The heavy presence of police and soldiers helped disrupt the first day of a planned general strike in Zimbabwe today, as the Government of Robert Mugabe ordered businesses and shops to open.
Water cannon trucks and roadblocks were moved to major crossroads, while lorries packed with soldiers armed with automatic rifles patrolled the streets of Harare and surrounding townships, promising to break up any visible protests. A helicopter buzzed low over Harare's main industrial district early this morning.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) called the strike to demonstrate against the Government's poor management of the Zimbawean economy. Unemployment has reached 80 per cent, inflation is out of control — at more than 1,700 per cent — and food shortages are common in a country that was once held up as an example of a prosperous African state.
Mr Mugabe's Government has accused the ZCTU of plotting, with the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), to bring down his regime. A police spokesman described the strike today as an “avenue for acts of violence" and said that a "reaction force" of police and troops had been despatched to likely trouble spots.
An electrical store in the capital kept one of its main entrance doors shut, a practice seen in previous strikes enabling businesses to close hurriedly in case of unrest. The owner, who asked not to be named, told the AP: “It’s patchy, but it looks like a military occupation down here. We’ve left it to our people to decide what to do. A few haven’t arrived.”
An executive at a clothing factory told Reuters that almost all of his 50 employees had turned up to work. One of the workers, Dickson Mapara, said: “I understand what the ZCTU is trying to do for us ... but things are so hard I cannot afford to lose this job, and although I get very little, I cannot afford to get nothing at all."
The ZCTU accused the Government of intimidating those who intended to strike but claimed success. The police reported that four people had been arrested for stoning a bus carrying commuters to work but otherwise there were no reports of violence.
"Considering the bashing of people and intimidation we have witnessed recently, it has been quite successful,” Lovemore Matombo, the president of the ZCTU told Reuters.
This week's strike has come against the backdrop of steady international condemnation for Mr Mugabe, whose police and militias have violently broken up a series of recent protests in recent weeks, including a prayer rally on the outskirts of Harare in which the leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, was left with a serious head injury.
In neighbouring South Africa, whose influence over Zimbabwe and reluctance to directly challenge Mr Mugabe is seen as a critical factor in his retaining power, about 400 people marched through central Johannesburg in a solidarity protest called by the Congress of South African Trade Unions.
Zimbabweans tell the BBC News website their reasons for either taking part
or shunning the two-day strike underway in the country's capital city,
All names have been changed to protect their identities.
PATRIOT, 35, BUSINESS-OWNER
With the current political climate the way it is, it is very difficult to
run a business. For one, you cannot budget. It is really, really awful and
obviously we know what the cause is.
For this reason we need to put pressure on our government. We all need to
stay away from work and keep our businesses closed.
I encouraged my employees not to show up today. We are all fighting the same
cause. We need to stand together.
It is only two days of work and revenue will be lost but it will be worth
However it is rather unfortunate that the action has not been well
co-ordinated. The general strike is not as organised as we would have loved
it to be. They were not able to use the public press to advertise it and
limited people have access to email.
But still there is a noticeable change on the streets of Harare today.
Places are closed and not as many people are around compared to normal.
Helicopters can be seen and heard flying over the city and police are out in
full force. They are using this opportunity to harass people.
Earlier I saw two young girls being harassed and then on the side of a road
I witnessed police beating up some people just because they had been
standing around and talking together in a group.
DZOMBA, 29, ADMINISTRATOR
I talked to my workmates and it seemed that most people were not going to
take part in the strike action and so I decided to do the same.
I don't want to be labelled.
In the area where I stay it would have been noticed if I had not gone to
work today and that would just be asking for victimization of myself and
even my family too.
I cannot have that happen.
Intimidation happens a lot here. One is always on guard. You have to look
out for yourself.
If you are known as an activist you will definitely be targeted but even if
you show some sign or another of support for anyone other than the president
then trouble will come to you too.
It is not worth it.
Today was supposed to be a stay-away but it has not turned out that way.
Last time the unions organised a strike it made far more of an impact.
HARARE, 3 April 2007 (IRIN) - Scores of residents in Zimbabwe's capital,
Harare, were beaten up by uniformed members of the Zimbabwe National Army
and forced to go to work on Tuesday, the start of a two-day stayaway called
by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in protest against
deteriorating living standards.
An IRIN correspondent witnessed soldiers beating residents in Epworth, a
poor working-class suburb east of Harare. Some residents were seen trying to
convince the uniformed men that they could not go to work because they were
not formally employed.
Police spokesman assistant commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said members of the
elite National Reaction Force had been deployed across the country "to
ensure people can report to work, but [they have to do it] in [a] peace[ful
manner]. We will investigate these claims".
Police were on high alert on the first day of the stayaway. Truckloads of
armed police and soldiers patrolled city and township streets. In a further
display of force, military helicopters flew low over the city.
Zimbabweans are battling with the world's highest annual inflation rate,
which has reached more than 1,700 percent, an unemployment rate of 80
percent and food shortages.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary
Executions, Philip Alston, called on the Zimbabwe government to stop the use
of lethal force against unarmed political activists amid the growing
A statement by the Special Rapporteur on Monday said "particularly
troubling" were the shooting dead of three protestors, and the deaths "of
eight to 10 persons at Harare hospitals from injuries consistent with being
beaten by state security agents with blunt instruments". The police have
warned they would use live ammunition to stop violent political unrest.
"The government is, in effect, instructing its forces to shoot innocent
people, in complete disregard for the right to life. In particular, such an
approach reflects no attempt to balance the rights to political
participation, and to freedom of expression and association, with any
legitimate notion of the need to maintain public order," Alston said.
He said members of the security forces inflicting harm on civilians could be
tried later for their crimes. "Under international law, widespread or
systematic attacks against the civilian population are crimes against
humanity. Members of the police and military who comply with orders to gun
down demonstrators will eventually be held to account."
Bvudzijena told IRIN that four people in the Dzivarasekwa township in Harare
were arrested when they stoned minibus-taxis ferrying people to work.
"The arrests were made when the suspects tried to stop the transport
operators from pursuing their lawful business, which is that of transporting
residents. The roads in the high-density suburbs of Budiriro, Glen View and
Chitungwiza [in Harare] were barricaded with boulders to prevent vehicles
from moving around, but police details removed the boulders. In one
incident, a government-owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) bus
was stoned in Chitungwiza but there were no serious injuries sustained."
Township residents claimed that armed soldiers and police patrolled their
neighbourhoods and indiscriminately beat up residents. All pubs were shut
down and residents were told to have an early night in order to report for
work on time.
An IRIN correspondent travelled around the Central Business District where
some banks were operating with a skeleton staff but other organisations did
not open for business.
ZCTU's information officer, Last Tarabuka, told IRIN that the stayaway call
had been heeded by workers and some employers. "In the industrial areas, a
lot of firms did not open because the workers did not turn up."
Some workers told IRIN that they would only return for work after the Easter
The official newspaper, The Herald, reported that the Minister of
Information and Publicity, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, had called on workers to
ignore ZCTU's stayaway call. Ndlovu reportedly said it was irrational for
ZCTU to call for a strike when the government was doing all it could to
address the current economic challenges facing the country.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: April 3, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: The riot police drove trucks through Zimbabwe's capital
and military helicopters flew overhead Tuesday on the first day of a two-day
national strike to protest deepening economic hardships blamed on the
government of President Robert Mugabe.
Soldiers armed with automatic rifles stood at intersections in Harare's main
industrial district where some factory gates were closed, along with several
banks, shops and fast food stands. Most city-center shops were open, and
commuter buses were full of passengers.
The Congress of Trade Unions called the strike to protest an economic crisis
that has brought 80 percent unemployment, inflation of 1,700 percent a year
and acute shortages of food, hard currency and gasoline.
Security measures were in place to keep schools open on the last day of the
term before the Easter break, Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said in
an interview with state radio. He described the strike as "irrational" and
said the government was "doing all it could to address the current economic
challenges facing the country."
Labor unions planned no street demonstrations for fear of provoking the
Tensions have been high since the police broke up a prayer meeting last
month, detaining and severely beating the opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and other members of the Movement for Democratic Change. Mugabe
has warned opponents they will be "bashed" again if they incite unrest and
has threatened to expel Western diplomats if they meddle in local politics.
