The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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ROBERT NOLAN: Targeting Mugabe


NEW YORK (CSM) - As the world's collective attention remains rightly on the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the effort to oust Saddam Hussein, another brutal dictator thousands of miles away continues to inflict unprecedented violence and terror upon his own people, largely under the global radar.

Two days of national strikes organized last month by Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) protesting dictator Robert Mugabe's regime have resulted in hundreds of arrests, at least one death, and allegations of widespread torture by police and government forces.
Mr. Mugabe's own day of reckoning, however, may be near. The opposition MDC kept two critical seats in Zimbabwe's parliament in by-elections last weekend, further solidifying its control of the capital, where it holds all 17 seats. The election results came a day before the expiration of an opposition ultimatum calling on the government to address its human rights abuses and restore such democratic institutions as freedom of the press. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai called the developments a "final push for freedom."

Mugabe, who recently warned that those who play with fire "will not only be burnt but consumed," has never been one to mince words. A communist-cum-African-populist, his tenor as the president for the past 23 years has been nothing short of a reign of terror for those outside his one-party system. The erratic African president drew further attention to himself in the aftermath of the most recent crackdown by making a bizarre comparison of his leadership style to that of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Mugabe rules by fear. At the end of Zimbabwe's second chimurenga, or uprising against white rule in 1980, he made apt use of his North Korean-trained 5th Brigade to wipe out thousands of Ndebele minorities rebelling in the southwest corner of Zimbabwe - an act many refer to as genocide. The uprising of the Ndebele and their subsequent slaughter can be likened to the Iraqi crackdown on southern Shiite Muslims following the first Gulf War in 1991.

Press restrictions implemented by Mugabe after what Western officials say was a staged re-election last year put Zimbabwe on par with Iraq, North Korea and Iran. Following last month's strikes, foreign media and human rights groups, though tightly monitored by the regime, filed reports of broken limbs, sexual assault and electric torture at a rate that should set off international alarm. Mugabe's land-reform program has rendered what was once a surplus provider of maize into a welfare state largely dependent on government-distributed international food aid. Opposition groups charge that their members are denied food because of their refusal to support the regime.

While Zimbabwe's suspension from the British Commonwealth and the current travel ban on top Zimbabwean officials are a step in the right direction, little has been done to stop the ongoing violence.

As the U.S.-led coalition moves forward to liberate the Iraqi people, let us not forget President Bush's recent reprimand of the U.N. for its failure to take action in places like Bosnia and Rwanda. If the fire in Zimbabwe is allowed to continue to burn unattended, it is the international community that may once again be consumed.

Robert Nolan, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Zimbabwe, is the online editor at the Foreign Policy Association.

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US Slams Poor Rights Records in Region

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

April 3, 2003
Posted to the web April 3, 2003

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Johannesburg - The human rights records of five governments in Southern
Africa during 2002 were described as "poor" by the US Department of State in
its annual reports.

In Zimbabwe, "President [Robert] Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party used
intimidation and violence to maintain political power. A
government-sanctioned, systematic campaign of violence targeting supporters
and potential supporters of the opposition began in late 2001 and
intensified during the year ... security forces committed extrajudicial
killings," a 37-page report on Zimbabwe charged.

Ruling party supporters and war veterans, which the US called "an extralegal
militia", had "with material support from the government, expanded their
occupation of commercial farms and killed, abducted, tortured, beat, abused,
raped and threatened farm owners, their workers, opposition party members
and others believed to be sympathetic to the opposition," the report found.

The State Department said various civil liberties were infringed and
freedoms of speech and the press were circumscribed by "restrictive laws".
The report also pointed to the internal displacement of former commercial
farm workers "due to the ongoing land resettlement policies", adding that
"tens of thousands of opposition supporters were displaced by threats of

Abuse of women and children continued and "the president and his government
encouraged widespread resentment of the white minority". The report also
noted anecdotal reports of trafficking of people.

Included among governments with a rights record deemed poor was Zambia.
"Although there were some improvements in a few areas, serious problems
remained," the State Department said.

The report on Zambia said police officers had committed several unlawful
killings and "frequently beat and otherwise abused criminal suspects and
detainees". While some officers were arrested, "most officers who committed
such abuses did so with impunity".

Zambia's police force lacked professionalism, investigative skill and

Meanwhile, prison conditions were "harsh and life-threatening". "Arbitrary
arrests, prolonged detention and long delays in trials were problems [and]
the police infringed on citizens' privacy rights," the report noted.

