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Tsvangirai claims Zimbabwe presidency, wants Mugabe talks

Yahoo News

by Fanuel Jongwe

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai claimed outright
victory Saturday in presidential elections and warned Robert Mugabe's ruling
party would resort to violence to cling to power.

"We won the election without a need for a run-off," Tsvangirai, the leader
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told a press
conference, giving his first personal declaration of victory.
There has still been no official announcement of the result a week after
last Saturday's polls but the ruling ZANU-PF has declared there will be a
run-off and that 84-year-old Mugabe will stand and defeat Tsvangirai.

In the simultaneous vote for the senate, each party won 30 of the 60 seats
to the largely ceremonial upper house of parliament, according to final
electoral commission results Saturday.

Mugabe, who has overseen his country's economic ruin since he took power at
independence 28 years ago, suffered the worst setback of his long rule at
last Saturday's elections when his party lost control of parliament.

But he is in no mood for retirement and his party says it is confident he
will deliver a knock-out blow to 56-year-old Tsvangirai in the second round,
which should be held in a fortnight's time.

"In the run-off, violence will be a new weapon to reverse the people's
victory," Tsvangirai warned. "ZANU-PF is preparing a war against the people
of Zimbabwe such as we witnessed in 2000" when Mugabe failed to win backing
in a referendum for a broadening of his powers.

Shortly after that result, Mugabe loyalists embarked on a series of
invasions of white-owned farms after accusing the farmers of persuading
their workers to vote against the president's proposals.

Several dozen people were killed in the ensuing violence while thousands of
farmers and their workers were forced to flee.

Tsvangirai, who suffered head injuries in an attack by Mugabe's security
forces last year, also extended an olive branch to his old rival by saying
he would guarantee his future safety and called for dialogue.

"I am calling on President Mugabe to begin a dialogue with me, to begin the
process of a peaceful, orderly and democratic transition," Tsvangirai said.

"In making this call, I believe it is in the interests of the people and the
future of this country not to create conditions of anxiety and instability.

"I want to say to President Robert Mugabe: 'Please rest your mind, the new
Zimbabwe guarantees your safety'."

Tsvangirai said he wanted to put together a broad-based government of
national unity and eschew partisanship.

"On our part, we have started consultations to put in place an inclusive
government of national unity. Our victory is not for the MDC but for every
Zimbabwe where everyone is shareholder."

In its politburo meeting on Friday, ZANU-PF not only endorsed Mugabe to
stand in a run-off but also demanded a recount in at least 16 parliamentary
constituencies, potentially enough to overturn its initial defeat.

With tensions rising between the government and opposition, long-time
mediator Thabo Mbeki, the president of neighbouring South Africa, called for
patience from all sides.

"I think there is time to wait, let's see the outcome of the election
results," Mbeki told reporters in London after meeting Gordon Brown, the
prime minister of former colonial power Britain.

"If there is a re-run of the presidential election, let's see what comes out
of that. I think that is the correct way to go."

Brown said his talks with Mbeki and other African leaders such as Tanzanian
President Jakaya Kikwete, who is the current chair of the African Union, had
reached agreement on the need for foreign observers to monitor a second

While Western observers were barred from overseeing last Saturday's vote,
the African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC) both
sent teams of monitors.

"In addition to us saying that the results should not be delayed, we are
determined that of course there are international observers if there is a
second round," said Brown.

While ZANU-PF is weighing its legal options over the parliamentary vote, the
MDC tried Saturday to persuade the high court to hear its application for
the immediate release of the presidential results.

However MDC lawyer Alec Muchadehama said the court had put the matter off
until Sunday. "I am concerned with the postponement but we will wait for
tomorrow," he told reporters.

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Recounts, Petitions, Possible Run-Off, etc.

From: Veritas <>

BILL WATCH 14/2008
[4th April 2008]
Update on Elections
Council:  these results were officially declared by ZEC officials at ward level.  These will not be announced from the National Command Centre, but will be published in the press as required by the Electoral Act. 
House of Assembly:  these results, which were officially declared by the Constituency Election Officers, have now been announced by ZEC at the National Command Centre:- MDC [Tsvangirai] 99, Zanu PF 97, MDC [Mutambara] 10 and Independent 1, accounting for all 207 contested seats.  There are still 3 seats that will have to be filled by by-election [the polls having been called off because candidates died before polling day].  The new House of Assembly will comprise 210 elected seats [no appointed seats].
Senate:  these results were officially declared by the Constituency Elections Officers - but only 44 have been announced from the ZEC National Command  Centre.  There is nothing in the electoral law to account for this delay in announcing the Senate Results [nor the previous delay in announcing the House of Assembly results].
Out of 93 Senate seats:
  60 are elected [6 Senators per province]
  18 are chiefs [see below]
  10 are Provincial Governors appointed by the new President
    5 are appointed by the new President
Chiefs: 16 Chiefs were elected by the eight non-metropolitan provinces on Monday 31st March. Together with the President and Deputy President of the Council of Chiefs [who are ex officio Senators] they make the number of Chiefs in the Senate 18.
Section 67A of the Electoral Act permits any political party or candidate who contested the election to ask ZEC for a recount in one or more polling stations.  The request must be made within 48 hours of the declaration of the winning candidate at ward or constituency level [or, in the case of the Presidential election, at the ZEC National Command Centre].  ZEC can also order a recount on its own initiative [no time limit stated].  In both cases ZEC will decide when and where the recount will take place and the procedure to be adopted.  Accredited observers, candidates and their representatives are entitled to be present.
Storage of Ballot Papers
Section 70 of the Electoral Act.  After votes have been counted at polling stations, ballot papers and related documents are placed in sealed packets and delivered to the constituency elections officer.  The constituency elections officer stores these in places designated by the Chief Elections Officer.  Unless an election petition is lodged [see below], the ballot papers and related documents will be destroyed 14 days after the end of the "election period" [see under election petitions for definition of "election period"].  If an election petition is lodged, the documents must be retained for 6 months, after which they will be destroyed unless the Electoral Court orders otherwise. 
Presidential Election Results
ZEC has categorically stated that these will not be announced until all the 60 elected Senate seat results have been announced.  Nothing in the Electoral law dictates this sequence.  But at this stage ZEC attributes the delay to the verification of the figures returned by the constituencies and having them agreed by the relevant parties.
Deadline for Announcement of Results:  There is no specific legal deadline, but lawyers have opined that ZEC has a duty to act with reasonable speed.  The MDC have applied to the High Court for an order obliging ZEC to announce the result promptly.
In the Event of a Run Off
The Electoral Act requires a run-off to be held within 21 days "after the previous election".  Legal opinion is divided on whether this means 21 days after polling day or 21 days after ZEC's announcement of the result.   The ZEC position given by the PRO department is that it dates from polling day.
It has been suggested that the 21 day deadline may be extended by regulations made under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act.  The Act is wide enough to permit this.
Election Petitions
An unsuccessful candidate wishing to challenge an election result has the right to lodge an election petition with the Electoral Court.  An election petition must be lodged promptly:
For the Presidential election the "election period" ends with the declaration of the winning candidate.  For the House of Assembly and Senate elections, it ends with the official declaration of the last constituency result [i.e. the last declaration at constituency level by the constituency elections officer on the spot, not the last ZEC Command Centre announcement].  For Council elections itends with the official declaration of the last ward result for the Council concerned.  [Ref: Electoral Act, section 4, definition of "election period".]
The Electoral Court has no discretion to accept a late petition.
An election petition must be dealt with and decided promptly.  The Electoral Court must hand down its decision within 6 months of a petition being lodged [section 182 of the Electoral Act].  Its decision on a question of fact is final, i.e., there can be no appeal.  Its decision on a question of law may, however, be taken on appeal to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court must hand down its decision within 6 months [Ref: Electoral Act, section 173].
Issues of Government Pending Results
President:  the incumbent President remains President until the winner of the Presidential election assumes office [i.e. takes the oaths of loyalty and of office - which must happen on the day he is declared the winner of the poll or within 48 hours thereafter].
Vice Presidents and Ministers:  these are still in office, even those who have not  won seats as MPs or Senators.  They will go out of office if a new President assumes office.
Parliament:  the old Parliament was dissolved on the 28th March [the day before polling day].  The new Parliament will meet on a day to be fixed by the next President by proclamation in the Government Gazette, which must be within 180 days after the 28th March.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.

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Mass murder – what mass murder?, asks Robert Mugabe

April 6, 2008
In a rare interview, Robert Mugabe reveals just how unrepentant, cut off and menacing he is

After months of requests for an interview with Robert Mugabe and weeks of waiting in Harare, my patience finally paid off on December 21 last year. I was about to return empty-handed to Johannesburg when the long-silent telephone in my room at York Lodge in Harare rang at 9.30am.

Be at State House in half an hour, I was told. I grabbed the car keys and was on the road in less than 10 minutes. Once inside the grounds of the imposing colonial mansion, I was escorted by one security agent after another past rows of police cars, armed soldiers and Mugabe’s ever-ready motorcade towards the two stuffed lions that guard the visitors’ entrance and Mugabe’s domain.

There I waited in the elegant reception room amid displays of English porcelain, occasionally chatting to George Charamba, permanent secretary for information in the office of the president, for three hours. He told me that “His Excellency” viewed the interview as an opportunity to clarify some issues for the historical record and wanted to give it his full attention.

Suddenly all the officials in the reception area leapt to their feet and stood to attention. Charamba hissed at me to do the same. I turned to where their eyes were focused behind me and there, just inside a doorway, was Robert Mugabe.

He was wearing a dark suit and white shirt, with a patterned tie and matching red silk handkerchief tucked into his top pocket. He studied me silently.

When I finally entered the president’s office, after my handbag had been searched by a security agent, I was startled to see Mugabe sitting bolt upright in a tall, mustard-coloured chair behind his vast desk. He seemed oddly vulnerable but frightening, too – perhaps something to do with his stillness combined with his forbidding public image, his smallness amid the pomp.

He nodded, watching me closely. The tension in the room was suffocating. I asked Zimbabwe’s president if he found it difficult to talk about himself. “Yes.”

Why? “Because talking about oneself is praising oneself. I don’t like to talk about myself at all.”

Interestingly, when Mugabe told me he didn’t want to boast, it did not occur to him that I was asking about self-reflection. His first idea was that there were only good things to discuss. He did not consider good as well as bad because there is a division within himself where anything negative is externalised and only good qualities belong to him.

It’s a delusion that may have been fostered by a lonely childhood. Mugabe said that he was “a very shy person, a shy boy as I grew up, and yes, I still have a bit of it, inevitably”.

Indeed, his brother Donato had told me that books had been Mugabe’s only friends as a child. And Mugabe confirmed this: “That’s what my mother also used to say. Yes, I liked reading, reading, reading every little book I found. Yes, I preferred to keep to myself rather than playing with others. I didn’t want too many friends, one or two only – the chosen ones. I lived in my mind a lot. I liked talking to myself, reciting little poems and so on; reading things aloud to myself.”

This sense of isolation seems to have intensified when Mugabe’s father abandoned the family after his eldest son Michael died at 15 in 1934. “That was a terrible blow,” recalled Mugabe. “It was poisoning. In those days we used to be given some poisonous stuff to spray on grass to kill locusts. Michael possibly went into an auntie’s room and fetched a gourd that had held poison and used it to drink water. That’s what the person who was with him said he did.”

His own life, he speculated, would have been easier had Michael not died because his elder brother would have assumed the family responsibilities that fell instead on his own young shoulders. I asked him if he would recommend politics as a career to any of his three children. He paused, sighing as he looked down at his hands on his lap: “It’s painful, politics, yeah – it’s not a profession to which people must invite themselves, really. They must be invited by others.”

