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Harare issues 24-hr ultimatum to private firms over strike

Zim Online

Thursday 05 April 2007

By Thabani Mlilo

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's government has given private firms closed
during a national strike this week 24 hours to explain why they did not open
for business or face unspecified punishment.

Industry Minister Obert Mpofu said his department was compiling a list of
what he said were "mostly white-owned companies that chose to side with
organisers of the stayaway" by shutting down during the job boycott called
by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to protest worsening economic
hardships in the country.

Mpofu said: "Indeed we are still receiving reports of the companies that
chose to side with the organisers of the stay away and we are going to deal
with them accordingly. In fact, we have given them 24-hour directives to
submit their reasons for failing to open for business.

"To suggest that these mostly white owned companies have the welfare of the
workers at heart would be dishonest as they are the same people who hike
prices wily nilly. We have taken enough of this misbehaviour and this is the
last time they will do such a thing."

It was not possible to get an immediate response from the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries and the Zimbabwe Chamber of Commerce that represent
business in the country on Mpofu's threats to penalize companies for closing
shop during the Tuesday to Wednesday strike.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions (ZCTU) called the strike to pressure
President Robert Mugabe's government to act to end an economic crisis
gripping the country for the past eight years and which has seen inflation
soaring to nearly 2 000 percent, rising poverty, unemployment and severe
shortages of food.

But the job boycott largely flopped as workers turned up for work and
businesses opened although analysts attributed this to fear of a government
backlash, a few weeks after police brutally assaulted opposition leaders for
trying to organise anti-President Robert Mugabe protests.

State secret service agents reportedly also patrolled city shopping malls
and industrial sites threatening factory managers and shop owners their
licences would be withdrawn if they allowed their workers to take part in
the strike.

But a few shops and factories still closed or were operating at well below
capacity either because they feared if they opened their property could be
destroyed by anti-government protesters or simply because their workers did
not report for duty.

Any attempt by Mugabe's government to withdraw licences from companies to
punish them for not opening during the strike period could be the last nail
in the coffin of Zimbabwe's industrial sector already on its knees weighed
down by shortages of raw materials, machine parts, fuel, electricity and
hard cash.

Forcing companies to close would also see thousands of workers thrown into
the streets in a country where unemployment is at 80 percent. - ZimOnline

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Army helicopter gunships patrol skies in show of force

Zim Online

Thursday 05 April 2007

By Nqobizitha Khumalo and Hendricks Chizhanje

HARARE - Army helicopter gunships on Wednesday patrolled the skies and armed
police roamed the streets in Harare's impoverished suburbs in a triumphant
show of force by security forces after stifling a two-day strike called by
labour unions on Tuesday.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions (ZCTU) called the strike to pressure
President Robert Mugabe's government to act to end an economic crisis
gripping the country for the past eight years and which has seen inflation
soaring to nearly 2 000 percent, rising poverty, unemployment and severe
shortages of food.

But the job boycott largely flopped as workers turned up for work and
businesses opened although analysts attributed this to fear of a government
backlash, a few weeks after police brutally assaulted opposition leaders for
trying to organise anti-President Robert Mugabe protests.

And the government stepped its massive display of force on Wednesday, the
second and last day of the strike.

Several residents interviewed by ZimOnline in the working class suburbs of
Budiriro, Glen View, Glen Norah and Highfield said they were awakened in the
early hours of the morning by the roaring sounds of army and police
helicopters flying low above their homes.

"We were awoken by the noise from the helicopter. It was scary, it reminded
me of the troubled days during the liberation war," said Jameson Musodzi
from Budiriro.

The elderly looking Musodzi was referring to the brutal 1970s war of
independence when white leader Ian Smith's army would often send helicopter
gunships bombing villagers it suspected of backing freedom fighters led by
Mugabe and the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo.

In the suburbs police took positions at shopping centres, public beer halls
and other social gathering places telling workers to stay out of trouble by
going to work.

In the city centre, armed police stationed at nearly every street corner
continued on the lookout and ready to break up gatherings of more than five
people, in a clear warning to the ZCTU that street protests or marches would
not be tolerated.

Police also maintained roadblocks they mounted on Monday on all major roads
leading into the capital's central business district.

Government newspapers, radio and television defended the heavy deployment of
soldiers and police as necessary to restore law and order in the southern
African nation which has been rocked by a series of strikes in recent months
over deteriorating economic and living conditions.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said police had by late Wednesday
afternoon not arrested anyone for any illegal activities linked to the
strike although the law enforcement agency arrested people on Tuesday for
allegedly barricading roads and stoning buses in Dzivarasekwa and Budiriro
and some parts of Chitungwiza.

"The situation is very calm," Bvudzijena declared confidently.

Meanwhile, the ZCTU said it was happy with the results of the two-day strike
and said despite widespread intimidation by security forces it planned to
call more strikes in the coming months.

Union spokesperson Khumbulani Ndlovu said: "Reports are still trickling in
of the intimidation workers and our members but this will not deter the ZCTU
from planning more mass stayaways. The ZCTU general council resolved to
engage in mass action every three months and we will continue doing that."