There were reports that the government "at times sought to restrict press

As with Zimbabwe, violence against women remained widespread and they
"continued to experience discrimination in both law and fact, including the
denial of widows' inheritance rights," the State Department added.

Angola was another country where the government's human rights record was
said to be problematic. The State Department charged that the government
"continued to commit serious abuses" during 2002. The country celebrates its
first anniversary of the ceasefire agreement which ended its 27-year civil
war on Friday, 4 April.

The Angola report noted that "citizens have no effective means to change
their government" and that "members of the security forces committed
extrajudicial killings, were responsible for disappearances and tortured,
beat, raped and otherwise abused" people in that country.

Following the signing of the ceasefire agreement with former rebel group
UNITA, "the army ceased to be the major human rights offender outside of
[the disputed] Cabinda province", where separatist rebels have been waging
an armed struggle since Angola's independence.

UNITA were responsible for killings, disappearances, torture, rape and other
abuses until the effective cessation of hostilities in February 2002, after
the death of its leader Jonas Savimbi, the report said.

But the police force assumed the mantle of "worst offender" and prison
conditions remained "harsh and life-threatening".

"The government routinely used arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy
pre-trial detention was a problem. Where it did function, the judiciary was
subject to the influence of the president, the ruling MPLA party, or anyone
able to offer bribes in exchange for favourable rulings," the report

The government continued to limit independent investigations of human rights
abuses but did allow peaceful public protest and opposition party meetings,
the State Department noted.

The tiny kingdom of Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as absolute
monarch, was among the countries whose governments "continued to commit
serious abuses", this report observed.

Noting that Swazis were unable to change their government peacefully, the
State Department added that "the government interfered with the judiciary
and infringed on citizens' privacy rights ... restricted freedom of assembly
and association and prohibited political activity".

The report on Swaziland also noted that freedom of the press was limited and
that "legal and cultural discrimination and violence against women, as well
as abuse of children, remained problems".

In Mozambique, the government's rights record improved in some areas but
still remained poor.

"Police continued to commit numerous abuses, including unlawful killings ...
beat persons in custody, and abused prostitutes and street children."
Citizens' rights were restricted and the judiciary was "inefficient,
understaffed and under-funded ... dominated by the executive and subject to

The report also commented that "unlike in the previous year, there were no
confirmed reports that women or children were trafficked to South Africa or
Swaziland for prostitution".

The US State Department said South Africa, Madagascar, Botswana, Namibia,
Comoros, Malawi and Lesotho generally respected the human rights of their
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      03 Apr 2003 13:53:05 GMT
      Zimbabwe opposition wants crackdown condemned


By Stella Mapenzauswa

HARARE, April 3 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition urged southern
African ministers meeting in Harare on Thursday to condemn President Robert
Mugabe's crackdown on opposition supporters since protests against his rule
last month.

Zimbabwe's crisis was on the agenda as foreign ministers from the 14-member
Southern African Development Community (SADC) began talks on security issues
in the Zimbabwean capital.

"SADC ministers cannot ignore the current reign of terror against innocent
civilians that has been sanctioned and encouraged by Mugabe himself," the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said in a statement.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, currently on trial on charges of plotting to
kill Mugabe, accused the president on Wednesday of trying to sow the seeds
of civil war and warned other southern African nations it could affect the
whole region.

The opposition says authorities stepped up their crackdown by arresting and
charging MDC vice president Gibson Sibanda with plotting to overthrow the

Sibanda was arrested on Monday over his role in the staging of a two-day
strike last month that turned into one of the biggest protests in recent
years against Mugabe's 23-year rule.

The MDC has accused the army and supporters of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party
of intensifying a campaign in which hundreds of opposition backers have been
detained or assaulted since the strike. Authorities deny allegations of

Western governments have condemned the crackdown, in which the MDC says over
500 people have been arrested, 250 taken to hospital and scores beaten and
tortured while in police custody.

Police say they arrested scores of people in connection with violence during
last month's strike, but deny allegations of torture. The army has also
denied that its members are involved.

Mugabe, 79, won re-election in polls last March deemed fraudulent by both
the MDC and some Western governments.

The MDC and Western countries say fellow African leaders, mainly South
African President Thabo Mbeki, have turned a blind eye to Mugabe's alleged
human rights abuses.

Mugabe says the MDC is a puppet of the West, which he says wants to oust him
in retaliation for his seizure of white-owned commercial farms to give to
landless blacks.