Was this an omnipotent belief that only he – or did he mean God – could appoint people to positions of power in Zimbabwe?

Throughout the interview the president’s tone was barely audible when he talked about himself or when I approached his personal concerns. It was as if he was trying to hide away. He cleared his throat often – perhaps another sign of his discomfort. He seemed at times apprehensive rather than defensive and often more frank than manipulative.

Although substantially truthful, he was often contradictory. But he did not see the contradictions because, like the seemingly respectable married man who makes his living as a drug lord, Mugabe holds parallel positions and talks about the one as if the other does not exist.

How would you describe yourself? “I feel I am just an ordinary person. I feel within me there is a charitable disposition towards others, just as I find charitable positions towards me from others. And I don’t make enemies, no. Others may make me an enemy of theirs, but I make no enemies. Even those who might do things against me, I don’t make them enemies at all.”

So you’re not a vengeful person. Are you a forgiving person?

“Yes, I think so. Otherwise I would have slaughtered lots of people, including Ian Smith [the former white prime minister of Rhodesia]. I always used to joke with Smith that he had borrowed hair [meaning Smith’s scalp] which rightly belonged to us, but he could continue to wear it . . .”

He mused almost wistfully about the attitude of the Zimbabwe white population towards his government: “It was actually the British who spoilt things for the whites.”

In Mugabe’s eyes, western leaders – particularly Tony Blair – were to blame for Zimbabwe’s land disputes because they had failed to provide millions in promised compensation to white farmers for land that had been taken from black people in the first place. To begin with, President Jimmy Carter and Margaret Thatcher had supplied funding for land reform – but not enough.

By contrast, John Major had become his “friend”, he said, after they “talked about land and he committed to review the matter”. He added: “If you take the Conservatives, [they are] much more mature [than new Labour]. They realise there is something called succeeding and hon-ouring both assets and liabilities.

“Alas, Major was defeated by Labour. In came new Labour. I spoke to Blair in Edinburgh. We spoke at quite some length, after we had been sending messages which were not being responded to. He said he had a team in his office which was looking at the matter [of funding for land reform]. Two years went by – no response – and we wondered what had happened.

“They don’t want our problems. They say it doesn’t come under the poverty relief programme they are running. They’re saying their policies don’t derive from the Conservative party and this [funding] was a decision of the Conservative party. No colonial responsibilities any more.”

His voice became eerily thin: “That was quite a damning response. It was a very ignorant response. There was a whole package which Blair had on his desk, left by Major, agreed to between the Conservatives and ourselves. What was going to happen to it?”

Mugabe spoke in a menacingly low tone. “They were going to tear it up,” he growled bitterly. “The stance we took was: they can refuse their money but the land is ours anyway. So keep your money and we’ll keep our land. So that became it. Then our people became disenchanted and the war veterans started moving on to farms and taking them.”

Why didn’t he stop them? Why did he allow the farms of people who had lived there for generations to be in-vaded? Again, the deluded mind had its explanation: “We didn’t regard it as legal, but we didn’t disallow it because we were taking action against the British government.”

Mugabe’s explanation of his government’s disastrous land grab was obviously the information he intended me to convey – and doubtless one reason why he agreed to speak to me when so many other interview requests from foreign journalists had been turned down over the years.

My purpose in obtaining the interview, however, was not to dwell on the land issue, but to explore the man. Why, I asked, do so many people fear you? “Perhaps because I’m quiet, I keep to myself,” he replied. But what people really fear about him is his instability. While he may not be mad in a clinical sense, his is a cut-off, make-believe world.

Curiously, for all his hatred of Britain’s colonial rule, he retains affection for the British royal family. “We’ve had every member of the royal family [to stay] at State House – every one of them,” he claims. “When we had the Commonwealth meeting here in 1991, we had the Queen staying. She loved it. We prepared a lot of things for her . . . And now, to this day, we treasure those moments and we have nothing against the royal family. If anything, we still have our love for the royal family, as I was telling Prince Charles when we met in Rome at the funeral of the Pope. I sat next to him. No, we haven’t lost our love for them. But, you know, the Blair government made even the prince and the Queen say something against Zimbabwe. That’s terrible! It’s sad.”

For a moment Mugabe seemed on the brink of tears. But when I raised the uncomfortable subject of Zimbabwe’s economic collapse, he swung back to resentment and anger.

Many people, I suggested, would say the country is light years away from restructuring agriculture to anything like the position it had occupied in the economy previously. His eyes flashed and his voice rose.

“Light years?” he repeated indignantly. “We don’t even have to go two years. Look at what we will do next year and you’ll be surprised. How could you miss the amount of farming that the people are doing? It’s on an even larger scale than was being done before. What is lacking now are goods on the shelves. That’s all. But the infra-structure is there. We have our mines, you see. We have our enterprises.”

Incredibly, Mugabe was saying that everything was fine, apart from the fact that the people didn’t have food on the shelves. Perhaps admitting that what he set out to do has completely failed would be unbearable.

As we spoke, the octogenarian president kept slipping down in his chair. His legs and arms were all over the place. I wanted to get up and go over to him, put my hands under his armpits and sit him up straight. His body language, if not his words, seemed to reflect his lack of grounding, the fact that his efforts had indeed all come to nothing.

Have you changed over the past 30 years? “I’ve grown old and bald. But the ideas and principles remain. I haven’t changed at all.”

What about all the people who have died, the beatings, the torture, the mass murder? He replied icily: “Who are those people; who are they? We want to know.”

Do you have any regrets, sir? “Of what?” Anything. “It would depend on what you have in mind.”

Politically? “No, no regrets. You go into a fight. It’s a fight against colonialism. You make sacrifices. And naturally, when people die, you regret the deaths of the people . . .”

How would you like to be remem-bered? “Just as the son of a peasant family who, alongside others, felt he had a responsibility to fight for his country.”

Another delusion. Another denial of reality from the bored, deprived boy who became a president and created his own internal realm: a parallel world where he could imagine that there was no injustice when it lay all around.

© Heidi Holland 2008

Extracted from Dinner with Mugabe by Heidi Holland, published by Penguin South Africa

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Opposition braced for dirty war as Mugabe clings on to power

The Sunday Times
April 6, 2008

The beleaguered president has been accused of mobilising militias to settle
Zimbabwe’s election the hard way

R W Johnson in Harare
ZIMBABWE was bracing itself yesterday for the possibility that President
Robert Mugabe, forced into an expected election runoff against his
opposition challenger Morgan Tsvangirai, could mobilise an army of thugs to
beat, intimidate and terrify voters, while taking emergency powers to vary
the electoral regulations so as to make ballot-stuffing easier.

Both Britain and the United States are exercising strong diplomatic pressure
on Mugabe not to follow this route. But some diplomatic observers believe
that it may be the ageing despot’s only way of keeping his vow to die in
State House.

Mugabe’s deputy information minister, Bright Matonga, who claimed last week
that the president’s Zanu-PF party had let him down in the first round of
voting, predicted a resounding victory in the second, saying: “We only
applied 25% of our energy in the first round. That [the runoff] is when we
are going to unleash the other 75%.”

What will be unleashed, according to leaders of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), are war veterans, pro-government militia and the
security forces in a display of brute force aimed at enabling Mugabe, 84, to
cling to power.

Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, who warned that Mugabe was about to launch a
“war against the people” said his party was reluctant to take part in any
runoff because of the growing risks of violence. In any case, he argued,
there was no need for one because he had won last weekend’s presidential
election outright and was already forming a new government.
He called Mugabe a lame duck president who “must concede to allow us to move
on with the business of rebuilding and reconstructing the country”.

According to the MDC, Tsvangirai secured 50.3% of the vote, enough to be
named president. It is understood that Mugabe’s politburo was briefed on
Friday that Tsvangirai had won 47.7%, compared with 43.4% for Mugabe and the
remainder for Simba Makoni, a former finance minister expelled by Zanu-PF.
If confirmed, this result would require a runoff.

The official tally has yet to be declared and when MDC lawyers went to the
High Court yesterday in an attempt to force an announcement, their way into
the building was blocked by police from Mugabe’s office over the road. One
of the lawyers, Alec Muchadehama, said the police had threatened to shoot
them. The case was eventually postponed until today.

The longer the delay in announcing the presidential election result,
opposition activists say, the more time Mugabe will have to mobilise his

Reports yesterday suggested that attempts to intimidate the opposition could
already be under way. According to one African news agency, Zimbabwean
soldiers beat supporters of the MDC in some parts of the country to punish
them for “premature” election victory celebrations. At least 17 people were
said to have been beaten so badly that they had to be taken to hospital.

The war veterans - 1,000 of whom marched through Harare in silence on
Friday - accused the MDC of defying the law by putting out results before
the official electoral commission was ready. The tactics were “a provocation
against freedom fighters”, said the veterans. They vowed to repel any
attempt by white farmers ousted since 2000 to repossess land which is now
held by black Zimbabweans.

“The election has been seen as a way to reopen the invasion of our people by
whites,” said Jabulani Sibanda, their leader. “We cannot just sit back when
there are all these provocations.”

Zanu-PF’s youth brigades, known as “green bombers” because of their military
style of clothing, were said to be ready to return to action alongside the
veterans, evoking memories of the pounding of opposition supporters – some
of whom had their homes burnt down - in past campaigns.

Yesterday’s events followed a week of claim and counterclaim about Mugabe’s
intentions. At one point it was reported that he was negotiating a dignified
exit and yesterday there were suggestions that his wife Grace was demanding
that he resign to protect the interests of their children. There was no
corroboration of these reports.

The Sunday Times has learnt the inside story of what happened last Sunday,
the day after the poll. By Sunday afternoon the theoretically independent
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the body under Justice George Chiurshe which
is charged with conducting the elections, communicated its initial estimates
of the result to the Zanu-PF politburo: Tsvangirai 58%, Robert Mugabe 27%
and Makoni 15%. These estimates were based on too narrow an urban sample and
were too favourable to Tsvangirai and his MDC, but the message was clear:
Mugabe had lost. The politburo, particularly Mugabe himself, hit the roof.

According to an account sourced to a commission official, Mugabe then
ordered it to declare him elected with 53%. He was angry at Makoni’s
“treachery” and demanded that his vote be reduced to 5%.

This produced resistance from the commission and also from the army, police
and intelligence chiefs.

The commission objected that manipulation of the results on such a huge
scale would be too obvious, while the security chiefs were concerned that
the country might become ungovernable if the popular will was so blatantly

At this stage Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s president, took a hand - he was
continuously on the phone from Pretoria and had his emissaries in Harare.
Mbeki’s overweening interest is to maintain Zanu-PF in power as a sister
liberation movement of his own African National Congress. He fears a
possible domino effect throughout southern Africa if a movement that had
wrested power from the whites in a liberation war is seen to fail and
perhaps then fall to bits.

However, Mbeki wants Mugabe to go. Instead, he would like Makoni to
succeed - a younger, modernising technocrat who would, he hopes, restore
both his party’s and his country’s fortunes.

Out of Mbeki’s discussions came the notion that the results should be
“adjusted” so that Tsvangirai was brought back under the 50% mark, perhaps
to 47%-49%, while Mugabe could get 41% and Makoni 10%-12%.

With no candidate over 50% this would produce the necessity of a
second-round runoff and Mugabe should then withdraw, leaving Zanu-PF to
rally behind Makoni. Provided the security forces could be given a strong
role in the way that the runoff was organised and conducted, Makoni could
then be given just over 50% and Tsvangirai kept out.

As word spread into the South African media that Mbeki had been heavily
engaged, his office quickly denied that he had been involved at all. By the
end of the week Mbeki was publicly appealing for all sides to respect the
vote, whatever it had been.