Ndlovu however said the ZCTU would revise its strategy to ensure that future
stayaways would have more impact.

Mugabe accuses the ZCTU of working in cahoots with his Western enemies and
of using genuine worker grievances as pretext to instigate Zimbabweans to
revolt and overthrow his government.

The ZCTU, the largest union in the country, denies plotting Mugabe's ouster
but says it holds him responsible for ruining Zimbabwe's once brilliant
economy and plunging millions of workers into unprecedented poverty and
misery. - ZimOnline

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MDC officials in South Africa for talks with ANC officials

Zim Online

Thursday 05 April 2007

By Patricia Mpofu

HARARE - The general secretaries of Zimbabwe's fractured opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party are in South Africa for talks with
officials of the ruling African National Congress party whose President
Thabo Mbeki is seeking ways to end Harare's political crisis.

Tendai Biti secretary general of the larger faction of the MDC led by Morgan
Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube of the other wing of the opposition party led
by academic Arthur Mutambara arrived in South Africa on Tuesday for
follow-up discussions held with South African officials three weeks ago.

A spokesman for the Mutambara faction of the MDC professed ignorance of
Ncube's whereabouts but Nelson Chamisa, spokesman of the Tsvangirai-led MDC
confirmed Biti was "in South Africa on pressing party business."

The ANC meeting with Biti and Ncube three weeks ago came before last week's
emergency summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit
that appointed Mbeki to mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis.

In an interview with the London-based Financial Times, Mbeki confirmed the
ANC had held talks with both MDC officials in a bid to broker a solution to
Zimbabwe's long-running political and economic crisis.

"We have already been in contact with both the opposition and ZANU PF. Last
Friday the secretary generals of the factions of the MDC came and had a long
discussion with our people about their view about what needs to happen,"
said Mbeki in the interview published on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe, rated the worst economic performer in Africa in a United Nations
report released this week, is in the grip of an economic crisis that has
seen inflation shooting to nearly 2 000 percent, rising poverty and food

The economic crisis is fuelling public discontent against President Robert
Mugabe's government which has resorted to repressive tactics to retain

MDC insiders say the opposition party that split over tactics to topple
Mugabe's government is agreed on how to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis.

Biti and Ncube were expected to submit a final document to the ANC
secretariat proposing an all stakeholders conference to chart the drafting
of new and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe that would guarantee free
and fair elections. - ZimOnline

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Five MDC supporters tortured in Bulawayo

Zim Online

Thursday 05 April 2007

      By Brian Ncube

      BULAWAYO - Five opposition supporters from Zimbabwe's second city of
Bulawayo were last weekend seriously tortured by suspected state agents as
the government continued its crackdown on the opposition.

      The state agents accused the five of being part of a group of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party supporters who
barricaded the main railway line and tried to set fire to a train in
Bulawayo last month.

      The five, Gift Moyo, 24, Sibangalizwe Siwela, 24, Talent Dube, 19,
Gift Ndlovu, 19, Mluleki Ncube, 27, said they were tortured by Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents and later dumped at a farm in
Figtree, about 30km south of Bulawayo.

      "We were arrested by uniformed police officers at a bar in Siziba
suburb on Friday afternoon with the police accusing us of being part of a
group of MDC supporters who barricaded the main railway line in the city.

      "They detained us overnight and later handed us over to CIO agents the
following day who promised not to harm us as long as we co-operated with
them," said one of the five.

      The Bulawayo residents said the state agents demanded to know the MDC
officials who had sent them to block the railway line as well as how much
they were paid for their "acts of terrorism".

      "When we told them that we were neither members of the MDC nor part of
the group that they were talking about, they began beating us with planks,
sjamboks and baton sticks under our feet and all over our bodies.

      "They also ordered us to remove our clothes and began torturing us
with electricity on our genitals, saying we did not want to co-operate," he

      The five said they were later dumped at a farm in Figtree on Monday.

      Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the arrest of the five
but denied that they were tortured.

      "We did arrest them and released them the following day. If they were
tortured they should make a formal report to their nearest police station
and we will investigate," said Bvudzijena.

      Political tensions are on the rise in Zimbabwe following the brutal
torture of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and several other leaders while in
police custody last month.

      Several other MDC activists have since been tortured by state agents
as part of a crackdown by the government against the opposition party.

      President Robert Mugabe, under fire over the torture of Tsvangirai,
has however defended the crackdown telling his supporters that he would
again bash opposition leaders who challenged his rule. - ZimOnline

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Terror squads unleashed to eliminate opposition

