Mail and Guardian
John Grobler | Windhoek, Namibia
05 April 2007 07:43
Working closely with the Central Intelligence Organisation's
(CIO) directorate of counter-intelligence, Zanu-PF has been setting up
secret death squads comprising members of the National Youth Service
The squads petrol bomb political opponents' homes, commit acts
of sabotage and torture opponents to President Robert Mugabe's regime, a
former member of one such death squad said this week.
John Gweru (22)*, who joined the National Youth Service in late
2005 out of desperation, related graphic and often stomach-turning details
of secret prisons and torture camps, systematic rapes at the Bindura farm
training camp and secret jails across the country.
In a voluntary written statement to the Mail & Guardian running
to more than 50 pages and several hours of videotaped evidence given to
human rights activists, Gweru painted a picture of a regime that has
descended to thuggish depravity in its attempt to hang on to power.
Gweru fled Zimbabwe early this year after he could no longer
stomach "the work" and eventually found his way to Namibia, where he took
shelter with other Zimbabweans in the small coastal town of Lüderitz.
But a week ago, someone, who he later realised was his former
handler at the CIO, began following and photographing him. Gweru realised
his life was at risk when the shack he was living in was broken into and a
satchel containing evidence of the CIO's spying activities on Western
ambassadors and Zimbabwean ministers was stolen.
Gweru had taken the documents from Lands and Security Minister
Didymus Mutasa's house because he wanted evidence of the intelligence
organisation's activity. These included reports on spying activities at the
British Council and the United States embassy in Harare, he said.
He then contacted the M&G to tell his story because, "if I die,
I want people to know why I died", said the quietly spoken former "green
bomber" -- as the National Youth Service volunteers are known.
In the course of several exhaustive interviews, Gweru related
how he and three other individuals, whose identity the M&G knows but cannot
divulge, who were selected for their mental and physical prowess during
initial para-military training, came to be known as the "Charlie four" unit.
There are also other such units, but Charlie four was considered to be the
best, Gweru said.
Charlie four, which reported to senior Zanu-PF and CIO officials
in Harare, eventually took its orders from a man named Joshua Sibanda, who,
Gweru said, appeared to be the head of the CIO's directorate of
Sibanda -- who always wore a CIO ID card identifying him as
Phillip Chitiyo -- also contacted the M&G as well as human rights workers in
Namibia this week, and offered to "make a deal on that young man".
In several telephonic conversations, in which Sibanda identified
himself by his real name and made it clear that he had access to Namibian
cellphone records, he threatened that "he [Gweru] will not get away".
Namibian security officials contacted for comment expressed
serious alarm at Sibanda's activities and promised to investigate what they
termed "a totally illegal foreign operation".
Throughout their training, which included political
indoctrination, weapons handling, martial arts and torture techniques, it
was always impressed upon members of the squads that they were to support
the presidential campaign of Emmerson Mnangagwa and not vice-president Joyce
Mujuru, who was considered a political liability by the CIO, Gweru said.
In a period of training over six months -- and interspersed with
"technical assignments", which included guarding and spying on certain
government ministers' homes in Harare --Gweru said he had been involved in
sabotaging the Harare-Bulawayo railway line, breaking up an MDC rally at
which opposition activist Trudi Stevenson's arm was broken, and
petrol-bombing certain offices and homes.
Each "assignment" was effectively seen as a test of the group's
loyalty and reliability, and the assignments became increasingly violent as
time went on.
Namibian human rights activists who heard Gweru's testimony said
the details he has provided are consistent with reports they have about
torture, violence and the existence of secret prisons in Zimbabwe. Gweru,
who was moved out of Namibia to an unknown European destination by human
rights workers this week, continues to fear for his life, and for the lives
of his remaining relatives in Zimbabwe.
'Beating where it hurts'
Throughout training it was made clear to the Youth Service
members that the worst possible fate awaited anyone who dared run away. They
were shown several secret jails in which people who had defied the Mugabe
regime were being held, Gweru said.
On their first visit to Zanu-PF headquarters in Harare in the
middle of last year, a certain Tawanda took them down to the B2 section, a
former parking garage underneath the building. There, Tawanda used a remote
control to open a hidden door to a section of prison cells, Gweru said.
Among the prisoners were two white men, one of whom told Gweru that he had
been abducted and accused of being a CIA spy. Tawanda later told the group
that the people were all "political prisoners".
The same day, they were taken to the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) headquarter's top floor where they were shown a cell
containing six people in leg chains and manacles and covered in blood. They
were told not to talk to them, Gweru said.
A day later at Bindura farm, their instructors identified only
as Muza, Mazhombwe and Mkarati arrived in two vehicles, one of which was a
prison van with three men dressed in uniforms.
They were told that the men were long-term prisoners "who would
not be missed by anyone" and on whom they were to try their newly acquired
torture techniques: "electronically, randomly and beating where it hurts".
When the first prisoner was manacled to a special table, they
were told to beat him under the feet. When Gweru's instructor did not find
him enthusiastic enough for his instructors' liking, he was "lashed" with a
rubber baton and given gin to drink and marijuana to smoke.
He and his colleagues then proceeded to beat the prisoners's
feet until they turned black and their victim defecated before passing out.
Gweru wept as he recalled how the second man was tortured with an electronic
device that looked like an "old-fashioned amplifier" until he also defecated
and passed out.
For the third man, Mkarati took out a first-aid box that
contained packaging tape, a hammer, a screw-driver and a pair of pliers,
which Mkarati then used to rip pieces of the victim's ear off after taping
up his mouth. Mazhombwe then took over and used the pliers to rip out one of
the victim's testicles.
Months later, the group was driven to a farm in the Goromonzi
area, guarded by the Zimbabwean Defence Force. They were taken to a basement
where there were about 20 people in leg chains, all showing signs of severe
These people, they were told, were also "political prisoners"
who had attempted to assassinate President Robert Mugabe. Some were as young
as 18 to 22 years, Gweru said.
Early on in his training, it was made clear to Gweru that once
he were part of the National Youth Service system, there was no getting out.
At one stage, he and four of his friends were forced to gang-rape a female
Youth Service volunteer as "punishment" for making an illegal phone call,
and he and his friend Gideon decided to run away.
Female volunteers, who numbered between 50 and 60 of the 250
youths at Bindura Farm, were regularly raped, Gweru said. Some of the male
youths would boast about "fixing" this or that girl, and many sported bite
marks on their shoulders, he said.
At night, he could hear screams coming from the adjacent female
dorms, and their instructors regularly used the women as sex slaves.
No one was allowed to leave -- when he and Gideon were caught
trying to escape, they were locked up. The next day they were publicly
flogged by Mazhombwe. Because Mazhombwe liked him, Gweru was not beaten so
badly. Gweru had also told his "instructors" that he just wanted to get out
of the camp for a bit but was going to return before the 5am whistle.
