Los Angeles Times
In a possible sign of a preelection government crackdown, opposition
activists are beaten and arrested, and mobs try to drive white farmers off
From a Times Staff Writer
April 7, 2008
HARARE, ZIMBABWE -- Militant war veterans allied with Zimbabwe's ruler
threatened to evict white farmers Sunday, and about a dozen opposition
activists were beaten and arrested by police over the weekend. The attacks
raised fears that President Robert Mugabe's government was launching a
violent campaign to assure his victory in an expected presidential runoff
Eighteen farmers were threatened and several were forced to flee their
properties as they were besieged by chanting, drum-beating mobs.
Representatives of the farmers said there was no police response even as the
situation worsened late Sunday.
"I'm feeling a bit speechless and a bit gutted at the moment, to be honest,"
said one of the farmers, who asked that his name not be used for fear of
inflaming a volatile situation. He, his wife and three children moved out
for safety, after hearing 50 people were approaching the farm to evict him.
"I'm still afraid. You don't know what the future holds, do you?" he said.
Hendrik Olivier, director of the Commercial Farmers' Union, said, "This
thing can get very quickly out of control if it's not dealt with. We can
only go to the police, and it's regrettable that we're not getting
assistance from the police."
Mugabe has encouraged the seizure of land from white farmers in the past as
part of his land reform program, with the property being turned over to his
Earlier, the government demanded a full recount of results in last month's
parliamentary elections, according to the state-owned Sunday Mail. The
balloting saw Mugabe's party lose its majority for the first time in 28
The regime also called for the release of presidential results to be
deferred, citing "revelations of errors and miscalculations in the
compilation of the poll result," the newspaper said.
The paper said that an examination of "anomalies" indicated that Mugabe's
vote had been understated, and it reported that some Zimbabwe Election
Commission officials had been arrested.
The pressure comes after warnings from Mugabe's hard-line security minister,
Didymus Mutasa, that the commission would be purged.
The election commission has not released the results of the three-way
presidential race, which opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai maintains he
has won outright. Despite his claim, it is widely expected that a
second-round election between him and Mugabe will be declared.
The opposition said a recount in the parliamentary elections could only have
been called for within 48 hours of the vote, and otherwise was illegal.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change went to court Sunday to compel
the release of the presidential results, but there was no immediate
The main pressure points in weekend violence were Masvingo, Manicaland and
Mashonaland provinces, former ruling party strongholds that swung over to
Tsvangirai's party in the March 29 elections.
Roadblocks sprang up in Manicaland and other areas, and the opposition said
that riot police were deployed in suburbs around Harare, the capital, that
are key opposition strongholds.
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga called reports of violence "a lot
Olivier of the Commercial Farmers' Union said that chanting crowds had given
18 farmers in Masvingo and Mashonaland five to 10 hours to vacate their
land. Among those targeted were the last 12 white farmers in a tobacco
farming district near Centenary in Mashonaland.
Tobacco was once Zimbabwe's most important export crop, but production
plummeted after the invasions of white farms in 2000 that Mugabe encouraged.
The farm seizures led to the collapse of agriculture and the ruin of the
nation's economy. Zimbabwe, once a food exporter, now depends on food aid to
feed a third of its population.
At one of the Masvingo farms, a crew from the state-owned television station
ZBC was present when a mob demanded the farmer leave, leading to fears the
operation was state-organized.
Olivier feared the regime was gearing up a campaign of violence and
intimidation, as occurred in elections in 2000.
"People are seen singing and chanting and beating drums, threatening to move
into the homestead, demanding that it is the farmers' time to give it up,"
He said in some cases invaders had tried to force their way into houses,
including one that a farmer and his family fled. "The people want to move
into his house," he said. "They're running around the house banging on the
windows. I don't need to tell you what effect that has on a family.
"We are hoping that this thing doesn't spread to the rest of the country,"
he added. "When we look back to 2000, there are a lot of similarities."
Another farmers' representative, John Worsick of Justice for Agriculture,
said farmers were afraid of losing everything. He said officials from the
ruling ZANU-PF party had told him the government's aim was to get all white
farmers off their land by April 18, Zimbabwe's independence day.
"We are being told that by Independence Day they want to be able to say [to
the people], 'We gave you all your land. Every white farmer is off. What
more can we give you?' " Worsick said.
Opposition spokesman Ian Makone said his party's activists and candidates
who had won seats in ZANU-PF's rural heartland faced the greatest threat of
"It's really the old subversion and intimidation," he said.
The Times was unable to get immediate comment from ZANU-PF officials Sunday.
However, several days earlier, a senior figure warned in a phone interview
that a presidential runoff election would not be peaceful, and that land
would be the central issue.