The Zimbabwean

The Zimbabwean has received numerous reports in the past few days all
pointing to a grand plan being drawn up by the Mugabe regime to annihilate
any opposition ahead of next year's elections.
This includes opposition within the hitherto closed ranks of the ruling
party itself, where vice president Joice Mujuru and minister of rural
housing Emerson Mnangagwa recently made the big mistake of openly
challenging the president.
The reports vary from crudely fabricated documents (see Death list, P 2) to
the chilling eyewitness account of police uniforms being dished out to
dozens of youths, deployed in gangs of 20, at Kuwadzana Hall, near Harare on
The two-fold objective of the plan, which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
described as reminiscent of Ceaucescu, the assassinated president of
Romania, is to unleash hit squads to cripple all opposition, including the
independent media, and to strike fear into the hearts of political opponents
and independent journalists.
"That's the mark of a dictator; that's how he deals with his political
opponents," said
Having bamboozled the central committee into endorsing his sole candidacy
for the presidential elections next year, Mugabe is determined to win, no
matter what.  Aware that he will have to allow some observers, at least from
SADC, to observe the elections, Mugabe is bent on terrorising the population
into submission well in advance.  He knows observers only take into
consideration the period immediately preceeding the elections when looking
at violence and intimidation.
He has unleashed the full force of the Zanu (PF) youth league (see Youth
will secure victory, P2) on the populace, publicly giving them permission to
'destroy' the opposition.
With rampant inflation, 80% unemployment and a progressive collapse of the
education system over the past decade, Zimbabwe's bored, ill-educated and
hungry youths are ripe for recruitment into the militia, where food, drugs,
alcohol and girls are routinely provided.
Numerous sources have reported elaborate plans being drawn up by the party,
the police, the CIO and some elements in the army. The main element of the
plan is the expansion of the dreaded youth militia, who have successfully
terrorised the rural population since 2000, and made them no-go areas for
the MDC.
The past few weeks has seen the militia move into the urban areas in full
force, where they have abducted, tortured or beaten to a pulp many
high-profile opposition activists and hundreds of ordinary citizens. An
eyewitness report from a high-density suburb of Harare said men, women and
children had been beaten at random and made to sweep the road with their
bare hands by police and soldiers.
The thugs seldom kill their victims, but a few bodies have been found
including that of former ZBC employee, Edward Chikomba, which was found near
Darwendale earlier this week after he was kidnapped from his home in Harare.
"It was common in Latin America and Asian countries where there was a
dictator," said John Makumbe, University of Zimbabwe political science
lecturer. "In Africa, Idi Amin used hit squads against opponents and former
Malawi leader Kamuzi Banda used the 'young pioneers' to terrorise and
eliminate his opponents," Makumbe said. "We are already taking that
route." - Own correspondents

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Johannesburg Hospital Tightens Security to Protect Zimbabwean Activists


      By Carole Gombakomba
      04 April 2007

The hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, where three senior officials of
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change are being treated for
injuries sustained while in police custody last month have tightened
security following an apparent attempt late last month to abduct one of

Sekai Holland, secretary for policy and research for the MDC faction led by
Morgan Tsvangirai, told VOA that unidentified men came to Milpark Hospital
on March 25 and said they were there to relocate Grace Kwinjeh, the
faction's deputy secretary for international relations. Kwinjeh has been
operated upon for a brain contusion and a split ear lobe resulting from a
beating received while in police custody.

Both women are also receiving treatment for extensive and multiple soft
tissue injuries to the back, shoulders, arms, buttocks and thighs, MDC
sources said. Tsvangirai's spokesman,  William Bango, is also receiving
treatment at the hospital.

Holland, who has undergone extensive surgery on a broken arm and leg, told
reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the
opposition faction and hospital authorities remain concerned about possible
threats to their safety.

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Crisis? What crisis? - article and comments

The Guardian

Now that the international media circus is moving on, it's time to step back
and a take longer look at the reality of events in Zimbabwe.

David Beresford

April 4, 2007 8:30 PM
Some years ago I was detained in Zimbabwe by mistake. A security policeman
ordered the arrest of three of us journalists and our pilot as we were
tanking up our small plane at Harare, on a flight from northern Mozambique
to Johannesburg. After a night in a police holding cell I was taken to see
the police commissioner who said he had a problem: the security man who had
ordered our arrest had gone on holiday, so he had not been able to find out
why we had been detained. "But you must have done something," he said with
all apparent seriousness. "You're in prison, aren't you?"

Another journalist who seemingly had a similar experience this week was Time
magazine's southern Africa correspondent, Alexander Perry, who after four
days in prison for operating without accreditation, was fined less than one
US dollar. This after stories had circulated among the Johannesburg press
corps about dire punishment awaiting those hacks caught operating in
Zimbabwe without accreditation - 20 years in the notorious Chikurubi prison
was one penalty mentioned.

Without wishing to detract from Perry's ordeal - four nights in a cell, not
knowing what the future holds could not have been fun - it does bring home
the realisation that in Zimbabwe one is dealing with a something of a
Ruritania. Is it not time to take a step back and a longer look at the
Zimbabwe issue?

For instance, is Zimbabwe in a state of crisis, "spiralling out of control"
as is asserted in virtually every newspaper article spinning around the
world via the net? Not, it seems, in the mind of President Robert Mugabe who
is today reported to be visiting the far east.

Is there evidence of a spontaneous popular uprising in the making? Evidence
for it is limited to 10 petrol bombs thrown so far. And, according to the
leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, they were thrown by agents of
the Zimbabwean state security organ, the Central Intelligence Organisation,
trying to stir up trouble for his Movement for Democratic Change.

