Sun 6 Apr 2008, 0:16 GMT
By Stella Mapenzauswa
HARARE, April 6 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe sunk deeper into political stalemate on
Sunday, with the opposition going to court to get election results released
and President Robert Mugabe's ruling party asking for a delay and recount.
Tensions between the two sides have risen sharply since the elections last
weekend, fueled by opposition suspicions Mugabe's ZANU-PF is preparing to
rig the outcome of the hotly contested March 29 presidential poll.
The stakes were raised on Saturday when Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change, declared victory over Mugabe in the
presidential race and accused the veteran 84-year-old leader of "preparing a
war on the people".
Mugabe's supporters struck back hours later when state media reported that
ZANU-PF had asked election officials to defer release of the presidential
poll results and conduct a recount and audit of all materials, including
ballots, used in it.
The ruling party cited "revelations of errors and miscalculations" as the
basis for its request, according to a report in the state-run Sunday Mail.
The High Court in Harare is scheduled on Sunday to hear Tsvangirai's
application to have the results issued immediately, His MDC supporters say
they will show the former union leader won an absolute majority of the
Independent observers, however, say the MDC leader outpolled Mugabe but did
not win enough votes to avoid a run-off.
Top ZANU-PF officials have endorsed Mugabe for the second ballot, putting to
rest speculation that they might ask him to concede defeat.
A group of pro-Mugabe liberation war fighters also have vowed to back him in
his bid to stay in power.
Zimbabwe state radio reported on Saturday that the war veterans had
threatened to occupy all white-owned farms in Masvingo Province amid reports
that white farmers were returning to land seized by the government after
The re-emergence of the war veterans, who led a wave of violent occupations
of white farms as part of the government land redistribution programme,
raised fears Mugabe's supporters would try to intimidate opponents ahead of
It is not clear when the next vote would occur. Zimbabwean law requires that
the run-off be held within three weeks, but the ZANU-PF has hinted that the
timing might be changed.
The ruling party also plans to challenge some of the results of the
parliamentary election, which showed it lost control of the lower house.
Results from the upper chamber have Mugabe's party winning half of the
In a separate article, the Sunday Mail said ZANU-PF had rejected an
opposition offer to form a unity government.
"Approaches were made by MDC-Tsvangirai to form a government of national
unity. Although it is unclear in what capacity the emissaries came, ZANU-PF
rejected the approaches, and this was communicated to the MDC," it said
quoting ZANU-PF member and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Former colonial ruler Britain and the United States, both of whom have
applied sanctions on Mugabe and his top officials, have criticised the
election delay and suggested it could be the precursor to a rigged result.
Mugabe's government is widely accused in the West of stealing previous
presidential and parliamentary elections, and his removal is seen by
Washington and London as necessary to rebuilding Zimbabwe's shattered
Zimbabweans are struggling with inflation of more than 100,000 percent --
the highest in the world -- mass unemployment and chronic shortages of meat,
bread, fuel and other basic necessities. (Additional reporting by Nelson
Banya, Cris Chinaka, Muchena Zigomo, MacDonald Dzirutwe; Writing by Paul
Simao; Editing by Dominic Evans)
Sat 5 Apr 2008, 23:12 GMT
HARARE, April 6 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's ruling party rejected what it
described as an offer to form a unity government with Morgan Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change party after the March 29 election, state
"Approaches were made by MDC-Tsvangirai to form a government of national
unity. Although it is unclear in what capacity the emissaries came, ZANU-PF
rejected the approaches, and this was communicated to the MDC," the Sunday
Mail newspaper quoted Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying.
Foreign Staff in Harare and Gethin Chamberlain
Last Updated: 1:25am BST 06/04/2008Page 1 of 2
The political turmoil in Zimbabwe worsened as armed police blocked
attempts by opposition parties to force the publication of delayed election
In a showdown on the steps of the colonial-style High Court building
in the capital, Harare, plain-clothes officers brandished guns and
threatened to open fire on lawyers who were trying to get inside to put
their case to a judge.
"We can't go in. They are threatening to shoot. They are saying no one
enters the court," said lawyer Alec Muchadehama, representing the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
With President Robert Mugabe refusing to relinquish his grip on power
and no sign of an end to the deadlock, the likelihood increased that only a
second round of voting would determine the outcome of the disputed
presidential election. There were widespread fears that the country would
now erupt into violence.