At a conference on progressive governance convened by Gordon Brown in
Hertfordshire yesterday, Mbeki told the international community to wait for
the full election results, saying it was not time for action. “No, it’s time
to wait,” he said.

The proposal stitched together by Mbeki might have worked, provided the
armed forces were willing to give Makoni some fairly muscular support.

“We were saved from this outcome,” an MDC source said, “by our most reliable
ally, Robert Mugabe, who absolutely refused to stand down.”

This brought matters back to square one, leaving the security chiefs and the
electoral commission in disarray. Constantine Chiwenga, head of the armed
forces, together with Mugabe’s cousin, Perence Shiri, are said to have
wanted the army to take power itself. They were faced down by others,
including Philip Sibanda, the head of the army, and Augustine Chihuri, the
police commissioner.

Chris Mbanga, Tsvangirai’s chief of staff, said he had also heard of the
coup plot. “But the fact is they couldn’t have got far,” he said. “We have
our own people in there at every level and they would have resisted. The
police and the army want change too, you know.”

Meanwhile, the drama had shifted to the commission’s command centre where
Mbanga sat monitoring the parliamentary and presidential results for the MDC
as they came through. With the electoral register absurdly out of date and
so many having fled or died, the voting totals were often very small.

Mbanga suddenly began to notice some considerable anomalies. In general, in
every constituency Tsvangirai was running well ahead of the score achieved
by the MDC parliamentary candidate - but he noticed that in Budiriro the MDC
candidate had won more than 15,000 votes and Tsvangirai only 12,000. Then he
noticed that at Mount Darwin West in Mashonaland North, Vice-President Joyce
Mujuru had won 6,071 votes according to the tallies posted up outside the
polling stations there, but the commission had given her 13,270. Similarly,
at Shamva North in Mashonaland West, the cabinet minister Nicholas Goche had
won 4,195 votes, according to the polling station tallies, but the
commission credited him with 10,385.

“Once I saw this and some more very fishy figures indeed coming in for
Mashonaland Central, I just said, okay, I’m not signing for anything more,”
he explained.

Instead, Mbanga insisted on an audit of every single seat, with all the
original tally papers from all the polling stations brought in so they could
be compared. Thus, while Mugabe has been widely blamed for not declaring the
results more quickly, it is the opposition that has made counting such a
slow process in its determination to prevent cheating.

By Monday the police and army were everywhere on the streets and a few
independent websites were showing the MDC running well ahead of Zanu-PF in
both the parliamentary elections and the presidential poll.

Most people were dependent on state television which leaked out the
parliamentary results at a snail’s pace, always leaving Zanu-PF one ahead of
MDC. Of the presidential results there was no word.

Ordinary Zimbabweans had no idea of the drama being played out. So terrible
has been the toll of the Mugabe years that the struggle just to stay alive
preoccupies those who are left - so many have died and at least a third of
the population has fled the country. Among those who remain, 80% are
unemployed and most go hungry.

Every morning begins in the towns with huge queues outside banks and
building societies, for nobody may withdraw more than Z$500m a day - about

Harare is the only city where you can see large-denomination banknotes
scattered on the pavement. So rapid has inflation become that all notes bear
an expiry date after which they are invalid and the central bank adds
another nought or two to the next set of notes. People just tear up invalid
notes and throw them away.

When you speak to people in the queues you realise how beaten down they are.
“I have three children, all hungry. I’ve sold everything in the house except
a table and our beds,” said Margaret Zimondi, a secretary.

“We’re just waiting to hear that Mugabe rigged the elections again, as
usual,” said Learnmore Maposa, a carpenter.

“Things are much worse in the countryside,” he added. “I went to see my
mother in her village last weekend. They can’t cook on oil stoves any more
because the price of diesel is too high, so they have to cook with
electricity. Often there is none, so they just go to bed hungry night after
night. My mother can’t weigh more than 35kg [77lb] now. In our village so
many have died already. I am frightened for her.”

When the parliamentary results finally came out, the state media tried to
depict the situation as a tie when the opposition had clearly won. The MDC
had 99 seats, Zanu-PF 96. The MDC splinter party led by Arthur Mutambara had
11 and there was one (pro-Tsvangirai) independent. Three candidates had died
before election day, but all in almost certain MDC seats so the combined
opposition has 111 out of 217 seats today and will end up with 114 out of

This result alone would make it difficult for a Zanu-PF president to govern.
The party promptly accused the MDC of bribing officials in 16 constituencies
and demanded that the results be overturned.

As the week progressed the tension grew but observers sensed on every hand
the resistance of the Zanu-PF state, facing a situation it had never dreamt
of. Mugabe called a meeting of the Zanu-PF high command and, as usual,
imposed his will. There would be a runoff and he would run, and meanwhile
the opposition and foreign journalists would be put in their place. Armed
police duly raided MDC offices and hotels housing foreign journalists.

Ahead lies a bruising second round. It is quite possible that Mugabe will
break the constitution and insist on a three-month gap before a second
round, using that period to try to smash the MDC and terrify the electorate
into voting him back in. But the odds are against him now.

£1bn aid plan

A vigorous aid programme to rebuild Zimbabwe’s economy, society and
agriculture would quickly follow an opposition victory, with Britain in a
prominent role, writes David Watts.

With £1 billion to be spent, the International Monetary Fund would take the
lead in stabilising the currency - inflation is forecast to hit 500,000% by
May. The plan would also involve the World Bank, UN and EU. Britain is
already putting £45m into the country over the next two years to help
HIV/Aids victims and to provide food, shelter and education. More could be
made available to help to resettle refugees - there are 800,000 in South
Africa alone.

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The historic moment Britain must seize

Daily Mail

Last updated at 23:48pm on 5th April 2008

Britain's record over Zimbabwe is a disgrace. Robert Mugabe has been allowed
to destroy his country while London - paralysed by post-colonial guilt - has
looked on.

Mugabe's corrupt, brutal rule has left his people on their knees. Life
expectancy is just 37; two decades ago it was 60.

Skilled workers have fled the absurdity of 80 per cent unemployment and
100,000 per cent inflation.

Too good to be true: Last week it seemed that Mugabe, 84, might finally be
on his way

Mugabe's sinister "war veterans" have bludgeoned white farmers out of
business, destroying the bedrock of the economy.

Last week, for a fleeting moment, it looked as if the 84-year-old thug might
finally be on his way.

Diplomats said Morgan Tsvangirai, the brave and tenacious leader of the main
opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had won last
Saturday's poll.

They suggested negotiations had started for a transfer of power, and that
Mugabe was about to make a historic statement. It always seemed too good to
be true.


Last night it was business as usual, as the MDC tried to force officials to
release the presidential election results and Mugabe's henchmen menaced

The same diplomats now appear meekly to accept the idea of a run-off between
the two main contenders - despite warnings that it is likely to lead to a
resurgence of violence and intimidation.

At this potentially decisive moment, when international pressure might
finally tell, Gordon Brown and his Foreign Secretary David Miliband have
remained almost mute.

Yesterday the Prime Minister was said to be planning to raise the Zimbabwe
crisis with South African President Thabo Mbeki as "part of the agenda" for
a conference in Watford.

The truth is that Mbeki's unflinching support for Mugabe has helped to keep
the dictator in power, and our fear of offending post-apartheid South Africa
has stopped us loudly stating what needs to be said.

After 28 years of Mugabe rule, the results of the presidential election must
be known.


Punishing the poor

When the economy was booming, he might have got away with it. But in the
existing climate, Gordon Brown's decision to scrap the 10p starting rate of
income tax looks badly misconceived.

The move, which was announced more than a year ago but takes effect today,
will hit the very people Mr Brown claims to want to help.

Anyone earning under £19,400 will pay as much as £232 a year in extra tax.

So much for tackling poverty - cleaners, road sweepers and security guards
will all be worse off.

It will pay for a 2p cut in the basic 22p band, a cynical political strategy
that punishes rock-solid Labour voters in the hope of attracting floating
middle classes.

The party's worried backbenchers say support for the Government is too low
to take this for granted, and fear they will pay for it at the next

The issue has become a rallying point for party disaffection, and suggests
that another classic Brown ruse - announcing unpopular measures to take
effect in the distant future - no longer works.

For the Prime Minister's sake, he must hope political strategist Mark Penn,
his latest recruit, can think of more sophisticated ways to spin him out of

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Document alleging Zimbabwe 'transition' plans sparks unease

Los Angeles Times

The opposition denies involvement and blames the purported list on
authorities trying to incite panic. It also accuses the regime of plans to
intimidate the public.
From a Times Staff Writer
2:44 PM PDT, April 5, 2008
HARARE, ZIMBABWE -- Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai today accused
Zimbabwe's authorities of preparing a "war against the people" to intimidate
opposition voters in a presidential runoff.

The accusation came as a document purporting to represent the opposition's
"transition" plans circulated here in the capital prominently featuring a
"hit list" of bureaucrats and security officials who would be purged. A
spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change scoffed at the
authenticity of the document, saying it was merely another sortie in the
regime's battle to prevent Tsvangirai from taking power by frightening the
higher echelons of the bureaucracy and security services about an MDC

"Our documents would not be circulating around Harare, unless it's a CIO
means to try to cause panic," the spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said, referring
to the intelligence agency.

As Tsvangirai attempts the delicate maneuver of reassuring military and
intelligence chiefs that they would not be targeted should he become
president, the document sent out precisely the opposite message, undermining
his efforts to peel the generals who have long supported Mugabe away from
the president.

The election saw the ruling ZANU-PF party lose its majority for the first
time in its 28 years of power. The opposition has kept up intense pressure
on Mugabe to leave office, but the ruling party decided to fight a runoff in
the presidential campaign if final results gave no candidate an outright
majority. It also demanded a recount in 16 parliamentary seats. When
opposition lawyers tried to go to court for an order compelling the release
of the final election results today, they were blocked.

Tsvangirai, who claims to have won the presidential vote outright with no
need for a runoff, said today that the regime was preparing to mobilize
armed militias to intimidate voters.

"In the runoff, violence will be the weapon. It is therefore unfair and
unreasonable for President Mugabe to call a runoff," Tsvangirai told
reporters. "Mugabe must accept that the country needs to move forward. He
cannot hold the country to ransom. He is the problem, not the solution."

But he said the opposition would not attempt to prosecute Mugabe on charges
related to his rule and would offer a guarantee of safety.

The purported "transition" document, portrayed as having been written by a
senior advisor to Tsvangirai, said top commanders, the head of the
intelligence services, the police commissioner, the chief justice and the
Reserve Bank governor would be fired immediately after a Tsvangirai
administration took power.

It said the Reserve Bank was being looted by the regime and two officials
from Germany's Central Bank should be appointed for six months to stabilize
the situation.

"The chief justice must go," the document said. "After he's completed the
swearing-in ceremony at State House, he should be told to clear his desk and
leave his office," the document said.

Jonathan Moyo, an independent lawmaker who cooperated with the MDC in the
election, said the document was hugely damaging to the MDC.

If it was designed to cause panic in the higher echelons, it had succeeded,
said Moyo, who formerly served as Mugabe's information minister.

"It has added to a raging fire," said the lawmaker, who said the transition
document was being passed around among frightened Harare bureaucrats. "They
[commanders and bureaucrats] were already of the opinion that Tsvangirai
didn't like them and that there would be retribution against them and there
would be humiliation. This is not a transition. This is a humiliation."

Chamisa said the opposition had no plans to target individuals, but conceded
that the document was damaging.