So why the "crisis"? Because opposition leaders were beaten up? Horrendous
behaviour to be sure, in what claims to be a democracy, but certainly, from
appearances, the main recipient of the beating, Tsvangirai - in Johannesburg
this week to see his doctor - looked set to get a clean bill of health.

What about that South African African Development Community (SADC) meeting
where, by some media accounts, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki was
tasked with getting Mugabe to stand aside. In an interview with the
Financial Times Mbeki said flatly:

  "We would not ever support any proposition about regime change. So that is
not an option for us, whatever other people might think in the rest of the

International news operates on a cyclical basis, whereby a story becomes
fashionable through what is frequently nothing more than a coincidence of
timing, the availability of television footage, or just some wishful
thinking on the part of correspondents.

Now that the international media circus is seemingly moving on again from
this part of the world, diplomats dealing with Zimbabwe , rather than
devoting their energy to persuading Mugabe standing down, might encourage
him to allow journalists access to the country to see for themselves what is
happening in the African Ruritania.




Comment No. 513360

April 4 20:44

How funny that Mbeki would reject utterly the idea of regime change... isn't
that exactly what the ANC stood for? But perhaps, as long as the regime in
question is a fellow African, then there's no real problem. Or perhaps,
Mbeki just doesn't want to set a precident for intervention, seeing as the
'new' South Africa is rapidly following Zimbabwe into chaos and misery.


Comment No. 513394

April 4 21:07

Oh well, that's a relief. Tsvangirai's recovered from his beating, so no
harm done. All's well. And Mbeki doesn't want to consider regime change, so
everything must be hunkydory.

Yes, no need for democracy and econonic reform and political freedom. All
the people of Zimbabwe rerally need is for foreign journalists to be allowed
back into the country. Might not do anything to alleviate the starvation
Mugabe's rule has caused, but - fingers crossed - it might mean one or two
other journos will end up with some deliciously amusing tales of illegal
detentions and one dollar fines. What larks!


Comment No. 513396

April 4 21:08

I think when people talk about crisis they mean things like an inflation of
1,700%, AIDS epidemic, mass starvation and no light at the end of the
tunnel. Lack of free and fair elections, people getting severely beaten up
with the acquiescence of the head of state and the South African president
saying thata there's no point in talking about regime change are not
necessarily the end of the world in this context.


Comment No. 513413

April 4 21:18

The weather's sunny in Zimbabwe, isn't it? Why then have 3 million
Zimbabweans decided to go on permanent holidays to South Africa and the UK?
Very odd. Perhaps there's a shortage of candyfloss and ice lollies at home.


Comment No. 513416

April 4 21:20

Yes I don agree with Dr. Jazz that we should put pressure on SA to get SADC
and or the African Union to solve their regional problem which is Zimbabwe,
but to suggest boycotting South Africa or question the legitimacy of the
South African government is a sick joke.
Yes Dr. Jazz, but No Dr. Jazz.

"Straighten up and fly right."


Comment No. 513436

April 4 21:36


Why, dare I ask, is it a 'sick joke' to critise the South African
government? The ruling party is corrupt and Marxist and has gleefully
presided over South Africa becoming both the rape and murder capital of the

In one province alone, over 1000 farmers have been murdered since 1994. To
put this into perspective, in over 30 years of operations in Ulster, the
British Army lost 850 men.

On average, very day, 50 people are murdered across the country. Again, to
put this into perspective, 132 British soldiers have been killed in four
years of operations in Irag (you know - the war you all so utterly
disapprove of because of all the casualties). That's about 2 and a half days
worth in South Africa.

I am sure that 20 years ago, the Liberal Left considered criticism of Mugabe
to be a 'sick joke' too... Will you lot ever learn from history?


Comment No. 513447

April 4 21:46

RhodesianRoyalist, your choice of Cif name really makes the point. The only
reason that the British media are obsessed by the activities of Bad Bob
Mugabe is that Zimbabwe was once controlled by white settlers, mostly of
British descent, and that he has stolen the land belonging to them (though,
of course, we might ask how they or their predecessors originally came by
the land in question.)
The British government decided in 1965 that it had no power to intervene
militarily in central Africa, and the white residents of what was then
Rhodesia decided to set up a racist state which they apparently thought
would last for ever. Whilst I can sympathise with the inhabitants of
Zimbabwe in their current distress, ruled by a violent and incompetant
regime, I cannot think that it is any more my personal concern than are the
situations existing in other, unfortunately, numerous, states throughout the
The British government was right in it's assessment of Britain's inability
to intervene fortytwo years ago. I cannot see what it is people are wanting
the South Africans to do. Send armoured columns to Harare to instal aruler
more acceptable to liberal western opinion? The only thing Ireally know
about Mr Morgan Tsvangirie is tha he is'nt Mr Robert Mugabe. A totally
insufficient reason for anyone to intervene in Zimbabwe on his behalf


Comment No. 513471

April 4 21:57

Wow, is this journalism? seems more like hack sociology to me, analyzing a
situation via media theory than actually paying attention to what is
happening in reality.