The MDC has claimed victory in the election, although independent
observers say its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, fell short of obtaining an
overall majority. He accused Mr Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party of
preparing a "war" against the people of Zimbabwe, deploying forces including
"liberation war veterans" to intimidate voters ahead of a run-off vote.
Mr Tsvangirai also alleged Mr Mugabe, 84, was using the central bank
to print money to pay hired thugs. Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, called
for the poll results to be published immediately and said international
observers must be allowed to monitor any re-run of the election.
"We are determined that of course there are international observers if
there is a second round," he said. "The results have to be published, they
cannot be further delayed."
The delay in publication has roused opposition suspicions Mr Mugabe is
buying time to organise a fightback. Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC,
said there were signs the president - who once boasted of holding a "degree
in violence" - was preparing to crack down on opponents, and called on the
outside world to intervene.
"They are trying to intimidate people, they are trying to set up the
context for unleashing violence. The vampire instincts of this regime are
definitely going to come out," he said. "But we cannot be alone. We need the
international community to help us.
"The United Nations has to make sure there is no violence in this
country... They should not [wait until]... there is blood in the street,
blood in the villages."
But Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, who was due to meet Mr
Brown to discuss Zimbabwe, said he did not believe international
intervention was needed to break the deadlock. At an summit of about 20
world leaders attended by Mr Brown, he said: "I think it is time to wait.
Let's see the outcome of the election results. If there is a re-run of the
presidential election, let us see what comes out of that."
Mr Mugabe's supporters have tried to whip up support for the president
by claiming that white farmers are planning to take back confiscated land.
War veterans, some of them apparently drunk, responded by taking over a
tourist lodge and invading four farms still occupied by whites.
The attackers forced owners and staff to flee from Paynanda Lodge, a
popular game farm and tourist stop-over on the main road to South Africa,
five miles south of the town of Masvingo. Four other farms which still grow
crops and rear livestock were invaded and farmers' wives and children have
fled to town.
Hendrik Olivier, director of the Commercial Farmers' Union, said he
feared a repeat of the land invasions of 2000 after Mr Mugabe suffered his
first political setback. He denied claims in state media white farmers were
going back to their old farms and threatening settlers. "That is simply not
true. There are not hordes of white farmers at the borders waiting to come
back. We don't know who to call to help," he said. "The police do not want
to do anything, they say they are not sure who is in control. They won't
intervene or help us. I don't know which minister is still out there. We are
in a vacuum."
Mr Mugabe's opponents can take heart from the knowledge that where
once the president could have counted on the support of the police and
security forces, police are no longer behind him to a man.
On Friday a group of about 40 outside a police station in a small town west
of Harare, normally a Zanu-PF stronghold, said they had had enough. One said
they would not show up for duty for another national election. "They will
have to force us," another said. They did not believe they would be paid
enough even for last weekend's poll to make it worthwhile.
Meanwhile, much of the country remained shut down as its 12 million people
waited anxiously to learn how the impasse would end. The brief jubilation
when Zanu-PF lost its parliamentary majority has gone, replaced by fear and
depression as Zimbabweans retreated into their homes.
In Harare, the streets were eerily quiet, most of the cafés and bars closed.
A few members of the notorious riot squad slouched on street corners near
the courts and parliament. The shops, which have never recovered from last
July's devastating price freeze, looked even emptier than usual.
"This can't carry on," said a supermarket owner. "The country is dying, we
are in limbo, we have no government now, just knee-jerk reactions. When will
Many industries were silent after turning off machines on the eve of the
poll. "We have some raw materials on hand, but we will not use them until we
know what is going to happen politically. We are being forced to sell to the
retail sector at below cost, and we can't do that," said one industrialist.
The MDC had hoped to break the deadlock by persuading the High Court to
order the release of election results, arguing there could be no
justification for the hold-up because the results of both the parliamentary
and presidential elections had already been posted outside each of the
9,000-odd polling stations.
But as Mr Muchadehama and fellow MDC lawyer Andrew Makoni arrived at the
High Court for a midday hearing, their path was blocked by three armed
police. More officers arrived and a man wearing a Zanu-PF T-shirt threatened
lawyers who tried to get into the building.
When the lawyers finally gained access, they were told that the judges would
not hear the case. It was put back to allow the electoral commission more
time to prepare its counter-argument.