A front-page article in The Herald, the government newspaper, accused a
British Embassy political officer, Gillian Dare, of being "the purse holder
and financier" of a terror campaign by the Movement for Democratic Change.
"It will be a pity for her family to welcome her home at Heathrow Airport in
a body bag just like some of her colleagues from Iraq and Afghanistan," the
Dare, "labeled in some sections of the media as a British spy, could one day
be caught in the crossfire as she plays night nurse to arrested MDC
hooligans," the article said.
A British Foreign Office spokeswoman said the article had made "shocking and
absolutely unacceptable" threats and said Zimbabwe's ambassador was called
to a meeting in London with Permanent Under Secretary Peter Ricketts, who
"emphasized that we expect Zimbabwe to offer protection to our diplomats."
Southern African leaders publicly backed Mugabe at a summit meeting last
week. He has blamed the economic crisis on sanctions imposed by Britain, the
United States and other Western countries.
The Western governments say the sanctions, including asset freezes and a
travel ban on Mugabe and 100 of his top associates, do not affect most
Mugabe's government disrupted the agriculture-based economy in 2000 with
violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms, part of a program to
redistribute land to poor blacks.
The Congress of Trade Unions also accuses the government of corruption and
Military helicopters swooped over central Harare in a show of force and
later flew over the nearby Epworth Township. Four trucks carrying soldiers
were seen headed to the southern town of Chitungwiza.
An electrical store kept one of its main entrances shut, a practice seen in
previous strikes enabling businesses to close hurriedly in case of unrest.
"It's patchy, but it looks like a military occupation down here," said a
factory owner in eastern Harare who asked not to be identified. "We've left
it to our people to decide what to do. A few haven't arrived."
The police ordered township shops and bars to close early Monday evening as
paramilitary police were deployed.
Tue Apr 3, 2007 6:26PM BST
HARARE (Reuters) - A columnist in Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper on
Tuesday accused a senior British diplomat in Harare of directing an
anti-government "terror and propaganda campaign," and warned she could end
An opinion column signed by David Samuriwo charged that Gillian Dare, an
embassy political and media officer, had a large fund to pay Zimbabwean
journalists, academics and opposition politicians to attack President Robert
Samuriwo, a fierce critic of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
opposition, is a regular contributor to the Herald. Last month he accused
the U.S. embassy of funding a "violent campaign" by the MDC.
"Gillian Dare, the purse holder and financier of the violence being
perpetrated by the MDC, should be aware that by throwing away all diplomatic
etiquette into the dustbin and putting on her combat gear, she has become a
prime target for deportation," Tuesday's column said.
Samuriwo said Dare had been labelled a spy by some sections of the media,
and "could one day be caught in cross-fire as she plays night nurse to
arrested MDC hooligans."
"It will be a pity for her family to welcome her at Heathrow airport in a
body bag, just like some of her colleagues from Iraq and Afghanistan," he
The Foreign Office rejected the accusations and said the Zimbabwe ambassador
in London had been called in to hear "our very serious concerns". It said
Dare had pursued only legitimate diplomatic activities.
"The sort of direct and aggressive threats made in the Herald against a
member of our staff are shocking and absolutely unacceptable ... We hold the
Zimbabwean authorities responsible for protecting our diplomats," a
London has repeatedly rejected government accusations that it is interfering
in Zimbabwean politics and wants to overthrow the 83-year-old president.
Last month, Mugabe said Western powers critical of his crackdown on the
opposition could "go hang". The government threatened to kick out Western
Western nations called for more sanctions against Mugabe after several
opposition figures, including MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were badly
beaten after being arrested while trying to attend a March 11 rally which
the government says was illegal.
Mugabe blames the collapse of Zimbabwe's once thriving economy on Western
sabotage but foreign critics say it is the result of chronic mismanagement.
Inflation is now higher than 1,700 percent and unemployment is over 80
percent. Millions of economic refugees have left the country.
(Additional reporting by Jeremy Lovell in London)
April 03 2007 at 08:32PM
London - Britain summoned the Zimbabwean ambassador in London on
Tuesday to explain a newspaper's apparent death threats against a British
diplomat in Harare, calling the threats "shocking and absolutely
On Tuesday Zimbabwe's state Herald newspaper called British embassy
political officer Gillian Dare "the purse holder and financier" of an
alleged opposition campaign of violence, and said it would be "a pity for
her family to welcome her home at Heathrow Airport in a body bag."
A Foreign Office spokesperson said on Tuesday permanent undersecretary
Peter Ricketts, the Foreign Office's top civil servant, called Zimbabwe's
ambassador to a meeting to express Britain's concerns.
"He emphasised that we expect Zimbabwe to offer protection to our
diplomats," the spokeswoman said. Dare remained at the embassy working as
normal, she said, speaking on the government's customary condition of
anonymity. - Sapa-AP
By Violet Gonda
3 April 2007
There has been an outcry from media watchdogs over threatening reports that
border on hate speech, issued by the Herald newspaper on Tuesday. An opinion
piece warned that a British embassy official Gillian Dare could be sent back
to Britain in a body bag for allegedly supporting the opposition. The
writer, David Samuriwo, alleged Dare was the financier of the violence being
perpetrated by the MDC and said she "should be aware that by throwing all
diplomatic etiquette into the dustbin and putting on her combat gear she has
become a prime target for deportation."
He warned: "It will be a pity for her family to welcome her at Heathrow
Airport in a body bag just like some of her colleagues from Iraq and
The paper also published a threatening Letter to the Editor headlined
'Detain Tsvangirai for his own safety'. The state mouth piece said: "A
bullet from (US Ambassador) Dell or even (British Ambassador) Pocock's
agents may just lodge itself in Tsvangirai's head and be blamed on the
Government during the confusion of violent demonstrations"
Observers say this increasing hate speech is a worrying development and
indicates a government bent on increasing violence. Andy Moyse, the Director
of the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, said this kind of hate speech
has no place in a democratic society. He said it is obviously part of the
government propaganda which continues to employ hate language and hate
messages against those it perceives as enemies.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
HARARE, 3 April 2007 (IRIN) - Human rights activists have dismissed the
recent arrest of several members of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) for allegedly playing a role in the recent spate of
petrol-bombings across the country as an attempt to discredit the main
"It does not take a rocket scientist to see that the MDC activists were
arrested by the police, which is increasingly becoming a political arm of
the government, on trumped up charges," Jacob Mafume, a human rights lawyer
working with Crisis in Zimbabwe, a coalition of more than 300 civil society
organisations, told IRIN.
Zimbabwe has been simmering for the past three months, but the situation has
taken a violent turn since the police imposed a ban on political rallies in
February. Strikes and protests to highlight the worsening economic situation
have now given way to bombings of several police stations, a passenger train
and a supermarket, among other targets across the country.
In midnight raids last week, police picked up MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's
advisor, Ian Makone, party member Piniel Denga and their wives, and arrested
31 other party activists, accusing them of possessing military weapons and
organising terror attacks across the country.
Mafume asked, "If the government was convinced that the MDC had been behind
the attacks, [why] only a few individuals and not the leadership of the
opposition had been arrested?"
The MDC has claimed that some of those arrested have been tortured while in
police custody. Makone and another arrested opposition supporter, Shame
Wakatama, were put on a life-support system after the alleged torture.
Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, the national police spokesman, said
he was unable to confirm or deny the torture claims, but described the
allegations as "an attempt [by the MDC] to divert attention from the serious
Some of the suspects were taken to hospital under prison guard after they
appeared before a Harare magistrate on 31 March, according to their lawyer,
Aleck Muchadehama. He told IRIN that the arrested MDC members appeared in
court again on Tuesday, and were transferred from hospital to a remand
prison in Harare. None of the arrested MDC members have been granted bail.
The official daily newspaper, The Herald, said the police believed Makone
was the mastermind behind the bombings and, as the leader of a so-called
'Democratic Resistance Committee', allegedly ran a training programme for
the activists. The MDC has denied the existence of the committee or any
connection with the bombings.
Bvudzijena told a press conference on 28 March that in separate raids on the
homes of the suspects and the party headquarters in the capital, Harare, MDC
members had been found in possession of explosives, two unlicensed pistols,
loud hailers and communication radios, as well as party regalia and tins of
The member of parliament for Glen View, Paul Madzore, and Luke Tamborinyoka,
a former journalist, were also arrested.