So there isn't a crisis in Zimbabwe? then why has my best Zimbabwean friend
been murdered by the government? why are my other friends writing me letters
every week pleading for any bit of help I can send?

what a farce.


Comment No. 513484

April 4 22:08


Just to correct a few points in your mail.

The British did not decide that they could not intervene in SubSaharan
Africa in 1965. The Labour Government of the time sent RAF squadrons to
Zambia with the thought of bombing the Rhodesians to the negotiating table.

Secondly, Rhodesia was not a 'racist regime', despite all the efforts of the
Liberal press in the UK to persuade you it was. Suffrage was based on
educational attainment and the ownership of property. Seems far more
sensible than the British system to me.

Thirdly, the South Africans did not need to send armoured columns into
Rhodesia to bring those wonderful days to a close. They simply turned off
the power. There is nothing stopping the present ANC government doing
exactly the same tomorrow.


Comment No. 513549

April 4 22:42

Rhodesianroyalist I think that you are probably under a few misapprehensins
I am considerably older than you possibly believe and also have had more
dealings than you may imagine with the white inhabitants of the state then
known as Rhodesia.
I would also lay claim to some insight into the situation as it seemed in
Britain at the time.
I think that you and I both know the true nature of the Rhodesian state.
Perhaps you could enlighten us as to the percentage of white Rhodesians
excluded from voting under the franchise system you describe. By the way as
you clearly supported a republic set up in defiance of the Crown, why do you
choose to call yourself RhodesianRoyalist, when you were (and seemingly
still are) a self -defined traitor to Her Majesty? is this apiece of subtle


Comment No. 513638

April 4 23:38


I am amazed by the following statement:

"Suffrage was based on educational attainment and the ownership of property.
Seems far more sensible than the British system to me."

More sensible than universal suffrage, perhaps?

The highly limited democratic system of colonial and post-colonial Rhodesia,
based as it was on property and educational qualifications, meant the
effective disenfranchisement of nearly the entire Black population - who
neither owned enough property to qualify, or had no property to qualify; and
who were most certainly disadvantaged to the point of disqualification by
the education system of the repellent settler polity that was Rhodesia.

Is this what you mean by a "more sensible [system] than the British system"?

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SWRA multiple frequencies

Dear  All
Please note that SW Radio Africa, in addition to its 4880 kHz frequency, is
now broadcasting on the following multiple frequencies in order to combat
the state -sponsored jamming of their broadcasts.  These frequencies were
monitored on 4/4/2007 and the comment column indicates the reception quality
for both small portable receivers and larger sets.
    Time (Local)        Frequency
    19:00 -21:00        11810 kHz
Extremely clear, good signal.
    19:00 -21:00        11775 kHz
Clear, some atmospherics

    19:00 -21:00       12035 kHz
Very clear good signal
    19:00 -20:00       15425 kHz
Very clear good signal
Listeners in Zimbabwe and surrounding regions are encouraged to listen in to
these frequencies currently under test, and to report their findings and
comments to this source for onward transmission to the station manager.

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Dare devil dictator

The Zimbabwean

John Makumbe
What a mess! What a disastrous mess we are all in right now. The spineless
SADC leaders failed completely to read our most hated dare devil dictator
the proverbial riot act. Worse still, they seem to have swallowed Mugabe's
worn out lies and rhetoric bait, hook and sinker.
The post-summit press statement by the SADC leaders confirms that they
believed Mugabe's deceitful claim that western democracies have imposed
economic sanctions, not just travel restrictions, against Zimbabwe, and that
this was the major cause of the country's economic problems. They obviously
have not read the Zimbabwe government's own reports that indicate that trade
between the southern African state and the USA increased by a respectable 9%
during 2006, for example.
But perhaps their worst sin was the appointment of South Africa's Thabo
Mbeki as the mediator in attempts to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis. South
Africa has had seven years of pursuing the impotent and ineffective quiet
diplomacy with Zimbabwe, that is seven years of failure to resolve the
It therefore does not make sense to appoint South Africa as mediator in the
debilitating crisis; all we will get is more of the same failure. Soon after
the demonic arrest, torture and detention of opposition party leaders,
Tanzania's Kikwete flew into Zimbabwe and grilled the dare devil dictator
for five solid hours. Why not appoint Kikwete the mediator in the Zimbabwe
Be that as it may, the only mediation that Thabo Mbeki can possibly attempt
in the next ten months is to persuade the dare devil dictator to engage in
some form of dialogue with opposition political parties and civil society,
including the churches, in Zimbabwe. Past experiences teach us that not much
joy can be expected from that exercise either.
Dialogue among the various groups in Zimbabwe should primarily aim at the
drafting of a democratic constitution for this nation before the 2008
elections are held. The likelihood of Mugabe agreeing to such a risky
undertaking, given his growing political insecurity, is next to nil.
Mugabe's nomination as Zanu (PF)'s sole candidate for the 2008 presidential
elections is likely to be challenged by disgruntled elements within his own
party in the next few weeks or months.
Priding himself in the art of intimidation, Mugabe last week mobilised both
the Youth and Women's Leagues in order to intimidate members of the Central
Committee who were meeting in Harare. This was probably the first time that
the dictator had ever mobilised wananchi against members of his own party in
order to secure nomination as an electoral candidate. It was depressing to
discover that none of the Central Committee members had the courage to
object to Mugabe's nomination, even though most of them are opposed to his
continued stranglehold on power.
Margaret Dongo once called these old men and old women "Mugabe's wives" and
she was spot on. Impeccable sources indicate that the Mujuru faction had
already amassed some seven out of the ten provinces against Mugabe's
re-nomination prior to the Central Committee meeting. The question
apparently still remained, "Who will bell the cat?"
Sadly, all these developments have now dragged Zimbabwe closer to the grim
prospect of a military intervention in order to get rid of the dare devil
dictator from office. Mugabe thinks that he outmanoeuvred his political
rivals in Zanu (PF), but I think all he did is set himself up as a perfect
target for our listless but poor military personnel. The next few weeks and
months should be exciting. Zanu (PF) is very likely to effect a resounding
regime change in Zimbabwe after all.

