International Herald Tribune
Published: April 6, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's High Court has delayed until Monday a ruling on
whether it could order the release of presidential election results, which
President Robert Mugabe is trying to hold up.
The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, says Mugabe
wants to delay the result to help him find a way out of the biggest crisis
of his 28-year rule. It is asking the High Court to force the release of the
The MDC says its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the March 29 vote and should
be declared president, ending Mugabe's uninterrupted rule since independence
After a hearing lasting almost four hours Sunday, Judge Tendai Uchena
adjourned to consider an Electoral Commission argument that he did not have
Mugabe suffered his first election defeat when his party, known as ZANU-PF,
lost control of Parliament in the March 29 elections.
No official results have emerged from the presidential vote, but ZANU-PF
wants the Electoral Commission to delay announcing the outcome pending a
Early Sunday, the government-run Sunday Mail newspaper reported that
ZANU-PF, referring to "errors" in the tally, had asked for the recount.
The party's request for the new tally and for a delay is part of Mugabe's
strategy to stay in power. The strategy includes legal challenges against
some of the parliamentary results and deployment of pro-government militias
before a possible runoff.
Electoral rules say a runoff must be held three weeks after the release of
results, meaning the longer the delay, the more time Mugabe has to regroup.
On Saturday, Tsvangirai insisted that he had won the presidential election
outright and that no runoff vote would be needed. He also warned that the
ruling party was readying a campaign of violence against his supporters to
hang on to power.
White farmers said Sunday that militants loyal to Mugabe had forced three
cattle ranchers off their land and that a fourth was holding out with about
50 militants threatening to break down his farm gates.
On Saturday, Tsvangirai promised safety to Mugabe, 84, if he stepped aside.
Tsvangirai's call for the president to enter talks aimed at a peaceful,
democratic transition had already seemed unlikely to find a warm reception
from ZANU-PF. On Friday it said Mugabe would take part in a runoff if
neither he nor Tsvangirai, 56, won a majority.
The opposition and Mugabe's party are jockeying for political position as
the country and the world wait with consternation for official results from
the race that, by the opposition's count, gave Tsvangirai a bare majority,
though an independent projection of results found him well ahead but short
of a majority.
When lawyers approached the court in Harare on Saturday morning to file the
lawsuit for releasing the official tally, armed police officers briefly
blocked them from entering. "We can't go in," said an opposition lawyer,
Alec Muchadehama. "They are threatening to shoot. They say no one enters the
A growing chorus that includes Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and
Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, has appealed for a
speedy release of the vote count. But on Saturday, President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa, perhaps the most important international player in Zimbabwe's
electoral drama, counseled patience after meeting Brown in London.
"I think there is time to wait," said Mbeki, who was appointed by a regional
bloc of nations to mediate in Zimbabwe but has been accused by Tsvangirai of
favoring Mugabe. "Let's see the outcome of the election results."
The ruling party, which has led the country into a ruinous economic decline,
lost its majority in the lower house of Parliament in last week's election
for the first time since the country's independence from white rule in 1980,
but is now demanding a recount for 16 seats, apparently in a bid to reclaim
Tsvangirai, who was beaten by the police in a crackdown on the opposition
last year, warned at a news conference in Harare that Mugabe's party would
resort to violent intimidation of his supporters during a runoff. He said
ZANU-PF was mobilizing militias and veterans of the independence struggle to
carry out a campaign that he described as a war against the people.
ZANU-PF, which confiscated large, commercial farms of white farmers, helping
lead to the economy's collapse, is stoking fears that an opposition
government would take land given to blacks and return it to whites. Much of
the land was given to Mugabe's cronies, Zimbabwe analysts said.
A state-run newspaper, The Herald, said Saturday that white farmers were
returning "in droves," threatening to reclaim their land, a charge that Roy
Bennett, the MDC's treasurer, called "absolute nonsense."
There were signs that Mugabe's party was tightening its grip on the country.
The police blocked the main roads leading into Harare's center Saturday and
were searching vehicles.
By Associated Press
Sunday, April 6, 2008 - Added 4h ago
HARARE, Zimbabwe - White farmers in Zimbabwe say militants loyal to
President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party have forced three cattle ranchers off
A fourth is holding out with about 50 militants threatening to break down
his farm gates.
The land grabs, revealed Sunday, come as Mugabe and his party confront
massive elections losses and an expected presidential runoff.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since his guerrilla army helped overthrow white
minority rule in 1980.
His popularity has been battered by an economic collapse following the
often-violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms since 2000.
"Well, never thought I would have to do this email do not know if it may be my last from Chidza. At 3.30pm today a lorry load of warvets arrived at our gate to take over our land, equipment and cattle. It is now 6pm and they have been singing their war songs at our gate and more and more of them have arrived.
We managed to get Alison and the Little John to town and for now it is just John and myself and dogs in the house now on the farm.
They have said that our labour will not work tomorrow and that they want us to kill them a sheep which John refuses to do so no doubt they will kill one for themselves. They have said that no labour will come to work tomorrow either!
Graham Richards was under siege at the same time as us so it has to be orchestrated. Goddards and Deidricks are in the same boat.
They have already taken over PaNyanda Lodge, Graham and Callie are in town. Alison is at Lorna in town and Carl is expected back from Bulawayo tonight and will go to Lorna.
Lorna's no. is 039-******; Ali is on 011-******. Our phone landline is 039-******. Cell Phone Nos. 011-******; 023-******;
Please pass this email on to as many folk as you would like to. If you know of anyone in the Media all the better. We have to let the world know what is happening.
Well done to ZESA (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority). As they load shedded us and I phoned my friend in the ZESA Faults and he phoned Harare and they have switched us back on.
So for now please keep all of us in your prayers and we will send a follow up tomorrow if we are able.
Our love to you all.
John and Joy from Chidza."
Monsters and Critics
Apr 6, 2008, 9:39 GMT
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, just defeated
in parliamentary elections, has demanded that the state-controlled Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) carry out a recount of the yet-to-be-announced
presidential election results.
According to the state-controlled Sunday Mail, Mugabe's party claims 'errors
and miscalculation in the compilation of the results' from last weekend's
elections that could have affected the outcome.
Zimbabweans have been waiting for eight days for the result of the
presidential poll. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won
the vote for the lower house of parliament, relegating Zanu-PF to the status
of minority party for the first time in 28 years.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has also claimed outright victory in the
presidential election but an independent estimate produced by an election
NGO showed neither Tsvangirai nor Mugabe winning outright, pointing to the
need for a runoff.
Lawyers for the MDC were due to appear in the High Court in Harare later
Sunday to seek a court order forcing ZEC to release the results. On
Saturday, police, one of them wearing Zanu-PF regalia, barred them from
entering the court to submit their application.
The Sunday Mail quoted 'notes' submitted by Zanu-PF lawyers to the ZEC,
saying they would challenge the presidential results on the basis that
election officers in four constituencies in the south-west 'committed errors
of miscounting that are so glaring as to prejudice not just our client's
(Mugabe) candidate, but also (in some instances) his co-contestants.'
It said that the errors were reflected in differences between the official
result forms posted outside polling stations, and results collated at the
The paper said 'some' polling officers had been arrested following the
On Saturday Tsvangirai warned of violence in the event of a runoff, which
the constitution says must be held within 21 days of voting, accusing
Zanu-PF of 'preparing a war against the people of Zimbabwe' and appealing
for the African Union, United Nations and Zimbabwe's southern African
neighbours to intervene.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, a longtime mediator in Zimbabwe, said
the situation was still 'manageable.'
On Friday liberation war veterans loyal to Mugabe vowed to defend Zimbabwe
against what they called the threat a white 'invasion' and accused white
farmers of surveying farms taken from them under the country's land reform
programme for possible reappropriation.
The opposition and Commercial Farmers Union have rubbished the claims.
In 2000 the war veterans kickstarted Zimbabwe's disastrous land reform
programme by invading and seizing white-owned farms.
The Sunday Independent reported that a new bout of land invasions had begun,
saying war veterans had invaded three farms and a tourist lodge in the town
Sun 6 Apr 2008, 6:04 GMT
HARARE, April 6 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition said on Sunday
demands by President Robert Mugabe's ruling party for a recount of
presidential election results were illegal and denied approaching ZANU-PF
for a unity government.
"The (Electoral) Act says that you ask for a recount within 48 hours of the
counting. Counting takes place at polling stations so it's within 48 hours
of that," said Tendai Biti, secretary general of the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
"Legally they have no right to ask for a recount, they have absolutely no
footing to ask for a recount so what they are trying to do is illegal.
He also denied reports his party had approached ZANU-PF to form a unity
Monsters and Critics
Apr 6, 2008, 13:30 GMT
Johannesburg/Harare - The 'third man' in Zimbabwean politics, former finance
minister Simba Makoni, will soon announce he has formed a new party and give
his conditional support to Morgan Tsvangirai's bid for president, his
spokesman said Sunday.