David Chimhini, chairman of the rights group Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust,
said it would be difficult for the arrested MDC members to expect fair
treatment in such a politicised climate.
"In an environment like the one that exists today, where there are so many
allegations of suspects being brutalised in police custody, it is legitimate
to suspect that the whole process of arresting and trying people is
determined by the political interests of those in power," he commented.
BY PHIL MATIBE
3 April 2007
Lt-Gen Phillip Valerio Sibanda
Zimbabwe National Army
KG IV Barracks
RE: Dangers of Involving the Military in Politics
We write to you against the longstanding traditions of military creed in an
effort to avert an impending civil war in Zimbabwe precipitated by the
creation of a Reserve Force constituting of highly politicized and
ideologically indoctrinated war veterans and youth militia within the
Zimbabwe National Army.
The separation of military and civilian affairs is enshrined in both the
Zimbabwe Constitution and the Defence Act, which clearly stipulate your
duties and functions as the Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army. The
defence act and the constitution are unambiguous on the issue of political
involvement and further forbid the participation of all active members of
the defence forces from politics.
It is disturbing and extremely unpalatable that a man of your military
stature and moral rectitude concedes to the inclusion of qausi-military
organs of Zanu (PF) together with its Para-military unit into the command
structures of the ZNA. The military training which these Zanu(PF) veterans
received in the 1970's was based on brutal, divisive Maoist and Marxist
guerilla tactics which are no longer a relevant feature nor legal in today's
post independent Zimbabwe's sociopolitical landscape. There is no place for
incendiary slogans in the ZNA's doctrine.
Your distinguished career has seen you serve as the United Nations Force
Commander (Angola) for both MONUA and UNAVEMIII, (peace keeping missions) in
1997 and Commander-in-Chief SADC Allied Forces (DRC) in 2002. We desperately
urge you to use this experience and stand firm on the side of the people of
Zimbabwe whom you serve. It is your sworn duty to uphold the integrity and
professionalism of the ZNA and defend the democratic rights of all citizens.
May we humbly further remind you General Sibanda, that the nefarious
activities of the youth militia, which subsequently falls under your
command, shall rest squarely on your shoulders and you shall be held
accountable for their actions. By pre-positioning heavily armed elements of
the ZNA against the unarmed civilian population whilst deploying and
directing their operations, your culpability in the gross violations of the
norms of international humanitarian law shall be cast in stone.
The constitution explicitly prohibits the inclusion of Para-military units
into the ZNA command structure and further forbids the interference of
politicians and government with the ZNA's operational chain of command and
the application of the code of military discipline. The provision of the
constitution that gives you the authority to assist government in times of
civil disorder have been abused, misconstrued and misapplied to serve the
interests of current body politic.
The war veterans and youth militia are merely a counterweight to the ZNA's
authority and their presence in all cantonment areas does not auger well for
civil-military relations. Professional soldiers obey lawful instructions
whereas these militias are overtly trained to obey unlawful instructions
e.g. firing upon unarmed civilians.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces policy in part reads, "Military aid to the civil
power entails counter-insurgency operations that may be carried out by the
army or jointly with other security forces to quell civil disorder. Military
assistance to the civil ministries is any help that the ZNA can give to
maintain essential services during civil disorder or national emergencies
like floods, bus accidents, droughts and strikes."
General Sibanda, we hereby unequivocally implore you to promulgate a stern
directive to the commanding officers of all army units, in particular; 1
Presidential Guard Battalion(State House), 2 Presidential Guard Battalion, 1
Parachute Regiment, 1 Commando Regiment, and ZMP, to exercise restraint when
called upon by government to assist in times of civil strife. The moral code
of military conduct, that you took an oath to uphold, forbids the use of
unwarranted excessive lethal force.
Responding to toyi-toying civilians with high velocity rifles firing either
rubber bullets or indeed live ammunition is a disproportionate response that
violates universal values, international law and ZNA rules of engagement.
International standards for law enforcement officials state that the role of
law enforcement officers, including the armed services when they take on law
enforcement duties, is to protect and respect the human rights of all people
and protect and preserve life.
"Asesabi Lutho" - we fear nothing, the motto of the army's 1 Mechanised,
Armoured Regiment. "Asesabi Lutho", should therefore be your guiding
principle as you firmly defend us against tyranny and safeguard our human
(He was arrested 26 March 2007 and is in custody)
Raymond Bake, CHRA Ward 34 Coordinator: He appeared in court charged with
allegedly bombing Marimba Police Station and throwing a petrol bomb into a
passenger train travelling to Bulawayo. The police failed to substantiate
their allegations an only linked bake to the said crime by alleging that a
piece of cloth that was found on the scene was of an identical colour to the
one found at his house. In his submissions on behalf of Bake, lawyer Alec
Muchadehama narrated Bake's experience at the hands of the police who
They forcibly ordered him to lie prostate on the rail line, insisting that
they wanted him run over by the train when it passes. They later beat him up
using booted feet, baton sticks until he reached the Harare Central Police
Station, where officers in the Law and Order Section took turns to assault
him. He was subsequently taken to Matapi Police Station where the beatings
and harassment continued unabated. The Supreme Court has ruled that Matapi
Police Station holding cells are unfit for detentions.
While they assaulted, they tied his dreadlocks on police vehicle rails.
They started pulling him and the dreadlocks plucked out, inflicting damage
to his scalp. Of pain to note is that Bake was denied both medical attention
and food while in police detention.
The lawyer explained how the police subjected Bake to extreme torture to
extract five different statements, implicating several people who have
nothing to do with the bombings. The police simply wanted him to give them
names of people he associated with within the MDC structures. In the end he
gave them many names and the police have indicated they are hunting those
people. Bake now fears for his life and his friends in the struggle for an
When he appeared before a Harare magistrate Monday 2 April 2007, Bake had
his locks shaved and appeared to be in extreme pain.
He was denied bail and was remanded in custody until 16 April 2007.
However, the defence counsel expressed disappointment in the court
procedures saying it appeared they will never win their arguments where the
State was insisting on detentions.
"CHRA for Enhanced Civic Participation in Local Government"
For details and comments please write to us on email@example.com, or
visit us at Exploration House Corner Robert Mugabe Way and Fifth Street. You
can also call us on 011 862 012, 011 612 860, 0912 249 430, 0912 924 151 and
011 443 578 or visit our website www.chra.co.zw
African governments must stand up to Robert Mugabe's murderous dictatorship,
writes Janet Albrechtsen
April 04, 2007
THE usual band of white leaders in the West have tried megaphone diplomacy
to halt Robert Mugabe's tyrannical regime in Zimbabwe. And failed. Black
leaders in Africa opted for quiet diplomacy, believing that Africans must
become masters of their own destiny, left to solve their own problems. That
failed. Now, nothing short of dramatic action from black African leaders can
end the ravaging of Zimbabwe by a black despot.
But don't count on that. Last week in Tanzania, a meeting of African leaders
demanded an end to Western sanctions against Zimbabwe. The next day, Mugabe
was duly re-endorsed as presidential candidate for the 2008 election.
Doffing their race-laced caps to an old revolutionary, African nations have
become complicit in the killing of a neighbouring people. Taking action
against Mugabe would essentially mean siding with white Western leaders,
apparently a sin worse than genocide. This African-style neo-racism means
that a black despot goes on killing black people.
In 1980 Mugabe became a revolutionary symbol. His leadership was supposed to
signal an end to white racist oppression of blacks. In fact, it seems to
have inspired a unique African racism, blacks killing blacks. Within a few
years, ethnic cleansing was part of Mugabe's political repertoire. Trained
by the North Koreans, his crack squad, the 5th Brigade, wiped out 20,000
civilians in Matabeleland. The die was cast. Surrounded by compliant leaders
in Africa, Mugabe is now a depraved symbol of black tyranny.
Mugabe has tortured and intimidated political opponents, judges and
journalists. He has rigged elections to cement his preference for one-party
democracy. He has razed shantytowns where his opponents live. Legitimate
need for land reform (a small white minority owned most of Zimbabwe's
richest farmland) was twisted into land grabs for black elites. It left land
idle, millions of black workers without jobs, even more without food. Life
expectancy for women is 34. Ten years ago it was apparently 63. Men can
expect to live to 37. Inflation is about 1800 per cent. Eighty per cent of
Zimbabweans are unemployed. Seventy per cent of the working population has
Zimbabwe is not just an economic basket case. It is a nation of brutalised,
defeated people. Dissent is met with violence and death.