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Mbeki - a blot on the region

The Zimbabwean

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has joined the ranks of anti-Western nations
blocking resolutions in the United Nations Security Council on human rights
abuses in Burma, attempting (unsuccessfully) to scupper sanctions against
Iran over its nuclear programme, and blocking a debate on Zimbabwe,
according to Western diplomats.
As the current holder of the rotating chair of the UNSC, South Africa is now
being dubbed an "awkward" member, along with China and Russia, calling into
question its future stance on human rights.
As the silence resounds out across Africa over President Robert Mugabe's
recent actions in Zimbabwe, South Africa appears deaf to the pleas of the
international community to publicly voice its opposition to the atrocities.
South Africa has seen some three million Zimbabweans flood into the country
to escape the tyranny of Mugabe's regime, 80% unemployment, 1,729%
inflation, a HIV/Aids pandemic, famine, and the world's lowest life
expectancy - 34 for a woman and 37 for a man.
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has been consistent in his policy
towards Zimbabwe, choosing the 'silent diplomacy' route - a policy that has
achieved nothing, other than reinforce Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party and
encourage Mugabe viciously to repress Zimbabweans with total impunity.
It is also apparent that Mbeki has made no effort to encourage negotiations
and a compromise deal between  Zanu (PF) party and the union-backed,
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the official opposition in Zimbabwe.
As South Africa hosted "private" talks here recently between Zimbabwe's
deputy president, Joice Mujuru and her counterpart, Phumzile Mlambo-Ncguka,
it became clear that Mbeki's government remains stubbornly resistant to
endorsing the political status of the main opposition leader, Morgan
Some commentators argue that Mbeki is reluctant to give impetus to a
union-backed opposition party in Zimbabwe while he faces serious dissent and
criticism from his own party's alliance partner - the Congress of South
African Trade Unions (Cosatu) - who repeatedly has criticised Mbeki for his
support of Mugabe's regime.
Since coming to power, Mbeki has won the respect of the international
community because of his pro-capitalist policies. He has been expedient in
persuading the white community to redistribute its wealth. Appealing to a
disadvantaged electorate, Mbeki has played the race card and in so doing has
re-racialised the country.
Mugabe is admired in Africa for his vocal anti-Western views. The invasion
of Iraq by the United States and Britain further fuelled this anti-Western
sentiment in developing countries. South Africa cordially entertains
President George Bush of the US and cooperates on security matters, but
privately Mbeki shares the view among developing nations like Brazil, India,
Russia, that US dominance on the world stage must be counter-balanced and
made more equitable.
Is this fight with the West likely to bring reward to a country on the brink
of collapse? Lord Triesman, a Foreign Office minister told Sky News last
weekend that he was pessimistic about Zimbabwe's recovery. He said: "People
are talking about it melting down but I will be candid with you - I think
it's gone". He said he knew of no "single instance in history when an
economy with these total catastrophes has ever recovered."
President Mbeki's legacy, like Mugabe's, will no doubt leave a questionable
blot on the region.

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Where is Mujuru's power now?