Makoni, whom estimates show polling third in last weekend's presidential
election behind opposition leader Tsvangirai and Mugabe, will announce the
formation of his party after the long-awaited election results are released,
Denford Magora said.
'There is agreement within the movement (Makoni campaign) we should
formalize this thing but we are waiting for the final results,' Magora said.
Makoni threw open the presidential race in February when he announced, in a
surprise move, he would run for president against his former mentor Mugabe.
Although the results of the election have yet to be released eight days
after voting all estimates, even from Makoni's own campaign, put him a
distant third behind Tsvangirai and Mugabe.
'People around the country told us he was rather late coming to the party,'
In the likely event of a runoff vote between Mugabe and Tsvangirai the MDC
leader would have Makoni's support on condition they reached agreement on
'concerns about the way the country is run,' Magora said.
Observers have said Makoni could try to gain a position of prime minister -
a position that would have to be resurrected - in a government of national
unity led by Tsvangirai as president.
Magora insisted Makoni's endorsement would be premised on policy issues.
Throughout his campaign Makoni, who campaigned on a message of reform,
claimed to have support within the upper echelons of Mugabe's Zanu-PF, but
only one senior party member - former home affairs minister Dumiso
Dabengwa - openly endorsed him.
Zanu-PF was soundly beaten by the opposition in elections to the lower house
of parliament - a win Zanu-PF is now contesting.
Magora warned the new party would not act as a haven for corrupt members of
Zanu-PF looking to 'flee (Mugabe's party) like rats from sinking ship.'
'You can rest assured you will hear of people who making approaches (to the
new party) and are turned away,' he said.
Santa Barbara News Press
ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer
April 6, 2008 11:05 AM
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - For a few brief moments, Zimbabweans suffering under
the authoritarian rule of Robert Mugabe allowed themselves a rare burst of
optimism after their longtime president suffered what appeared to be a
devastating electoral loss.
But ruling party stalwarts and security chiefs - worried about their own
fates in a post-Mugabe era - quickly dug in their heels, and Mugabe now
appears poised to do everything he can to extend his 28-year rule.
''There's a political hardening by the political elite of the ruling
party,'' said Eldred Masunungure, a political analyst at the University of
Zimbabwe. ''They're in a panic mode.''
Earlier, news of the opposition victory sent supporters into the streets,
dancing, singing and waving the open hand that is the Movement for
Democratic Change's symbol. The symbol of Mugabe's ZANU-PF is a clenched
fist, and it didn't take long for it to show.
Though opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has promised Mugabe a peaceful
retirement, fears of violence against government opponents have grown as
security forces and ruling party thugs took to the streets in the days after
the March 29 election.
It would not be the first time Mugabe resorted to violence to cling to
He had ruled his nation with little real challenge since 1980, when his
guerrilla movement helped end white rule in Rhodesia and bring about an
independent Zimbabwe. He was praised for his policies of racial
reconciliation and economic growth, and for bringing education and health
care to the masses.
Then a coalition of trade unionists - backed by some wealthy white
commercial farmers and their workers - formed the Movement for Democratic
Change which, along with civil rights groups, dealt Mugabe his first defeat
at a 2000 referendum to entrench presidential powers.
Shocked, Mugabe responded by sending armed thugs, some veterans of the bush
war for independence, into rural areas to seize white-owned farms and
intimidate opposition supporters.
Though the farm seizures sparked an eventual economic collapse that has this
former regional breadbasket dependent on international food aid, the ruling
party won 2000 parliamentary elections. Similar campaigns of intimidation
preceded ruling party victories in 2002 and 2005 elections, which
international observers said were marred by serious irregularities,
including outright rigging. Scores of Mugabe opponents were killed.
In contrast, the March 29 elections were relatively peaceful and, in a
compromise with opposition leaders, the government posted results outside
all the polling stations - a move that made it more difficult to cheat.
Mugabe campaigned on his liberation credentials and land reform, blaming
former colonizer Britain and the West for ruining the economy through
sanctions. In fact, the sanctions only involve visa bans and frozen bank
accounts for Mugabe and about 100 of his cronies.
After it became clear Mugabe did not win the most votes and was likely
headed for a runoff with Tsvangirai, several people reported secret talks to
usher the 84-year-old into a graceful retirement, though aides to Mugabe and
Tsvangirai denied it.
Supporters of Tsvangirai, who said he won more than 50 percent of the vote
and did not need a runoff, took to the streets in euphoria. Many hoped an
end to Mugabe's rule would revive the economy, where inflation rages at more
than 100,000 percent.
But eight days after the presidential vote, election officials still have
not released the results, and the mood in the country has turned dark.
Riot police have flooded the streets, manned roadblocks, closed beer halls
and ordered people to stay home at night. Intruders raided opposition
offices, and police arrested foreign journalists. Feared war veterans - used
in the past to beat up opponents - marched through downtown Harare.
''Mugabe has started a crackdown,'' warned Tendai Biti, secretary-general of
Zimbabwean civic, church and human rights groups say they fear ruling party
supporters will use violence to target election districts where Mugabe lost
to ensure there is no repeat of those results in a runoff.
But Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga has dismissed the fears of
violence as ''a lot of nonsense.''
On Sunday, white farmers said militant supporters of the ruling party had
invaded eight of the few remaining white-owned commercial farms. Four cattle
ranchers were driven off their land Saturday, and equipment and livestock
were seized, the farmers said.
Later, police persuaded the militants to leave farms in southern Masvingo
district, but even as that was happening two more farms were invaded in
northern Centenary, the Commercial Farmers Union reported.
Senior officers and ruling party leaders appeared to be the driving force
behind the campaign to keep Mugabe in power, said military analyst Martin
Rupiya, a former lieutenant colonel in the Zimbabwean army now at the South
African Institute for Strategic Studies.
Security chiefs and top party officials stand to lose multiple farms each
has been given by Mugabe along with other patronage such as lucrative
business and government contracts.
The MDC has said it was confident it would win a runoff. But many believe
that Mugabe, backed into a corner, will find a way to stay in power.
The law requires a runoff within 21 days of the initial election, but
diplomats in Harare and at the United Nations have said that Mugabe was
planning to declare a 90-day delay to give security forces time to clamp
''We should distinguish wishful thinking from the reality on the ground,''
said Masunungure, the analyst. ''Mugabe still has many tricks up his
Sun 6 Apr 2008, 12:17 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's generals occupy no official posts in its
ruling party, but analysts say they will play a crucial role in President
Robert Mugabe's drive to stay in power.
The heads of the army and security forces are thought to have been key
planners in an emerging strategy for Mugabe, 84, to fight back after
elections a week ago that handed the former guerrilla commander his biggest
defeat in 28 years of power.
Analysts say Mugabe is banking on these commanders to deal with any
post-election violence while he deploys his political forces against
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who says he won last week's vote and
should be declared president.
In a multi-pronged strategy, the ruling ZANU-PF is also calling for a
recount of the presidential vote and challenging enough seats in the
parliamentary poll to reverse victory there by the opposition Movement for
"It's difficult to get a clear picture ... but it is fair to assume that
without their (the generals') support, Mugabe would not be going in this
direction," said a senior Western diplomat.
"We have heard suggestions of splits in the top ranks, of divergent views on
what is going on, but there is nothing on the ground to support that," he
told Reuters. "I think Mugabe still enjoys and commands enough respect and
loyalty to be able to count on them in times like these."
Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga and police chief
Augustine Chihuri issued tough statements ahead of the poll backing Mugabe
and denouncing both Tsvangirai and third presidential candidate Simba
Makoni, a former finance minister.
Like all other security chiefs, they are veterans of the guerrilla war
against white rule in the 1970s.
Many see their backing for Mugabe as a formidable obstacle to Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change, which has tried to reassure security forces
that they have nothing to fear from a change of government if they remain
"The generals may have no positions in ZANU-PF, but they are part of the
party and when their party is challenged they take part in efforts to defend
it," said John Makumbe, a Zimbabwean political commentator and fierce critic
"In terms of training and competence, they are very professional but in
terms of politics, they are not," he said.
The MDC charges that the army has taken a clear political line as Mugabe
over the years deployed soldiers to stop peaceful anti-government protests.
Security force chiefs said they would not accept a Tsvangirai victory.
Mugabe honed his political skills in the 1960s as a backroom strategist in
Zimbabwe's liberation struggle and an articulate public speaker, and has
long matched political savvy with a healthy respect for military muscle.
Unlike in many African countries, Zimbabwe's army remained largely in the
shadows following independence from Britain in 1980 -- a public image
analysts say belied its role in keeping Mugabe's government afloat.
That low-key approach started to change in 2000 as Mugabe faced a rising
challenge from the MDC, and the military is increasingly coming to the fore
in this election as Mugabe uses army officers, liberation war veterans and
youth brigades in a campaign he says will "bury" the opposition.
In the last eight years, the veteran Zimbabwean leader has hired more
serving or retired military officers into his party ranks to help shape a
political strategy against the MDC, which he calls a puppet of Western
Mugabe has also appointed dozens of former army officers to key posts,
including in the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), the prison
service, the police force, and the judiciary.