One result that was released showed that Zanu-PF took 30 seats in elections
for the country's senate, or upper house of parliament, with the combined
opposition taking the same number.
Projections from Zanu-PF and independent observers suggest Mr Tsvangirai
will have to face a second round of voting if he wants to deliver a knockout
blow, a prospect he regarded as unnecessary. "It is unfair... for President
Mugabe even to hint at a run-off," said Mr Tsvangirai. "Violence will be the
new weapon to reverse the people's will. We won this election without the
need for a run-off." Branding Mr Mugabe a "lame duck" president, Mr
Tsvangirai said he "must concede to allow us to move on with rebuilding and
reconstructing the country".
The confusion surrounding the result was exacerbated by Zanu-PF demands for
a recount in 16 parliamentary constituencies, although the deadline for any
recount expired 48 hours after results were posted outside polling stations.
The parliamentary results stripped Zanu-PF of its control of parliament for
the first time since independence in 1980.
The MDC believes it is well-placed to increase its lead over Mr Mugabe in
the event of a second round of voting. Independent assessments suggest Mr
Tsvangirai secured 49 per cent of the original vote to Mr Mugabe's 42 per
cent. The winner must secure 50 per cent plus one vote to secure the
Under election rules a run-off should be held within 21 days, but there is
growing speculation that Mr Mugabe will use his executive powers to issue a
decree to delay the run-off for 90 days, allowing him more time to try to
turn the vote in his favour.
By BARBARA JONES - Last updated at 00:23am on 6th April 2008
He walked back and forth across the newly-mown lawn, occasionally put his
head in his hands and finally settled himself into a garden chair, staring
Sitting in the sunshine, feet up on the coffee-table in front of him, he was
a man contemplating his life's dream. He was on the verge of either
greatness or great disappointment. In the dramatically failed state of
Zimbabwe, no one could tell.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, 55, was officially 'in hiding', not a
word uttered in public since last Saturday's crucial national elections.
But extraordinarily, at this time of hope and fears, lies and propaganda on
the streets of Harare, the man who would be President had taken refuge in a
tropical garden in the suburbs one day last week --and was chatting to The
Mail on Sunday.
'I'm trying to be patient,' he said. 'Patience is a virtue, but today it's
proving really hard.'
His security detail, seven officials from his party, the Movement for
Democratic Change, in dark suits, stayed respectfully in the background.
They answered mobile phones, ordered coffee, and watched their man from a
distance. One of them drove into town to find some Lemsip. Mr Tsvangirai had
a head cold.
'I came here to get away and think for a while. I didn't know you guys would
be here', he said, smiling. 'I just wanted to be somewhere peaceful and
listen to the birds sing.
'But yes, you're right, this is the most important day of my life --and the
most important day in the lives of all Zimbabwean people.
'It's a very anxious time and we've got to get through it. The waiting is
unbearable but we are used to waiting. In the past we were cheated out of
our victory but this time I really believe we have put the right mechanisms
in place so that ballot boxes cannot be tampered with.
'If Mugabe and his party want to rig the vote of course they will do their
best. But this time even the official version we are hearing is showing us
On that day in the garden Tsvangirai said he and his officials believed he
had won 60 per cent of the Presidential vote, enough to take him home and
'That is just our counting mechanism, we might not be right to the last
point of accuracy,' he said. 'But I am daring to believe it's true.'
Mugabe's generals had warned that an early announcement of victory by the
MDC would be tantamount to a coup d'etat.
Tsvangirai had nothing but contempt for this: 'Mugabe should know about
coups,' he said. 'He has already launched a coup against his own people by
making their lives hell and taking away their jobs, their food and their
pride in their country'.
By Thursday, though, his party had risked that 'coup d'etat'. They went on
record announcing a clear victory for Tsvangirai as President, and for the
MDC winning a parliamentary majority.
But by Friday Mugabe's spokesman Bright Matonga was busy announcing: 'Our
President is going to fight. He is not going anywhere. He has not lost. We
are going to go hard and if there is a second round of elections to decide
this we will fight to get the majority required.'
Fighting is what the people fear. Matonga added, somewhat mysteriously, that
Mugabe's Zanu-PF Party had put 'only 25 per cent' into the recent elections,
and would now unleash the remaining 75 per cent.
To many in beleaguered Zimbabwe, that means the prospect of intimidation,
threats, arrests and beatings.