"Of course the strategy [of the regime] is to cause panic and to cause
resistance from the establishment, especially the bureaucrats and
securocrats," he said. "We don't have any documents targeting individuals.
We are not looking at personalities. We carry no machetes, nor any hammers
to target any individuals. Our aim is to be restorative and rebuild the

Two journalists arrested Thursday were still in custody and had been charged
under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and electoral
laws. New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said in a statement that
Times journalist Barry Bearak had been interrogated about his sources and
held in a cold cell with no shoes, warm clothes or blankets.

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Zimbabwe: A broken nation

The Scotsman

By Kevin Kane
in Johannesburg
Toppling Mugabe would be just the start for a country that went from bread
basket to basket case

MORGAN Tsvangirai has more problems this weekend than just proving that he
has, as his supporters claim, won the right to be the new leader of

His immediate hurdle is a second, run-off presidential election in a few
weeks time against incumbent Robert Mugabe, whose security agencies
gerrymandered the results of the first poll eight days ago to give
Tsvangirai less than the 50% of the total vote he needed for victory. The
circumstances leading to the run-off suggest that Tsvangirai supporters will
face widespread intimidation and violence from Mugabe's police, military,
youth militiamen and the so-called 'war veterans' who drove white farmers
from their properties with extreme violence from 2000 onwards.

But even if Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
does emerge victorious against what will be massive odds, he will face an
even greater challenge – the reconstruction of a once bountiful and
beautiful country that has been almost totally destroyed by Mugabe and his
top lieutenants.

The scale of the task will be immense. Since 2000 the economy has suffered
devastation on a scale normally inflicted only by war or natural disaster.
The country's Gross National Product is today more than 40% smaller than it
was eight years ago.

While aid agencies estimate that African states need to sustain an annual
GNP growth of 7% to make marginal advances, Zimbabwe under Mugabe has had
the world's fastest declining economy for most of the past decade. This is
mirrored in such statistics as inflation far in excess of a surreal
100,000%; an unemployment rate of 80%; the flight to other countries of a
quarter of the population in search of work; and the world's lowest life
expectancy – including a criminal rate of hardly 34 years for women compared
with nearly 60 at independence in 1980.

The main pillar of the economy was then agriculture, in the shape of
white-owned commercial farms. By seizing these farms with extreme violence
and handing them to some 400,000 landless peasant villagers, without
bothering to provide them with finance, training, farm machinery or title
deeds, Mugabe wrecked commercial agriculture.

Subsequently, Mugabe ordered his armed services chief, General Constantine
Chiwenga, to drive the peasants from the farms and give them instead to his
close relatives, ministers, the country's top judges and armed forces and
police officers, as well as pliant journalists and clergymen. These
properties are now mainly used as weekend retreats and, for the most part,
have ceased to be productive.

Zimbabwe, until the late 1990s a net food exporter, was known as the
breadbasket of Africa. Now it is Africa's basket case. One of the
substantial benefits of getting rid of Mugabe would be that Zimbabwe would
likely immediately receive massive food aid from international agencies and
governments. But reviving and reforming agriculture to guarantee long-term
food supplies and a degree of prosperity would be a top priority of a
Tsvangirai administration.

However, politically he cannot afford to return to the pre-2000 situation
and restore white farmers to the land they once owned. Most of them have
fled into exile in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Zambia, Mozambique and
Nigeria anyway. And, disastrous as the land invasions were, they were
initially popular because white farmers occupied most of the best
agricultural land and they were, for the most part, subsequent denials
notwithstanding, deeply racist.

"Even before Robert Mugabe embarked on this ham-fisted measure, there was a
national consensus on the need for land reform," said Tsvangirai in one
interview. "There was no argument. The argument is over how it was done. We
need to deal with that not as a political issue but as an administrative
matter… The land has to be rationalised. It will be a big programme. It will
take three to five to 10 years."

He said the MDC planned to establish an independent commission to carry out
a land audit and to establish how Zimbabwe became a food deficit country in
which most of the population lives at near-starvation levels. "The new
programme will not discriminate on the basis of race," he said. "So some of
the white farmers may find there is land for their farming activities, but
not the same farm they had before."

"There are no white farmers, nor black farmers, only Zimbabweans," said the
MDC's international affairs secretary Eliphas Mukonoweshuro. "Breaking the
racist stereotypes upon which Mr Mugabe has built his incendiary policies
will be one of the most significant tasks in order to set the country on a
course of modernity and growth. We propose to reprise Zimbabwe's role as the
breadbasket of southern Africa by putting to use fallow fields laid to waste
by Mr Mugabe's supporters and cronies."

Some £30m in British aid has been on the table for years in the event of an
equitable and legal programme of land reform in Zimbabwe, and now the
government has pledged an additional £1bn in aid to any future government it
considers to have been freely and fairly elected.

Michael Holman, for years the African editor of the Financial Times, has
proposed that the £30m be devoted to a pilot land reform programme in a
former commercial farming area near Zimbabwe's eastern border with
Mozambique. Farmers dispossessed from 2000 onwards could be brought in to
share their expertise with a wide range of Zimbabweans seeking to enter
agriculture in a post-Mugabe era. Holman suggests that the Commonwealth,
from which Mugabe withdrew in 2003 but which Tsvangirai is sure to rejoin,
could coordinate the project. It is the kind of imaginative, tangential
thinking that an MDC government will need to engage in on a huge scale to
get Zimbabwe back on its feet.

While feeding the people and reviving agriculture will be top of the agenda,
restoring tourism in one of the world's most spectacular countries, industry
and mining would fully occupy Tsvangirai, as well as the creation of a new
currency and bringing under control a destructive inflation rate which is
even worse than anything Germany's Weimar Republic experienced in the 1920s.

The big question will become whether Morgan Tsvangirai is up to the job.
Tsvangirai, the eldest of nine children of a bricklayer, left school at 16
without academic qualifications to work at the rock face in a nickel mine.
He was an active trade unionist and in 1984 spent nine months in Britain,
where he witnessed the coal miners' strike and met union leader Arthur

In 1988 he was elected Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions. He transformed the ZCTU into a powerful opposition force, organising
a series of nationwide strikes against the increasingly oppressive policies
of Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party.

Surviving a number of attempts on his life, he formed the MDC and in 2002
narrowly lost a heavily rigged presidential election, inflicting an
extraordinary blow to Mugabe's aura of power. Tsvangirai was initially
regarded as a hero and was widely compared to South Africa's iconic
superstar Nelson Mandela.

But although he has posed the only credible threat to Mugabe in 28 years, he
is no longer seen in the same heady league as Mandela. His record inside MDC
is widely questioned. Party workers describe him as vacillating and
indecisive. Tsvangirai described his defeat in the 2002 presidential
election as "daylight robbery", but he proved unable to lead shocked
Zimbabweans in any kind of protest strategy. Such indecision became a
hallmark of the MDC leadership and led to deep and widespread frustration
among party activists. In parliamentary elections in 2005 the party saw its
previous tally of 57 seats fall to 41 against ZANU-PF's comfortable 78.

Worse still, former supporters began to accuse Tsvangirai and his top MDC
officials of cowardice as well as incompetence. The MDC leaders were accused
of encouraging "the masses" to take the lead in anti-Mugabe street protests
while they stayed at the rear of the action. Consequently, call after call
by Tsvangirai for mass protests failed ignominiously.

Harare bank clerk Humphrey Mutasa expressed a common sense of pessimism when
he said he would refuse to take part in any demonstration called by
Tsvangirai. "To tell you the truth, I would rather suffer quietly at home
and in peace than be beaten up and still continue to suffer," said Mutasa.
"Nothing will change after half-hearted attempted mass protests and
boycotts. Let's say the people pour into the streets. And then what? They
will just throw stones and call Mugabe names. That will not force Mugabe to
flee the country, will it?"

Tsvangirai has increasingly demonstrated a lack of political savvy. Time and
time again, he has been found wanting when his leadership was needed most.
He also began to demonstrate worryingly autocratic traits. In 2004 party
thugs loyal to Tsvangirai's inner 'kitchen cabinet' launched a series of
assaults on critics within the party, seizing their party vehicles and
sometimes manhandling them out of the MDC's headquarters building.

Tsvangirai ignored appeals to stop the violence that was polluting the party
and its reputation, and in October 2005 the MDC split into two factions over
leadership and policy differences.

The factions began attacking each other with more vigour than they
criticised Mugabe and his government. They entered last month's presidential
election as separate parties, splitting the anti-government vote and
allowing Mugabe to stay in the last chance saloon, from where in the coming
weeks he may well emerge for a sixth Presidential term.

In their current dire situation, Zimbabweans are so desperate for change
that they will cling on to the coattails of anyone who promises change. To
that extent, Tsvangirai is these days what ordinary Zimbabweans describe as
the "ABM (Anyone but Mugabe) factor".

Tsvangirai's more recent courage has not been in doubt. Last year he
suffered a fractured skull, mild brain damage and internal bleeding in a
severe police assault after he took part in a prayer meeting that had been
deemed illegal by the Mugabe government.

But in January, his obstinacy resulted in the failure of an attempt to
reunite the two MDC factions. A pact had been near-agreed in which faction
members would not oppose each other in parliamentary constituencies.
Tsvangirai was holding out for one more candidate for his camp. but, under
pressure from his militants, he raised the demand to more than 20 seats. The
pact collapsed and the consequences were woefully apparent in the 29 March
parliamentary vote. Mugabe's ZANU-PF took more than six seats that were
uselessly contested by both MDC factions.

If Tsvangirai is not able to overcome Mugabe's survival strategy in the
coming days, his own future will probably be political oblivion as new and
younger opponents of Mugabe try to end their country's misery. If Tsvangirai
does somehow survive the blitz being planned by Mugabe and his generals,
then he will face a host of problems in addition to food, farming and

Doctors, for example, have stopped performing routine surgery in the
country's major hospitals because of a lack of anaesthetics and other basic
medical supplies. A new report on staffing levels within the crumbling
healthcare system paints a dire picture of the impact of the brain drain,
with vacancy rates for crucial skills in hospitals as high as 70%. More than
3,500 nurses and 1,000 doctors have left the country since 2000 in search of
decent wages and conditions. Care homes throughout Britain are staffed by
Zimbabweans who remit most of their wages home to help their families

Last year, a parliamentary committee heard that Zimbabwe's potholed road
network was crumbling because there was not a single civil engineer left in
government service. More than three million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the
population, are working outside the country.

Both Tsvangirai and Mugabe are now desperate men. But if the MDC leader can
survive the coming assault by Mugabe and his generals, his new government
would mark a significant new beginning. The international community stands
ready to assist Zimbabweans in getting back on their feet. And millions of
skilled Zimbabweans around the world are just waiting for the end of the
Mugabe era to go home and rebuild their shattered nation.

'The world must insist the democratic verdict is upheld'


AFTER all the prevarication – and sometimes outright complicity – with
Robert Mugabe's horrific rule in Zimbabwe, this is a moment for the
international community to stand rock solid and tell him his time is up.

Although he has stolen elections before, the verdict of his long-suffering
people has been resounding in this latest one. No amount of his poll
rigging, no amount of intimidation or brutality against opponents, none of
this by now familiar manipulation by Mugabe and his clique could hide the
bravery of Zimbabweans in resolutely voting against him, as confirmed by
independent monitors.

For the first time Zimbabweans could see election results as they were
posted up outside local polling stations, a procedure insisted upon by
Pretoria. For the first time, they were able to safeguard the ballot by
sending these results to independent monitoring centres which showed a clear
win for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan

Indeed, the fact that Mugabe did not quickly claim victory as he has always
done confirms that he knew he had lost. But the machinations of his clique
since demonstrate a determination to cling on to power regardless.