His friend Gideon, however, was defiant: he was fed up with
being "treated like a dog" and insisted that he would leave. Drunk,
instructors beat Gideon so savagely that some of the women who were forced
to watch started crying.
Two days later, when he was released, Gweru found out that
Gideon had died from the beating. The cook who brought him sadza and cold
cabbage told him: "Let that be a lesson to you."
The most testing assignment from Sibanda, Gweru's Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) handler, came in October last year.
Sibanda told Gweru and his three colleagues to deliver a package
to Lake Kariba. Once there, they were to locate a spot close the Zambian
border where they would find a speedboat. Sibanda provided them with cash
and the keys to a silver Honda, which had a large trunk wedged in the back.
Sibanda told them that they would find the instructions on what to do with
the trunk in the back of the car.
On the way to Lake Kariba, they realised that there was someone
in the trunk. Once they had arrived at the lake they found the speedboat
with a bag of cement inside.
They realised they were being watched by someone wearing
camouflage. Inside the trunk was a man whose arms had been sliced and whose
wrist-bones were exposed from being handcuffed. The man spoke with
difficulty as his lacerated tongue bled profusely when he appealed to them:
"Please help me, my sons."
Knowing that they were being observed, they continued the
operation, taking the boat to a point about 50m into the lake, Gweru said.
At this point they heard a vehicle starting and could see a
green Jeep Cherokee, as used by the Zimbabwean Defence Force speeding off.
They subsequently dumped the trunk into the lake.
A few months later Gweru had had enough. In early January he
fled via Botswana "as far away as I could" before ending up in the remote
southern Namibian coastal town of Lüderitz.
Checking the story
Fully aware of the risk that the Mail & Guardian could be set
up, the paper's Namibian correspondent, John Grobler, went to unusual
lengths to check the credibility of "John Gweru".
Gweru phoned Grobler on March 28 from Lüderitz to say he had
fled from Zimbabwe and feared for his life. Insisting a meeting could not
wait, he travelled to Windhoek and met Grobler on March 30.
Grobler then took him through a four-stage verification process,
designed to check his account for inconsistencies and improbabilities,
a.. A two-and-a-half-hour debriefing by Grobler alone on March
b.. A three-hour debriefing in the presence of the executive
director of Namibia's National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), Phil ya
c.. A 55-page written statement by Gweru, compiled without
d.. A four-and-a-half-hour videotaped interview at the NSHR's
Windhoek headquarters on April 2, in the presence of Zimbabwean journalist
There were no inconsistencies between the accounts, and Grobler,
ya Nangoloh and Chipanda all believe Gweru has told the truth. The M&G would
generally not publish single-source stories, but we believe we have gone as
far as possible to verify Gweru's account. It concurs with evidence coming
out of Zimbabwe from numerous sources.
Grobler said he had been further convinced by Gweru's "palpable
fear" at any mention of his handler, Sibanda, and his visible anguish while
recounting his experiences.
The M&G knows Gweru's real name, and has a copy of his passport.
* Not his real name
April 05 2007 at 04:35AM
South African President Thabo Mbeki's regional initiative to rescue
Zimbabwe began in earnest on Wednesday with meetings by his senior officials
with Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Pretoria.
Regional leaders met for a Southern African Development Community
(SADC) extraordinary summit in Dar es Salaam last Thursday and tasked Mbeki
to facilitate dialogue between the Zimbabwean government and opposition to
agree on how to hold free and fair elections next year.
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said Mbeki's delegation met
Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti - the secretaries-general of the split MDC's
two factions - on Wednesday to discover what they thought would be needed to
ensure free and fair elections.
Mbeki had earlier disclosed in an interview with Britain's Financial
Times published on Tuesday that his officials had already met Ncube and Biti
on the Friday before the SADC summit to seek their views.
He hoped that when they met again on Wednesday the MDC officials would
present the South African officials with a document setting out their
conditions for free and fair elections.
Then "immediately we will engage Zanu-PF, saying it is necessary to
respond to all of these".
South African officials had earlier said that at their first meeting
with the MDC, Ncube and Biti had agreed that Zimbabwe's constitution would
have to be amended fundamentally to allow free and fair elections.
Mbeki indicated in the Financial Times interview that from previous
interactions with the MDC, he expected among the things they would want
would be changes to laws which restrict public meetings and the media.
Mbeki was due to fly to Tanzania last night to co-chair a meeting on
Thursday on South African-Tanzanian relations with his counterpart,
President Jakaya Kikwete. It seemed likely that he would report to Kikwete
on the outcome of the meeting his officials had with Ncube and Biti.
This is because his SADC mandate stipulated that he should report back
regularly to the chairman of SADC's Organ on Politics, Defence and Security,
which is responsible for regional security. Kikwete is the current chairman.
Mbeki also told the Financial Times that he believed his current
initiative on Zimbabwe would succeed where previous ones had failed, because
for the first time he had an official mandate from SADC, which would deal
with either of the Zimbabwean parties which was unco-operative.
However, he and Pahad emphasised that South Africa and SADC could only
encourage the Zimbabweans to talk to each other.
"Only they can agree. If not, the conflict will become increasingly
violent. But if they don't agree, we can do nothing but say: 'We don't like
"None of us has the power to force them to do anything they don't want
to do. It's a very daunting challenge."
This article was originally published on page 2 of The Mercury on
April 05, 2007
5th Apr 2007 01:34 GMT
By Sinikiwe Dube
HARARE - The two-day strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
fizzled out yesterday but running battles between the police, secret agents
and the army continued in the densely populated and volatile communities of
Budiriro and Glen View where residents were being routinely beaten-up.
Budiriro and Glen View have over the past few years graduated to become the
bedrock of opposition politics in Harare in the same way Highfield and Mbare
were regarded during the liberation struggle.
There were running battles yesterday as supporters of the two-day action and
unemployed youths barricaded roads to stop commuter buses from travelling to
the city centre with commuters intending to go to work.
Commuter buses ran normally in other areas under the heavy police and troop
presence. Analysts say the two-day strike against poor wages, access to
retroviral drugs, better working conditions and related issues, was largely
a flop due to the fear instilled in the people by government statements
ahead of the strike.
But many also agree that the economic situation in Zimbabwe today makes it
largely impossible for any strike action to be effective as each person is
fighting for their own survival and to keep their jobs in a country with
over 80 percent of its population out of jobs.
Shumirai Kangwete of Budiro told zimbabwejournalists.com the situation in
her area was tense ahead of the stayaway and remained so even afterwards.
"The people are tired of these unofficial curfews. We have to switch off the
lights at a certain time and today it was particularly bad because of the
road barricades," she said. "People are being beaten rotten at the shopping
centres so at the end of the day you just end up staying at home unless you
have something really life threatening to attend to. It is really bad."
