they need is excuses for
Mr. Mugabe's misrule because of the color of his skin.
HARARE: A Southern African observer mission has found
discrepancies with the official results in 32 of the 120 contested seats in
Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections that showed President Robert Mugabe's
ruling party won a two-thirds majority that is enough to enable it to change
The opposition Movement for Democractic Change
(MDC) has slammed the elections as a "massive fraud" and refused to
recognise the outcome. It has called on its members and supporters to pile
pressure on Mugabe to organise an election re-run.
official results, Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF won 78 seats, compared with 41 for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). One seat went to an independent
"There are major queries at 32 constituencies -- that's more
than 25 percent," said Nomfanelo Kota, spokeswoman for the observers from
the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC).
results that the candidates themselves signed at the polling stations were
not the same as the results announced on national television," she
"This doesn't mean that there are necessarily huge
discrepancies in the figures," she cautioned.
A news conference by
the SADC delegation scheduled for on Saturday was delayed while the
observers sought clarifications.
But a spokesman from the Zimbabwe
Elections Commission (ZEC) denied that there were problems with the
Mugabe meanwhile urged the country's main opposition to accept
defeat after his party scored a massive win in elections.
the opposition MDC its loss was not "the end of the world".
warned the party not to opt for conflict after the poll.
"In any fight,
in any game for that matter, only one emerges as a winner and the losing
side, although it gets disappointed, must not look at it as the end of the
world," Mugabe told a news conference.
"It must be sporting enough to
accept defeat and must not look for all kinds of excuses which might
complicate relationships." "We have handled this stage in a very
peaceful way and would want this to become in the future the basis on which
we operate," he said.