They have been through it before, and this time they have neither the
stomach nor the energy for it.
Yesterday, as Mugabe met his Politburo chiefs to discuss last minute tactics
in this long drawn-out affair, Mr Tsvangirai said he fears Mugabe is
preparing a 'war against the people' in an attempt to hold on to power.
'Militants are being rehabilitated', he told a Press conference, adding that
the central bank was printing money 'for the finance of violence'.
He said the MDC was reluctant to take part in an election run-off because of
the growing risks of violence - and anyway there was no need for a run-off
because he had already won the presidential elections last weekend.
Election 'victor' Tsvangirai in desperate move to prevent second ballot
By CHRIS McGeal
Sunday April 06 2008
Robert Mugabe was accused last night of preparing a war against Zimbabwe's
people in an attempt to overturn the opposition's presidential election
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
who has already claimed outright victory in the election, even though the
official count has yet to be released, said the government was reviving the
war veterans and party militias to bludgeon the opposition into submission
and terrorise voters before a run-off ballot.
"Violence will be the new weapon to reverse the people's will," he said.
"Militants are being prepared. War vets are on the warpath."
Mr Svangirai called Mr Mugabe a lame-duck president and said he "must
concede to allow us to move on with the business of rebuilding and
reconstructing the country".
He said the MDC was reluctant to take part in a second round of presidential
elections because of the mounting climate of fear -- although he stopped
short of threatening a boycott.
Mr Tsvangirai said: "In the runoff, violence will be the weapon. It is
unfair and unreasonable for President Mugabe to call a run-off."
He reiterated his claim that a runoff was unnecessary. His party claims he
won 50.3 per cent of the vote, but the official election commission has
still not released the results. Mr Mugabe appears to have emerged from one
of the most turbulent weeks of his 28-year rule, which began with the shock
of looming political oblivion, as determined as ever not to admit defeat.
South African president Thabo Mbeki warned the world yesterday not to
intervene in Zimbabwe. He insisted the delay in announcing the results was
in order for checks to be carried out ensuring that there was "no
Mr Mbeki, in London for talks with British prime minister Gordon Brown, is
leading efforts to resolve the crisis over whether Mr Mugabe was defeated at
the ballot box. He said that international outrage was unwarranted and
called for a re-run of the elections. It 'was time to wait', he added.
Mr Brown used a press conference at a summit of world leaders attended by
both men yesterday to repeat calls for the publication of the results,
adding: "They cannot be any longer delayed."
But Mr Mbeki said the elections had been conducted so far in accordance with
the rules, adding the delay was due to verification by the Zimbabwe
electoral commission: "It is a process to ensure there is no controversy."
Yesterday armed police prevented opposition lawyers from entering Zimbabwe's
High Court to lodge a suit for the immediate publication of delayed results
of the presidential election.
Lawyer Alec Muchadehama said a senior police officer wearing a shirt of the
ruling ZANU-PF party gave the order amid increasing signs of a clampdown
against an opposition that won most votes in the March 29 presidential poll,
according to independent projections.
"No one is going to enter. They say they are going to call the riot police,"
said Mr Muchadehama, a lawyer for the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change. Journalists waiting outside the court were also ordered to disperse.
ZANU-PF said on Friday that it was endorsing Mr Mugabe, whose 28-year rule
led Zimbabwe from liberation to ruin, to contest a runoff against MDC leader
The ZANU-PF announcement pre-empting results from the ostensibly independent
election commission, underlined that Mr Mugabe's party is Zimbabwe's most
powerful authority. Independent projections show Mr Tsvangirai won most
votes, but not the 50 per cent plus one needed for an outright victory. The
MDC appealed for UN intervention yesterday to prevent bloodshed in a runoff
campaign because it fears Mr Mugabe will use brute force to try to retain
Nelson Chamisa, a MDC spokesman, said there were signals that Mugabe, 84,
was preparing to crack down. Feared veterans of the guerrilla war, used in
the past to beat-up opponents, held an intimidating march last Friday.
Opposition party offices were raided and armed police in full riot gear
arrested foreign journalists in a show of force.
"They are trying to intimidate people, they are trying to set up the context
for unleashing violence. The vampire instincts of this regime are definitely
going to come out," Mr Chamisa said.