Another resident who did not want to be named said: "People have just been
expressing themselves but the police have been so heavy-handed. We do not
condone violence at all. It actually looks like the police and army want
there to be violence in this area. They are gagging for it. They keep on
pushing us to the limits. They continue to beat us up in the night. Saka
tofarirawo kupi if we cannot go to the pub to have one or two to drown our
The residents spoke as the Zanu PF government gave an ultimatum to all
companies that closed down and allowed employees to heed the strike, to
explain their actions or face unspecified punishment.
Obert Mpofu, the Industry Minister, said his government viewed all those who
heeded the ZCTU call, mainly white employers, as siding with the labour
union thereby worsening the already terrible economic situation in the
"We are 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.
They have been given 24-hour directives to submit their reasons for failing
to open for business," said Mpofu.
"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."
Meanwhile the ZCTU has declared the stayaway a "major success" despite the
fact that most businesses were open for business. Heavy industrial areas are
reported to have been largely closed though.
"The workers heeded the call to stayaway while some companies contributed by
shutting down although we are aware that some of them were forced to open
their business premises by security officials," said ZCTU information
officer Last Tarabuka.
On the other hand, the Zimbabwe government said the stayaway a "flop".
Information and publicity Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said the ZCTU called
the strike for political interests rather than out of economic concerns for
"The people of Zimbabwe have responded by giving the regime-change agenda a
cold shoulder. The workers ignored the ZCTU-orchestrated stayaway sponsored
by hostile Western governments led by Britain and the USA and reported for
work. The police and the army ensured that there was adequate security
around the country," he said.
"Government would like to thank the people of Zimbabwe for ignoring the call
for the ZCTU-orchestrated stayaway sponsored by hostile Western states led
by Britain and America," said Ndlovu.
The Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) yesterday said it was too
early to make an accurate assessment of the strike's impact.
5th Apr 2007 01:04 GMT
By a Correspondent
HARARE - The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) yesterday claimed
elements from the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) had bombed
the New Complex 4 Dining Hall.
Zinasu said a huge and frightening ball of fire engulfed the building
destroying property worth trillions of Zimbabwean dollars after a suspected
petrol bomb was thrown into the building at around 2200 hours Tuesday night.
Students had to vacate campus residence fearing for their safety. "The act
is a 'direct attack on the students' right to learn," a student at the
"Students constitute the largest reservoir of human rights defenders in
Zimbabwe, hence a prime target of bombing by the brutal and despotic regime
of Robert Mugabe."
The UZ information and public relations director, Taurwi Mabeza said the
fire started early Wednesday morning.
"It is still premature to say a lot. We don't know what caused the fire and
police investigations are still in progress," she said.
Police spokesperson Andrew Phiri said the police were looking into the
matter as "malicious injury to property" He said police investigations have
so far revealed that an unidentified student raised alarm saying he had seen
fire coming out from the building.
"It is still not yet clear what could have caused the fire but we are still
investigating to ascertain whether it was an electrical fault or as a result
of malcontents," said Phiri.
But the students think the government had something to do with the incident.
The government, which blames the opposition MDC for carrying out a spate of
bombings, has been fingered for orchestrating the bombings to create a
situation where it imposes unofficial curfews and strike fear into the
hearts of the ordinary people.
Four police stations, a passenger train and shops have been petrol bombed
over the past month.
"Last month they petrol bombed a Bulawayo bound train which had more than
750 passengers," said Zinasu. "Surprisingly, more pro-democracy activists
have been arrested and barbarously tortured in connection with the terrorist
acts by the state security agents."
The students also claim the army has since joined in the attacks and
soldiers are "indiscriminately imposing barrack gangsterism on innocent
civilians". Scores of victims are receiving medical attention from different
medical centers after being attacked by the armed and drunk military
officers in the country.
"Zinasu condemns in strongest the possible terms the continued use of
banditry and guerrilla terrorism tactics by the government. It calls upon
all patriotic citizens to continue fighting for social justice, democracy,
rule of law, human rights culture, academic freedoms among other
Monsters and Critics
Apr 5, 2007, 7:11 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's industry minister said the government would
take action against the few firms that supported a largely unsuccessful
two-day strike this week, reports said Thursday.
'We are receiving reports on other businesses that sympathized with the
organizers of the stay-away and we are going to deal with them,' Obert Mpofu
was quoted as saying in the official Herald newspaper.
'We want to identify those abetting the stay-away so that we can confront
them and find what their motives and agendas are,' the minister said,
adding: 'We will actually invoke certain measures which will not be very
comfortable with them.'
The 350,000-strong Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) called a strike
on Tuesday and Wednesday to press for higher wages, better working
conditions and free access to anti-AIDS drugs.
But the two-day strike was largely ignored, prompting state media to declare
it a flop.
The ZCTU said that in some cases firms that planned to support the strike
were threatened by state agents.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Monsters and Critics
Apr 5, 2007, 7:07 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwean police were not armed with a search warrant
when they raided the headquarters of the main opposition party last week,
arresting dozens of officials, trashing offices and seizing documents and
computers, it emerged Thursday.
Police conceded this point in the Harare High Court on Wednesday, where they
had gone to seek permission to make copies of the information they seized
during the raid, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported.
'Police had argued that the information was needed for a criminal
investigation but conceded that they did not have a search warrant when they
raided the offices of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction (of the Movement for
Democratic Change, MDC),' the paper said.
The court allowed the police to copy the data, the paper added. Police say
they need the information to help them in a criminal investigation of the
Police here accuse the MDC of organizing a string of petrol-bomb attacks on
police stations, stores and a passenger train during the last three weeks of
rising political tensions.
The MDC denies the charge, accusing the state of trumping up charges in
order to justify a crackdown.
At least 20 opposition officials and activists, including Paul Madzore, the
member of parliament for Harare's populous Glen View suburb, are in police
custody facing charges including banditry and terrorism.
A lawyer for the detained officials told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa his
clients had repeatedly been denied bail.
The lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said Magistrate Gloria Takundwa had also
denied his clients permission to be seen by a medical practitioner of their
choice following severe beatings allegedly received while in police custody.
He was due Thursday to appeal against some of the magistrate's decisions in
the High Court.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Mail and Guardian
Christopher Dube and Rapule Tabane
05 April 2007 08:02
The pressure on Robert Mugabe is gathering force following last
week's Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit with Thabo Mbeki's
appointed team of officials, from the presidency and foreign affairs, who
are talking to the main protagonists in the Zimbabwean crisis.
"There is now greater awareness ... that there is a problem in
the country and that the solution can only be derived through dialogue,"
said Mukoni Ratshitanga, the presidential spokesperson.