The Zimbabwean

Letter from America

WASHINGTON - The Zanu (PF) central committee meeting was reported by
insiders as more of a circus than anything else. Fully aware of the
dissension within the party, two party officials, Elliott Manyika and
Saviour Kasukuwere, were tasked with mobilizing and engineering a process
that would ensure there was no discussion whatsoever on Mugabe's candidacy
for the presidential elections.
Apparently, Mugabe's cronies had been strategically seated in the meeting.
At a given signal, Manyika was to propose Mugabe as the sole candidate and,
instantaneously, the party faithful were to start singing and chanting
"Mugabe" loudly enough to drown any dissension. While this singing and
chanting was going on Mugabe was to acknowledge and march out to lunch.
It seems everything went as planned - Mugabe and his cronies stole the
elections from under the noses of the central committee. The meeting was
preceded by thugs savagely assaulting MDC supporters and reports that Mugabe
was recruiting mercenaries from Angola and forming a reserve army of war
Anyone opposed to his re-election bid was fully aware of the consequences.
This brutal show of military strength was Mugabe's message to both internal
and external opponents that he was prepared to go to any lengths to maintain
his position. His open boasting about how the police had assaulted
opposition supporters was a barbaric demonstration of what kind of a monster
he has become.
After inflating themselves with all kinds of boasts about their power and
influence, the Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions ended up melting at Mugabe's
feet like ice in the sun.
Whatever promises they may have made to the MDC in their Nicodemus meetings
proved to be hot air after Friday's debacle.
The lesson for the main MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai is they must review
their strategy. The MDC has consistently carried on strategies, like
participating in the elections, that have clearly not worked, given the
highly rigged electoral process.
It was a strategic error to base an entire campaign on insisting on
presidential elections in March 2008 rather than 2010. The dates of the
elections are meaningless without substantive electoral reform and a new
constitution. Mugabe's decision to allow for next year's elections instead
of 2010 was not difficult at all because all he needs to do now is to refine
and strengthen his rigging machinery.
It was, however, gratifying to note that MDC vice president, Thokozani
Khupe, spelt out in no uncertain terms that the struggle against Mugabe will
continue at full speed. Khupe said these words at the height of the savage
assault of MDC officials by Mugabe's thugs. Even the victims of Mugabe's
barbarism were equally forceful, namely, nothing short of death was going to
stop them from continuing their struggle.
Tsvangirai's statement that the MDC will not participate in the next
elections unless the environment for free and fair elections has been
guaranteed is significant and to be applauded. This point was echoed by NCA
president, Lovemore Madhuku, who said that a new constitution and elections
held under international supervision were a necessary precondition for

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Mbeki dismally uninformed

The Zimbabwean


Despite his spin, Mugabe did not have it all his way in Dar es Salaam last
week. The appointment of President Thabo Mbeki to mediate between Zanu (PF)
and MDC is a major improvement on the SADC leaders' previous effort, which
saw retired Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa appointed to mediate between
Mugabe and Tony Blair.
However, it is ominously significant that none of the leaders has
contradicted Mugabe's claims to jubilant Zanu (PF) supporters on his return
to Harare that "not one of the SADC leaders criticised me". Let's hope this
is simply a case of not kicking a man when he is down.
Our understanding of what took place at the meeting is that, for the first
time ever, there was a brisk exchange of views with most of the leaders
uniting to tell Mugabe that the current wave of state-sponsored violence was
totally unacceptable.
Apparently he gave them his word that he would reign in the perpetrators of
the past month's vicious crackdown. But nothing has changed.
The youth militia have been significantly emboldened by the issue of police
and army uniforms and weapons, and so fired up by their daily allowances of
Z$100,000 from the Reserve Bank, that there is no stopping them now.  Of
course, it could also be that Mugabe has simply reneged on this promise as
he has so often done in the past.
Surely the regional leaders should know by now just what kind of animal they
are dealing with now. Their abysmal lack of appreciation of just what is
going on in Zimbabwe is appalling.
For example, they still believe that Zimbabwe's problems are externally
engineered, as evidenced by their call for the West to end what they call
And as for Thabo Mbeki. We remain incredulous. His performance in the past
inspires no confidence whatsoever.
And our hearts sank even further when he was quoted this week as endorsing
Mugabe's illusion that the country is democratic. "That's why you have an
elected opposition. That is why it is possible for the opposition to run
municipal government (in Harare and Bulawayo)," said Mbeki.
For a man who has a huge embassy in Harare, together with many other sources
of information, including a relatively free press, Mbeki is dismally
Surely he must know that Mugabe fired the democratically elected MDC
councils in several cities years ago and appointed Zanu (PF) functionaries
to run them illegally - flouting court orders from his own judiciary.
Surely, the world, and indeed SADC, should be able to see that Mbeki's
choosing to ignore important facts in this manner strip him of any
legitimacy as an impartial mediator?
Bruised and battered though they might be, we urge the MDC leadership to
re-double its efforts communicate directly and effectively with the SADC
governments and their people. Perhaps a personal tour, bearing the evidence
in their broken limbs and battered faces, might be worth the effort.

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US Ambassador Rebuffs Southern African Call To Lift Zimbabwe Sanctions


      By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
      04 April 2007

The United States will not lift sanctions aimed at Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe and his inner circle as a summit of Southern African leaders urged
last week, unless Harare creates a "genuinely free political space" and
institutes sweeping economic reforms, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe
Christopher Dell said Wednesday.

Dell, in a wide-ranging interview with VOA, was responding to a communique
issued by last week's Southern African Development Community summit, which
also named South African President Thabo Mbeki its as mediator in the
Zimbabwe crisis.

Dell dismissed the call for U.S. sanctions to be lifted. "It's simply not
going to happen," the ambassador said in a telephone interview from the
Harare embassy.

"We will not lift the targeted measures against these named individuals
until such time as they take the steps required to create a genuinely free
political space in this country, and to begin to right some of the economic
damage that their own misguided and greedy policies have caused," Dell said.