"But we cannot be alone. We need the international community to help us. The
UN has to make sure that there is no violence in this country . . . They
should not [wait to] come when there is blood in the street, blood in the
By ROBYN DIXON
Los Angeles Times
Published: April 6, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday 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 and featuring a "hit list" of bureaucrats and security
officials who would be purged circulated prominently in the capital.
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.
As Tsvangirai attempts the delicate maneuver of reassuring military and
intelligence chiefs that they would not be targeted should he become
president, the document gave the opposite message, undermining his efforts
to peel the generals who have long supported President Robert Mugabe.
The election saw the ruling party lose its majority for the first time in
its 28 years of power. The opposition has kept 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 Saturday, they were blocked.
The purported "transition" document, portrayed as having been written by a
senior Tsvangirai adviser, 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 Tsvangirai's administration took
Sun, 06 Apr 2008
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai assured the army and even
President Robert Mugabe they had nothing to fear from a change of regime on
Saturday as he claimed victory in a presidential election.
But Tsvangirai accompanied the olive branch with a sharp warning for
hardliners in Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party not to suppress "the will of the
people" as he accused them of preparing to wage a bloody fightback.
At a meeting of its politburo, Zanu-PF not only backed Mugabe to stand in a
second round of a presidential election but also announced plans to contest
its loss of parliamentary control to Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
"The MDC won the election and will not accept the suppression of the will of
the people," Tsvangirai said in a press conference in which he shrugged
aside his previous reluctance to declare himself the rightful next
"The result is known, that the MDC won the presidential and parliamentary
election. President Mugabe and Zanu-PF should accept the results."
Tsvangirai calls for dialogue
But rather than castigate Mugabe, Tsvangirai said he wanted to hold talks
with the country's leader-since-independence and gave him guarantees about
his safety, promising that his own administration would eschew partisanship.
"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."
Tsvangirai has twice been accused of treason and was badly beaten up by
Mugabe's security forces last year but he pledged he was not after
"I want to say to President Robert Mugabe: 'Please rest your mind, the new
Zimbabwe guarantees your safety'."
Zanu-PF "preparing a war"
Mugabe's continued public silence since last Saturday's vote, in which even
Zanu-PF acknowledges he failed to win an outright majority against
Tsvangirai, has led to speculation that he may in fact be preparing an exit
However the decision to endorse him for a run-off against Tsvangirai if
neither man has won more than 50 percent, combined with the decision to
challenge the legislative results, has indicated hardliners may hold the
Tsvangirai said there was clear evidence that Zanu-PF was gearing up for a
fight to the finish.
"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.
"Thousands of army recruits are being recruited in militias and the reserve
bank's printing presses are in overdrive, printing for bribery activities,"
Tsvangirai courting armed forces
Diplomatic sources say Tsvangirai's camp has already been in touch with
senior figures in the armed forces to persuade them not to join in any
last-ditch stand to save the 84-year-old president from being ousted.
And Tsvangirai, aware that a smooth transition is largely dependent on the
attitude of the armed forces, went out of his way to tell them that he would
not bear grudges over the past.
"I want to assure those serving in state institutions, in particular those
in the army, the police, that their jobs are safe, that there will be no
retribution or vindictiveness."
Martin Rupiya, a former general in the Zimbabwean army who is now a South
Africa-based analyst, said it would be a mistake to think the hawks
predominated in the military.
Zanu-PF's reverse "has disarmed those on the hawkish side, most appear to go
along (with a hard line) but are actually pragmatists and moderates although
they keep being wound up by the irresponsible political rhetoric," he told
By William Hague
Last Updated: 12:31am BST 06/04/2008
A week after the presidential and parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe,
its people still do not know who will lead their country.
What is clear, however, is that the choking grip that President Mugabe
has exerted on Zimbabwe's people and prosperity for two decades is
weakening, and an end to his rule is in sight.
For Zimbabwe, it will be a new beginning, for the international
community a moment when we should seize the "golden hour" which his
departure will create: the short window of time when people's expectations
are high and the political situation is fluid.
In Iraq, as we have learnt to the cost of many lives lost and
opportunities wasted, this golden hour was squandered.
There is much that we can offer that goes far beyond the food aid for
four million people that we have been providing: assistance in moving to the
rule of law and building institutions; and facilitating the homecoming for
Zimbabwe's millions of refugees - a massive programme of rehabilitation.