Mbeki confidently told the Financial Times this week that Mugabe
will step down willingly, while Mozambican President Armando Guebuza has
also spoken out against the Zimbabwean government, expressing concern about
Harare's failure to pay its electricity bills and Zimbabwean nationals
smuggling goods across its porous borders.
This week, Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai -- who was in South Africa for medical consultations after his
assault last month -- also met with Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, and former
United States secretary of state Madeleine Albright.
Meanwhile, MDC negotiators were in meetings with South African
government officials this week, and much of the MDC leadership is scheduled
to arrive in South Africa for a consultative retreat in the days ahead.
Chief among the MDC's demands is that elections cannot be held
under the existing constitutional and electoral framework. MDC officials
argue that the party won't rush into an electoral process that will deliver
Mbeki this week said that his mediation efforts will focus on
MDC demands for constitutional and electoral reforms, including repealing
the information access and security laws that have been used to ban
newspapers critical of the government and to bar political meetings.
An MDC source told the Mail & Guardian that the South African
government is working on two scenarios. One scenario, reflected in Mbeki's
recent pronouncements about "genuinely free and fair" elections, will
involve sweeping electoral reforms will include the constitutional reforms
that the MDC has been campaigning for. But Mbeki reportedly believes there
may not be enough time to achieve constitutional reform before the elections
scheduled for March next year: "Mbeki is saying a constitutional reform
process will take a longer time," the source said.
It is believed that Mbeki prefers a second scenario for change,
which is based on internal reform of Zanu-PF. According to this scenario,
Mugabe will step down at the December national conference, three months
before the elections, and Joyce Mujuru will be appointed as acting
president. In the three months before the elections, Mujuru would have
enough time to consolidate her position as state president. This, analysts
say, is why Mbeki was bold enough to say that Mugabe will step down
At home in Zimbabwe, some are also questioning whether Zanu-PF
officially endorsed Mugabe as the next presidential candidate at their
meeting in late March. Former minister Jonathan Moyo said the central
committee meeting which endorsed Mugabe last week was unprocedural. "No one
moved a motion to nominate him, no one seconded it and Mugabe himself did
not accept the nomination."
According to the second scenario, Zimbabwe's Parliament will be
expanded from 150 seats to 210 and the upper house (Senate) will be expanded
from 66 seats to 84 to "accommodate the various factions".
Meanwhile, discussions to reunite the two factions of the MDC
are apparently at an advanced stage: "The next month will see the
reunification of the divided opposition," the source said. Mbeki has
reportedly told the factions that he wants to speak to a united MDC.
But, as the MDC wins friends in the region, the situation in
Zimbabwe has worsened considerably over the past few weeks, with a
significant deterioration in the human-rights record. The abduction of
opposition supporters is a sinister new development, and people are now
regularly being picked up, beaten and dumped.
Edward Chikombo, a cameraman for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation, was reportedly abducted from his home in the Glenview township
outside Harare last week, and has since been found dead. It is thought that
the killing may be linked to the smuggling out of the country of television
pictures of the badly injured Tsvangirai.
Although Mugabe claims the Dar es Salaam SADC meeting as a
victory, he was in fact censured by the assembly of regional leaders. An
analyst in Zimbabwe said this week that the crisis in the country is now at
the top of SADC's agenda. The region also openly supported the idea of
national dialogue in Zimbabwe and the repeal of repressive legislation.
Mugabe cannot have wanted that.
The analyst argued that, for the first time, SADC is speaking
with one voice on Zimbabwe and that this could make a difference. "I'm
cautiously optimistic -- the regime is lashing out because it is desperate,
its actions can be seen as the last kicks of a dying horse."
"What South Africa needs to do now is to continue to enunciate,
loud and clear, the principles underpinning its foreign policy -- born out
of South Africa's own liberation -- to continue disowning Mugabe's tyranny,"
the analyst added.
By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 04/05/2007 11:37:01
ZIMBABWE'S Vice President Joyce Mujuru -- seen as a potential challenger to
President Robert Mugabe -- has lavished praise on the 83-year-old leader.
Mujuru's praise, coming just days after Mugabe won support from the ruling
Zanu PF party to stand for a new term in elections set for next year, will
compound critics who have been predicting an internal Zanu PF putsch.
Mugabe is currently away in the Far East. The second Vice President Joseph
Msika is acting president.
Addressing local government officials, mayors and governors in Harare
Wednesday, Mujuru said "Zimbabweans should be proud that God gave the
country a great leader in President Mugabe", the state-run Herald newspaper
"He (Mugabe) has given us the opportunity to be governors, vice presidents
and provincial administrators," Mujuru was quoted as saying. "He should not
be the one to come and wake us up from our bedrooms for us to go and work.
Working is left to the individual."
Foreign diplomats have been saying in recent weeks that they now believe a
change of leadership will come from within Zanu PF after witnessing yet
another brutal suppression of opposition protests by President Mugabe.
Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai, the two leaders of the splintered
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), were arrested with dozens
of their supporters after police crushed a rally in Harare on March 11.
Tsvangirai and other opposition activists were treated for injuries after
being severely beaten in police custody.
Mugabe accused the opposition of receiving financial and material backing
from Britain and the United States in an attempt to push him out of power,
and vowed Tsvangirai would never rule Zimbabwe as long as he lived.
A recent report by the BBC concluded that British and some other Western
governments believe that the most likely way for President Mugabe to leave
office is by a "palace coup" led by factions in his own party.
Ruling out a military-type coup as "unlikely", the BBC said diplomats
believed there would be an accumulation of overwhelming pressure instead.
Foreign diplomats do not appear to think that Tsvangirai is strong enough at
the moment to effect a change. "The opposition was swept off the streets,"
one diplomat told the BBC.
They are therefore looking to people inside the ruling Zanu PF party.
Rumours of a possible palace coup led by Mujuru swirled after she was seen
secretly meeting South Africa's deputy president. Mugabe also used his
birthday interview with state television in February to accuse Mujuru of
seeking to oust him.
Gugulethu Moyo, a Zimbabwean political analyst and human rights lawyer says
internal divisions within Zanu PF appear to be overstated.
She said: "It is true that Mujuru, supported by her husband Solomon,
entertains presidential ambitions, but she also sees Robert Mugabe as a good
bogeyman, a good detraction from their corrupt activities and plunder of the
country's mineral resources.
"Zanu PF is like an old car whose parts are now held by chewing gum but
still remains on the road. Sell it to someone and it all comes crashing
down. Mujuru realises this and is keenly aware that as soon as Mugabe goes,
the whole thing will collapse.
"Zanu PF has always had internal strife, but at the end of the day they know
their interests lie in being together somehow. And that diminishes chances
of a palace coup."
If Mugabe wins elections next year, he will be 90 when his term expires.
Some Zanu PF officials have been quietly discussing with opposition elements
on a united front to contest Mugabe at the next election, but many remain
scared to put their cards on the table.