The recent vicious police beatings of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
and 30 others who attended a prayer meeting triggered a familiar response.
Western leaders loudly condemned Mugabe's iron-fisted tyranny. Mugabe told
the West to "go hang" and portrayed Western criticism as more evil colonial
interference. Black African leaders such as Ghanian President John Kufuor
whispered that the situation is "very embarrassing". Kufuor, chairman of the
African Union, told an audience in London that the AU was "very
uncomfortable". South African leaders spoke meekly about Zimbabwe needing to
respect the rule of law. Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said it was for
Zimbabwe to fix.
Little wonder Mugabe has snubbed his nose at the West for decades. When
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth, he waved the race card,
denouncing the group as an "Anglo-Saxon unholy alliance". So-called smart
sanctions imposed by Europe, including travel bans on him and his cronies,
had not so smart loopholes. Soon after, the despot headed to Rome to attend
a UN world summit on, of all things, how to feed the hungry. He zipped
through London to get there and went through Paris on his way home.
Meanwhile, his land expropriations starved millions of Zimbabweans.
He hangs out at UN lovefests in New York, last September delivering a speech
that drew a standing ovation when he talked about "an unprecedented era of
peace and tranquillity" dawning in many parts of Africa. Tranquil for some.
His wife apparently still shops for swank clothes in Spain. Mugabe was back
in Rome at John Paul II's funeral last year. The more the West condemns him,
the more he plays the race card; he is the black champion once again
battling those white colonials.
So what's next? The West can stiffen sanctions. Cricketing nations can
black-list Zimbabwe. But none of that will bother Mugabe. He continues to
crank up repression of opponents. Condemnation from the UN may count for
something. The old megalomaniac appears to crave the junkets, the stage and
the applause the UN offers him. Which reminds me. What's happening over at
the Left's international altar of human rights, the newly spruced up UN
Human Rights Council?
Set up last June, the new UNHRC has managed to spit out more than eight
anti-Israel resolutions. Mugabe's violent political purges in Zimbabwe?
Pass. Last week, the UNHRC managed only a "declaration of concern" on
Zimbabwe. Drawn up by the British, no African countries dared sign up to
The same African countries - South Africa, Ghana and Zambia - that struggle
to feather-slap Mugabe over human rights outside the UN sit on the new
Although South Africa and Ghana issued individual declarations of concern,
the old race divisions ensured consensus on Zimbabwe was still a pipe dream.
No wonder Mugabe has a soft spot for the UN. As with its predecessor, the UN
Human Rights Committee, the neat regional grouping of African nations acts
as a block against action, effectively mandating UN failure on Zimbabwe.
Let's suppose the UNHRC wakes from its pathetic slumber. A resolution is, in
practice, meaningless. Full of multiple appearances of "whereas" and earnest
expressions of disappointment with Mugabe's evil regime, it would be about
as effective as Hans Blix's very, very angry letters to North Korea's Kim
But it would signal something new: an African consensus on action.
For that to happen, South Africa will have to break from its path of
hush-hush diplomacy. South Africa has the sort of leverage that Australia,
Britain, the US and Europe lack. South Africa could turn off the lights in
Zimbabwe, stop the flow of fuel, credit and trade. There are plenty of
reasons to act. South African business is fed up with quiet diplomacy.
Millions of wretched Zimbabweans have fled across the border, draining jobs
and stretching infrastructure.
Back in Zimbabwe, a fed-up people are striking in a rare expression of
defiance against Mugabe.
Allow Mugabe the usual dictatorial exit. Pack up his chic suits and set him
up in exile in some grand colonial mansion of his choosing.
Whatever it takes to end his barbarous regime. If South African President
Thabo Mbeki is serious about being part of what he calls an "African
renaissance", that requires genuine African responsibility. And that means
recognising that Mugabe and African complicity in his killings, rather than
colonial ghosts, are to blame for the destruction of Zimbabwe and African
DUDDRIDGE TO MEET WITH MINISTER OVER MUGABE FAMILY LINK WITH UK EDUCATION
James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, has received
confirmation from the Foreign Affairs Minister that Robert Mugabe's daughter
is not currently studying at the London School of Economics. However, James
remains concerned that Bona Mugabe and other members of the family are
legally able to study in the UK and will be meeting the Minister on Monday
16th April to get to the bottom of the link between the dictator's family
and the UK education system.
James received a letter from Ian McCartney MP on Friday stating that the
Embassy in Harare has confirmed that Bona Mugabe attends a high school in
the city, where she is in the Upper Sixth studying for her A-levels this
However, James is concerned that she may have applied to study in the UK for
the next academic year, and that other members of Mugabe's family may
already be here. He is also worried about whether the Government even has a
system in place to monitor such activities, saying:
"There was such confusion in the Foreign Office last week that I'm not at
all confident that the Government knows what Mugabe's family are up to on
our own soil. It took from Monday morning, when I first flagged up my query
to the Minister, until Friday afternoon for me to receive confirmation that
Bona Mugabe is actually at school in Harare.
"If we can't be confident that the Foreign Office knows whether members of
Mugabe's immediate family are even here in the UK or not, how can we trust
that the Government is putting the pressure on Robert Mugabe that the people
of Zimbabwe so desperately need and deserve.
"The travel ban should be extended to all members of Robert Mugabe's family
and rigorously enforced."
James will be writing to Mr McCartney in advance of the meeting to raise his
remaining questions, which will cover the following concerns:
· Does Bona Mugabe or any other member of Robert Mugabe's family have any
plans to study at the LSE for the next academic year, or indeed at any other
educational institution in the UK?
· Does the Minister have a system in place that would ensure he would be
aware if such plans were indeed to be made?
· What is the Minister's position regarding the principle of Robert Mugabe's
family members studying in the UK? Does the UK Government oppose this?
· What steps is the Minister taking to make a list of family members of both
Robert Mugabe and other individuals currently included in the travel ban,
and to ascertain where each of these people is?
· The '10 questions' that James plans to put to the Minister on Monday 16th
April are as follows (please note that these may be published but are not
direct quotations from James' letter to the Minister):
1. Can the Minister clarify whether any member of Robert Mugabe's family is
currently studying at the LSE, or any other educational institution in the
UK, or have they recently done so?
2. Does Bona Mugabe have any plans to study at the LSE for the next academic
year, or indeed at any other educational institution in the UK?
3. Is the Minister aware of any plans by other members of Robert Mugabe's
family to study in the UK for the next academic year?
4. Does the Minister have a system in place that would ensure he would be
aware if such plans were indeed to be made?
5. I understand that overseas students apply for undergraduate courses in
the UK through UCAS along with home students, and that applications for
postgraduate study are made to the individual institutions. For both types
of study, at what stage would an individual on the travel ban would be
prevented from entering the UK education system, and what is the process
that would be involved?
6. If it is indeed the case that family members have been or are planning to
study in the UK, then how the studies are being paid for?
7. Furthermore, is any UK taxpayers' money is involved in relation to their
8. What is the Minister's position regarding the principle of Robert Mugabe's
family members studying in the UK? Does the UK Government oppose this?
9. What steps is the Minister taking to make a list of family members of
both Robert Mugabe and other individuals currently included in the travel
ban, and to ascertain where each of these people is?
10. Finally, I hope to discuss with the Minister the 'smart sanctions' more
broadly, as my specific concerns are manifestations of my broader concern
about the list of individuals included in the travel ban and the freezing of
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
CITIZEN REPORTER and SAPA.
THE pain felt by Zimbabweans was a pain that South Africans felt, and
it was South Africa's task to work together with Zimbabweans to resolve
their problems, President Thabo Mbeki said yesterday.
He was addressing the National House of Traditional Healers in
Mbeki referred to the decision by the Zimbabwean ruling party, Zanu
PF, that parliamentary and presidential elections would be held in Zimbabwe
in March next year. This meant all that was necessary had to be done to
ensure the elections would be free and fair, and the outcome would not be
contested by anybody.