Retired senior army and security commanders have taken positions in
Zimbabwe's electoral commission, parliament, the cabinet and ZANU-PF's
politburo and central committee.
Mugabe learnt how to look after the military in the 1970s while leading
Zimbabwe's independence war from neighbouring Mozambique. Since
independence, defence has stayed in the top three departments in annual
government budget allocations.
Senior army officers drive luxury cars and many have been allocated large
farms seized by Mugabe from whites under his controversial land reforms.
Critics say Mugabe cemented his relationship with the army when he allowed
top commanders to make money from diamond deals during Zimbabwe's five-year
involvement in the civil war in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mugabe
denies his men were involved in corruption or looting.
Mugabe has secured the support of an irregular force of independence war
veterans through huge pension payouts and handing out farms seized from
The army, war veterans and youth brigades militia played important roles in
invading farms in early 2000.
They were also blamed for violence the opposition says helped ZANU-PF win
parliamentary polls in that year, and Mugabe's re-election in 2002.
ZANU-PF militants were restrained from campaign violence this year, although
their presence in the countryside intimidated opposition supporters.
A presidential runoff between Mugabe and Tsvangirai is expected to be
"For Mugabe, this election is a matter of prestige, a matter of principle
because he truly believes that the MDC is a stooge party that must be
stopped," Makumbe said. "He is a born dirty player."
(Editing by Barry Moody)
The East African, Kenya
By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO email@example.com
For those East Africans who haven’t watched it, Gangs of New York (starring
Leonardo Dicaprio) is a movie about the struggle by Irish immigrants to
carve out a niche in the squalid, violence-plagued politics of Five Acres,
the legendary 19th century New York neighbourhood.
Among other things, Five Acres laid claim to have invented tap dancing and,
some might add, grand election fraud.
At one point during an election for a new sheriff, the “good guys” in the
film (Dicaprio’s side, of course) secretly team up with the notoriously
corrupt and fickle politician, Boss Tweed, to break the influence of William
“the Butcher” Cutting, the insane leader of the city’s most powerful union.
By day, Tweed is an ally of The Butcher.
Tweed then starts swearing in Irish immigrants at the last minute to gain
votes for his candidate.
On voting day, a campaign worker runs up to Tweed and desperately reports
that they have run out of ballot papers. Tweed fixes him with an exasperated
look, and reminds him that what is important about elections is not the
voting, but the counting.
TWEED’S MAN WINS, SO THE BUTCHER decides to deal with the matter the only
way he knows how; he goes to the new sheriff’s house and beats him to death.
It is remarkable how much elections in Africa today resemble those of 19th
century New York.
Last week, it was Zimbabwe’s turn. The people voted; the results were pinned
up at polling stations, and it turned out the opposition parties had beaten
the ruling Zanu-PF.
But a week after the voting, the votes were still being “counted” and no
presidential results had been announced. The opposition, credibly, claimed
that ageing strongman Robert Mugabe had been soundly beaten.
Why, one wonders, are African election officials able to count parliamentary
votes but not presidential ones? One reason is that it is the defeat of the
president, not his party, that marks the real shift of power.
In very many African countries, the ruling party is a piece of fiction. As
in Zimbabwe’s case — or Uganda’s, Mozambique’s, Namibia’s, Sudan’s, name
it — the president remains in office because he is the candidate of a
In countries where the president was a freedom fighter or rebel leader, the
military tends to line up unquestioningly behind him, as it has done in
The stakes are, therefore, higher when a president loses an election in
these conditions, than when his party does, so his vote will be counted more
“carefully” than that for MPs.
In many of our countries, the ruling party gets its authority from the
control of state resources, and the ability to dole out patronage.
When it loses power, its supporters desert in large numbers to the new
ruling party. Its MPs, as has happened with the post-Moi Kanu in Kenya and
the post-Milton Obote UPC in Uganda, decamp to the government side and
become its leading critics.
SOMETIMES, THE NEW OPPOSITION party will also pick up support, but only if
it looks like it has a real chance of coming to power in future. Many people
will only come to it with an election around the corner, when they can
better assess its prospects.
Outside of the ANC in South Africa, Chama cha Mapinduzi in Tanzania, and the
Botswana Democratic Party, one would be hard put to it to name five
presidents in Africa who are in power because they head truly mass
organisations, not because they are preferred by the army.
The courage of voters therefore tends to be years ahead of the institutional
development of our political parties. In Zimbabwe, we now wait to see if
Mugabe will not go after the voters — or opposition leader Morgan
Tsivangrai — as the Butcher did with the hapless sheriff.
Charles Onyango-Obbo is Nation Media Group’s managing editor for convergence
and new products.
Sunday 6th April, 2008
South African President Thabo Mbeki has urged all Zimbabweans to accept and
honour the outcome of the presidential elections as the verdict of the
people, BuaNews reported Sunday.
'We are waiting for the announcement of the results by the Zimbabwean
Electoral Commission (ZEC) and hope everybody would accept the results,'
Mbeki said Thursday.
The South African president made these remarks at a press conference
following the conclusion of the 5th session of the South Africa - Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) Bi-National Commission. Congolese President Joseph
Kabila was also present at the press meet.
Mbeki said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had approached
him in March 2007, to facilitate talks between Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF and
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
In that meeting, both political parties had agreed to hold the presidential
election in 2008, he said, adding, the election results must not be
contested, as it had happened in the past.
The MDC and international poll observers have alleged vote rigging in the
last week vote.
The opposition MDC has claimed its presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai
has defeated the incumbent Robert Mugabe, which has been disputed by the
ruling Zanu-PF of Mugabe.
According to the electoral commission, the opposition MDC won majority in
the House of Assembly, ending Zanu-PF's 28-year hold on the assembly.
However, the presidential election results were still to be officially
Mbeki said he received a telephone call Wednesday from Tsvangirai informing
him that his party has won the presidential race.
'Yesterday, I had a discussion with Tsvangirai who called me to say about
his election victory, and also that the country's election commission was
ready for a second round of elections,' he said.
Tsvangirai Saturday warned the people of a state-sponsored 'war' against the
people in the event of a runoff presidential vote against President Robert
Addressing a press conference in Harare Tsvangirai also reiterated his
party's claims that he had won last weekend's election polling more than 50
percent votes precluding the need for a second round .
But the MDC leader also said he would only take a decision on whether to
contest a runoff after the official results had been released.
Mugabe, on the other hand, appears to be already gearing up for a second
round after his party Friday pledged its support for his bid to extend his
28-year rule by going to a runoff, if called.
BEIT BRIDGE, South Africa-Zimbabwe border, April 6 (AFP)
Banned from Zimbabwe, broadcasters have transformed a sleepy South African
border town into a media hub for covering the turmoil on the far side of the
Named after the colonial era bridge which spans South Africa's northern
border, Beit Bridge has provided the backdrop for the likes of CNN and the
BBC in the last week as they attempt to keep viewers informed of the
fast-breaking developments just out of their reach.
"I can smell and feel Zimbabwe, but I am not allowed to set my foot on
Zimbabwe," BBC correspondent Rachel Harvey told AFP.
"It is frustrating. Every journalist would naturally want to be close to the
source of his or her information. Standing and reporting from the border is
While hundreds of foreign journalists applied for accreditation to cover the
March 29 joint presidential and parliamentary elections, the vast majority
were refused permission by the information ministry.
Some broadcast and print journalists have sneaked in undercover but the
dangers were amply illustrated with the arrest on Thursday of two reporters,
including an award-winning New York Times correspondent.
With the undercover reporters' movements largely restricted, the bulk of
coverage has been beamed out of neighbouring South Africa.
"I personally would have loved to be inside Zimbabwe. That is where the
action is," veteran CNN anchor Jim Clancey told AFP.
"It is unfortunate that Zimbabwean authorities do not want people to know
what is going in that country, hence their decision to ban foreign
"Zimbabweans deserve respect and the right to know what is happening in
"We are trying to report on Zimbabwe as fairly and as objectively as we
possibly can, but the government could have made our job easier for us by
allowing us to file from inside Zimbabwe."
The town of Beit Bridge actually straddles the border and the Zimbabwean
side was the venue of a lavish 84th birthday bash for Mugabe on February 23
when the cream of the ruling ZANU-PF party attended a banquet.
The population on the South African side has swelled in recent years with
newly-opened supermarkets doing a roaring trade in bulk sales of goods such
as washing powder, cooking oil and maize which are now often scarce in
It is often the first port of call for immigrants who have slipped across
the border to escape the economic meltdown in their homeland, most of them
seeking greener pastures 540 kilometers (335 miles) further south in
The two border posts are separated by the 600-metre-wide Limpopo river,
manned by armed security forces, immigration and customs officials.
The journalists have set up camp just beyond the restricted zone, with their
portable generators, satellite dishes and mobile studios adding to the mix.
The crews have also erected movable tents to provide some shade from the
blistering temperatures which nudge the 40 degree celsius mark.