Public disapproval of President Mugabe's government has been growing
following the collapse of the economy. The United Nations Economic
Commission for Africa says Zimbabwe's economy was the worst performer in
2006, with output slipping by 4.4%.
The country also has the highest inflation in the world at 1700%. While an
economic revival appears unlikely, in the short term, particularly with
Mugabe at the helm, observers say he could yet win another term next year if
the opposition remains divided and the police clampdown on opponents
By Arnold Tsunga
Thursday, April 5, 2007
When the heads of state of the Southern African Development Community
convened last week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to discuss the political
situation in Zimbabwe, hopes among the Zimbabwean people ran high. President
Robert Mugabe had recently extended his brutal efforts to crush dissent from
his political opponents to include ordinary Zimbabweans. His ruling party
left a trail of fractured bodies and two dead in its most recent crackdown.
With the economy in shreds and the tense political situation posing a
security threat not only to Zimbabwe but potentially to its neighbors, too,
there was an expectation that African leaders would finally act.
At the summit, however, the African leaders showed their indifference to the
suffering that we ordinary people of Zimbabwe continue to endure. At the
closing news conference, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete announced that
he and his fellow heads of state were "in support of the government and
people of Zimbabwe."
"We got full backing; not even one [SADC leader] criticized our actions,"
Mugabe boasted after the summit.
Zimbabweans were left to wonder how neighboring governments can continue
claiming to support the brutalizer and the brutalized at the same time.
As Mugabe's government continues its assault on the media, its political
opponents, civil activists and human rights defenders, the danger to the
population is growing. Nearly two years after the government's program of
mass evictions and demolitions -- Operation Murambatsvina, or "Clear the
Filth" -- hundreds of thousands continue to suffer catastrophic
In hindsight, we can see that this scheme was just the beginning. Mugabe
sought to destabilize the population by arbitrarily destroying people's
homes and property without notice, process or compensation; and by
displacing thousands into rural areas, where they lack basic services such
as health care, schools and clean water. Today, HIV-AIDS is rampant in my
country, and there are acute food shortages. Young Zimbabweans have no
meaningful educational opportunities, and Mugabe has wrecked the country's
economy through macroeconomic chaos, endemic corruption and political
patronage. Millions of black Zimbabweans who love their country have been
forced to migrate out of this insecurity and hopelessness to live as
second-class citizens in foreign lands.
Last month, Human Rights Watch documented how police forces in Harare,
Bulawayo and Mutare have beaten Zimbabweans in the streets, in shopping
malls and in bars. The terror has prompted many families in those areas to
obey a self-imposed curfew after dark.
Mugabe is stronger than ever, though removed from the fact that Zimbabweans
want to be liberated from oppression. Of course, a weakened and terrified
population cannot fight back.
With Mugabe poised to rig five more catastrophic years in office, it is time
for regional leaders to recognize that his campaigns of oppression make
apartheid Rhodesia and South Africa look like amateurs. As Bishop Desmond
Tutu has said, we as Africans must hang our heads in shame at our failure to
make a difference to the suffering men, women and children of Zimbabwe.
When will Southern Africa's leaders decide they will no longer align
themselves with tyranny? When will they abandon their failed strategy of
"quiet diplomacy" and move to help the people of Zimbabwe?
African leaders and the international community must demand that the
government of Zimbabwe stop its violence against political opponents; create
a democratic environment through the repeal of repressive legislation; enact
a democratic constitution; and hold free, fair elections that are supervised
by the international community.
If Southern Africa's leaders finally break their silence about the
catastrophe in their neighborhood, this could be the year Mugabe leaves
office and Zimbabwe reintegrates itself into the world. Or they could remain
silent and complicit, and this year could mark the beginning of an even
steeper decline into oppression.
The writer is executive director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and
secretary of the Law Society of Zimbabwe.
published: Thursday | April 5, 2007
You would think that every decade or so, a country of over 10 million could
produce one or two people with the capacity to lead it. Not, however, if you
happen to be Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwean president, who looks determined
to die in office, has been running his country for nearly four decades, and
is apparently unwilling to concede the possibility that anybody else is up
to the job.
This week, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions launched a national strike
that looks calculated to increase the pressure on Mr. Mugabe to leave. It is
not clear how much of a difference a national strike will make in an economy
that has already all but collapsed. Inflation in Zimbabwe is so high that
prices are said to change as customers stand in check-out lines. Four-fifths
of the working population is unemployed. Millions have left the country in
search of work. Besides, opposition by urban workers to Mr. Mugabe is hardly
new; his support base has long been in rural areas.
A broken record
The refrain about Mr. Mugabe is heard so often that it is starting to sound
like a broken record: He was a good leader who didn't know when to quit. And
yet, Mr. Mugabe does not fit the stereotype of the avaricious despot
unwilling to relinquish the spoils of power. By most accounts, he remains -
personally - a highly principled man.
Nevertheless, his tenaciousness is turning ever more repressive. In the
process, his attempts to curtail the opposition are becoming ham-fisted.
Recent intimidation of opposition politicians has apparently served to
reunite what had been a divided political movement.
Mr. Mugabe's latest manoeuvre has been to get his ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front) political party to endorse him as its
candidate in next year's presidential election. And while the principal
grouping of regional states, the SADC (Southern African Develop-ment
Community) held a summit meeting in response to the recent outcry over
beatings and killings of the opposition, it failed to speak out against Mr.
Mugabe. He looks good to go.
In public, that is. Behind closed doors, it may be that Mr. Mugabe is
feeling even more pressure than he is on the streets. Nobody seriously
expected the SADC meeting to issue a strong public statement against Mr.
Mugabe. That is not the organisation's style. But there are indications that
the session was not one that would have left the Zimbabwean president
feeling very comfortable.
Plainly, discomfort with Mr. Mugabe is rising throughout the region. In an
interview with London's Financial Times, South African President Thabo Mbeki
hinted that Mr. Mugabe might agree to go peacefully. There are also
suggestions of a brewing plot within ZANU-PF.
Still, I wouldn't want to bank on him going anytime soon. As they always
say, Mr. Mugabe is the consummate survivor; in that, he is aided by an
opposition which seems unable to get its act together. Zimbabwe's
influential Roman Catholic bishops - Mr. Mugabe is himself a devout
Catholic - have joined the chorus of condemnation that emerged from Africa's
conference of Catholic bishops last week. And yet, in an apparent show of
his frustration, the Archbishop of Bulawayo - an outspoken Mugabe critic -
lamented that Zimbabweans were cowards for failing to remove their leader.
Mr. Mugabe may get to keep his country, but it will be a bitter prize. Nor
is it obvious that the deus ex machina of a coup would offer any
improvement: the reported coup-plotters have a reputation little better than
his. Stuck in a burning pan, Zimbabwe's only choice may be to leap into the
John Rapley is a senior lecturer in the Department of Government, UWI, Mona.