While in theory at peace, Zimbabwe is analogous to a country at war
Mugabe's Zimbabwe exhibits many of the scars and characteristics of a
post-conflict state: massive population displacement, depleted
infrastructure, the breakdown of basic services, social trauma, a lack of
justice, and a shattered economy.
It has the lowest life expectation in Africa and the world's highest
Now is the time to set out the new relationship the international
community can offer Zimbabwe, and clear benchmarks for the ending of
Zimbabwe's international isolation. We should develop a clear package of
assistance, based on an assessment by the World Bank of Zimbabwe's most
critical needs, that would be implemented if a new administration in Harare
made it clear it was on a clear path to democracy and the rule of law.
We should prepare to call a donor conference to draw in a wide range
of international support, hosted jointly by the African Union and the
And we should set up a "Contact Group," backed by the weight and
resources of the United Nations. Such a body would be able to pool
international efforts on Zimbabwe, manage the inflow of assistance and
advance the political process. We should support a thorough reform of the
security sector, the disbanding of paramilitary groups, and training for
officials in civilian policing and human rights.
Finally, in the event of a major deterioration in security we ought to
be ready for an international observer mission or over-the-horizon
humanitarian force under the auspices of the African Union and backed by the
Zimbabwe used to be among sub-Saharan Africa's most prosperous and
To recover, it will need sustained multilateral help from its
neighbours, international organisations and its friends.
Sun 6 Apr 2008, 1:29 GMT
SYDNEY, April 6 (Reuters) - Australia said on Sunday it was increasingly
concerned that Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was about to use "brutal
habits" to steal an election win and that aid would depend on whether a fair
government was put in place.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith also said that teams of international
observers in Zimbabwe needed to be reinforced if last week's presidential
election went to a second-round contest.
"I am now starting to worry about the dangers of intimidation, when it comes
to a second round, if that's what unfolds in the next few days," Smith told
ABC television's Insiders programme.
"I think the international community has to look very, very closely at
beefing up those observers if we do go to a second round because I'm
becoming increasingly worried with some untoward developments that Mr Mugabe
may be trying to steal the election through intimidation," he said.
"We've really got to put the weights on here as best we can to make sure Mr
Mugabe doesn't get away with resorting to his very bad, brutal habits of
old," Smith said.
The Australian foreign minister, who said he had consulted with South
African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Saturday night, was
speaking after Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party called for a recount in last
week's presidential election, citing "errors and miscalculations".
The call, reported in the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper, followed
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's accusation that Mugabe was deploying
forces for a "war on the people" to reverse the election results, which have
not yet been released.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change says it won the March 29
Australia would be "in the marketplace" for development assistance for
Zimbabwe, if a government that respected the will of the people was put in
place, Smith said on Sunday.
Zimbabwe has become one of the most impoverished countries in the world,
with inflation now running at more than 100,000 percent, the highest in the
world. The country has chronic food and fuel shortages and 80 percent
The opposition and Western governments blame longstanding president Mugabe
for the economic collapse. He blames Western sanctions.
"We've not got an international responsibility to seek to rebuild the
Zimbabwe economy and rebuild the Zimbabwean nation, with very many of its
people now living effectively in abject poverty," Smith said on Sunday.
Australian assistance to rebuild the country's economy and nation would
depend on whether Zimbabwe put in place a government that respected the will
of the people and wanted to do good works for the people, he said.
(Reporting by Michael Byrnes)
Metrowest Daily News,US
By Jeff Adair, Daily News columnist
Posted Apr 06, 2008 @ 12:24 AM
So another African country is in the news. Surprise, surprise. This time
it's Zimbabwe, which for the first time in 28 years could soon have a new
While most people see the headlines and turn the page, over the past few
days Colleen Gwari has closely watched the goings on in his home country.
"As soon as I get home from work, I get on my laptop and read almost every
on-line newspaper," said Gwari, who last August was granted political asylum
status to live and work in the United States.
"It's quite a challenging time there," said Gwari, 29. "I don't see
(President Robert Mugabe) going out easily...Almost one week after the
elections, they still haven't released the results."
Gwari has no love, to put it mildly, for Mugabe, who last weekend lost the
election, but some fear, could figure out a way to remain in control.
"Intimidating," "corrupt," "no-respect for human rights," are some of the
phrases Gwari uses to describe the dictator. Worst than those, he calls him
Mugabe is an old man, said Gwari, who is prepared to sacrifice the people of
Zimbabwe in order to keep control, quash opposition and prevent the west
from digging up the horrible truth about his regime.