"We've never seen foreign journalists in operation like this, with all their
sophisticated equipment," says tomato seller Cecilia Dube, a former
Zimbabwean resident, as she marvels at the round-the-clock coverage.
Many of the town's youngsters deliberately pass behind the reporters when
they are on air in the hope of getting themselves on television.
"It is exciting to see all these foreign journalists around us," says
long-time Beit Bridge resident Emmanuel Rebone. "It gives our neighbhourhood
a sense of importance."
April 06, 2008, 17:00
Thulasizwe Simelane, Harare
Embarrassing contradictory statements are indicating a serious rift in the
midst of the Zanu-PF. The ruling party is now trying to reign in the
contradictions by appointing a single election spokesperson.
The people of Zimbabwe are all anxious for an outcome of the election but
all they seem to be getting from their leaders is more confusion and
“We deliberated on the re-run and we agreed on it, and that is what we shall
do,” says Zanu-PF Administrative Secretary Didymus Mutasa.
However, the state-run Sunday Mail quotes the party saying it wants the
presidential votes recounted, and Zanu-PF's position on the possibility of
negotiating a government of national unity with the opposition seems to
change depending on who you talk to.
“We have not been approached, but if the MDC [Movement for Democratic
Change] wants to talk, they can approach us,” says Zanu-PF's national
chairperson John Nkomo.
However, former Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who lost his
parliamentary seat, has rejected talks with the in interviews with state run
The MDC has also had its share of contradictions. A few days ago, it still
considered a run-off vote. MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti said that the
party will contest a run-off. However, the party seems to have changed its
“The run-off is a foreign back door attempt to reverse the people’s victory.
The MDC and its presidential candidate won this election and will not accept
the subversions of the people’s will,” says MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
For the election we had a number of volunteers come in to help with the
control of the poll at polling stations. This was a critical input and where
we had good supervision and control we won by wide margins. Where we did not
have such an input - or an inadequate input, we achieved less. They all
report that the observer teams were completely hopeless - we expected that.
You can see from this first hand account what went on in many areas of the
country. If there is a re-run will will have to do the same. We appealed for
more help but people did not respond - if there is a re-run (and I hope not)
then we will need many more of these brave and committed individuals to come
out and help with the poll.
I traveled up to Zimbabwe on the Tuesday the 25th to help the MDC Tsvangirai
faction with election preparations. I volunteered to help three candidates ,
Joseph Mutsvanga from Zvimba East, Knox Danda from Zimbabwe West and Edward
Musumbu from Norton.(For those who don't know Zvimba is +/- 80 kilometers
from Harare and is the area where Robert Mugabe was born. As such it is
regarded as the ZANU PF heartland) The job I was given was to help prepare
food packs for the MDC polling agents and to assist with deployment of the
agents on the Friday before the election.
Knox Danda was unable to attend our final planning meeting on the Friday
morning. He had been placed under house arrest by Nelson Samkange -the ZANU
PF candidate. (Samkange was the former governor for Mashonaland West.) He
was told that he would be beaten or killed if he left his house to campaign
on the Friday - or rather what remained of his house. Half of Knox's house
was burnt down by Samkange's thugs on Thursday the 13th in an attack that
followed an MDC rally. Knox reported the incident to the police station +/-
15 kilometers away but unfortunately the Police said they were unable to
attend. Two weeks later and still the police had not reacted to the arson.
Despite being given the names of the perpetrators. Busy busy busy these
Zimbabwean policemen. Knox sent three of his polling agents to attend our
planning meeting in his absence. All had been beaten by Samkange's thugs at
the rally on the 13th. Once again the police had not yet been able to
respond to the reports of assaults.
After we finished our planning meeting I took one of the beaten polling
agents to see one of the Election Observer teams. We got into see the Pan
African Parliament observer team. I explained to them that our candidate was
unable to campaign on the last day before elections. Whilst they agreed that
this was indeed unfortunate, they said they were unable to leave their
office in the Meikles Hotel. I said that this was unacceptable.They
suggested I return at one o'clock to meet with the head of their delegation,
the Honorable Khumalo.This I did. The Honorable Khumalo agreed that the fact
that our candidate had his house burnt down was unfortunate. Ditto his
inability to campaign. Ditto the numerous beatings that had been meted out
to MDC supporters. But he was unfortunately unable to travel to Zvimba to
meet with Knox. The soonest he would be able to do so would be the Sunday-
the day after the election. Take it or leave it. I said I'd take it and made
arrangements to take him out on the Sunday to show him the ruins of both
Knox's house and his election campaign.
Whilst I was meeting with the observers, deployment of the agents was taking
place. With our limited resources - 3 pick up trucks and a Mazda sedan-
deploying close under 700 brave men and women across the width and breadth
of the three constituencies was a mammoth task that took the whole of Friday
night. It did not pass without incident. At 2 o'clock in the morning at
Hilbre Estates in the Zvimba East constituency one of our drivers was
brutally assaulted by a Central Intelligence Organization operative by the
name of Francis Mutandariwa - co-incidentally both a close relative of
Robert Mugabe and a candidate in the Local Government elections. Mutandirwa
chased the MDC driver in his pick up truck and tried to run him off the road
on umerousoccasions. The assault was reported to the Nybaria Police Station
but they were to busy to react.
John Stanton, a friend from Johannesburg, and I set out early on the
Saturday morning with Nixon the chief election agent and two other polling
agents to check that all the MDC polling agents at the one hundred and forty
off polling stations were in place and that there was no fenookery on the
go. Alas. We bumped nto said fernookery at one of the first polling stations
we visited. Gwebi College. We found a party on the go in the room right next
to the polling station. The party/ beer drink was being hosted by Frank
Sada, the incumbent ZANU PF councilor. Nixon felt that the sight of ZANU PF
luminaries swilling beer in full sight of queuing voters could be construed
as being intimidatory. The presiding officer, a government employee, felt
different. And so we set off in search of an election observer. Eventually
we found what I think was the only observer assigned to Zvimba East and
Zvimba West constituencies - an area of +/- 1000 square
kilometers- at a polling station called Royden Farm. We also found Patrick
Zhwao, the incumbent ZANU PF member of parliament and yet another Mugabe
nephew there. ( I know hamsters with smaller extended families.)
A charming dread locked young man with designer jeans, pointy Italian shoes
and a crocodile smile, Patrick engaged John and I in light hearted banter.
He wanted to know why we had chosen a losing party to support. I suggested
that given the fact the votes hadn't been counted that his observations were
premature- unless of course he knew something I didn't. We left Zhwao and
went to where the lonely observer was sitting to complain about the beer
drink at the Gwebi polling station. The observer tut tutted quietly but
unfortunately, due to a lack of transport, he wasn't going to be able to
react. I offered him a lift. But unfortunately with voters streaming into
the Royden Farm polling station at a rate of about five an hour he wasn't
going to be able to leave Royden. Alas.
Zhwaoa , who I am sure listened in on our conversation, left the polling
station with his groupies in his shiny brand spanking new double cab. After
another five minutes of Nixon trying to persuade the observer to do his
duty, we followed suit. After a kilometer we were waved down by a group of
very young children. They warned us the road was blocked. And so it was. By
Patrick Zhuwao. I assured John that Zhuwao wouldn't try anything on polling
day. My sphincter wasn't so sure and urged me to flee. Being a devout coward
with a pain threshold as low as the thugs in Zhuwao's car, I was very keen
to heed my sphincter's advice, But alas I couldn't. The road we were on was
to narrow to overtake and we were forced to follow Zhwao as he crept along
at 20 kilometers an hour. Ever the optimist I figured he was nursing the
aforementioned shiny new car. About 300 meters from the main road Patrick ,
with a his crocodile smile, pulled over and waved us on. I pulled on to the
main road with a huge sense of relief. Alas. Mutandariwa, the other Mugabe
nephew, was waiting for us with a truck full of fist waving thugs. My
sphincter took over and we fled. At speeds I did not know my Tata pick up
was capable of. At times we were driving at 160 kilometers an hour. Over
some of the worst roads I have ever driven on. With Mutandariwa and friends
right up my almost busy bum. And every time I looked in the rear view
mirror, Nixon and his polling agents were throwing 'Vote For Morgan'
stickers at Mutandariwa. Super. More reason for the veins on the man's neck
to stick out.
We were fifty kilometers from Harare. I headed for Meikles Hotel with it's
rooms bulging full of busy busy observers. Alas. On the outskirts of Harare
I bumped into a police road block. I toyed with the idea of running the
block like they do in the movies but once again my sphincter prevailed and I
didn't. The police waved us down. Before we could explain ourselves to the
police, Mutandawira roared up. He identified himself as Military
Intelligence and grabbed my car keys and John and my passports. He told the
cops to holds us whilst he went off reinforcements. In Zimbabwe C.I.O. or
Charley Ten as they are more commonly known, do not have powers of arrest. I
begged the young policeman who was in charge of the road block to not let
Mutandawira to take us away when he returned. He was a very brave young man
and he stood his ground when Mutandawira and another car full of thugs
returned. He told them that he would affect the rest and that he would hand
us over to his superior in the Traffic Department at Harare Central. Long
story cut short - we ended up in the Law Order offices. Another reason for
my sphincter to announce it's presence. Law and Order handle political
crimes and were the ones who beat Morgan to within an inch of his life.