Now his ruling Zanu-PF party has come up with a new ruse. All but conceding
an obvious defeat, and massaging the results of the presidential election
through hand-picked officials on the Electoral Commission, the outcome is
being presented as "unclear" and therefore requiring a re-run.

But what is their real plan? To bring out their henchmen in a violent
assault on the opposition and (like in 2002) to terrorise voters, especially
in the rural areas, into staying at home or succumbing again. The recent
appearance of Mugabe's militia – the so-called 'war veterans' – is ominous;
the threats of martial law even more so.

This is a moment of truth for Africa and especially the southern African
neighbours. An African solution to this African crisis is needed now, even
more than before. Though embarrassed by Mugabe, these leaders have deferred
to him as the heroic liberation leader of decades ago rather than the
corrupt tyrant he has become.

For me this has been painfully poignant. With many others I was thrilled at
Mugabe's 1980 landslide win in the country's first ever democratic election
after generations of racist white minority rule. I vividly recall black
electors queuing in their millions as dawn broke, allowed to vote for the
very first time.

But over the past 10 years especially, Mugabe has savagely prostituted the
freedom struggle he once led so ably. With murder, torture, maiming,
incarceration and intimidation of opponents, he copied the very techniques
of repression used against him and his comrades in that struggle.

Zimbabwe was once the jewel in Africa's crown, a beautiful and hospitable
land to visit, with the highest standards of education on the continent,
good infrastructure, and a strong and growing economy. Yet, these past 10
years, Mugabe has all but destroyed it, turning a booming agricultural
sector – breadbasket not just for his people but surrounding nations too –
into a barren wasteland.

With corruption institutionalised, inflation has surged to a mind-boggling
100,000%. Unemployment is a staggering 80%, power cuts are rife and
starvation widespread. The impact on neighbours has also been destabilising.
Millions of refugees have escaped into South Africa and other nations, with
all the accompanying disruption.

His black tyranny is an ugly stain on Africa; for me almost as abhorrent as
the white tyranny of apartheid I and my parents fought so hard to defeat.

As Britain's Africa minister eight years ago I recall being asked what would
happen to Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe. It will get worse and worse was my
prediction, unfortunately proving distressingly and horribly true.

What people have been unwilling to acknowledge about Mugabe is that he is
not susceptible to diplomacy. I recall trying to disabuse some of my Foreign
Office officials of this, and also arguing with ministerial friends in
southern African governments.

After a colossal failure of diplomacy – for Britain, for South Africa,
Europe, the United Nations, the Commonwealth – for everyone concerned, the
international community must insist that the democratic verdict is upheld
and that there is an orderly transfer of power, with Mugabe and his elite
offered a safe passage if they wish. This requires global engagement from
the United Nations in New York to Beijing (China has been bankrolling Mugabe
as it buys up the country's rich resources).

Above all it requires Zimbabwe's neighbours in the Southern African
Development Community to engage and speak with the same voice of democracy.

This is no time for diplomatic niceties or pretence that a re-run election
could be a solution. Mugabe needs to be presented with the only language he
has ever understood: an uncompromising insistence that he has no
alternative. He must obey the democratic will of his people, go and go now.
And in so doing, ironically liberate his people for the second time in his
long career.

• Peter Hain MP is a former Labour Cabinet minister

Kevin Kane

AFTER the crash of his previous helicopter last year, Robert Mugabe was
surely looking forward to flying around Zimbabwe in his new, gleaming white
£3m HM036, bought in March from China's Shenzhen Zhangyeng Corporation.

He may also have been looking forward to living in his new Harare home, a
palace with 25 ensuite bedrooms set among lake-strewn grounds. It cost more
than £15m to build in a country where most people earn less than the
equivalent of £6 a month.

If his presidency is doomed – either soon or by a thousand hostile knife
cuts and betrayals over coming weeks or months or years – Mugabe, 84, will
be less concerned with chopper jaunts and admiring the paintings by imported
Arab artists on his arched ceilings than with the thousands of people who
will loudly demand justice and revenge for his many alleged crimes.

Mugabe's biggest concern, and that of General Constantine Chiwenga, chief of
the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, and Augustine Chihuri, Commissioner General of
the Zimbabwe Republic Police, will be the likely repercussions from their
2005 Operation Murambatsvina ('Drive Out The Trash'). In that operation some
2.5 million poor town dwellers perceived to be supporters of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were made homeless.

Ostensibly a slum clearance project, Chiwenga and Chihuri directed the
Murambatsvina assault by soldiers and policemen in which more than 700,000
houses were smashed by bulldozers and sledgehammers. Chihuri crowed that the
operation was designed to "clean the country of the crawling mass of maggots
bent on destroying the economy".

If a new head of state makes Zimbabwe a signatory to the 2002 Rome Treaty
underpinning the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mugabe, Chiwenga and
Chihuri would be eligible for trial in The Hague to answer alleged crimes
against humanity.

As Mugabe and his cronies cling to power, they will surely be considering
whether they can negotiate amnesty for their alleged crimes if Morgan
Tsvangirai, left, becomes president. However, there is nothing to stop
Murambatsvina victims independently petitioning Moreno-Ocampo, a former
Argentinian human rights lawyer, to prosecute Mugabe and his security
chiefs. Moreno-Ocampo would be legally obliged to investigate.

Many Murambatsvina victims were forced to destroy their own homes at
gunpoint. No one knows how many died as a direct result of the operation.

Mugabe has already been devastatingly censured by Anna Tibaijuka, the
special United Nations envoy sent to Zimbabwe by the secretary-general to
investigate Murambatsvina. In her report, Tibaijuka described the operation
as "a catastrophic injustice, carried out with disquieting indifference to
human suffering".

She stopped just short of describing Murambatsvina as a crime against
humanity – one of the two specific indictments, with war crimes, on which
the ICC is legally able to bring charges.

"This is a genocide police," said Dr Steve Kibble, of the Catholic Institute
for International Relations. "It's a strategy of letting the urban
population die by leaving them to starve in the bush rather than facing the
bullets of Mugabe's goons. It doesn't cost them a cent."

Assuming that Mugabe is not totally paranoid and deluded, that he has some
residual concept of having done wrong, he will also be frantically worried
about the consequence of the massacres he ordered in 1983 of Ndebele people
in the west of his country, purportedly to suppress a small insurgency but
actually to crush all dissidence.

Mugabe unleashed the North Korean-trained 5th Brigade, personally answerable
to the head of state and not to the army chief, and soon some 30,000 were
dead in Operation Gukurahundi (a Shona word meaning "The early rain that
washes away the chaff before the spring rains"].

Most of the dead were shot in public executions, often being forced to dig
their own graves in front of family and fellow villagers.

No one has ever been brought to trial for the Gukurahundi.

Mugabe knows also that there have been innumerable smaller scale killings
between the big ones. If his bloodied fingers are finally wrested from the
levers of power, would Mugabe stay or flee? He has always insisted he would
only leave Zimbabwe in a coffin, and most commentators agree that he would
stay and fight. If he did jump ship, the search parties should start looking
for him in Malaysia, one of the few places he is able to travel to freely;
it is also said to be where he has stashed the money – perhaps billions of
pounds – that he has bled from his country.

Bloggers' views... Zimbabwe speaks

Just when we thought that the Hurricane that is Mugabe will quietly and
SWIFTLY die down and jump the country, he managed to make an appearance for
the first time since casting his ballot on Saturday, March 29.

Meanwhile, our favourite fame-seeking Simba Makoni says he will throw his
weight to MDC PRESIDENT Morgan Tsvangirai, should the votes go to the
run-off. And ex-pat Zimbabweans around the world have vowed to go back home,
and are ready for the new dispensation. A brand new dawn is rising is

Obakeng, The Chief

It's hard to believe that the night before last the news was buzzing
insanely with stories that Mugabe was on the brink of stepping down and
going. Tonight the news has swung like a pendulum with talk of a Mugabe
crackdown against the opposition. We saw him on TV seeing off the AU
observers and almost immediately afterwards (like two fingers thrown up to
the world) the news switched to the MDC MT offices being raided and riot
police at the Meikles Hotel: apparently Tendai Biti, the MDC MT Secretary
General was staying there. There are times when you have simply run out of
energy, the fuel tank is drained and you are stuck on the road to nowhere.
For tonight, Robert Mugabe has won the battle.

Behind the doors of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, where notorious governor
Gideon Gono, the man many hold as responsible for the country's financial
melt-down, seems to be in a state of panic. There, he and his staff are
ransacking files that go back many years and cover many strange dealings for
which he and other ministers have been responsible. The files are loaded
into cars, and rushed away. I am told that a big bonfire can be seen burning
at the back of Gono's Glen Lorne house.

Moses Moyo Our Man in Harare

Even if Tsvangirai is sworn in as president, his party's parliamentary
majority is so razor-thin that he will not be able to ram through
constitutional changes without ZANU-PF support. Mugabe may be on his way
out, but based on its number of parliamentary seats, ZANU-PF is far from

Chido Makunike, Zimbabwe Review

The full article contains 4066 words and appears in Scotland On Sunday
Last Updated: 06 April 2008 12:15 AM

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Zimbabwe on the brink: War or Peace?

Independent, UK

After a week of talks and rumours, the gloves are off over the disputed
presidential poll. Ian Evans in Harare and David Randall in London report

Sunday, 6 April 2008

They've had an election; now the fight for Zimbabwe begins. Yesterday, the
strange, shadowy week of meetings behind closed doors, whispers, rumours,
and speculation seemed to be at a close as both President Robert Mugabe and
his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai started to talk, and act, tough.

Opposition leader Mr Tsvangirai, in combative mood at a news conference,
accused Mr Mugabe of preparing "a war against the people", and deploying
loyal forces, including liberation war veterans, ahead of a presidential
run-off vote. "Militants are being rehabilitated," he said, adding that the
central bank was printing money "for the finance of violence". Calling Mr
Mugabe a lame-duck president, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader said he "must concede to allow us to move on with the business of
rebuilding and reconstructing the country".

The regime, having put its army veteran supporters on to the street in a
show of brute strength, and sanctioned attacks on opposition offices, armed
police yesterday prevented MDC lawyers from entering the High Court in
Harare, where they were to apply for the release of last Saturday's
presidential election results.

They were later allowed in, and the court postponed the legal bid until
Sunday, after the electoral commission asked for more time to prepare its
response. And after several days when the president's usually ubiquitous
features were absent from state media, the state-controlled Herald newspaper
yesterday showed a reinvigorated president on the front page and voiced
claims that white farmers were returning "in their droves" and threatening
to evict resettled black farmers. The MDC, fearing a repeat of widespread
violence against its supporters in previous elections, responded by
appealing to international bodies to put pressure on Mugabe. MDC spokesman
Nelson Chamisa said: "The United Nations has to make sure there is no
violence. They should not wait to come when there is blood in the street,
blood in the villages."

Mr Tsvangirai joined the call, saying that the violence and intimidation
would likely worsen and he appealed to African leaders and the UN to
intervene to "prevent chaos and dislocation".

But South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was last year appointed
mediator in Zimbabwe, urged patience. He said the situation in Zimbabwe was
"manageable" and the international community should refrain from any
intervention and wait for full election results. "No, it's time to wait," he
told journalists as he arrived for a meeting outside London of government
leaders hosted by Gordon Brown. "Let's see the outcome of the election
results," said Mr Mbeki, who advocates quiet diplomacy rather than public

Despite international pressure from Western governments, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission has still not announced the result of the presidential
ballot. The government-appointed body has not offered any reasons for the
delay, but the MDC claims it is to buy time for President Mugabe and his
Zanu-PF party. Mr Tsvangirai has to achieve a 51 per cent share to gain
victory but that is becoming increasingly unlikely. Independent projections
show that he won most votes, probably around 49 per cent, with Mr Mugabe on
42 per cent.