United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI)
Date: 04 Apr 2007
The President of the Security Council for April, Emyr Jones Parry of the
United Kingdom, this afternoon introduced the Council's programme for the
month to correspondents at Headquarters and, in his national capacity,
welcomed Iran's statement this morning regarding the release of 15 captured
Addressing the programme of work, he said the Council would be very busy
during the coming month, with four mandates up for renewal and discussions
about the Council's priorities, such as Chad, the Central African Republic
and the Sudan. On 17 April, there would be an open debate based on a letter
"from me to me" containing a concept paper on those parts of climate change
that were relevant for the work of the Council. The debate on Kosovo had
started yesterday, and he expected a Council mission later in the month to
Belgrade and Pristina.
Speaking in his national capacity, he expressed his pleasure with the
statements out of Tehran this morning. His Government would be very pleased
if its "policy of trying to resolve this without confrontation, trying to be
steady, calm, measured in our approach, but, at the same time, insisting"
would come to fruition, and would make sure that, in the future, any
misunderstandings would be resolved in the quickest and most reasonable way.
Responding to correspondents' questions on Kosovo, Mr. Jones Parry said
yesterday's discussion had demonstrated how sensitive the issue was, and how
carefully the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Kosovo Future Status
Process, Martti Ahtisaari, had formulated his proposals. There had been a
natural sense of wanting more information within the Council, as the
"dismemberment of a State" was being addressed. At the same time, many had
acknowledged that the point had been reached of taking the "logical and
necessary" next step. If that would be done in a carefully managed way,
stability, rights and reconciliation between Kosovo and Serbia could be
achieved. The Council would first identify the timing, leadership, nature
and terms of reference of the Council mission. At the end of the month,
there would be a meeting of the contact group, probably at the level of
political directors. He did not expect an early tabling of a draft
Asked if the Ahtisaari proposal could still be changed, or if the document
was considered "closed", he said the Council did not yet have a position on
that. In his national capacity, he said Mr. Ahtisaari's proposals should be
fully supported, as he had exhausted all possibilities.
Addressing questions about Darfur, including about possible sanctions
against the Sudan, he said this morning's discussion had underlined that the
concern was not only Darfur, but also the contagion of the situation in Chad
and the Central African Republic. The three tracks of humanitarian access,
political action and delivery of security should be addressed in parallel,
more so, as the mandate of the African Union Mission in the Sudan would
expire on 30 June. The Council had said there was a need for three phases;
the first being the "light phase", which was being carried out. Full
agreement with Khartoum on the second phase, the "heavy support package" had
not yet been reached. The nature of third phase was that the "hybrid
operation" had to be "crunched".
The problem with the Sudan, he said, was that there had not been consistent
and positive support by the key actors, the Government and the rebels. If it
became clear that, in the window now available for progress on the political
track, that progress was not made, then the work being done by some on
further sanctions would emerge in a draft resolution. That resolution would
increase the number of names covered by the current resolution. The issue of
the arms embargo would also be addressed, as would monitoring of prohibited
air movements over Darfur. The work on such a resolution was now being
"stayed", also on the request of those closely involved in the negotiations.
Tomorrow's consultations, where the Secretary-General would brief, would
offer an opportunity for greater clarity on what was being discussed.
In light of this morning's discussion about Chad and the Central African
Republic, he said there was a need to better protect the civilian population
and the displaced persons camps. In Chad, there were ongoing discussions
between the Government and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations on an
advanced mission. There was agreement on increased policing in the camps,
but there was no understanding yet on a military deployment. If further
clarification on that was forthcoming speedily, a resolution could be tabled
on a police and military presence in Chad and the Central African Republic.
Otherwise, the situation in the Central African Republic should be tackled
Asked why Zimbabwe was not on the agenda, Mr. Jones Parry said that issue
had been discussed at the very end of the South African presidency in March.
No one had expressed the need at that stage to come back to it. From a
British point of view, there was a very keen concern and a need to rally
behind the people of Zimbabwe, but the Council had no plans to address the
matter. It was not because he wanted to avoid a confrontation with South
Africa, but because the situation had been discussed in the last seven days.
Asked the same question about Iran, he said there were no plans to address
the nuclear issue during April. Resolution 1747 (2007) had requested a
return to the matter in 60 days and had also asked for a report on
compliance with resolutions 1737 (2006) and 1747. The policy remained quite
clear, however, namely a commitment to an incremental increase of pressure
in case of non-compliance, with measures being reversible in case of
compliance. Conditions for Iran entering into negotiations were quite
simple: suspension of research, development and enrichment.
In reply to a question about the Western Sahara and United Nations Mission
for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) mandate renewal, specifically
how the Council was going to handle the expected proposal from Morocco on
autonomy, he said such a proposal was expected on 10 April. The Council's
response would depend on its contents, taking into account all parties'
views. On the one hand, there was the proposal for autonomy within Morocco;
on the other hand, there was the view that self-determination for the region
should include the option of independence. He was not confident that the
Council would find a lasting solution in the next few months, but he was
confident, however, that MINURSO's mandate would be renewed.
Asked about the mandate extension for the United Nations Organization
Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and whether
sanctions against individuals were considered, for instance in the cases of
recruitment of child soldiers, he said he could not anticipate this
afternoon's discussions. Colleagues would certainly look at the events of
the past few weeks, and how what would happen to the opposition leaders
would reflect on political developments. There was a commitment shared by
all members of the Council to stand by MONUC and the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, that the improvements reached justified the investments made and
that "we have just to keep at it".
On Somalia, he said the briefing of Tuesday, 24 April, could not be
scheduled earlier, because the report was due on 20 April. Consultations on
the issue were already being planned for 12 April. The Council was not
considering a United Nations peacekeeping force at the current stage. The
priority was to create a condition where there was peace to keep and where
there was a prospect for some stability. If that could be achieved, then the
United Nations would certainly consider a peacekeeping force.
Asked about this morning's statement from Tehran and speaking in his
national capacity, he said the United Kingdom had received a lot of support
from the United States. The United Nations was also solid in its support,
with the Secretary-General being clear in his public statements and
reiterating those statements in private contacts. He stressed that there was
no linkage between the capture of the 15 sailors and pressure in Iran
regarding the nuclear issue, saying he had made that clear from the
beginning. He did not know how much impact the statement to the press by the
former President of the Security Council had had, but it had been part of
applying incrementally increasing pressure. There had been no "negotiations"
as such, but there had been discussions between officials and the
ambassadors of both countries.