Zimbabwe's crisis sharpened in March as the opposition stepped up its
challenge to Mr. Mugabe, whose government responded with a crackdown on
opponents including the use of deadly force against protesters and alleged
police beatings of prisoners.

International outrage fueled by images of the badly beaten opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, founding president of the Movement for Democratic Change,
prompted the regional group to call an extraordinary summit last week in
Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

Ambassador Dell told VOA reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele that although the
Southern African leaders did not publicly criticize Mr. Mugabe, the summit
was useful because they were tough on him in private and launched a new
mediation initiative.

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14 executed in coup attempt?

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - Zimbabwean websites have been carrying unconfirmed reports of the
execution of 14 officers at Presidential Guard Barracks in Dzivaresekwa on
Friday following an attempted coup.
The reports, attributed to the SA national intelligence agency, say a group
of young Zimbabwe National Army officers had planned to raid  State House
and seize control of the country following Mugabe's endorsement as Zanu (PF)
candidate for the 2008 Presidential election.
"But the army intelligence quickly got wind of the development and the
Special forces formation advanced and the 14 officers were ambushed and
immediately arrested. Instructions from the president's office ordered them
to be executed immediately by open fire," say the reports.
Fears of a military coup have intensified since Mugabe began a vicious
crackdown on the opposition last month. Tensions in his own party and the
army have been growing, with two powerful factions vying for succession.
Problems of discipline in the army and police have been widely reported
since the beginning of this year, mainly caused by economic hardships. - Own

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"Death list" sent to newspaper

The Zimbabwean

In a pathetic attempt to strike fear into opposition activists and
independent journalists, a number of documents, purportedly on the
letterheads of the CIO and Zanu (PF), have been sent to The Zimbabwean.
Headed "Death List/Confirmation on behalf of his Excellency", the letter,
addressed to Col Chaminyuka of the Zimbabwe Intelligence Corps from Cde Eno
in the President's office, lists 27 names, including Morgan Tsvangirai,
Arthur Mutambara, Wilf Mbanga, Gift Phiri, Roy Bennett, Nelson Chamisa,
Arnold Tsunga and Raymond Majongwe.
For some unknown reason, the first three names are written in a primitive,
schoolboy numeric code whereby 1=a, 2=b, etc. while the others are spelled
Mbanga and Phiri's names are circled by hand and the letter says:
"Transgressions of circled persons arise from publishing and communicating
false information prejudicial to the state".
"As these executions fall under the purview of ZIC and Zanu PF Security hit
squad, you are therefore obliged to contact Honourable Minister Chinamasa on
772993/774620 for debrief or Minister Mutasa on 700155 who will advise you
of the joint status of operations," says the letter.
Another document on Zanu (PF) letterhead addressed to Cde Eno from "Cde
Zvenyika, Zanu (PF) Security Intelligence" says:
"Intelligence could not locate Gift Phiri because the description given was
vague. The informant is a friend to Mujeri's younger brother (Webster a
commuter omnibus driver) who frequently communicates with Richard.  . Cde
Maeresera is in the UK and knows about W Mbanga the editor, so that one is
Meanwhile Herbert Dapi reports from Masvingo that party zealots and CIO
officers have drawn up a plan to deal with selected journalists and human
rights activists in the province whom they feel are a threat to their
personal and party interests.
A source revealed that all journalists working for the independent media and
some who are believed to be stringing for the international papers as well
as online edition are targeted. Gift Phiri and Savious Kwinka  are also on
the list and if they visit the province they are supposed to arrested.

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Life without bread

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - Zimbabweans could soon have to adjust to life without bread
following more escalation in the costs of producing that have forced
bakeries to close business.
Superbake, one of the leading bakeries in the country, recently sent about
500 workers home after failing to sell bread at an unviable gazetted price.
Government wants bread to be sold for about Z$800 per loaf but the Zimbabwe
Bakers Association has said in a statement that the costs of producing a
loaf now exceeds $6000.
The embattled Zanu (PF) government, saddled by consistent economic recession
now approaching a decade, has been arresting management at bread
manufacturers and bakers on allegations of failing to abide by the gazetted
Meanwhile, the bakers association has also raised fears of bread supplies
coming to a halt due to an acute shortage of wheat affecting the whole
country and reported to be worsening. Sources say the country had by last
week wheat only enough to go for two weeks. - Itai Dzamara

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MDC renounces violence

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - The national executive of the main MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai,
met at the weekend and has resolved not to respond to violence with violence
in any form.
The authorities have, over the past several weeks, sought on several
occasions to frame MDC activists with a variety of "crimes" including petrol
bombing police stations and a train, and a couple of houses and supermarkets
belonging to Zanu (PF) supporters. They have then arrested a number of MDC
supporters, but not one shred of evidence has been given and in many cases
those arrested have simply been beaten and released without charge.
The police held a farcical press conference last week at which they produced
"weapons that the MDC intended to use to topple the government". The
pathetic arsenal on display consisted of two pistols, some detonators (which
are standard police issue), a few whistles, a loud hailer and some MDC t
Such duplicity on the part of the once-respected police force is the final
nail in the coffin of Zimbabwe, say observers. - Own reporter

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