Thankfully John and I were traveling on foreign passports. During the crazy
car chase John had banged off a million text messages to oberservors, the
media, Tendai Biti and Roy Bennet of the MDC and anyone else he could think
of. The Chief Superintendent of the Law and Order section, a charming
gentleman who had obviously never quite got over the fact that his mother
never loved him, didn't bother to ask for our version of events. He
preferred C.I.O. version which had us distributing MDC campaign materials at
polling stations. We pointed that the police at those polling stations would
surely have arrested us on the spot. Undaunted he ordered us to be
fingerprinted. We also had to fill out Accused Profiles. The bit about what
crimes we were being accused of remained blank. Eventually the lawyers that
Tendai Biti organized. They were amazing and had obviously been there and
done that a million times. We weren't their only clients in the Law and
Order section that night. They were looking after some dastardly fiends
accused of waving- the pen hand is the main MDC slogan - and even Chipo
Chung -the daughter of Fay, Mugabe's former Minister of Education who had
committed the heinous crime of taking a camera to within 300 meters of a
polling station. She never took a photo but just having the camera was
enough to get thrown into cells for the night.
At 10 o'clock the next morning as we were finally asked to give
statements.Whilst doing this a junior policeman received a phonecall. She
listened intently, hung up and told us that we had won. She gave a little
dance of celebration and then hugged us. The MDC had won. The phone call had
been from a friend at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. I burst into tears.
Morgan and the MDC had cleaned up in both the House of Assembly and
Presidential races. The only good thing that Thabo Mbeki managed to achieve
in his months of negotiations was to force Mugabe to allow the vote count to
be posted outside each and every polling station. And each and every
Constituency Command Post. In full view of the people of Zimbabwe. Who did
the sums. Morgan and his MDC faction won more than 60%.But the mood soured
when a senior police officer entered the room. He was also crying but his
weren't tears of joy. His career as a torturer was nearing an end.
Another long story cut short, at about twelve o'clock we were given our
passports back and told that we were free to go. Without the keys of the
mighty Tata unfortunately. I will have to go back and fetch that another
John and I flew out on a plane at 6 o'clock. We left behind a lot of brave
people who didn't have the luxury of foreign passports that they could hide
behind. Like Knox Danda who phoned me on the Sunday, still too frightened to
leave what remains of his home but still waiting for the Honorable Khumalo
to come out and rescue him. Alas. I fear that he is still waiting. I see the
Honorable Khumalo and his Pan African Parliament team have since described
the elections as being largely free and fair. I sit here in SA watching the
farce as tMugabe's committs a massive crime and steals a whole country. But
an even bigger crime will be commitetted by the South African government if
they let him get away with it.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Daily Express, UK
Saturday April 5,2008
By David Robson
It’s far easier to get rid of an Irish prime minister than a Zimbabwean
dictator, that’s for sure.
Bertie Aherne bows out as financial scandal engulfs him; Robert Mugabe does
his damnedest to hang on despite losing an election he did his damnedest to
The world has looked on for years while Mugabe destroyed his country,
pauperising, starving and terrorising its
Whether he will go without bloodshed is a haunting question; whether he will
go at all is another, though it begins to look as if he must.
Why has Britain never done anything? Keen as our governments have sometimes
been to intervene in evil situations abroad, Zimbabwe has never been on that
There was not even sufficient will to stop England’s cricket tour there in
2004. Tony Blair said he opposed it but was powerless to ban it, leaving the
cricketers to decide what to do. And that was only cricket.
If Milosevic then Saddam, why not Mugabe? It’s a child’s question to which
there is no decent answer. We have seen white farmers expropriated and
killed; we have looked on while hundreds of thousands of Africans were
driven out of their homes into squatter camps.
We have seen a beautiful, naturally prosperous country laid waste.
The politics and attitudes of post-colonial Africa have made it a no-go area
for its former rulers. The bruised sensitivities of Zimbabwe, formerly
Rhodesia, a country long ruled by a white minority, forbad white
When Ian Smith died last November, we were reminded how white Rhodesian
intransigence and British ineptitude combined to produce a Unilateral
Declaration of Independence and a war that cost tens of thousands of African
But rather than any colonial legacy, it’s Robert Mugabe, a gifted and
charismatic man with the temperament of a cruel autocrat, who is responsible
for Zimbabwe’s horrors of the past two decades.
In South Africa, the country most able to influence what happens in
Zimbabwe, President Thabo Mbeki sat on his hands and watched, attaching more
importance to African independence than to stopping the cruelty, murder and
devastation the outside world deplored.
There is something profoundly wrong when a powerful neighbour, international
organisations and governments such as Blair’s – that itched to involve
itself in setting the world to rights – did nothing except shed crocodile
The complexities that make Iraq unresolvable and Kenya self-murdering do not
apply to Zimbabwe in the same way.
This is a country that should and could be made whole. It will not happen
overnight; it will be a long journey back and we have learnt that new
governments replacing old tyrants often turn out not to be the good things
we hope for.
But nobody can doubt that seeing the back of Robert Mugabe will be a happy
day long overdue.
LA Daily News
Zimbabwe opposition wants printed results
By Angus Shaw, The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 04/05/2008 10:56:46 PM PDT
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai called Saturday on
President Robert Mugabe to step down and accused the country's longtime
ruler of plotting a campaign of violence to bolster his chances of winning
an expected runoff.
Amid increasing signs of a government crackdown, armed police barred
opposition officials from filing a suit demanding publication of the results
from the March 29 presidential election. The opposition promised to try
"Mugabe must accept that the country needs to move forward. He cannot hold
the country to ransom. He is the problem, not the solution," said
Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change.
He accused the ruling ZANU-PF party of "preparing a war against the people,"
and said a runoff was unnecessary because he had won the presidential
"In the runoff, violence will be the weapon. It is therefore unfair and
unreasonable for President Mugabe to call a runoff," he said, accusing
Mugabe of mobilizing armed militias.
Tsvangirai's party claims he won 50.3 percent of the vote, but independent
projections have shown that he won the most votes but not the 50 percent
plus one needed for an outright victory.
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga dismissed the fears of violence
as "a lot of nonsense." "Zimbabwe held a very peaceful election. There was
no violence. nobody was killed," he told Sky Television.
On Friday, feared war veterans - used in the past to beat up opponents -
marched through the capital. Opposition party offices also have been raided
and armed police in full riot gear have detained foreign journalists.
Mugabe, 84, has ruled here since his guerrilla army helped overthrow white
minority rule in 1980. Official results for parliamentary elections held
alongside the presidential race showed Mugabe's ZANU-PF losing its majority
in the 210-seat parliament for the first time in the country's history.
Final results for the largely ceremonial 60-member senate gave the ruling
party and the opposition 30 seats each.
Sunday Mirror, UK
Mark Austin 6/04/2008
I flew into Harare last week with a mixture of apprehension and sadness.
Apprehension because Zimbabwe is now a dangerous place to be.
Sadness because of the pitiful decline in what was once one of Africa's most
beautiful and prosperous countries.
As you fly north from Johannesburg you cross the Limpopo River - the border
between relative prosperity and abject poverty. You can see the landscape
change from lush and fertile to dusty and barren.
A tale of two of Southern Africa's great countries I thought to myself and a
tale also of two revolutionary leaders - Robert Mugabe and Nelson Mandela.
Both are in their 80s, both are African freedom fighters, both are highly
intelligent and both, curiously, are married to women named Grace.
The similarities don't stop there. Both were also imprisoned for waging war
against white colonial rule - Mugabe for 12 years, Mandela for 27.
And when the fight was won in both countries, both were hailed as
international statesmen who talked of peace and co-operation Then one man
got it right and the other got it disastrously wrong.
Mandela knew when to go.
Having brought about astonishing reconciliation in South Africa, he decided
it was time to step back.
I remember interviewing him a couple of years after he came to power.
"It is now for the younger generation," he said. "South Africa's future is
And with that, in 1999, the great man retired to a life of charity work and
peacebrokering and is now perhaps the most revered figure in the world .
Mugabe, on the other hand, did not go when he should have done.
Instead, in the last decade, he has become increasingly autocratic and an
outspoken nationalist spouting hate towards Britain and the West.
His well-intentioned land reform programme became a vicious campaign of
persecution of white farmers - the very people who drove the country's
As a consequence, the country is in the mess it is now...and many
Zimbabweans believe the man who's ruled them for 28 years has become
increasingly and obsessively paranoid.
It's a tale of two leaders all right, and the best thing Mr Mandela could do
would be to pick up the phone and advise his former fellow guerilla fighter
that it is time to go.