He denies that his land grab is to blame for food shortages affecting half
of Zimbabwe's 14 million people, or that he has mismanaged an economy beset
by fuel and foreign currency woes
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            Sacob demands more pressure on Zimbabwe
            April 03, 2003, 17:15

            African governments must exert more pressure on Zimbabwe to
solve that country's political and economic problems, the South African
Chamber of Business (Sacob) said today.

            "We believe Zimbabwe is a prime example of what should not
happen in Africa," Marius Louw, the Sacob spokesperson told reporters in
Johannesburg. He said governments on the continent had not put enough
pressure on the Zimbabwean government to solve its internal problems, and
this "soft approach" would impact negatively on the promotion of the New
Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad).

            "Others have questioned the functionality and relevance of an
African peer review system, and whether it will work given the soft approach
toward Zimbabwe," he said. Louw said growing concern about Zimbabwe's
internal crisis affected southern Africa, the entire continent, and raised
questions about the commitment of continent's leaders to adhere to Nepad's
fundamental principles.

            Supporters of the Zimbabwean government have reportedly been
seen beating political opponents with impunity. President Robert Mugabe's
land reform programme has been described as chaotic. "We hope that the
situation will be resolved there (Zimbabwe) quickly," Louw said.

            James Lennox, the Sacob chief executive officer, said there was
intense lobbying in the US against Swaziland, which, like Zimbabwe, had been
accused of not upholding the rule of law. The Swazi government, already
under pressure to accelerate political reform, has been accused of defying
the country's Appeal Court and this has led to a judicial crisis there.
Lennox said bad perceptions about southern Africa made it impossible for
investors to do business in the region. - Sapa
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MDC Press – 3 April, 2003
SADC Ministers Urged Not To Turn A Blind Eye To The Crisis In Zimbabwe

SADC Ministers, meeting in Harare today under the auspices of the 'Ministerial Committee of the SADC Organ of Politics, Defence and Security', must not waste this crucial opportunity to unequivocally condemn the inhumane behaviour of the Mugabe regime.

As SADC Ministers began to arrive in Zimbabwe yesterday, Gibson Sibanda, the Vice President of the MDC and Leader of the Opposition in the Zimbabwe Parliament, appeared in a court in Bulawayo after being held in custody for 48 hours. The authorities claim that Sibanda's alleged involvement in the successful stay away of 18/19 March contravened Section 5 of the draconian Public Order and Security Act, a piece of legislation that is an affront to basic civil liberties. Hon Sibanda is still being held in prison and is scheduled to appear before a magistrate at 2.00pm today.

The arrest of Sibanda and many others is an intrinsical part of the current brutal crackdown on the MDC by the authorities. Since the stay away and since the people of Zimbabwe submitted 15 modest and reasonable demands to the regime, through the MDC, over 500 people have been arrested, 250 hospitalised and scores beaten and tortured whilst in police custody.  

 "SADC Ministers cannot ignore the current reign of terror against innocent civilians that has been sanctioned and encouraged by Mugabe himself. No one can deny the brutality and the scale of the crimes that are being committed here. To turn a blind eye, for the purposes of multilateral cohesion, would be a distinct abdication of moral responsibility," said MDC Spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi

 Nyathi also expressed his concern and disbelief that Zimbabwe was not even on the official agenda for the meeting, "Given that the meeting is taking place in our country amidst the background of an unprecedented political and humanitarian crisis, the omission of Zimbabwe from the official agenda is bewildering and deeply disappointing. SADC Ministers are sending a confusing signal to the suffering people of Zimbabwe, who, given their desperate needs, are looking to SADC for support. 

 As Zimbabwe is not on the official agenda, then SADC Ministers must at least use the opportunity of their visit to collectively convey robust condemnation of the human rights abuses currently being perpetrated by the Mugabe regime. Silence on the issue would be a gross betrayal of the people of Zimbabwe in their hour of need".

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Washington File
      03 April 2003
      U.S. Scholar Asks What Went Wrong with Democracy in Africa
(Prof. Richard Joseph cites problems that retard democracy on
continent) (1060)
By Kelly Machinchick
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- When considering Africa's political and economic
situations, with conflict, oppression, corruption and poverty running
rampant and no immediate solutions in view, the question that often
comes to mind is: "What went wrong?"

Richard Joseph, a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National
Endowment for Democracy (NED), raised that question and provided some
answers in an April 1 presentation titled, "Democratic Development and
the African Predicament" at the NED-sponsored International Forum for
Democratic Studies. Joseph is also the John Evans Professor of
Political Science at Northwestern University.

According to Joseph, Africa faces a "calamitous predicament" and
"tough-minded analysis" of the situation and "determined but
principled policy" are needed if the continent is to have any hope of
solving what plagues it the most: corruption, poverty, violence,
authoritarian regimes, and disease.