In the nearest official confirmation that there will be a presidential
run-off, the Herald on Thursday said Mr Mugabe would stand – a situation
confirmed at a Friday meeting of Zanu's politburo. The law requires a
run-off within 21 days of the first round of voting, but diplomats in Harare
and at the UN think that Mr Mugabe is planning to declare a 90-day delay to
give security forces time to clamp down.

Zimbabwe's electoral commission did announce the final results of the senate
election yesterday, showing Zanu-PF had won 30 seats, the same as the MDC
and a breakaway opposition faction combined. But control of the senate,
which can block lower house legislation, will depend on who wins the
presidential election. The head of state appoints 15 members, and local
chiefs, who are normally loyal to him, appoint the remaining 18.

It all seems such a far cry from the talk, just a few days ago, of Mr Mugabe
possibly standing down or even leaving the country. Yesterday Mr Tsvangirai
said: "Mugabe is the problem not the solution." But he also held out an
olive branch, saying he would welcome dialogue with the President. He said
his party would not exact revenge on him for any crimes committed during his
rule. "Please rest your mind, the new Zimbabwe will guarantee your safety,"
he said.

Mr Tsvangirai tried on Thursday to reassure security chiefs who vowed a week
ago to serve no one but Mr Mugabe, according to a person close to the
opposition leader. But an agreed meeting with seven generals was cancelled
when the officers said that they had been ordered not to attend and would be
under surveillance, according to the person, who requested anonymity because
of the issue's sensitivity.

Ordinary Harareans fear a run-off will lead to intimidation, arrests and
violence, especially in the townships surrounding the city where support for
the MDC is strongest. Harare and the townships were calm yesterday with the
presidential election still the hot topic of conversation. Groups of riot
police wearing their 1960s-style crash helmets patrolled potential
flashpoints. Army trucks could be seen zig-zagging Harare's main roads and
traffic police staged regular spot checks.

A drive through townships such as Budiriro, High Glen, Warren Park and
Hatcliffe saw strategically parked riot-control trucks and water cannon in
anticipation of trouble. In Budiriro, I saw a truck laden with ballot boxes
with a private yellow number plate without any police or official escort.
State transportation have white number plates, raising the question of where
the full boxes were going. Across the capital, elections posters remain on
walls and lamp posts.

Away from the eyes of the police and feared agents of the Central
Intelligence Organisation, many Mugabe posters have been defaced with abuse.
On one I saw chinja maitiro, "change your way", in Shona, and zvakwana,
which means "enough". On others, Mr Mugabe's eyes have been daubed with red
paint – "crying tears of blood", said my driver, while other pictures had
simply been torn down. Similar graffiti has been increasingly seen on walls
and property with words such as "thief", "criminal" and "old man go" in
Shona. Anyone caught daubing insults can expect prosecution and a beating,
but their prevalence indicates a loosening of fear, albeit during the
election campaign. Most posters of the MDC and of one-time Zanu-PF member
Simba Makoni, who also ran for the presidency, were left untouched.

Away from the current election impasse, daily life remains a struggle for
most Zimbabweans with unemployment at over 80 per cent, shortages of basic
foodstuffs, a crumbling infrastructure, one of the world's highest child
mortality rates, the threat of HIV/Aids and inflation at more than 100,000
per cent. In Harare itself, the physical decline of this once smart colonial
city is depressing. Uncollected rubbish, pot-holes roads and pavements,
broken traffic lights, cheap black-market fuel belching out putrid smoke,
verges taken over by weeds. The feeling of decay is punctuated by roadside
fires cooking sweetcorn and mothers wearing mberekos (blankets) holding
babies, selling limited supplies of tomatoes, oranges and cigarettes. At
road junctions feral children beg, while others voluntarily fill in potholes
in hope of a donation from drivers.

Cruelly, nature highlights the country's infrastructure collapse with clear
blue skies, warm heat and a lush variety of fauna which currently sees the
flame tree's orange flower blooming along wide but decrepit avenues. In
truth, the country is on its knees, but Mr Mugabe and an estimated 5,000
cohorts of corrupt businessmen, party colleagues, police, army and security
officials do not care. While they spew familiar chants against
neocolonialism by Britain and the imaginary land threat by white farmers,
ordinary Zimbabweans scoff and continue with their daily struggles.

Election timeline: How results delay led to chaos in Harare

Saturday: Voting ends at about 7pm in presidential, parliamentary and local

Sunday: Opposition claims victory over President Robert Mugabe and his
Zanu-PF party based on early results pinned up outside polling stations.
Harare residents told to stay indoors and riot police patrol the streets.

Monday: Electoral commission starts announcing results of parliamentary
election. Seats split evenly between the opposition and ruling parties. No
presidential results emerge.

Observer mission from regional group SADC says elections were free and fair
but expresses concerns over results delay. Monitors from South African
opposition refuse to sign report.

Tuesday: Ruling Zanu-PF party projections obtained by Reuters show
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai would beat Mugabe but not with enough
votes to avoid a run-off. Government also dismisses reports of talks.

Wednesday: MDC says it won presidential and parliamentary elections and
calls on Mugabe to concede. State-owned newspaper, 'The Herald', says
Tsvangirai and Mugabe will face a run-off as neither will achieve the 51 per
cent required for an outright win.

Thursday: Riot police and paramilitaries ransack the opposition offices in
Harare. Two foreign journalists are detained for allegedly lacking official

Friday: Zanu-PF decides Mugabe should contest a run-off vote against
opposition leader Tsvangirai if neither wins a majority in the presidential
election. Opposition says it will ask the High Court to order the immediate
release of the results.

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Resettled Farmers Dismiss War Vet Sibanda's 'White Threats' Claim

SW Radio Africa (London)

5 April 2008
Posted to the web 5 April 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

Communal farmers in areas surrounding the capital have dismissed comments by
war vet leader Jabulani Sibanda, suggesting that black farmers that were
resettled by the government were being threatened by white farmers who had
returned to their properties.

The state media this week had reports in which Sibanda claimed white farmers
hoped for a victory by the MDC, and had returned to the land they were
evicted from and ordered resettled farmers to leave. Other reports said that
the MDC planned to give back the farms back to whites when the party comes
into power. This was strongly denied by opposition officials.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa visited several farms on the
outskirts of Harare on Saturday. He said many of the so-called "A2 farmers"
given plots by government as part of the chaotic land reform programme, said
it was very quiet and peaceful on their farms. They had not seen any white
farmers return to threaten them as alleged by Sibanda.

One of the A2s went further to say that the government has often used them
for political gain without actually helping them to improve their lives. He
gave the example of the 'Farm Mechanisation Programme' that was initiated by
government, saying it intended to redevelop agriculture. Most of the farm
equipment and implements that were distributed as part of that scheme went
to local government and ruling party officials.

Our correspondent said the A2 farmers were quite aware that these reports of
threats against them by white farmers were meant to give the war veterans an
excuse to harass and intimidate opposition supporters and officials.

ZANU-PF has been using the government controlled media outlets to their
advantage during the electoral period. Opposition parties have never
received equal time on the radio and television broadcasts.

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Alex Vines: In a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe, just what is to be done?

Independent, UK

The international community is preparing to rebuild the nation, and Mbeki's
role will be crucial

Sunday, 6 April 2008

All over for Robert Mugabe, who disappeared from view for five days, or will
the master politician yet contrive a way to cling on? In a roller-coaster
week of rumour and counter-rumour, there was little doubt what the markets
in South Africa hoped. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange reached dizzy heights
on reports that Zanu-PF had lost its parliamentary majority in Zimbabwe. The
South African rand made sharp gains.

The twists and turns since election day meant a meeting yesterday between
the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and South African President, Thabo Mbeki,
was first cancelled then hastily rescheduled, after Mugabe finally emerged
to make it clear that he was going nowhere fast. An immediate response to
deadlock in Zimbabwe was to be thrashed out. But if we can now begin to see
past the 28-year Mugabe regime, what, then, is to be done to restore the
fortunes of a nation that was once Africa's bread-basket and was set fair
for success?

Mbeki, a long-time colleague of Mugabe in the colonial struggle, against the
colonial powers, has been criticised for failing to use his sway against
Mugabe previously, but he has played a key role through quiet diplomacy in
convincing him to compromise on a number of critical issues, including the
pinning up of election results outside each polling station. Along with
Western donors, his role in determining Zimbabwe's future is crucial.

In the short term, the printing of money must stop. On Friday, the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe introduced two new denomination notes for 25 and 50 million
Zimbabwean dollars. The Zimbabwean government's high domestic debt has been
the main cause of inflation, currently running above 100,000 percent. But it
is far from hopeless: the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that
hyper-inflation can be brought under control in a year, allowing the economy
to recover. Price and exchange-rate liberalisation would be a condition for
such progress.

Devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar would make it virtually worthless, but
debt relief through international donors would offset this. Controlling
inflation, raising interest rates and cutting government spending will help
to stabilise the economy. International donors should still require clear,
achievable governance reforms in return for extra international assistance.

After the presidential impasse is resolved, international donors want a
meeting to agree upon an ambitious international emergency aid package of up
to £1bn – treble what Zimbabwe receives currently – to revive the country's
economic fortunes. The international financial institutions would lead this
effort with the EU and the UN. The plan will be discussed at the IMF's
spring meeting in Washington this week.

Other key issues that need immediate attention are respect for human rights,
cessation of political violence, return to the rule of law and the end of
the politicisation of humanitarian assistance. Constitutional reform is also
needed to strengthen parliamentary oversight of the executive.

Zimbabwe's most immediate asset is its people. More than three million
Zimbabweans have fled their country – about a quarter of the population,
many of them highly skilled. According to the Institute for Public Policy
Research, 84 per cent of Zimbabweans legally resident in Britain are earning
salaries equal to the British average. About a third are healthcare and
social work professionals. Their remittances home are vital for their
families in Zimbabwe, where 80 per cent are unemployed. Skilled managers,
health workers and teachers are needed and scarce. The international
financial institutions will need to work with Zimbabwe to shore up health
and education. Life expectancy has crashed from 63 years in 1990 to 37.3
years. The UN says that 20 per cent of Zimbabweans between 15 and 49 are
HIV/Aids positive.

In time, there will also need to be an audit of mining concessions granted
by the government. Gold, platinum and diamonds are benefiting from high
world commodity prices. Zimbabwe should consider signing the Extractive
Industries Transparency Initiative, which advocates disclosure of taxes and
revenues accrued from mining.

Then there are longer-term issues. Agriculture is one of them. A huge issue
at independence in 1980 was the fact that 80 per cent of productive land was
in the hands of the 5 per cent white minority. Land reform was used to
bolster President Mugabe's declining support base inside Zimbabwe. Britain
has historic obligations to fulfil here, and although reviving agriculture
will touch on sensitive land distribution and tenure issues, it will play an
important part of a revived Zimbabwean economy. International donors should
support an independent land audit, establish a base-line registry of deeds
and titles, and develop a credible arbitration process for dispute

The second primary issue is the urgent need to depoliticise Zimbabwe's
security forces. A small number of Mugabe loyalists at the top of these
services will need to be retired and the international community will also
need to engage in robust dialogue with a new government about security
reform. Professional police and military services are vital and Britain has
experience in assisting security sector reform in Sierra Leone and elsewhere
to offer.

Finally, Zimbabwe's young people need to be engaged in rebuilding the
country: 70 per cent of all Zimbabweans are under 30. With organisations
such as Zanu-PF's brutal national youth service disbanded, this generation
needs to be reintegrated into society. Post-Mugabe, Zimbabwe will rejoin the
Commonwealth which has great, but largely under-recognised expertise in
youth empowerment schemes.