The sadness is that President Mugabe probably wouldn't even take the call.
He should have bowed out like Nelson Mandela
This administration is one made up almost entirely of thieves. That is not
an opinion that's a fact. They have stolen so much the country has ceased to
be functional. Our currency is worthless, we export next to nothing, we have
to rely on western food aid to feed our people and nearly everybody plans to
get out of here while they can.
These thieves have stolen our food, our power, our water, our fuel and our
infrastructure. They are manic kleptocrats , they steal so they can buy
Mercedes , Gucci suits, cocaine, scotch, women ( and men ). They don't
invest in this country they send every stolen penny they can out of the
country and consume whatever they can here. They steal to have a lifestyle
that would make a gangsta rapper green with envy. These people are stealing
our lives and they couldn't care less.
The big western nations, which have long histories of aiding countries that
believe in democracy and honesty and the rule of law, want to help any
country that has fallen on hard times , but wants to genuinely get better.
Zimbabwe has tried to send that message but the message has been intercepted
by our tormentors. They don't want to lose their self indulgent, disgusting,
lifestyles - so we must die.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Zanu PF is behaving just like a wounded buffalo. The African buffalo is
one of the most dangerous adversaries in the world of wildlife. It has
an enormous capacity to take punishment, is extremely difficult to kill
outright and when wounded - even fatally, it has the ability to do great
damage. It is also a highly intelligent adversary.
I have never hunted buffalo but have friends who have and had a senior
in my department when I was a young man actually ambushed by a wounded
buffalo in the Zambezi Valley. He was very lucky to survive and was
never quite the same again. A frequent target of the trophy hunter are
the lone bulls who move about in small groups or on their own and have a
magnificent set of horns with that huge mass of bone across the head.
If the hunter gets a clean heart shot, the buffalo has the capacity to
run for some considerable distance before collapsing. If the shot is not
clean, then the buffalo is known to run and then circle back and lie in
ambush for his hunter. That is what happened to my senior in the valley.
Although a large animal, the buffalo knows exactly how to stand in the
shade and to blend in with his background. Often the only thing that
might alert you to his presence is a flick of the ears or a tail. Fail
to spot him and you could be on the receiving end of a short and furious
rush and fall victim to the horns or just his mass.
Zanu PF lost this election massively - if you take the combined vote of
Makoni and Tsvangirai, 73 per cent of the people who voted (2,4 million)
voted against him - he only got 27 per cent of the vote. The poll was 41
per cent if you use the voter's roll but by my calculation (2,8 to 3
million actual voters) it was nearer 80 per cent. Even when the National
Command Centre had spent a day massaging the results they only got them
down to 50 per cent for Tsvangirai and nearly 10 per cent for Makoni -
still a huge defeat for a sitting President.
In addition they have lost control, even with the rigging, of the House
of Assembly. In the Senate it looks as if we will have a stand off - but
this does not make that much of a difference. But any measure, Zanu PF
has taken a shot that has fatally wounded the old bull. However, like
the buffalo I described above, he is still dangerous.
As things stand right now, the Zanu PF Politburo has decided that a full
audit of the Presidential results can go ahead. We demanded this when we
saw the results for Mashonaland Central four days ago. When this is
completed (perhaps today) then we will hear if the final tally gives
Morgan 49 or 50 per cent of the final count. If its 49, they want a
rerun, if he gets 50 per cent plus one vote, he will be sworn in as
President and we will get a new government.
I will not bore you with all the gory details of what has gone on this
week, but just to say that Zanu PF and Robert Gabriel Mugabe have had a
tough time accepting the reality of the loss of power and privilege. I
understand that Grace Mugabe has left the country and has taken a very
considerable sum of money (real money) with her. There is also a strong
rumor that the man who led 5th Brigade during the genocide in the 80's
has committed suicide. But that may or may not be true. Nevertheless it
shows how much of a total shock this has been for the Zanu machine.
If there is a run off, I can only anticipate an electoral massacre. Ex
President Mugabe will not even get the numbers he currently has in the
It will be, in effect, a coup de grace.
So we are thinking through what a re-run might mean for us - how we
might handle it. It is already clear that despite the fact that so far
the people have committed no acts of violence in any way, that Zanu PF
is going to use violence to try and get its way in the re-run. Already
yesterday we have seen new violence in several areas, Masvingo
especially. Morgan Tsvangirai said in his press conference yesterday
that Mugabe is preparing to go to war against the people. It will not
I just pray that there will not be a re-run. The country simply cannot
take any more of this. Work is impossible - our factories are shut down
as the staff cannot work, suppliers cannot fix prices and buyers are
frozen in their tracks. The economy is virtually at a stand still and
inflation is racing ahead. There is no food in the country and hunger is
becoming a real problem, the Reserve Bank has been looted and I
understand that enough foreign exchange has been taken out to supply the
countries needs for all basic foods for 12 months. It is an absolute
disgrace and to think they still want to hang onto power!
What has become clear over the past week is that Zanu PF can no longer
command what happens in the administration, power is slipping away and
they are already yesterdays men. It is also clear that the army and the
police are both divided in their loyalties and now support change. This
was the last pillar of support for the Zanu PF regime and with this gone
it is just a matter of time.
The region is playing a key role and is trying to persuade Mr. Mugabe to
step down and allow a peaceful transition. Mugabe is not co-operating
and it is time regional leaders stepped up the pressure. As for the UN,
this august body has yet to comment and do anything effective - must we
slide into complete chaos and anarchy before they become engaged? Thabo
Mbeki is in the UK for a summit of leaders - I am sure he is getting it
with both barrels.
Last night Aziz Pahad was jousting with Kate Hoey - wish I could have
seen that contest.
But for the rest, thank you to all who stood with us - through the
criticism of our stand and strategy, through the long nights of despair
and finally doing the hard work that will make democracy the tool we
used to bring down a corrupt and cruel tyrant. We showed it could be
done - not with guns and bullets, not with fire and machete's, just with
the quiet strength of ordinary men and women going out and voting when
they got the opportunity.
Bulawayo, 6th April 2008
Zimbabweans from all over the United Kingdom gathered outside the Embassy to
express their anger at the manipulation of the voting in the elections.
There has been massive publicity about the situation in Zimbabwe and
everyone who passed by seemed to be very concerned. The Vigil's posters
expressed our supporters' disgust: 'Mugabe Go Now', Mugabe Stop Rigging'.
The Vigil's own President Mugabe - Fungayi Mabhunu in his mask - was on hand
to warn people of the perils of voting for Mugabe, handing out ballot papers
reading 'Mugabe for Starvation', 'Mugabe for Torture' etc. He was again
accompanied by Gugu Ndlovu-Tutani playing the first lady who apologized for
being late by saying she had been shopping at Harrods.
We had several white visitors from Zimbabwe: two ladies said they'd come to
the Vigil to find out what people were thinking. A family from the Midlands
in Zimbabwe had seen Vigil Co-ordinator Dumi Tutani on Sky TV and came to
the Vigil to meet us all. We were also joined by Patrick Dzimba from the
Glasgow Vigil. London Vigil supporters were pleased to be able to
congratulate him in person for his good efforts last week.
Once again the Vigil was swamped by media. We have been overwhelmed with
requests from the media for spokespeople over the past week. Dumi, Ephraim
and Rose were in constant demand and Chengetai Mupara appeared on Ben TV.
Dennis has had daily calls from Vatican Radio and feels he is going straight
to heaven. France 24 TV asked for speakers for debates in French and
English. Bonny bravely took on the French debate and found herself taking
part in an hour long programme. Luka Phiri featured in an arresting article
in the Daily Mirror on Thursday. There are interviews with Ephraim Tapa and
Chipo Chaya in a video on the Vigil and SW Radio Africa posted on the VOA
website. Check: http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-03-27-voa36.cfm. Click
on the links at the top to watch the TV report.
At the end of the Vigil supporters of Restoration of Human Rights in
Zimbabwe arrived with food for everyone. There was plenty left over so they
fed the homeless in the area as well.
The Vigil has been receiving many messages of support through the trials of
the last week. One from a Zimbabwean living in Spain says he has been
following what we've been doing for a long time and thanks us for our hard
work and persistence. Another is from a Cabindan who we met in Lisbon
during the AU/EU summit. He writes "We are with you, we are for the freedom
of the people in Zimbabwe".
For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/.
FOR THE RECORD: 190 signed the register.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.
Afrique en ligne
Harare, Zimbabwe - Health officials in northern Zimbabwe said Sunday a
prolonged outbreak of cholera in the area had killed 20 people and affected
more than 200 others.
They said Shamva district in the north had been hit by a cholera outbreak
since February, which had claimed 20 lives and left 221 others sick.
District medical officer Tendai Kamuriwo said it was suspected the disease
broke out after villagers used contaminated water from streams and
mishandling of victims' bodies.
"We are not sure how the first cholera victim contracted it, but we suspect
it could have been from the river where the community gets its water," he
"Most of the people who died are males who had attended funerals of the
early victims. We suspect they had contact with the corpses of the early
victims of cholera resulting in them contracting the disease," he added.