"As facilitators we have to move very quickly to ensure an agreement
is reached between the ruling party and opposition parties and all other
parties concerned, so they would be able to work together, so that the
elections next year would be fair," Mbeki said. The MDC have said they will
not participate in elections next year. Mbeki was tasked as mediator of the
Zimbabwe political crisis by the Southern African Development Community last
Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi, and the
Reverend Frank Chikane, director-general in the Presidency, were later to
meet two officials of the Zimbabwean opposition MDC party in South Africa.
Mbeki said the parties would engage on the MDC's view of "where they
see Zimbabwe tomorrow".
Last updated 03/04/2007 19:35:45
By Tererai Karimakwenda
03 April, March 2007
Zimbabweans in most cities were surprised Tuesday morning by the presence of
armed police in their local supermarkets. This was part of the intimidation
used by the police on the first day of the two-day stay away, organised by
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). By most accounts many people
went to work out of fear and employers were forced to open. But a small
number heeded the union's call to stay home to protest the deteriorating
economy that has made life a daily struggle.
Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said there were disturbances in some
high-density areas including Kuwadzana, Budiriro Dzivarasekwa, Mabvuku,
Mufakose and Chitungwiza. Small groups of residents tried to block the
streets using rocks and rubbish bins and some minibuses were also pelted
with rocks. Muchemwa said truckloads of riot police had moved through these
areas randomly assaulting anyone on the streets. Several people were
arrested but it is not known exactly how many were in custody. This was
confirmed by police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena on state television. Our
correspondent said the disturbances started Monday night in some areas and
intensified Tuesday morning with the increased presence of police.
Tabitha Khumalo of the Women's Advisory Council of the ZCTU described
participation by workers as a "mixed bag", meaning some went to work and
others stayed home. But she said the authorities flooded the streets and
shops with both uniformed and plain clothes police teams. She also accused
the police of intimidating employers and forcing their workers to show up.
Khumalo said some employers were even sent to go collect the workers from
home. She stressed that information was difficult to come by and they were
still waiting for reports from affiliates.
A Reuters news agency report said a helicopter patrol was used over the
capital city while riot police patrolled the streets of central Harare. Our
sources said businesses in Bulawayo appeared to be operating as usual. The
report also quoted police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena who said four people
were arrested in a township after blockading roads and stoning commuter
buses carrying people to work.
Khumalo urged Zimbabweans to stay home in greater numbers on Wednesday. Her
message to employers was that workers need salaries in line with the poverty
datum line otherwise they cannot afford to feed their families. To workers
she said: "Only we can liberate ourselves and if we do not we will die
anyway while reporting to a job that does not pay enough."
Meanwhile in South Africa, about 400 activists from the Congress of South
African Trade Unions (Cosatu) held a protest march in Johannesburg in a
solidarity with the ZCTU. COSATU activists, who have a reputation for being
radical and passionate, held placards which read "Hang Mugabe", "Mugabe must
repent or perish", "We want guns now to blow out Mugabe's head" and "Mugabe
I will kill you in person." Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and SA
Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande addressed the crowds.
COSATU plans to march on Wednesday as well.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Brave Zimbabwean workers have started a two-day general strike. These trade
unionists deserve our support.
April 3, 2007 6:00 PM |
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions
has called on workers to stay at home instead of going to work.
In solidarity, Action for Southern Africa (Actsa) has called a demonstration
outside the Zimbabwean embassy on the Strand for 12-2pm on Wednesday April
4, and the TUC is urging British trade unionists and others to attend.
If you can't get there, you can register your protest by emailing Zimbabwe's
The crisis in Zimbabwe is epic in its scale. The numbers often seem too
large to grasp. Inflation is heading up from its current annual level of
1700%. Unemployment is at 80%. Life expectancy has fallen to 37.
A bottle of milk in Zimbabwe has increased in price from Z$10,000 to
Z$17,000 overnight (a rise from £20 to £34 at the official exchange rate for
a bottle of milk).
Millions of Zimbabweans - a quarter of the population - have voted with
their feet and fled the country.
One former spokesperson for the regime says that the crisis is so bad,
people have stopped eating one meal a day, and slipped back to a meal every
The general strike is about these fundamentally economic issues, but the
economy of Zimbabwe is in the state it is because of the autocratic, corrupt
and brutal regime of Robert Mugabe.
His thugs have been raiding union offices in the run up to the strike,
harassing union officials and their families, and the beatings meted out to
opposition activists in the last few weeks show what sort of threat trade
unionists face in the next few days.
There is a real sense that change is in the air. Splits are emerging in
Zanu-PF, and we are getting to the stage when the population is so
desperate, it is beginning to lose its fear. This is a time when
international solidarity can make a real difference. Anyone worried that
expressing support for the Zimbabwean people in its former colonial ruler
should know that they will be part of a worldwide movement. This is what
South Africa's unions have said:
"Cosatu does appreciate that perhaps President Mugabe and the Venezuelan
president, Hugo Chávez, are among the very few world leaders willing to
confront head on the naked hypocrisy and general aggression of the US
government, in particular now under the leadership of George Bush. But that
does not mean that Cosatu will close its eyes when President Mugabe's
government tramples on workers' and human rights while blaming all his
country's problems to imperialists."
Zimbabwe's trade unionists are some of the bravest people I know. They
deserve our support.
We are adding an ecard feature to our website, with ecards specifically for
Zimbabweans and with Zimbabwe in mind. It will be developed further, but our
first ecards are in support of the ZCTU stayaway today and tomorrow.
Please go here to send a card: www.sokwanele.com/sendcard
Or visit our homepage (www.sokwanele.com) and click on the 'Send an ecard'
button on the right hand side of the screen. People can send each card to up
to 6 people at a time.
In support and solidarity!
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) mass action in Johannesburg
resulted in a rude Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative being
smacked by angry protestors when he stubbornly refused to make a statement
to the demonstrating Zimbabweans living in exile in South Africa.
South African Police Service (SAPS) personnel had to come in to quell the
deteriorating situation and quickly shielded the CIO operative from the
wrath of angry protestors, who accused the Zimbabwean government of
unleashing brutality against opposition activists and ZCTU leadership.
The otherwise peaceful demonstration nearly turned violent when the
Zimbabwean Consulate Director-General refused to come out of the consul to
receive the petition from the protestors. He ordered CIO operative
identified as Ben Sibanda to receive the petition on behalf of the
The angry demonstrators accused the Zanu (PF) government of creating chaos
in the country, brutalising members of the opposition political party MDC,
implementing economic policies that ruined the economy as well as crafting
draconian laws that have made it impossible to hold free and fair elections.
Addressing the protestors, the South African Communist Party (SACP)
General-Secretary, Blade Ndzimande, said the people of South Africa and the
African continent's most powerful labour body, COSATU, were present to show
solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe during these hard times of needy.
"As SACP we can not tolerate a situation whereby our own liberation movement
is watched at whilst killing its own people neither suppressing them. We
cannot tolerate Zanu (PF) turning its guns against its citizens. Mugabe had
his time since 1980 and he is still in power. It would be honourable of him
to share power next year when his term of office expires.
"Enough is enough. May I also take this opportunity to let know the SA
companies, especially in farms, industry and mining not to exploit desperate
Zimbabweans. I have noted a situation whereby one Zimbabwean was denied his
salary for the month with the capitalist insisting that the Zimbabwean had
no proper documents. Why did you employ him/her in the first place?" asked
Ndzimande to the applause of the protestors.
The SACP general secretary challenged president Mugabe and the police to
desist from their brutal actions against members of the opposition and
general members of the public arguing that they would mobilise some massive
support against them.
Speaking at the same function was the COSATU Secretary-General, Zwelinzima
Vavi, President Mugabe's most hated labour unionist in Africa, who condemned
from left, right and centre the beating of Morgan Tsvangirai and other MDC
"Panzi lo Mugabe! Well, I just wanted to tell you that we an activist moved
by human suffering in Zimbabwe and on 12 April we shall be in Swaziland for
the same solidarity in that country.
"We are supporting the demands made by ZCTU for better minimum wages and
salaries linked to the Poverty Datum Line, reduction of income tax to a 30
percent maximum, workers earning below PDL (Z$84 000) as at August 2006 not
to be taxed, availability and free access to anti-retrovirals (ARVs),
stabilization of prices of basic commodities and a stop to harassment of
informal economy workers by the local authority police and the ZRP," said
He also called upon the SADC region leaders to ensure that free and fair
elections in Zimbabwe would only be held once the country's new constitution
was made by people, not the ruling party architectures.