Africa's attempt at democracy can be summed up with a metaphor: that
of a pond, said the professor. After the late 1980s, "autocratic
leaders tiptoed toward the clearer pond of democracy. A dozen years
later, a handful have made their way to the center of the pond, where
their countries are universally regarded as being governed in
transparent, accountable, and enlightened ways. As one moves from the
center to the banks of this pond, the water grows murkier." Close to
the banks, in the cloudy waters, away from transparent democracy, is
where most African countries are situated.

"There is no single wave moving these varieties of non-democratic
governments, however categorized, toward the center of the pond. There
is really a diverse set of currents that these regimes usually seek to
manipulate to their advantage to remain close to the familiar banks,"
he continued. "The leaders and their reconfigured regimes
dominate...and assiduously seek to protect themselves through
chicanery and force from removal via elections."

Some of these leaders are removed, others retire, but some continue to
hold power, like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, he said, "compressing his
country's vitality in a death grip."

Those that suffer from such tyranny, Joseph said, are the citizens of
these countries, living in fear and harsh circumstances. "An immense
price is being paid by the people of Africa for the ruthless survival
strategies of post-Cold War regimes: whether old, as in Guinea;
relatively new, as in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan; and new versions
of the old, as in the Republic of Congo."

Many African nations hover near the brink of ruin as two types of AIDS
wreak havoc on society. The first is the all-too-familiar pandemic,
HIV/AIDS that afflicts some 30 million people in sub-Saharan Africa
and is seriously undermining all aspects of African society. The
second "AIDS" is an economic-political form, according to Joseph, the
"African Institutional Deficiency Syndrome." Alone, each is
debilitating. Combined, they are utterly devastating to society.

Despite the challenges Africans face, their desire for democracy still
exists, he reassured the audience.

But Africa poses a dilemma for concerned foreign governments, who
frequently receive appeals for assistance coupled with demands that
they respect African rights, African leadership, African peer review,
and African responsibility, said Joseph.

With 28 sub-Saharan African regimes classified as authoritarian in
nature, millions of people are suffering under heavy-handed dictators
and that is a situation many developed nations consider unacceptable.
Complicating the already precarious situation on the continent is the
more frequent intervention from external forces due to
counter-terrorism campaigns, he said.

Also, the situation baffles aid workers and nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs) that offer food and assistance to countries in
need. "Often they are reduced to echoing the slogans emitting from the
conclaves of African presidents that include such paragons of
democracy, human rights, and conflict resolution as Muammar Qadhafi of
Libya and others. The leaders of these conclaves have even called for
lifting rather than tightening sanctions on a Mugabe government that
is systematically destroying its own country."

Democracy in Africa is stuck, he asserted, and there is little real
commitment toward moving in that [democracy] direction from the
region's present regimes. Scholars, he said, estimate that only a
third of sub-Saharan Africa's 48 states are "sufficiently free, fair,
and competitive" to meet democratic standards, and usually only five
countries are considered liberal democracies.

Joseph has no doubt that for Africa to achieve political democracy it
must also develop liberal economic systems that are "inherently
democratic." Economic democracy and a better sense of social equality
are just as important as political democracy, he said.

In using Mauritius as an example, he said, "Social and economic
democracy was as much a component of Mauritius' democratic development
as competitive electoral politics." Unfortunately, though, there are
"remarkably few governments on continental Africa that have provided
their people steadily improved social services. In fact, the opposite
is usually the case."

As such, there are no easy solutions to Africa's "intractable
predicament," which Joseph defined as a set of mutually reinforcing
crises including poverty, misrule, violent conflict, and humanitarian
disasters that play off each other in "ever tightening cycles" of
political, economic, and social regression. Weak states, of which
there are many in the region, perpetuate the cycle and must be made
viable for progress to be made.

However, one of the easiest ways in which the developed world can help
Africa is "to attract back to African studies our sharpest minds," he
said. But until African leaders choose to make strides toward
democracy, the pattern of "catastrophic governance" will continue

Despite Joseph's pessimism, the U.S. Department of State in its annual
Human Rights Report, published this week, cited several positive
trends in Africa:

-- After 27 years, peace came to Angola in February. The former UNITA
rebel movement has disarmed and is transitioning into an unarmed
political party; and the government -- working with the opposition --
is beginning to move the country toward new elections. The massive
human rights violations of the civil war have come to an end.