As part of measures to control the spread of disease, health officials said
they had banned food at funerals, and enforced strict sanitary standards in
Harare - 06/04/2008
JOHANNESBURG, April 6 (AFP)
A South African media worker was admitted to hospital in Zimbabwe on Sunday,
ten days after he and a colleague were jailed for working without
accreditation, his employer said.
"Sipho Maseko was released to the Saint Annes Hospital because he is
diabetic and his sugar levels have reached really dangerous proportions,"
said Melanie Gibbs, spokeswoman for Globecast satellite services.
Maseko and colleague Abdulla Gaibee were arrested on March 27 and accused of
breaching Zimbabwe's tough media laws by operating without accreditation.
Gibbs said charges against the pair were dropped on Friday and they were
allowed to walk free from court only to be re-arrested as soon as they had
left the building.
Maseko and Gaibee were waiting for the court to assign them new lawyers
after their original legal team resigned citing harassment and intimidation,
Ebrahim Gaibee, who is in Harare trying to secure his brother's release,
told AFP his brother was also sick -- suffering from a chest infection --
and that the detentions were illegal.
"Apparently there are no formal charges laid against them, our understanding
is that they are now being illegally detained in Zimbabwe," he said.
The South African foreign ministry said it was doing its best to free the
"Our embassy in Harare is following up on the matter. They are in contact
with the Zimbabwean authorities with a view to securing their release," said
ministry spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa.
Zimbabwean police arrested several people following the country's March 28
polls in which President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF lost control of
New York Times correspondent Barry Bearak, 58, and a 45-year-old journalist
from Britain were picked up at a Harare guest house with two other
journalists on Thursday and later charged with operating without
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.
The results of the presidential election, also on March 28, are still to be
By Tichaona Sibanda
6 April 2008
Hundreds of Zimbabweans living in exile in South Africa on Sunday protested
against the withholding of the presidential election results by the Zimbabwe
Programme co-ordinator Simon Masuku told us from Johannesburg that almost
everyone at the demonstration was ‘very angry’ that Robert Mugabe was
holding the whole country to ransom when it is clear he has lost the
election to the MDC.
‘Mugabe has said only Zimbabweans can solve the country’s problems. This is
what Zimbabweans have done, to vote him out of power so that they could
start to rebuild the country and still he hangs on to power as if it’s his
personal project,’ Masuku said. He added that they updated the demonstrators
on the political developments in the country and the way forward. As long as
ZEC withholds the results, MDC activists in South Africa are planning for
more protests to force the government to release the results.
‘We intend to stop all operations at the Zimbabwe embassy here because Simon
Khaya Moyo cannot claim to represent the government because he has not yet
been re-confirmed to continue as the ambassador by an MDC led government. We
will paralyse other operations as well if they decide to rule against the
will of our people,’ Masuku added.
It’s now eight days since the country went to the polls to choose the next
president. With all other results announced, Zimbabweans are eagerly
awaiting the release of the presidential results, which ZEC are withholding
because of reports that Mugabe fared so dismally against Tsvangirai.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Christian Science Monitor
Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, is 'preparing for war.' according to
the main opposition leader.
By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer
and | a contributor
from the April 7, 2008 edition
Reporter Scott Baldauf discusses the latest election news coming from
Johannesburg, South Africa; and Harare, Zimbabwe - – With President Robert
Mugabe taking the unusual step of claiming electoral "errors and
miscalculations" by his own handpicked Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the
stage now is set for the 84-year-old leader to challenge his party's loss of
its parliamentary majority and to claim an outright presidential victory in
the March 29 elections.
Strong-armed tactics by Mr. Mugabe's police, threats of violence by his
loyal armed militias, and an unwillingness to concede defeat in what African
observers claim was a "free and fair" election are now putting the
international community into a difficult spot. If Mugabe refuses to give up
power, what will or can the outside world do?
"I think besides the [United Nations], the region – including members of the
Southern African Development Community – is going to take an increasing role
in Zimbabwe," says Chris Maroleng, a Zimbabwe expert at the Institute for
Security Studies in Tshwane, as Pretoria, South Africa is now called.
"[Mugabe] has lost the plot. He has always given the seeming appearance of
legality in the past, but with claiming that his own ZEC has rigged the
elections against him, he's overstepped himself."
For years, African leaders have told the world they can solve their own
problems through regional bodies such as the African Union (AU) and the
Southern African Development Community (SADC). But critics say that African
leaders have been quite reluctant to confront one of their own, especially a
liberation-era leader such as Mugabe, and that regional mediation efforts
such as those instigated by South African President Thabo Mbeki have
generally encouraged a continuation of the status quo rather than a pursuit
of justice or democratic principles.
If Mugabe overturns the results of the elections to remain in power, the key
test of African regional problem solving will be to see what his neighbors –
all avowed proponents of democracy – will do.
A wait-and-see approach
In London, Mr. Mbeki – the man selected by the SADC last year to mediate a
settlement between Mugabe and the opposition ahead of the election – urged
patience this weekend. "It's time to wait," Mbeki told reporters in London.
"Let's see the outcome of the election results."
For its part, Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), has continued to assert its legitimacy as the rightful
Over the weekend, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai released tabulated results,
posted by the ZEC outside each polling station, claiming victory with 50.3
percent over Mugabe's 42.9 percent. An independent group, Zimbabwean
Election Support Network, put the figures at 49.4 percent and 41.8 percent
respectively, indicating that it would be necessary to hold a runoff vote
within three weeks.
The state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper reported that Mugabe's party was
challenging election results from 16 parliamentary seats, including four
constituencies in the Mberengwa area, implying that the ZEC had skewed
election results in favor of the opposition.
"As will soon become apparent, the constituency elections officer and his
team committed errors of miscounting that are so glaring as to prejudice not
just our clients' candidate," but also ruling ZANU-PF party candidates
running for Parliament, the ZANU-PF said in a letter of complaint to the
ZEC, quoted by the Sunday Mail.
ZANU-PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa confirmed that his party
would be challenging 16 House of Assembly seats won by the MDC, adding that
his party was confident that reclaiming the 16 seats won by the MDC would
allow ZANU-PF to regain majority in the House of Assembly.
In some parts of the country, veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war
against the former white-ruled government of Rhodesia – staunch backers of
Mugabe – have set up bases waiting for a green light to strike at white
farmers and supporters of the MDC.
Time for the UN to step in?
Ozias Tungawara, a Zimbabwe expert at the Open Society Institute in
Johannesburg, says that "there is no hope in expecting that the SADC is
going to act in a democratic way. The SADC is a club of executives, they are
going to close ranks to support each other and to support Mugabe in holding
But while the SADC and the AU seem to refuse "to hold ZANU-PF to account,"
in terms of upholding AU standards on the conduct of elections, Mr.
Tungawara says that it's time for the UN to step in. "It's high time that
the UN take a decisive role and pronounce to the ZANU-PF government that
they must adhere to the principles of the UN in terms of democracy and
governance. We expect much more stringent action by the UN in intervening
more directly in Zimbabwe."
In Harare, Mr. Tsvangirai claimed that strong-arm tactics such as the
raiding of MDC offices on Thursday night, the arrest of foreign journalists,
and the growing presence of armed riot police on the streets all signal that
Mugabe is "preparing a war against the people."
"Mugabe must accept that the country needs to move forward," said
Tsvangirai. "He cannot hold the country to ransom. He is the problem not the
Roy Bennett, the MDC's treasurer, told the Monitor that his party would
continue to pursue its goals through peaceful means, specifically through
"We have won the elections, so what we want is to have that fact recognized
by the ZEC," says Mr. Bennett. "Mugabe is trying to argue that the MDC
bribed the electoral officials, which is nonsense. I believe the ZEC has the
results that show we have won with 50 percent, and ... they are trying to
argue that ZANU-PF not only won the Parliament but the presidency as well."
Bennett is calling on regional bodies such as SADC to insist that the full
legal electoral process be followed by the letter. He also rules out street
protests in case ZANU-PF overturns the ZEC results and declares itself
victors. "We're not going to call people on the streets. We're not putting
people's lives at risk. We will call on the world to pressure Mugabe. We can
only do this through righteous acts and never deviate from that."
South African civil liberties group CIVICUS criticized the SADC for calling
the Saturday elections "free and fair," while failing to note the beatings
and arrests of Zimbabwean activists that preceded the elections.
Speaking of the Thursday arrest of foreign journalists in Harare, CIVICUS
secretary general Kumi Naidoo said, "These arrests are a disturbing
indication that the Zimbabwean government is trying to silence any critical
voices. We … urge [Mbeki], on behalf of Southern Africa, to show leadership
in calling for the protection of these rights, said Ms. Naidoo.
Sikhumbuzo Ndiweni, a former ZANU-PF member and now a political observer in
Johannesburg, says that MDC is being "naive" for assuming that Mugabe will
simply hand over power.