South Africa has a major role to play too. Its African Renaissance and
International Co-operation Fund should also contribute to any international
post-Mugabe recovery effort so as to emphasise that this is truly an
international effort.

President Mbeki could demonstrate to impatient British politicians that his
quiet diplomacy has contributed to a watershed election in Zimbabwe. The
next few weeks will give us an idea of how quick change can be.

Alex Vines is head of the Africa programme at the Royal Institute of
International Affairs, Chatham House

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"That's the moment you should quit politics"

Saturday 5th April 2008

Dear Family and Friends,
As we stand exhausted and betrayed at this critical moment in Zimbabwe's
crisis, it seems pertinent to look back over the last few days and record
who said what.

On the 29th March shortly after casting his ballot Mr Mugabe said: "We are
not in the habit of rigging... We don't rig elections. I cannot sleep with
my conscience if I have rigged,"

On the 29th March, sure that Zanu PF would win the elections, Mr Mugabe
said: "We will succeed. We will conquer. Why should I cheat? The people are
there supporting us. The moment the people stop supporting you, then that's
the moment you should quit politics."

On the 29th March asked if he would participate in a run off Presidential
election should the result not be decisive, Mr Mugabe dismissed the
suggestion and said: "We are not in the habit of boxing matches here. We
knock each other out in the first round."

In an evening press conference on the 1st April MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai said: "Zimbabwe will never be the same again; the people have
spoken with one voice. I would like to thank the millions who came to
reclaim their dignity and invest in the change they can trust."

In the evening of the 1st April the world media went into a frenzy and
reported that a deal had been done and Mr Mugabe was about to step down. The
news didn't last long and a CNN reporter said: "What's clear is that nothing
is clear."

On the 2nd April at a press conference MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti
announced election results based on figures displayed as public notices
outside polling stations. Biti said: "Zanu PF have lost this election.
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai is the next president of Zimbabwe."

On the 3rd April, long before the results of the Presidential election had
been announced, Deputy Minister of Information Bright Matonga said: "Zanu PF
is ready for a run-off, we are ready for a resulting victory. ... we only
applied 25 per cent of our energy into this campaign... we are going to
unleash the other 75 per cent that we did not apply in the first case."

On the 3rd April the former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said:
"If he (Mr Mugabe) wants to come here, the (Malaysian) government should
welcome him. If he has lost, he has to accept the decision of the people,
that is the best thing he can do."

On the 4th of April, before the results of the Presidential election had
been announced, Zanu PF Secretary Didymus Mutasa confirmed that Mr Mugabe
would contest in a re-run. He said: "We are down but not out. Absolutely the
candidate will be Robert Gabriel Mugabe - who else would it be other than
our dear old man?"

On the 4th April, hinting at what will inevitably be the slogan if there is
re-run of the election, war veteran leader Jabulani Sibanda said: "It now
looks like these elections were a way to open for the reinvasion of this
country [by the British]."

And so now we wait. We thought our poor broken country had suffered enough
and that at last our prayers had been answered - it seems not - not yet.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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A letter from the diaspora

5th April 2008

Dear Friends.

'What is it that makes a man want to stay in power forever?' asks Hugh
Masikela the wonderful South African jazz trumpeter in a song recorded some
years ago. In the song, Masikela lists the African dictators of the time,
Robert Mugabe's name was there then - and still is there now. Did any of us
really believe that the old man would just pack his things and quietly fade
away into the sunset? I for one admit that I thought that HE was intelligent
enough to recognise when it was time to go. I thought this week's official
ZEC announcement that the MDC has won a majority in the House of Assembly
would be the time for the old man finally to admit to himself that now is
the time. There were stories on Wednesday night that he was going to
broadcast to the nation and like everyone else here and at home I sat up
till the small hours waiting for news that never came.

It has been like that all week; waiting for news that never came, an endless
week of hope alternating with despair. Desperate phonecalls between the UK
and Zimbabwe but none of us here or there really knowing anything. I
understand ZTV has been its usual moribund self; When it happens we'll be
there - as long as it's not real news of course. Everywhere else in the
world and specially in the UK there's been wall-to-wall coverage on all
channels and endless column inches in the papers but the truth is that none
of these so-called analysts and intrepid (!) foreign journalists know any
more than we do. We are in the dark, quite literally. One of the funniest
sights of the week was the BBC's John Simpson doing his piece to camera by
the light of torches held by his colleagues. Where were the dreaded CIO
spooks, I wondered? There was this large white man 'somewhere in Harare' he
told us very mysteriously, doing his thing in full view and yet he hadn't
even been threatened let alone picked up by the men in dark glasses! Another
BBC man was shown talking, so he said, to former war veterans on a once
thriving commercial farm telling him how they no longer supported Mugabe.

But for me, it was the interview with the indefatigable Dr John Mukumbe that
rang the first warning bell of trouble ahead. In the event of a runoff,
Mukumbe warned, Mugabe's men will have three weeks to terrorise the rural
population. HE will once again unleash his war veterans and Youth Militia on
the thousands of rural people who so bravely voted against the dictator and
voted instead for Change. Mugabe could use his Presidential powers to extend
the three weeks even to three months, Mukumbe told the BBC and that would
give Mugabe and his black boots and Green Bombers plenty of time to silence
the hungry and angry masses.

Six days after the elections ZEC has still not announced the Presidential
results and Mugabe is still there in State House. 'He's not going anywhere'
declared a gloating Bright Matonga, Zimbabwe's Deputy Minister of
Information, to the BBC who faithfully reported his words and showed his
toothy grin on just about every news bulletin. Why, I wondered has the
Deputy Minister been chosen to do all the talking, where's the Minister
himself? Then I remembered when I had first become aware of the Bright one.
Zimbabweans will remember Matonga hit the headlines at home when he
violently invaded a farm aided by the usual mob of youth militia. His wife
was with the Bright one; it so happens she's a white woman from Essex. As
the mob struck up their usual chorus of hate and anti-white rhetoric, she
was heard yelling, Give us back our land. You stole it from us. 'It struck
us as odd,' commented the farmer's wife, an understatement if ever there was
one but typical of the sort of madness that has prevailed over the last ten
years under Mugabe's leadership. Unlike Morgan Tsvangirai who talks of love
and reconciliation, in his old age Mugabe speaks of nothing but hatred and
vengeance against his perceived enemies

Last night viewers at home had their first glimpse of Mugabe since the
elections. We in the diaspora saw him too, saying Farewell to the team of
African observers. The sound quality was poor but we heard Mugabe telling
the team 'We don't cheat, we don't do that…but the other side. Ooh, aah'!
Along with all his other 'skills' – those degrees in violence - what a
consummate performer he is. Today he meets with the Polit Bureau, I wonder
if Simba Makoni will be there? Will they be thinking at all about what is
right for the country, do they even care about the welfare of Zimbabwe's
people or are they thinking only of themselves? These Big Men have so much
to lose and Robert Mugabe has more to lose than any of them. I remember
Bishop Lamont, that brave fighter for justice who was tried for treason by
the Smith regime and kicked out of Rhodesia because he chose to stand with
the suffering black people. 'rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic' was
how he described the dying days of the Smith regime. History repeats itself
it seems. The question now is whether Mugabe's men will choose to go down
with his sinking ship or whether they will find the courage to tell the old
man that it's time to go. And that brings us right back to the question:
What is it that makes a man want to stay in power forever?
Yours in the (continuing) struggle. PH

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For Africa’s sake, end it

The Sunday Times
April 6, 2008

Leading Article

Robert Mugabe will not go without a fight. Having almost certainly lost the
presidential election to Morgan Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic
Change leader, the 84-year-old Zimbabwean president appears determined that
voters will not make the same mistake again. Mr Mugabe’s thugs, otherwise
known as war veterans and pro-government militia, are said to be planning a
campaign of intimidation and violence to ensure that any election run-off
gets the right result.

It is a depressingly familiar story. Once it became clear that he had lost
the election, Mr Mugabe ordered the country’s electoral commission to
declare him the winner. When it refused, he set about manipulating the
result, apparently with the connivance of his ally Thabo Mbeki, the South
African president. Now, as a result of that manipulation, his Zanu-PF party
can claim that the result was inconclusive and another election is

Why does the world allow Mr Mugabe to get away with it? Why does Mr Mbeki,
who must realise the damage he is inflicting not just on Zimbabwe but on the
entire continent of Africa, not tell him to go? Surely, despite the
deployment of the thugs, after nearly three decades the Mugabe era must be
nearing its end.

Should Mr Tsvangirai emerge as president from this messy process, the
challenge facing him is formidable. Few can doubt the bravery of this former
trade union leader, who has persevered despite the beatings, bullying and
intimidation of Mr Mugabe’s henchmen. His abilities as a leader are as yet
untested. He had a limited education and has tolerated the thuggish elements
in his own party’s youth movement. If Zimbabwe needs a Mandela he may
struggle to fit the bill.

Yet Mr Tsvangirai deserves his opportunity. He will bring tremendous
goodwill into office, particularly among exiled Zimbabweans in Britain,
South Africa and elsewhere. Some may return, partly reversing the brain
drain during the economy’s precipitous decline of the Mugabe era. He
promises “real land reform”, the test of which will be an end to the racism
against white farmers of recent years. Nobody expects a return to the
colonial past but the 200 white farmers who remain should be allowed to be
part of the new Zimbabwe and the others should be given proper compensation
for the theft of their land.

Despite the horrors of the Mugabe years, Zimbabwe retains a semblance of
democracy. Not all of the machinery of state has become an agent of Zanu-PF.
The electoral commission, army and judiciary have shown touches of
independence in recent days. Mr Tsvangirai can build on this and on the
country’s resource riches. The economy is not beyond saving and neither is
the country. In one direction this weekend lie democracy and hope. In the
other direction, should Mr Mugabe retain his brutal hold on power, lie
dictatorship and decline. That would be disastrous for Zimbabwe and
disastrous for Africa.

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Alooter Continua

The Times, SA

Rowan Philp: London Published:Apr 06, 2008

They found 888 handbags and 1060 pairs of shoes in Imelda Marcos’s palace
after her husband was thrown out of the Philippines’ presidential palace.

This week, Zimbabweans dared to ask: what would a free Zimbabwe find in
Grace Mugabe’s closet?

The widely loathed “First Shopper”, who last week was nowhere to be seen on
election day — for the first time — has splurged over R1-million a time on
shopping expeditions to the world’s fashion capitals.

She has reportedly packed whole palettes of Gucci and Ferragamo parcels onto
a private jet.

She has even shopped for houses that weren’t for sale — and once simply took
one from a white farming couple near Harare.

This week, as rumours surfaced that “Grabbin’ Grace” had decamped to
Malaysia, Zimbabwean human rights activists warned that Robert Mugabe’s
42-year-old second wife could be smuggling plundered designer loot out of
the country as her husband’s grip on power remained uncertain.

Geoff Hill, author of What Happens After Mugabe, told the Sunday Times: “It
would be neglectful of a future government in Zimbabwe if they did not get a
firm of auditors to investigate Grace Mugabe — to ask, has she benefited
from ill- gotten gains, and where is all the loot?

“Zimbabweans want to know — and have a right to know — how she has funded
this ridiculous champagne lifestyle.

“The Abacha family in Nigeria and the Mobutu family in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo are still facing actions to recover loot from them, so
there is ample precedent.”

One Zimbabwean human rights lawyer said: ‘‘She has humiliated Zimbabweans
for too long; she cannot now be allowed to get away with it.”