Addressing the issue of climate change, and what it had to do with the
maintenance of international peace and security, he said people living in
the Maldives, confronted with the possibility of a rise of three metres of
the sea level that would make their State extinct, would certainly see it as
a threat to their security. Climate change affected the supply of water and
the potential of shifting patterns in famine and surplus. Those traditional
"triggers for conflict" would be exacerbated by a change in climate. The
redistribution of people currently living in low-lying areas must be
managed, which could also cause potential instability. It was a complex
issue and literally one of the big challenges for the world in the coming
He said the debate would be presided over by his Foreign Secretary, but,
apart from that, there were no plans to "elevate" the meeting to include a
presidential statement or a resolution. The fact of holding it and
highlighting it was important. Claims that the United Kingdom was the leader
in climate change issues were misplaced. Certainly, the country wanted to
play a leading role, but everybody had to do that, as the issue was too big
to be left to any one country or organization. He assumed that, sometime
next year, there would be a summit devoted to climate change.
Answering a question about what "diplomatic trophies" he wanted to see on
his shelf after his presidency, he said it was always futile to talk about
achievements. He promised, however, "blood sweat and tears" to ensure that
the programme of work was delivered and that as much impact was being made
as possible in the areas addressed. One of the privileges of the job was
that one "could try to make a difference".
For further information on the Council's programme of work for April, see
the Security Council's website at www.un.org/docs/sc.
04 April 2007 11:59
This week the Mail & Guardian reports, in horrifying detail, the
confessions of a former member of the Zimbabwean National Youth Service who
was allegedly recruited and trained by President Robert Mugabe's secret
police to murder, torture and petrol-bomb members of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change. Sickened by state brutality and now seeking refuge in
Namibia, the young man tells of systematic rape and other abuses in secret
internment camps which recall those used by South American "torture states"
in the 1970s and 1980s. His account is a ringing indictment of a regime
which, despite Mugabe's pious anti-imperialist rhetoric, will stoop to any
crime in its desperate clinging to power.
State violence against citizens has been the norm in Zimbabwe
since 2000, when, after losing a constitutional referendum, Mugabe and his
party suddenly realised they were in grave danger of electoral defeat. The
strategy then was to use violent land seizures to regain popular support,
and repression by the security forces and Zanu-PF thugs to exclude the MDC
from Zanu-PF's rural stronghold. But in recent weeks state violence has
become more systematic and more shameless, with the abduction, torture and
public beating of oppositionists a particularly sinister new trend. The
state media has been enlisted in a hysterical campaign to project the MDC as
a violent organisation that has provoked a deserved security force
crackdown, and its leaders as "terrorists". In a scarcely credible article
this week, the Herald accused the political attaché at the British embassy
in Harare of financing the opposition and warned that she risked "going home
in a body-bag". Zimbabwe is on the brink of becoming a fully fledged police
Yet, despite the horrors, there is cause for optimism. Based on
its communiqué calling for Britain to honour its land reform obligations and
the lifting of sanctions, last week's Southern African Development Community
conference in Dar es Salaam has been widely read as a victory for Mugabe. It
was nothing of the sort. The communiqué was little more than a public
relations exercise; behind closed doors, regional leaders took a much
tougher line. And Mugabe cannot be pleased with the substantive outcome. For
the first time, SADC spoke with one voice -- regional leaders want a
national dialogue in Zimbabwe, an end to repressive legislation and the
savage mauling of the MDC, and have designated President Thabo Mbeki to
drive this agenda. It cannot have escaped Mugabe's notice that even his
ally, Angola, urged him to draw lessons from Angola's experience of national
From Mbeki's public pronouncements since the conference, there
are already signs of greater urgency and a new approach. He told the
Financial Times that he and fellow leaders in the region had been shocked by
the police beating of MDC leaders, and that he had been mandated to pursue
constitutional and electoral reform in Zimbabwe.
As the chorus of international condemnation has grown over the
past decade, SADC has been Mugabe's shield. But there are unmistakable signs
that regional leaders, worried by the implications of Zimbabwe's meltdown
for their own countries, have lost patience. The shield is being lowered --
and that is the most positive development in the Zimbabwean crisis for
There is something mesmerising about Thabo Mbeki when he is
really on song, when he gives a speech that wraps up an issue in his broader
political project. Which makes it all the more frustrating when his
interventions are so much at odds with the vision he articulates from the
Nowhere is this more evident than in his approach to corruption.
Mbeki was on song this Monday when he told delegates to the United Nations
Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity that graft is a
barrier to "the objective of liberating billions of human beings from the
scourge of poverty". "All of us are agreed," he added, "about the negative
consequences of corruption on the lives of especially the ordinary people
but also all the citizens of our countries."
We agree that poverty may not only cause corruption, but is
entrenched by it.
No doubt, some of Mbeki's ANC colleagues would have been amused
to hear him reciting the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, and suggesting a
benevolent dictatorship was one possible response to the greed and nastiness
of humanity. But of course he didn't mean it; he favours a democratic
approach based on respect for our common humanity.
He went on to say remedial action must "go beyond the rhetoric
of perceptions and blame. It must constructively utilise approaches
developed in the multilateral setting, and must involve global cooperation,"
not just in the developing world, perceived as corrupt, but in rich
At this point, the credibility gap yawns too wide for us to stay
Mbeki's government has ignored, frustrated and sidestepped
crucial international investigations into the arms deal, aimed precisely at
discovering who in Europe corrupted a new government in the developing
world, and at punishing those who damaged its institutions and its poor.
Then there is the unedifying spectacle of the Post Office,
backed by a minister in Mbeki's Cabinet, attempting to destroy its suspended
boss Khutso Mampeule, who was silly enough to try and clean up a sty of
And finally there is Jackie Selebi, now so deeply mired in
allegations of corruption as to be utterly without credibility. "Trust me",
says Mbeki, in the tones of a benevolent dictator, while playing the brutal
Hobbesian game of succession politics.
The problem with forked tongues is that it makes you deaf.
April 05, 2007, 07:15
John Makumbe, a senior lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, has
attributed the poor response to the two-day strike to poor planning.
The strike, called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), is said
to have had no effect on the country's economy. The Harare government has
described it as a dismal flop. However, the ZCTU is adamant the action was
effective and was the beginning of more protests.
Makumbe says the timing was also bad. "It was on the days that the schools
were closing. There had to be transport to ferry the children and so when
public transport is on the road, people going to work use it too. Secondly,
there was no arrangement. The organisation was not adequate, it was quite
poor. Thirdly, Zimbabwe has an unemployment rate of 80% and so you are only
asking only 20% of the working force to stay away."
Opposition MDC members in Britain say they will try to make up for the fact
that people in Zimbabwe are not free to express themselves. Jeff Sango, the
MDC spokesperson for the central London branch, says the struggle will not
end now. "What we are trying to do is to support what they're doing in
Zimbabwe under a very harsh and brutal regime. We will carry the struggle
from outside just like Robert Mugabe did from outside Rhodesia."