"[The MDC] doesn't seem to have a Plan B," says Mr. Ndiweni. "SADC is
playing quiet and its tactics are simply encouraging Mugabe to devise his
own Plan B. [The MDC] should not count on somebody outside to rescue them."
• A journalist who could not be named for security reasons contributed from
International Herald Tribune
By Alan Cowell Published: April 6, 2008
LONDON: Whatever convulsions are yet to come in Zimbabwe, and however short
or long the remaining tenure of Robert Mugabe may be, the tortured electoral
crisis that unfolded last week raised a question: In a post-Mugabe era, what
will Zimbabwe need?
No doubt, the dictator's exit, whenever it happens, will unleash a torrent
of joy among his adversaries. But then will come the hard part — redeeming
the promise that Zimbabwe had at its birth.
In fact, Zimbabwe now confronts a longer road to prosperity and stability
than it did at its moment of independence; anyone who was there at the time
can testify that this was then a land of prosperity and hope after years of
I was a young reporter for Reuters, holding a crackling phone line open to
announce the new nation's birth, when the British union flag — the colonial
emblem — slid down a white flagpole to be replaced by Zimbabwe's new banner
in Harare's Rufaro soccer stadium in April 1980. Certainly among whites,
there was trepidation; Mugabe had been depicted in their propaganda as
likely to drive the once omnipotent minority into the sea. But he amazed
many of his critics by appearing on national television to offer an
The economy, too, offered cause for hope. Perhaps paradoxically, years of
international sanctions against the previous white regime had also inspired
a degree of economic depth as the country replaced scarce imported goods
with its own products. Tourism, from Lake Kariba to the Victoria Falls to
the Eastern Highlands, offered alluring vacations. Tobacco farms were
bringing in dollars and pounds.
And even though land-ownership patterns were skewed and unjust, the system
allowed a few thousand white farmers to produce enough corn, wheat and beef
to feed Zimbabwe and the region around it.
Then, over the years, Mugabe turned the breadbasket into a basket case.
Most disastrously, he seized the farms and doled them out to loyalists who
squandered their bounty. Today, four people out of five have no job.
Inflation is said to be running at an annual 100,000 percent.
The macroeconomics can probably begin to be fixed with international aid.
The World Food Program is already feeding Zimbabweans. And Western countries
cannot afford to be seen as ungenerous after Mugabe leaves the scene.
But there is a much deeper malaise, posing challenges that simply did not
exist to the same degree in 1980. The AIDS epidemic has slashed life
expectancy for Zimbabwean women to 34 years. And millions of Zimbabweans
have gone into exile in South Africa, Britain and elsewhere.
Today, remittances from the exiles sustain what is left of the ruined
economy. But the exiles will not return while Mugabe is in power, and when
he goes, luring them back to a land of deep poverty will remain a major
challenge. As in the Balkans after the wars of the early 1990s, no
reconstruction plan will work without a citizenry to implement it.
In addition, to compete in a globalized world, Mugabe's heirs will confront
a pragmatic new environment abroad, in which ideology has long surrendered
to material achievement. Postcolonial slogans of the type that still
dominate politics in Zimbabwe find little resonance outside Africa. And
reconciliation in Zimbabwe is no longer a racial issue, given the brutality
with which Mugabe has treated political opponents of whatever race.
More than that, any new government will be heir to a land where an elite has
acquired vast riches by siding with a despot who made most of his people
poor. Even if reconciliation is offered, a new social understanding will
probably require some form of atonement by those who have benefited from the
years of corruption, particularly in the military. Such a process might
start with injecting some justice into Mugabe's capricious variety of land
Oddly, Zimbabwe has experience in gestures of healing. After independence,
the two rebel armies and the white-led Rhodesian Army were fused into a
single force. Ian Smith, the last white leader of Rhodesia, was permitted to
stay on in Zimbabwe, to prosper and even to raise his voice against his
But since then, Mugabe has built a new catalogue of memories, starting just
a couple of years after independence. I can recall traveling the empty dirt
roads of Matabeleland back then, hearing stories of atrocities by his North
Korean-trained Fifth Brigade against the Sindebele-speaking black minority.
Canadian activist makes dash for the border as colleagues rounded up in
Apr 06, 2008 04:30 AM
SOMEWHERE IN ZIMBABWE–He is a 40-year-old Canadian pro-democracy activist
who has not had a change of clothing or known a moment's peace for two days
and nights – time he spent hiding out from Zimbabwean police.
Now it was time to escape.
In the darkness before dawn yesterday, a single sport utility vehicle revved
its engine before pulling out of the Zimbabwean capital, heading for the
southern African countryside on a four-hour journey to safety in a
Dozens of stars still sprinkled the cloudless sky and there was an
early-winter bite to the morning air.
This is the tale of one Canadian's 18-month entanglement with tyranny in
southern Africa, an entanglement that culminated in a getaway across the
high African veld.
Quickly, the low-rise residential contours of northern Harare gave way to
rolling savannah and acacia trees, a quintessentially southern African
landscape that emerged, lush and green, as dawn broke.
You would hardly think this lovely landscape could be part of a tormented
country. But so it is – tormented by AIDS, poverty and a monomaniacal ruler
who will apparently do anything to extend his nearly three-decade grip on
"The space for political activity here is very limited," said the Canadian,
who has been visiting Zimbabwe regularly for the past 18 months, working to
develop local democracy groups. "The police seem to operate with impunity."
To avoid jeopardizing colleagues still in Zimbabwe and at risk, the Canadian
did not wish his name or his organization to appear in print.
But he represents an international agency that promotes democratic values
across the developing world, one of several such outfits that operate in
Zimbabwe, always under the threat of severe government retribution.
That threat has once again turned to reality, as the regime led by
octogenarian president Robert Mugabe last week served notice it will pull
out every stop to prevent or overturn what had looked to be a stunning
victory for the opposition in elections conducted March 29.
By late yesterday, seven days after the balloting, no results had been
released for the crucial presidential contest pitting Mugabe against the
main opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for
Yesterday, police blocked MDC lawyers from entering Harare's high court to
present a petition demanding the results be made public. Unofficial figures
compiled by the MDC show Tsvangirai won the vote with slightly more than
half the ballots cast, but Mugabe and the ruling party are preparing to
contest a two-man runoff many observers fear could involve violence and
other forms of intimidation.
For foreigners here, the intimidation has already begun.
Late Thursday, some 40 armed Zimbabwean police surrounded the York Lodge, a
small Harare hostelry where a number of foreign journalists and
pro-democracy activists were staying. At least four people were seized,
including a reporter for The New York Times, a British reporter and two
Also Thursday, Dileepan Sivapathasundaram, an official of a Washington-based
pro-democracy group, the National Democratic Institute, was arrested at the
airport while trying to leave the country.
He was released late Friday but taken back into custody yesterday.
"Zimbabwe is a series of veneers," said the Canadian activist as his vehicle
carried him through a sparsely inhabited terrain ornamented by balancing
rocks and small hills known as kopjes. "You have the veneer of freedom of
choice, the veneer of media freedom."
And then you have the government cracking down on anyone or anything that
stands in its way.
This time, the Canadian was lucky.
A guest at York Lodge since last month, he happened to be away from the
hotel at the time of Thursday's police raid. He learned what was happening
in time to steer clear of the place.
He was forced to abandon his luggage, however, and spent the following day
and two nights lying low or bunking with friends in Harare.
It was evident he had to leave the country, for his own safety. It was
equally evident Zimbabwean intelligence police were staking out the
So someone hatched a plan to make a run for it overland – aiming for a
remote border post unlikely to be equipped with computers or under the thumb
of secret police.
Because others will almost certainly need to make the same journey in
future, the Star is not identifying the border post or the neighbouring
country to which it leads.
A landlocked country, Zimbabwe shares borders with Botswana, Namibia,
Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa.
The journey proceeded through scenes of rural tranquility at jarring odds
with the high-stakes and potentially brutal contest that seems about to
envelope Zimbabwe, as Mugabe takes aim once more at his adversaries,
refusing to accept that, on paper, they have already won.
In the March 29 vote, the ruling ZANU-PF party lost control of the National
Assembly for the first time since 1980, but it now seems Mugabe and his
coterie are seeking ways of overturning even that.
"They lost the election because they have no popular support," said the
Canadian, who spent 11 years working in Ottawa before turning to the
promotion of democracy worldwide. He has had previous postings in Ukraine
In more normal circumstances, he said, the opposition would have triumphed
handily at the polls, but circumstances are far from normal in Zimbabwe.
"It's hard to organize when the government raids your offices, seizes your
computers, downloads the hard drives and beats your members," he said.
"This is the timeline of dictatorship. In order to survive, you have to
adopt harsher and harsher measures."
But four hours had passed since this journey began, and the SUV skirted a
small herd of zebra and pulled into a parking lot beside a small wooden
building housing a Zimbabwean border post.
Minutes later, an official stamped his passport without question, and the
Canadian stepped out into the April sunshine of a different land.