-- Kenya held free elections in December and power was peaceably
transferred from a long-standing government to an opposition

-- Madagascar overcame a political crisis affecting the country for
the first half of 2002 to hold successful legislative elections.

-- Ethiopia and Eritrea have exchanged the last of their prisoners of
war (POWs).

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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SADC Security Organ Meets

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

April 3, 2003
Posted to the web April 3, 2003


The foreign ministers of several Southern African Development Community
(SADC) countries gathered in Zimbabwe on Thursday to attend a ministerial
committee meeting of the SADC Organ on Defence and Security.

A statement from South Africa's Department of Foreign Affairs said that
among the issues to be discussed was a review of international developments
and their impact on the SADC region.

The ministers would also evaluate relations between SADC and cooperating
partners, with particular reference to the US Agency for International
Development (USAID) and the European Union (EU).

USAID and the EU have contributed to alleviating the southern African
humanitarian crisis, which has severely affected millions of people in
Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) this week issued
statements urging SADC ministers "not to turn a blind eye to the crisis" in
the country and warned that the recent police and military crackdown on
participants in a two-day anti-government stayaway were creating the
conditions for civil war.

Gibson Sibanda, the MDC vice-president arrested earlier this week, did not
obtain bail at a hearing on Thursday afternoon and was told he would have to
remain in custody until his hearing on Monday. Sibanda was charged under
Section 5 of the Public Order and Security Act for his part in organising
the 18 and 19 March stayaway. The MDC said that at least 500 of its members
were arrested during the protest.
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Letters to Zim Gateway..........

What the people think about the soldiers

I think you will find that the people are prepared to support the army when they do not fear it. In Zimbabwe we fear the army. They are the enemy at Mugabe's beck and call deployed to wreak ZanuPF's revenge in Matabeleland, the high density areas and wherever else they are needed.

It takes a very sick mind to turn the armed forces on a defenceless population. The question is whether we can accept that the forces are "following orders" when they rape, maim and murder or whether their baser instincts have taken control, effectively turning them into animals.

I would like to think that our soldiers are well trained enough to have a reasonable grasp of issues such as human rights. In light of this, it seems that our forces are knowingly breaking the law and as such must pay the price. Ordinary Zimbabweans' ambivalence towards them is the best they should expect; outright hatred is what they deserve.


Not that I am defending their actions which have become unacceptable in some cases the army has not received much support from the people it serves, the public. Do we remember the war in Mozambique, how about Angola, and most recently DRC? Were their purposes as soldiers not to liberate people just like the Allied forces are doing in the middle east. Did we give them the same support that we see being offered to troops by the West today? Do we even recognise the veterans (not the ones causing havoc) that have come out of these situations?

Soldiers do not formulate policies but they take orders as they come. They don't expect people to blame them for fighting a war when they never had a choice in the first place. They expect to be compensated for their effort at the end of their assignments just like the rest of the world does. They don't expect to be taken for granted and they always take orders from the top.

What have we done to our soldiers?


It is scandalous that the head of the armed forces is an outspoken supporter of RGM and his political party. The armed forces and the police should be apolitical, if they are not then large sections of society will not respect them.

Combining the three armies so successfully was an admirable achievement but the corruption we now witness has ruined it.


Mugabe and his supporters must start to pay the price their crimes against humanity

We the people of Zimbabwe need to put an end to this abomination called Mugabe. He likens himself to 10 Hitler's, although I believe Hitler was a civilised gentleman in comparison to Mugabe and the animals that support him.

I have had enough. Those who support ZanuPF do it in the full knowledge that they are supporting, aiding and abetting murder, torture and dehumanisation of their fellow citizens. In light of this knowledge we need to accept that the days of warning ZanuPF of the consequences of their actions are over. They have been given enough chances and opportunities to cease and desist. They have ignored them and must now be made to pay the price.

I urge Zimbabweans to start exacting that price. Being a ZanuPF supporter must become very, very expensive.


Keep up the mass action

I’m absolutely disgusted by the events unfolding in Zimbabwe. I never thought such a disaster would befall our beautiful country. I can’t believe that President Mugabe would do this to his own people.

Every day I read the paper and I’m surprised. Does Mugabe really think he is going to rule forever? I believe his days are numbered. There is nobody who likes what is going on except the very few people who think Mugabe is immortal.

The mass action in the form of the job stayaway was very effective. I think it’s important for people to keep taking such action. There cannot be any results without action. I think Mugabe and his followers are deeply disturbed people.

I believe that people should not be afraid to protest openly.

Mugabe should be stopped now – he has done enough damage to our lovely country.

Teresa Kavenga – USA

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