A former reporter working for the independent Daily News in Zimbabwe's
capital city of Harare, Gwari, on more than one occasion, experienced the
wrath of Mugabe's rule.
Back in 2003, the paper's offices were bombed. But to the dismay of
government officials, the publisher found a way to stay in operation even
though a lot of its equipment was destroyed.
A few weeks later, Gwari was arrested and jailed for writing a story
critical of the government. There were no charges filed. There was no trial.
And before sneaking out, he, like others underwent beatings.
Then in September of the same year, the paper was shut down after the
country's Supreme Court ruled that under the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, which requires journalists to be licensed, it was
"I woke up one day, went to work, and was greeted by armed soldiers in full
gear. They had sealed the entire building," he recalled.
Later, arrest warrants were issued for all the journalists. Soldiers
harassed family members. They'd ask questions of friends and strangers. They
followed people around who they suspected were journalists.
Two days, and Gwari had enough. So he grabbed his passport and hitchhiked to
the neighboring country of Namibia. He didn't know anyone there, and really
had no idea what he would do.
He was homeless at first, going without a shower for a week and little to
eat, until a stranger brought him to live in his home. He did freelance
work, writing about the atrocities in his homeland and on economic issues.
He returned to Zimbabwe after he could not get papers to remain in Namibia.
Back home, he continued to write, using a pseudo name in hopes that
government officials would not find him. He also joined the opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change, where he experienced the murders
of friends and colleagues.
He was brought to the U.S. in May of 2007, and went through a program at the
Brattleboro, VT, based Conflict Transformation Across Cultures School for
International Training, before moving to Framingham.
Gwari nowadays works over nights, auditing books for a local hotel, and in
the fall will start pursuing his master's degree at Brandies University.
This winter has been a bit difficult, walking the 3 miles to and from work
everyday, but overall he can't complain.
"There's lots of challenges, but one has to cope," he said.
Everyday, he thinks about his homeland. He thinks about his parents and
brothers, whom he has not heard from in months.
"People are very frustrated and anything can happen," Gwari said about his
home country, where since 1995 the inflation rate has jumped from 7 to
200,000 percent. "Anything can happen."
He said the biggest problem is that many of Zimbabwe's neighbors see Mugabe
as a hero, the first and only African leader to stand up to the west. The
country was a former British colony. Back in 2000, Mugabe started to
redistribute land from white farmers, to black people, mainly government
officials and his cronies.
Gwari said it would help if diplomatic pressure were exerted to get Mugabe
to step aside.
There's so much about his country and Mugabe, said Gwari, that people don't
realize because, unlike Sudan and other troubled nations, Zimbabwe has no
oil or natural resource that the U.S. desires.
"It's so sad. I hate to say there's also a racial connotation," he said,
noting that back in 2000 when 35 white farmers were killed, the media was
all over it, but in 2005 when Mugabe destroyed homes, displacing a million
black people, there was little, if any, press.
Jeff Adair is a Daily News writer and editor. He can be reached at
Sun, 06 Apr 2008
Lawyers for two foreign journalists arrested in Zimbabwe on Saturday lodged
a legal bid with the high court demanding their immediate release, but the
pair faced a third night in a Harare jail.
New York Times correspondent Barry Bearak (58) and a 45-year-old journalist
from Britain were picked up at a Harare guest house on Thursday and later
charged with illegally reporting on Zimbabwe's general elections.
Their lawyers say the attorney general has decided the journalists have no
case to answer and have launched a legal effort to force their release.
"The police have refused to comply with the attorney-general's directive so
we are doing an urgent application today to compel the police to release
them," lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told AFP.
The application was later filed at the high court but the lawyers said they
were not given a hearing date and that this would not happen until Sunday at
The New York Times reported on Saturday that their correspondent had been
recharged with "falsely presenting himself as a journalist" after police
realised that an earlier charge of working without accreditation was
Zimbabwean authorities barred most foreign media from covering last
Saturday's general elections and had warned they would deal severely with
journalists who sneaked into the country.
However a number of news organisations, including the BBC, have been filing
reports from correspondents operating under cover.
Mugabe's government passed a media law on the eve of the last presidential
elections in 2002 which has been invoked to expel foreign correspondents and
shut down at least four independent newspapers.