"Whether Zimbabweans will re-elect Mugabe or not, that is not our business
but we would want to see free and fair elections held in the country," said
3rd Apr 2007 16:27 GMT
Five hundred members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of Zimbabwe
Arise (MOZA) conducted a prayer vigil at St Marys Roman Catholic church in
Bulawayo on Saturday.
The day was chosen to commemorate the prayer vigil held two years ago on the
night of the 2005 parliamentary election when over 250 women were arrested
and many brutally beaten by police in Harare as they conducted a prayer
vigil. Prayers focused on the need for Citizens to refrain from retaliation
and for Police to refuse to harm people.
There was a heavy police presence including officers Abraham Dapi, well
known to WOZA. Although officer Sergeant George Levison Ngwenya manhandled
WOZA security at the door and attempts were made to trail WOZA organizers
when the vigil ended, there were no arrests. WOZA declared the vigil a
victory for love and non-violence.
WOZA would like to commend Archbishop Pius Ncube for his courage and for the
encouragement to members who he knew would have to walk past police officers
known for their brutality. We also pay tribute to members of WOZA and MOZA
for braving the Public Order Security Act (POSA) and the harsh repressive
environment, and for their courage to come out in their hundreds to pray for
peace. WOZA calls on the families of police officer Dapi and Ngwenya to give
them 'tough love' and take them to church to pray for guidance.
HARARE/JOHANNESBURG - The UN World Food Programme will this month cut
back on food aid to Zimbabweans, helping only around one- sixth of the 1.5
million it has been helping since January, the agency said Tuesday.
With the annual harvest due in April, WFP is scaling down its aid
operations in Zimbabwe from this month reducing the number of beneficiaries
to 256,000 in April, it said in a statement.
The WFP, which has been providing emergency food aid to Zimbabweans
for the past five years, said it had helped 1.5 million of the country's 12
million people with food aid in the first three months of the year.
It is unclear how much of the staple maize crop Zimbabwe will harvest
this year, but officials say the crop may not exceed 600,000 tonnes, leaving
a deficit of around one million tonnes.
President Robert Mugabe's government has declared 2007 a drought year.
Crops in some provinces, especially the arid south of the country, have been
declared an almost complete write-off.
Maize, beans and cooking oil are some of the staples WFP distributed -
to vulnerable people pregnant women, malnourished children and people living
with HIV - in 26 districts of the country between January and March.
The agency said the number of people it would be helping between April
and December was expected to peak at 700,000, at a cost of 24 million US
dollars. It said the figure could rise significantly due to this years
projected poor harvest.
Poor rains and a controversial land reform programme launched in 2000
have drastically reduced crop yeilds here, turning Zimbabwe from a former
regional breadbasket to a nation dependent on food imports and food
Last updated 03/04/2007 19:35:50
By Mary Revesai
Last updated: 04/03/2007 23:03:40
THE Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) debacle in the Tanzanian
capital last weekend when the assembled African leaders treated Robert
Mugabe with kid gloves and virtually gave him the green light to continue
his ruthless madness proved once and for all that African heads of state are
not on the side of oppressed Zimbabweans.
Their shameful copout was evidence, if any was needed, that they regard
organisations such as SADC, the African Union (AU), and the Economic
Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) which are funded through the
sweat of taxpayers in the various member countries, as talk shops to stroke
each other's egos and cover up for each other's excesses and abuses. This
impotence allowed Mugabe to go scot-free after his sojourn to Tanzania
despite the show of determination to take the bull by the horns epitomised
by Tanzanian leader Jakaya Kikwete's flying visit to Harare following the
battering of opposition leaders by state security agents about three weeks
However, it now seems all this commotion was half-hearted and only served to
raise false expectations. What ensued in Tanzania was such that Mugabe could
gloat upon his return home that he had received the unanimous support of the
leaders of the 14 countries in the bloc. This means that even Zambian
president, Levy Mwanawasa, who had blasted Mugabe a few days before the
summit, had been whipped into line by his peers, in the name of solidarity.
This shameful duplicity on the part of the leaders was despite the fact the
83-year old Zimbabwean dictator had attended the emergency summit in the
immediate aftermath of committing the most outrageous atrocities against
fellow citizens, which he openly boasted about at the gathering.
In un-statesman-like utterances that should have caused outrage among his
peers, the Zimbabwean dictator insisted that Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
chairman Lovemore Madhuku and dozens of opposition activists deserved to be
"bashed". It was not the first time Mugabe had expressed these crude
sentiments. He made the same barbaric declarations when trade union leaders
were brutalised by the police in September last year for trying to organise
peaceful demonstrations to enable Zimbabweans to petition the regime in
Harare over their grievances.
It is scandalous, but not unexpected that the leaders assembled in Dar es
Salaam last weekend were unmoved by the scale of Mugabe's tyranny. "Yes, I
told them he (Tsvangirai) asked for it. We got full backing. Not even one
criticised our actions. There is no country in SADC that can stand up and
say Zimbabwe has faulted," Mugabe declared triumphantly upon his return.
This air of invincibility is an ominous warning of what lies ahead for the
people as Mugabe gears up to bulldoze his way into another term of office in
elections next year that could prove to be the bloodiest yet.
As if their duplicity was not bad enough, the SADC leaders rubbed salt into
the wounds of suffering Zimbabweans by appointing South Africa's Thabo Mbeki
as their trouble-shooter in mapping the way forward. This is an arrogant
slap in the face for the people of Zimbabwe. Mbeki has previously spent
years aiding and abetting the Mugabe tyranny while claiming to be involved
in behind-the-scenes "quiet diplomacy". When he was challenged at home and
internationally about the efficacy of his dubious approach, Mbeki asserted
impatiently and with an air of all-knowing superiority that it was the only
method that was most likely to work. When he finally came out in his true
colours and washed his hands of the Zimbabwean crisis, he declared that it
was up to Zimbabweans to solve their own problems. What is new now?
In all the years Mbeki previously masqueraded as trouble-shooter, he never
once spoke out against the subversion of the rule of law, documented human
rights abuses, the ruthless crushing of dissent and the clampdown on the
freedoms of speech, assembly and association that the Mugabe regime has
resorted to and institutionalised with impunity. The expression of a vote of
confidence in Mbeki despite his spectacular failure in the past is a sign
that the African leaders want the charade to continue. They hope to hoodwink
the world and the people of Zimbabwe into believing that they are doing
something about the crisis when in fact they are upholding the archaic
Organisation of African Unity (OAU) philosophy of showing solidarity with
dictators and abusers of power.
What makes the practice more insidious these days is the public posturing by
organisations such as SADC, the AU and ECOWAS that they are capable of
finding African solutions to problems if the West stopped interfering? The
crisis in Zimbabwe, which has an unemployment rate of about 80 percent and
the highest inflation rate in the world of 1,700 percent, should have
provided a perfect opportunity for these heads of state to demonstrate their
commitment to the upholding of humane and democratic values on the
continent. Unlike other trouble spots on the continent where military
intervention is called for, the Zimbabwean crisis, despite having been left
to steadily escalate over the past seven years, can still be resolved
But alas, African leaders are hamstrung by personal considerations for their
own self-preservation. Some are guilty of the same dictatorial tendencies
Mugabe has exhibited and others may wish to resort to perpetrating the same
atrocities to cling to power. This unwillingness to act has been evident
over the years when attempts by various Zimbabwean civil society groups to
appeal to SADC, the AU and the African Commission on Human and People's
Rights (ACHPR) have been rebuffed at the behest of the Mugabe regime.
After consistently swallowing Mugabe's propaganda that the problems in
Zimbabwe have nothing to do with his repressive governance and subversion of
the rule of law but a Western plot to effect regime change , African heads
of state will continue to find themselves tongue -tied. As one battle-worn
Zimbabwean has said, "We are truly on our own."
Mary Revesai is a New Zimbabwe.com columnist and writes from Harare. Her
column will appear here every Tuesday
Inner City Press
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, April 3 -- Africa's economic future is painted, in nuanced
but generally upbeat tones, in the 2007 report of the UN's Economic
Commission on Africa. The report was presented Monday at UN Headquarters by
Ejeviome Eloho Otobo, something of an in-house UN intellectual, who
repeatedly pitched two of his publications, one in the New School Economic
Review, the other a letter to the editor of the Financial Times.