Los Angeles Times
April 5, 2007
Re "The party's over. Will Mugabe ever leave?" Current, April 1
Martin Meredith describes the collapse of the structures of Zimbabwe's once
fairly prosperous nation under dictator Robert Mugabe's ever-worsening rule.
It was almost like reading about Cuba when Fulgencio Batista took over in
the 1930s. At first, Batista ruled from behind puppets. When he gathered in
the reins of power by doling out land and infrastructure to the rich and
then chumming up with American interests and Mafia figures, he felt free to
take over directly. The big difference was that Cuban peasants and students
revolted. Batista and his pals, most of whom ended up in Florida, were
I suspect that when Mugabe finally goes, there will be a similar exodus. The
civil and military leaders who depend on Mugabe's largesse, and those who
became wealthy from his dispensations, will leave the country. In their
place, I don't doubt, will arise another dictator who will grasp any spoils
left behind. Has the "civilized" world learned nothing in the past 70 years?
Squeeze on brutal dictator by his partners in crime could usher him out of
By GWYNNE DYER
It will take a while yet, but the long and brutal reign of Robert Mugabe in
Zimbabwe is probably nearing its end. Not because of the democratic
opposition at home, whose members are regularly beaten up and sometimes
killed by the regime's police.
Not even because neighbouring countries in southern Africa are at last
putting pressure on Mugabe to go. Just because his own partners in crime
have decided that it's him or them.
The key moment actually came last December, when for the first time the
senior ranks of the ruling Zanu-PF party stood up to Mugabe and refused to
accept his proposal to postpone the next presidential election from 2008 to
2010. It was typical Mugabe salami tactics - give me two more years and
maybe I'll decide to resign in 2010 - but this time it didn't work.
All that has followed - the vicious assaults on opposition leaders by
Mugabe's police in mid-February, the South African government's decision a
week ago to start talking to Mugabe's Zanu-PF rivals and Zimbabwean
opposition leaders, and the emergency meeting of the leaders of the
14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Tanzania on March
28 - is a response to this new perception that Mugabe doesn't have long.
"I have been to these SADC summits, and I know that behind closed doors they
are brutally frank," Mugabe's former information minister, Jonathan Moyo,
told The Guardian last week.
"They will remind Mugabe that he told them he would retire at the end of his
term in 2008.... They will tell him his rule in Zimbabwe is dragging down
the whole southern African region."
None of that got into the meeting's closing communique, which ritually
expressed solidarity with Mugabe, but Moyo is probably right, because
Zimbabwe is becoming a blight on the region.
Inflation in Zimbabwe, at 1,700 per cent, is the highest in the world (the
next-highest, in Burma, is only 60 per cent), and average income is less
than a 10th of South Africa's. Ten years ago, Zimbabwe was seen as the
breadbasket of Africa, and it earned ample foreign exchange from exports of
tobacco and other cash crops; now it cannot feed half its people, and the
tobacco crop is down by four-fifths.
There are an estimated 3 million Zimbabwean economic refugees in South
Africa (two-thirds of the country's working-age population), and they are
the main support of those left at home, because unemployment there is 80 per
cent or more. Zimbabwean life expectancy is now the lowest in the world: 37
for men, 34 for women.
Then there is the unbridled brutality of the police force, the official
contempt for the law, the propaganda that blames all the failings of the
regime on foreign imperialists plotting against it - it's not exactly the
image southern Africans want for their region.
On the whole, southern Africa does not fit that image. From South Africa to
Tanzania, most of the governments in the SADC are democratically elected and
law-abiding. Most economies are showing good growth, and nobody is starving.
But it is a well-known fact that people on other continents have trouble
telling one African country from another, and that investors are the most
ignorant of all.
Zimbabwe's multiple failures take up more space in the international media
than all the news about all 13 other members of the SADC combined, and so
its neighbours' patience has run out.
In fact, it ran out some time ago, but being realists about the nature of
politics in Zimbabwe, the other SADC leaders saw no point in publicly
demanding change. Now, however, there is blood in the water. Mugabe managed
to bully Zanu-PF's central committee into nominating him for the presidency
again on Friday, but everybody knows that two major factions in the party
want him to quit. That has opened the door for others to demand change as
The ideal outcome would be an alliance between Zanu-PF dissidents and
Zimbabwe's democratic opposition in a transitional government leading to
free, internationally supervised elections. The reality may be a good deal
messier, because the Old Man doesn't know how to let go. He has just
imported 3,000 "security personnel" from Angola to stiffen his own police,
who are deserting in droves and going to work in South Africa as security
guards because inflation has made their wages almost worthless.
But one way or another, Mugabe's long misrule has reached the beginning of
NOW | APRIL 5 - 11, 2007 | VOL. 26 NO. 31
April 05, 2007 Edition 1
Predictably, the latest "conference" on Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe's trail
of economic destruction of that miserable country has produced no surprises
from African leaders!
As one might expect, the outcome has followed the previous pattern, (by
African leaders and diplomats). not to rock the boat, not to criticise
Mugabe or his cronies, but, seemingly, rather to take the part of the
perpetrator of Zimbabwe's economic madness and destruction!
A call to remove all sanctions and restrictions, etc!
But there are no sanctions as such against Zimbabwe, only targeted and
personal ones against Mugabe, his family and his cronies.
Unwillingness by the IMF or World Bank to loan or give money to Zimbabwe is
hardly sanctions, but rather stipulations and conditions on the money use to
which Mugabe is not prepared to agree to, or be bound.
But then why should these organisations and Western governments pay for
Mugabe's disastrous and idiotic Marxist revolution?
Even the People's Republic of China seems to have reservations on that
They obviously learned something from Chairman Mao's follies of the 1960s.
Of course the call for "dialogue" between the Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC
is nothing new.
It is really, by definition, an extension of our ANC government's "quiet
diplomacy" - and "Zimbabweans must sort out their own problems", which all
seems to have gone nowhere in the last five years.
Where are the tangible results?
How does one "negotiate" with someone holding a brick to one's head?
Or, in a crime-ridden city, is one told to "negotiate some deal" with the
Mafia or just get out?
One fears that the real reason for any such negotiations would be attempts
to produce some results or agreement (involving the MDC) vindicating Mugabe
and his cronies, absolving them from all responsibility for human rights
abuses, destruction of the Zimbabwe economy, the worthless Zim dollar, the
horrific unemployment ratio, and, needless to say, no real concessions by
Mugabe or Zanu-PF.
Such an agreement would probably be used to attempt to legalise Mugabe's and
the Zanu-PF's actions in "defending democracy", no matter how brutal and
Mugabe, who attended the conference, seemed quite pleased with the result.
So, exactly where do we go from here?
Must we expect much more of the same, while Zimbabwe continues daily to