While there are no reliable estimates of Mugabe’s personal wealth, Norb
Garrett, head of the Kroll organisation’s business intelligence and
investigations unit, told Forbes magazine that Mugabe was a “potential
candidate” on the world’s list of billionaire dictators.

Zimbabwe was “the next place to look for a large amount of money missing”,
he said.

Chengetai Mupara, former president of the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union,
said Grace was among a number of government figures whose assets would need
scrutinising when Mugabe finally lost power.

“There is no doubt that the first lady’s lifestyle has cost Zimbabwe quite a
substantial amount of money, and that much of this will need to be
repatriated to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.

In 2006, the Sunday Times revealed that Gideon Gono, Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank
governor, had funded many of Grace’s shopping sprees to the tune of millions
of US dollars, using illegal “parallel market” currency-conversion deals.

Responding to criticism that her spending on her size 8-A feet jarred with
the crushing poverty in her country, she told one reporter: “I have very
narrow feet, so I wear only Ferragamo.”

The Times of London described one trip: “In London, Grace would insist on
taking over a suite at the exclusive Claridge’s Hotel. Bodyguards in tow,
she would cruise through Harrods before piling her purchases into her
chauffeur-driven Mercedes.”

Although reliable information on the couple’s personal life is rare, sources
increasingly indicate that Grace’s high life is crumbling around her.

Last year, the notoriously overdressed former secretary was humiliated when
she and Mugabe attempted to visit the family home of the president’s popular
first wife, Sally Hayfron, in Ghana.

Grace had to wait in the car after the family refused to allow her in.

Anti-Mugabe websites have linked Grace to senior — and very junior — Zanu-PF
members, including businessmen Peter Pamire and James Makamba, alleging that
Mugabe had punished both for their intimate friendships with his wife.

The news website claimed that Pamire — a black-empowerment
advocate who died in a car crash in 1996, according to the official
version — was in fact murdered by the Central Intelligence Organisation
because he was thought to be having an affair with Grace.

The same site claimed that Makamba was effectively exiled by Mugabe.

In January this year, it emerged that Grace was embroiled in a feud with
Mugabe’s family. According to Zimbabwe’s Guardian newspaper, Mugabe’s
nephew, Leo Mugabe, had embarked on a campaign to stop his aunt from
plundering the family fortune, because “Grace Mugabe has indicated that she
intends to inherit most of President Mugabe’s assets in the event that he

Mugabe married Grace in 1996, having had a long-term affair with his former
secretary during his marriage to Sally Mugabe, who died in 1992.

Hill said Mugabe had been “desperate for children”, having lost his son
while he was in prison. He has had three with Grace: Bona, Robert jnr and

The marriage coincided with the start of the collapse in the economy and
democratic freedoms in Zimbabwe, and many Zimbabweans believe it was Grace’s
influence that led to the president’s hardline policies.

But “the reality is that it was Sally who helped keep Mugabe’s policies
moderate; with Grace, we see the raw Robert. Sally was his intellectual
equal and a true friend, and had a positive influence over him; Grace has no
influence in terms of his decisions,” said Hill.

Grace, née Marufu, was reportedly born in South Africa and brought to
Zimbabwe by her Zimbabwean father as a child.

She attended a Catholic school and, as a teenager, married Zimbabwe Air
Force officer Stanley Goreraza, with whom she had a son, Russell. The
Mugabes apparently kept up an amicable relationship with Goreraza, even
visiting him in hospital in China while he was posted there as a diplomat.

Hill said Mugabe — still a Marxist at heart — was uncomfortable with his
wife’s profligacy which, some observers suggested, had led to a strain in
the relationship.

Hill said: “Her maiden name, Marufu, means ‘funeral’ in Shona — and, for
Zimbabweans, her arrival on the scene marked the funeral of logical policies
in Zimbabwe.”

Grabbin’ Grace’s Excesses Include:

.. Being seen with “15 trolley loads” of luxury goods in the first- class
lounge at Singapore airport, according to Britain’s Mirror;

.. Spending more than R600000 in an afternoon in London;

.. Using R8-million in government funds to help build a 30-room house she
called Gracelands;

.. Demanding that her husband fund the building of a R100-million mansion
near Harare, fitted with Italian baths and oriental carpets ; and

.. Spending R1.1-million in a two-hour shopping spree in Paris after
finding a loophole in a European Union travel ban against her.

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It will require guts to rebuild Zimbabwe

The Times, SA

Published:Apr 06, 2008

The electoral defeat of Zanu-PF, the ruling party that orchestrated the ruin
of Zimbabwe, has raised hopes that the rebuilding of the country may soon

If the people of Zimbabwe do not allow Robert Mugabe and his cronies to
steal yet another election from them, the new leadership will have its work
cut out to end the economic turmoil in the country and the suffering and
hardships of its people.

The international community has indicated that it is ready to step in to
support a new Zimbabwean leadership with an economic aid package. But, while
shelves can be filled and factories and infrastructure rebuilt with time,
innovation and investment, the priority must be the restoration of the rule
of law and respect for property rights.

As we point out in Business Times this week, a new government must put in
place economic policies that will put an end to the hyper-inflation that is
ravaging the country, has led to the collapse of industry, made the
Zimbabwean dollar worthless, and brought about shortages of food, fuel and
everything else.

Zimbabweans are going to have to endure their country’s economic pain a bit
longer, while their new government stops printing money to pay for salaries
and political favours it can’t afford.

However, if any economic recovery effort is underpinned by a return to the
rule of law and respect for property rights, local and international
entrepreneurs and investors will quickly move to set up in a country that
holds much promise. Zimbabwe is a rich country, with significant
agricultural and mineral resources, and the remnants of an educated

But, unless Zimbabwean, South African and international businesses know that
contracts will be enforced and their property protected, they will not
invest in the country. No one, including Zimbabweans, is going to put time
and money into the development of the country, unless they are confident
that they will be able to hold onto the rewards of their efforts. And it is
unlikely that those skilled Zimbabweans who fled to avoid the economic
collapse will consider returning to help rebuild the economy. Many did not
have the guts or interest to return to vote in an election that may have
ended the rule of Zanu-PF.

But, if it is confident that its investments will be rewarded, business will
put money into rebuilding the commercial agriculture, mining and retail
industries. Some economists and analysts suggest that these are the
industries that can be revived fastest and provide the country with basic
essentials, new jobs and foreign exchange.

Whatever economic rescue plan finally emerges for Zimbabwe, South Africans
must make sure they are a part of it. An economically strong Zimbabwe will
benefit South Africa and the whole of the region. If Zimbabwe stabilises,
South Africa will be relieved of some of the social, economic and political
burdens brought by the millions of Zimbabweans who have made their way
across our borders illegally. At the very least, the flood will slow.

Without the festering sore that is Zimbabwe today, there will be increased
international investor confidence in Southern Africa, to the benefit of all
its countries. And, an economically viable Zimbabwe would be a valuable
trading partner for South Africa.

This is why the South African government must not allow Mugabe to subvert
democracy again. No matter what Pretoria’s spin doctors say, South Africa’s
strategy of quiet diplomacy has done little more than to cosset Mugabe while
he raped his country.

Mugabe has over the past eight years shown that he has no respect for Thabo
Mbeki and has made South Africa’s president the laughing stock of the
diplomatic world. Mbeki, for reasons only he understands, was yesterday
insisting that there was no need for international action and that the
situation was under control.

Mugabe has made it clear that he will not be persuaded to step down — even
though it is clearly the will of his people. Mbeki must now lead an effort
by the countries of Southern Africa to get the Mugabe regime to accept
democratic outcomes, rather than continue to buy him more time while he
tries to steal another election.

And, the people of Zimbabwe must end their docile participation in their own
repression and finally show enough guts to defend democracy. Appealing to
the world for help does not constitute courage.

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The power game may go on but the end is near

Andrew Meldrum
The Observer,
Sunday April 6 2008

Robert Mugabe strikes back. The canny strategist snatches the initiative
from the opposition and diplomats, surrounds himself with hard-line,
thuggish supporters, asserts that neither he nor his party were defeated in
the elections and vows to fight on. This is the Mugabe that the world knows,
iron-willed and combative.

It was with disbelief that I heard he was negotiating a quiet retirement,
with amnesty. It is with a grim sense of the familiar I saw him send his war
veterans back on to the streets of Harare, shaking his fist and showing that
he was still in control.

The arrest of five foreign journalists in the past week is a message to the
media that have been trumpeting his imminent departure that he is still in
control. It is also a warning of a wider crackdown to come.

The cells of Harare Central are the same ones where I and many others have
spent time. Cramped, filthy, stinking, with a hole in the floor as a toilet
for the 15 men in a cell for eight. The journalists are barefoot and chilly
in the dungeon-like cubicles. Most likely they will find their fellow
prisoners - arrested on charges of robbery, embezzlement, assault or
murder - thoughtful about politics.

Mugabe's trusted generals know that if he is granted an amnesty for human
rights atrocities, it will not be extended to them. They have decided to
battle on. To continue looting the economy and stashing the proceeds in
Malaysian bank accounts.

In the event of a run-off - Mugabe could still declare himself winner of the
first round - he will decide the terms. Almost certainly he will do away
with democratic niceties such as allowing international observers to watch
the counting and posting results. The opposition captured proof of the
first-round votes with mobile phones, significantly reducing Mugabe's
ability to rig the results.

Add in violence from Mugabe's marauding war vets and youth brigades and it
is possible that Mugabe could continue his ruinous rule. It all seems
depressingly familiar.

But Thabo Mbeki and other African leaders will be hard pressed to endorse
any extension of Mugabe's rule as legitimate. In recent years Mugabe has
enjoyed that support from fellow African leaders and if he loses that, it
will be much more difficult for him.

Mugabe has grabbed some more time for himself but, make no mistake, it will
be the final period of his rule. Ordinary Zimbabweans, having tasted the
possibility of unseating Mugabe, may be more spirited in their opposition.

This is the exciting challenge of covering Zimbabwe as a journalist. Even
from a distance it is compelling to follow the terrifying roller-coaster
ride from the triumph of democracy to the gut-churning drop to dictatorship.
Mugabe is throwing in a few more turns, but the end is in sight.

· Andrew Meldrum was the Observer's correspondent in Zimbabwe from 1980 to
May 2003, when he was abducted by state security officers and expelled.

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Time to act over Zimbabwe

The Scotsman

LAST week, this newspaper looked ahead to Zimbabwe's elections with a
fervent hope that the results would see Robert Mugabe consigned to the
political scrap-heap and his country finally freed from his tyrant's hands.
Seven days later, he still clings on, even though his people have rejected
As former minister for Africa Peter Hain writes in these pages today, the
success of the Movement for Democratic Change was all the more remarkable
because Mugabe had resorted to corrupt tactics to try to secure victory for
ZANU-PF. He was at it again yesterday, when armed police stopped opposition
politicians entering the country's high court to seek the publication of
results of the presidential election.

Such actions have kept Mugabe in power for 28 dismal years and, as Hain also
says today, it is time for the world to stop putting up with it. Gordon
Brown at least attempted to be seen to do something yesterday, when he held
talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki – the man with most outside
influence in Zimbabwe. But even before he took the call from Brown, Mbeki
insisted the time was not right for international intervention. He was

No one is suggesting a West-led military intervention, but the time
certainly is right for every possible diplomatic pressure to be put on
Mugabe to stand down. Loud, unified condemnation must be just the start;
sanctions should follow; and, if necessary, the African Union should step in
and take temporary control to deliver true democracy to Zimbabwe.

The full article contains 260 words and appears in Scotland On Sunday
Last Updated: 05 April 2008 8:36 PM

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Some photos from Saturday's Zim Vigil in London




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