Inner City Press asked Mr. Otobo for his views on the economic
downturn in Zimbabwe, which the ECA puts at negative 4.4% growth last year,
and which the UN's humanitarian affairs office last week put at a 40%
decline since 2000. Mr. Otobo ascribed the drop to "political tensions," but
did not explain why political tensions in other African states, from Cote
D'Ivoire to Somalia to Uganda, did not result in anywhere near Zimbabwe's
decline. Video here, from Minute 36:22 to 39:32. In fact, tension-wracked
Sudan was one of the eight fastest-growing African countries in 2006.
On Monday, Ban Ki-moon returned to UN Headquarters from a
lengthy Middle Eastern trip. Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban two Africa
questions, about Somalia -- click here for that story -- and about Zimbabwe.
The Harare Q and A, from the transcript:
Inner City Press: ... while you were away, on Zimbabwe, the Secretariat's
briefer to the Council said that the situation in Zimbabwe is not a threat
to international peace and security. I am wondering if that's the
Secretariat's view, or what is your view on that?
SG: We are also very much concerned about the situation in there. It is
necessary for the leaders of the Zimbabwean Government to strictly abide by
all democratic rules, to firmly establish democratic rules again. Click here
The ECA "Economic Report on Africa 2007" states, at page 32,
that "only one country -- Zimbabwe -- recorded a negative growth rate in
2006." On page 39, this decline is diplomatically ascribed to "political
difficulties." Inflation makes its appears on page 41: "In Zimbabwe,
inflation increased to 1216 per cent in 2006 compared to 237.8 per cent in
2005, owing to inflationary financing of the budget deficit." Still,
Zimbabwe scored high in tourism.
The ECA report, formally entitled "Accelerating Africa's Growth
and Development to Meet the Millennium Development Goals - Emerging
Challenges and the Way Forward," purports to deal with the financial
services sector in less than one of its 182 pages. The report's approach is
surprising: "financial sector reforms have resulted in a gradual move
towards market-based interest rate determination and curtailment of the
government's presence in the financial sector through privatization of
government-owned banks. While these are welcome developments" -- that is,
ECA unequivocally portrays bank-privatization as welcome, regardless of
In Mr. Ban's native South Korea, banks sold by the government were
snapped up by predatory investors like Lone Star, subsequently sued for
fraud. Would ECA really like to lure Lone Star to Africa? There is no
discussion of the so-far seminal African bank-acquisition deal, Barclays
return to South Africa by purchasing Absa. Given the report's 189 pages,
this deal merited discussion.
Inner City Press, in the course of reporting on another of the
UN's regional economic commissions, ESCWA in Lebanon, received detailed
reports from Addis Ababa regarding abuses under the 1995-2005 head of UNECA,
K.Y. Amoako of Ghana, including that he unceremoniously had ejected from
Ethiopia any dissenters among his ranks, family first. How these far-flung
UN commissions can remain accountable and credible is a question for reform,
and a question of the objectivity of their reports. We'll see.
UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
Tuesday April 3, 2007
Time correspondent Alex Perry has left Zimbabwe after his arrest and
subsequent release, the magazine confirmed today.
Perry, the South African correspondent for the news magazine, was arrested
in Zimbabwe on Saturday, apparently for entering the country without
official media accreditation.
He was freed last night by Zimbabwean police after paying a small fine.
Time said in a statement: "Time correspondent Alex Perry was briefly
detained while on assignment in Gwanda, Zimbabwe. He has since been released
and is no longer in the country."
Perry, who is based in Cape Town, was arrested near the Beit Bridge border
post on Saturday, South Africa's Star newspaper reported. He was held at the
police station in Gwanda, about 125 miles to the north.
Many foreign reporters covering Zimbabwe and the repressive regime of its
83-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, resort to entering the country
illegally, as the Zimbabwe government grants visas only to reporters who
give favourable coverage.
Some media organisations, including the BBC, are entirely banned, and
reporting without accreditation is a crime punishable by two years in
Mr Mugabe's government is in the middle of a crackdown, which saw opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai severely beaten, allegedly by police, while he was
in custody last month.
The Mugabe regime has always taken a hard line against journalists.
In 2005 Sunday Telegraph reporter Toby Harnden and photographer Julian
Simmonds were arrested and imprisoned for 14 days after they were arrested
while covering elections. They were charged with overstaying their visa and
both were deported after their release.
Perry has more than 16 years of international news experience, mainly in
Asia. He joined Time magazine in 2001 as a staff writer and travel editor in
Prior to that he had worked at news agency Agence France-Presse in Hong
In 2002, when he was based in India, a critical column that he wrote about
the prime minister at the time, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, led to angry
protesters burning copies of Time magazine in the street. He has also
reported from Afghanistan.
By Lance Guma
03 April 2007
Several opposition activists appeared at the magistrates in Harare as the
overwhelmed judicial system continued to process the hundreds who were
arrested last week in a government crackdown. The exact number of those
arrested is unknown and lawyers say they will have a clearer picture once
everyone is brought to court. Tafadzwa Mugabe from Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights said a total of 24 applications were dismissed on Tuesday with
only 1 being reserved to Wednesday.
It's thought hundreds of opposition activists are still in police custody
and remand prison following countrywide arrests by the security forces who
allege a petrol bombing campaign by the MDC on police stations. Eight
opposition officials and activists were abducted from their hospital beds
and taken to prison late night on Saturday including the MDC Glen View
Member of Parliament Paul Madzore, National Executive member Ian Makone,
plus former Daily News journalist and now MDC information officer Luke
Tafadzwa Mugabe told Newsreel they are still being denied medical treatment
despite some of them being in a critical condition. MP Madzore, Shame
Wakatama and Ian Makone are said to have collapsed while awaiting a bail
application at the weekend. Some of those abducted from hospital were on
intravenous drips and concern is growing that the prison environment will
worsen their condition.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Violet Gonda
3 April 2007
The editor of the UK based Zimbabwean newspaper Wilf Mbanga reports that
Harare police didn't bring his chief correspondent Gift Phiri to court, as
had been expected, as the onslaught against opponents and journalists
continues in Zimbabwe. Phiri's lawyer, Rangu Nyamurundira, is reported to
have spent the day camped outside Harare Central police station waiting for
his client. But he didn't appear and there was no explanation. It is alleged
that when he was last seen on Monday Phiri could hardly walk or sit. Mbanga
said the journalist was in bad shape and had been severely beaten with baton
and iron bars.
Mbanga added: "He was made to sign a warned and cautioned statement in the
absence of our lawyers. They know they haven't a case against him, that is
why they didn't want lawyers to have access to him before he signed the
statement." Although lawyers were allowed some access to Phiri on Monday,
Mbanga said they were banned from entering the law and order offices
Phiri was arrested in Harare on Sunday and had originally been accused of
involvement in the so-called bomb attacks against police stations in Harare
but the charge was later changed to working without accreditation.
He was also charged with "publishing falsehoods" including a report alleging
that the CIO had taken over security responsibilities at Harare's airport
and another story that said Robert Mugabe had invoked presidential powers
and signed into law a statutory instrument setting up a reserve army of
ex-combatants. The Zimbabwean editor said: "They are saying it's a lie but
we know this is a fact."
The Zimbabwean newspaper also came under heavy fire this week when it
published a front-page headline saying Vice President Joyce Mujuru had
resigned. Although the Minister of Information Sikhanyiso Ndlovu denied this
Mbanga told us that he still stands by the story, until Mujuru herself
denies it. He said they carried the story that the vice president had
tendered her resignation letter to the President and had been told that
Mugabe would get back to her. Mbanga added: "We stand by that. Last year we
carried a story that Herbert Murerwa had resigned. It was also denied by
other people at the time and eventually he was sacked by Mugabe and then it
came out that in fact he had resigned. So our sources on this particular
story are impeccable and we stand by it."
Mbanga also said he received a threatening letter from the CIO last Friday,
as the retribution campaign against opponents and journalists continues. He
said the letter contained an alleged hit list with his name and Phiri's. The
editor said the two of them were among 27 people targeted for execution by
the Central Intelligence Organization. He said this is what Gift Phiri was
busy investigating at the time of his arrest.
However Mbanga said he is not taking this letter seriously, adding: "We
wanted to find out whether this was an authentic document or it if it was
somebody playing silly games because they can also do that. There is a dirty
tricks department in the CIO. They could put out this document to make us
Meanwhile, Alex Perry, the Time magazine correspondent who was arrested on
Saturday for allegedly entering the country without official media
accreditation, was released Monday night. It is reported that he has now
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Lance Guma
04 April 2007
Chiedza Gadzirai, a female student leader at Bindura University of Science
Education, was allegedly threatened with rape by men believed to be state
security agents. According to Promise Mkwananzi the president of the
Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), Gadzirai first received a phone
call before being paid a visit by two unknown men clad in designer suits and
dark glasses. She was interrogated on the whereabouts of Mkwananzi and
Secretary General Beloved Chiweshe who are both in hiding following
revelations they are top of a police 'wanted list.'
Gadzirai is Vice President of the Student Executive Council at the
university. Last year in May she was arrested following a demonstration over
high tuition fees. She was denied bail and spent two weeks in the remand
prison in Bindura. This time around its alleged she was threatened with rape
and told she would be infected with the deadly HIV virus if she continued to
harbour, 'terrorists,' a reference to Mkwananzi and Chiweshe. A ZINASU
statement said the state security agents then left in a Mazda Eagle twin cab
vehicle, which did not have any number plates. Several student leaders are
now in hiding fearing for their lives.
Meanwhile 17 students from the Masvingo State University appeared at the
magistrate's court in the city on Monday. They were facing charges of
inciting other students to protest against tuition fee increases. Their
lawyers wanted the matter referred to the Supreme Court citing the fact the
students had a constitutional right to free expression and association. The
court however turned down this argument saying the students can only appeal
once a verdict is made. The students were remanded out of custody until the
More assaults were reported by ZINASU who say university security guards at
Masvingo State University beat up student leaders Gideon Chitanga, Witlaw
Mugwiji and Edson Hlatshwayo for distributing flyers. The trio were part of
a campaign team canvassing support from students ahead of elections set for
the 5th of April. It's alleged the Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union, a
suspected ZANU PF controlled union, hired youth militia who are not students
at the campus to roam around the university campaigning for their
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
3rd Apr 2007 16:51 GMT
By Dennis Rekayi
MASVINGO - Seventeen Masvingo State University (MASU) students, among them
ZINASU vice president, Gideon Chitanga, appeared at the Masvingo Magistrate
Courts yesterday to hear whether their charges under Criminal Codification
Act would be successfully referred to the Supreme Court as argued by their
lawyer, Dumisani Hwacha.
The student activists are being accused of inciting other students to
protest against the new fees structure, which culminated in 1 500 percent
tuition and accommodation fee rise in November 2006.
Masvingo Magistrate Mr. Guvamombe, who was presiding over the case, turned
down the students' argument on the basis that the students can only appeal
after a verdict has been made.
Zinasu says this is despite that the charges flagrantly violate the
students' right to expression and asssociation. The students were further
remanded to the 26th of September.
Meanwhile, Zinasu also says the University Security Officers at MASU, ZANU
PF oficials and the police continued with their savage trail, assaulting
student leaders among them Chitanga, Witlaw Mugwiji and Edson Hlatshwayo.
The students were attacked while distributing flyers to canvas for support
for the 5th of April Student Representative Council elections at Masvingo
"Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union ( ZICOSU), a ZANU PF surrogate
organisation and some hired youths militia are all over the Campus freely
campaigning for their candidates. The youth militias are not students," said
Chitanga said: "We believe victory is assured even against this adversity."
Zinasu secretary general, Beloved Chiweshe is scheduled to address a star
rally at the University this week before the student elections.
Meanwhile Zinasu alleges a female student leader at Bindura University of
Science Education (BUSE) in Mashonaland Central Province, Chiedza Gadzirai,
was yesterday night threatened with rape by the state security agents.
Chiedza, who is the Student Executive Council (SEC) vice president at BUSE,
alleged she first received a phone call from an unidentified person before
being paid a surprise visit by two unknown men clad in designer suits and
The agents interrogated Chiedza on the whereabouts of Promise Mkwananzi, the
Zinasu president and secretary general Beloved Chiweshe.
In the process, says Zinasu, they threatened her with rape and to infect her
with the deadly HIV if she continued to harbour 'terrorists'. They left the
University Campus in a Mazda Eagle Twin Cab vehicle, which had no number
Chiedza is one of the female students who were arrested in May 2006 over the
high fees protest at the university.
She was denied bail and had to spent two weeks in the remand Prison in
Bindura. The State later dropped the charges due to lack of evidence.
She was arrested again at the magistrates courts with other students for
singing the national anthem in solidarity with opposition leaders, including
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, who had been arrested and assaulted badly
by the police while in custody.
Tue, 03 Apr 2007
Victoria Falls has been the shining light of a crumbling Zimbabwe, but while
tour operators say that even more foreigners will visit the region this year
than the last, the locals there are looking for their first opportunity to
Food shortages and daily increases in the prices of basic goods are making
it difficult for locals, who are by law paid in Zimbabwean dollars, to get
hold of these goods.
As a result, many locals in the town of Vic Falls, where some 50 000
Zimbabweans live, await their chance to leave the region, and in many cases
head to South Africa.
At the same time, tour operator Thompsons held what it called the 'Thompsons
University of Victoria Falls' for South African travel agents, in which it
attempted to show the agents that Zimbabwe remains a safe and enjoyable
According to Ross Kennedy of GoToVictoriaFalls.com, Vic Falls, which is some
1000km away from the capital Harare, is "the safest destination that there
currently is on the planet".
Statistics show that hotel occupancy rates have increased 29 percent in the
first two months of this year in comparison to the same period last year.
Tour operators also don't believe that the increase in violence in March
this year will impact on tourism figures for the month.
Kennedy says travel agents in SA are generally aged between 25 and 27, and
as a result know only of the bad press the country has received in the past
As part of the tourism drive, journalists visiting Vic Falls in late March
along with the university, were eased through border control without the
often-reported hold-ups, despite being threatened with a fine when leaving
the country due to 'expired' media visas issued by the country's immigration
Zimbabwe controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
introduced five years ago, dictates that journalists in the country are
compelled to have accreditation.
Yet locals, who are completely reliant on tourism with almost all
Zimbabweans living in and around the town of Victoria Falls employed in the
industry, are not making ends meet.
"We are not happy," says local security guard Lawrence Sibanda. "The economy
is down," he adds, referring to the some 1730 percent inflation that the
country is currently suffering under.
Sibanda says that as prices rise on a weekly basis, he is struggling to
afford basic necessities like maize meal, cooking oil or soap - if they are
even stocked in shops. Not only are prices doubling each week, but Zimbabwe
has also been hit by massive shortages. The Total petrol station in the town
of Vic Falls has been without fuel or diesel for the past 18 months, locals
With some family members having already moved to South Africa, Sibanda is
now waiting for a lift to take him to the neighbouring country. And he is
Green light on other side
Most locals have put their feelers out for opportunities out of the country
before leaving. One guide, who wished to remain anonymous, is seeking a gap
to move to Cape Town, despite having a good job, with four out of five
Zimbabweans currently sitting without work. Another local already has her
papers in order to move to Australia.
But according to Ndaipaneyi Mukwena, the Zimbabwe Tourism Office's area
manager of Southern Africa, those locals looking to leave the region who do
not have transferable skills will struggle. "They think that beyond their
borders there is a green light but that is not always the case.
"Chance is you'll be in a worse situation than at home," she adds of those
who don't have skills that can be used in foreign countries.
Jonathan Hudson, the general manager at Ilala Lodge, situated in the town of
Vic Falls, says that March's salary nearly tripled that of February. Despite
this, salaries are not keeping pace with food inflation.
Furthermore, tax brackets have not been adjusted accordingly, and as a
result, the lowest income earners in the country now find they are paying
tax, with Hudson saying that some are taxed nearly 50 percent of their
income each month.
About 33 percent of money paid by tourists goes to the Zimbabwean government
through Vat charges and as a result of the discrepancies in the foreign
exchange rate, says Nigel Newmarch, a manager at the Victoria Falls Hotel.
While the rate set by the Reserve Bank equates to around Z$34 to one rand,
tourists pay anywhere between Z$600 and $1200 for each rand on the black