06 April 2008
By Never Kadungure
Nehanda Radio can exclusively reveal that a special unit of the army and
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) unit is 'burning midnight oil' while
tampering with the presidential ballot papers at the army's KG 6
President Robert Mugabe we are told was comprehensibly beaten by his main
rival and MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai without the need for a run-off.
The secret operation is meant to take votes from Tsvangirai and place him
below the 50 percent threshold.
A highly placed source in the army told us that claims by MDC Secretary
General Tendai Biti that Tsvangirai got over 50,3 percent of the vote were
in fact lower than the actual figure.
'It is looking like Tsvangirai might have got over 56 percent at the last
official count and this is why the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have been
told to stop what they are doing,' the source explained.
Mugabe is now looking at a run-off as his salvation from losing power and
the delay in announcing the results is meant to give him time to massage the
figures and produce acceptable percentages that would necessitate a secound
round of voting.
On Sunday the MDC urged High Court judge Tendai Uchena to force the ZEC to
release the figures which were already public knowledge by the 30th of
March. ZEC officials however argued the High Court had no jurisdiction to
hear the case. A decision is now expected Monday morning.
Mugabe is said to have been deeply embarrassed by the party and his first
electoral defeat in 28 years and considered resigning for the good part of
last week. First Lady Grace Mugabe was at the forefront of urging him to
quit but party zealots expressed concern, 'if the old man left we would be
left to face the music,' the source said. firstname.lastname@example.org .
Nehanda Radio: Zimbabwe's first 24 hour internet radio news channel.
Monday April 7 2008
Robert Mugabe is flailing around like a wounded beast. As he lies panting on
the ground, he is guarded by a core of generals, who refuse to contemplate
surrender. No one can tell whether he is going to get to his feet again. But
it would be foolish to underestimate his powers of recuperation. He clearly
believes he still has options, despite losing control of parliament for the
first time in 28 years and almost certainly losing the presidential poll a
Yesterday he fought on two fronts simultaneously. On the political front,
his Zanu-PF party played for time - demanding a recount to check "errors and
miscalculations". If accepted, this will delay the presidential announcement
still further. But as opposition lawyers were petitioning the high court,
demanding the election results, another front was engaged. Three white
cattle ranchers were forced off their land on Saturday and a fourth was said
to be holding out against 50 war veterans threatening to break down the
gates. Mr Mugabe is returning to tried and tested techniques of
intimidation. Not all white farmers left after the seizures eight years ago,
and attacking the remainder who still work on parts of their former
properties sends out two messages. First, Zimbabwe's problems are all down
to the white man. Second, Zanu-PF can turn on the violence anytime it likes.
These tactics worked in the last elections in 2002, and Mr Mugabe must be
toying with the idea of using them again. The longer a second round run-off
is delayed, the more time Mr Mugabe has to "correct" the rural vote in his
favour. The farm seizures took place in provinces that switched to the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last Sunday. Zanu-PF know exactly which
villages voted against them. Without proper monitors (those from the
Southern African Development Community ran off without the results being
declared), villagers who turned against their traditional masters are now
even more vulnerable than the white farmers to a knock on the door at night.
Mr Mugabe may have other ruses up his sleeve. If and when it announces the
presidential results, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is expected to say
neither candidate got more than 50%. Accordingly, the government will be
given 21 days to mount a run-off. But Mr Mugabe might be able to use
presidential decree to postpone a new vote for three months - especially if
there is violence.
The MDC will almost certainly have to contest the re-run and prove to its
supporters that it will not be intimidated by violence as it was in 2002. If
for no other reason than protecting defenceless villages in remote provinces
from the retribution of a vengeful regime, this time the MDC must stand up
and be counted.
Mugabe must hand over the reins of power so we can get on with sorting out
our troubled country
Monday April 7 2008
Once again, Robert Mugabe and his cronies are attempting to maintain their
grip on power in Zimbabwe. While disheartening, this act of political
thuggery does not diminish the victory of democracy over dictatorship in a
country ravaged by misrule and ignorance. Ultimately, this is a victory for
the strong hearts and sturdy backs that have carried us here: a victory for
But democracy is an orphan in Zimbabwe. Since the infamous universal
declaration of independence in 1965 made by the white government of Ian
Smith in what was then Rhodesia - in an effort to block the extension of
suffrage to the country's black majority - the cry of democracy has been
ignored. Mugabe's 28-year rule has similarly undermined the development of
Adept at stealing elections from the hands of voters, Mugabe is now amassing
government troops; blocking court proceedings where we have attempted to
seek an order simply for the electoral commission to release the final tally
of the March 29 poll; raiding the offices of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC); and casting a pall of suppression and gloom over the country.
The feared militias, made up of misguided activists and the same war
veterans who pushed for and benefited from the disastrous land confiscations
from the late 1990s, are being mobilised. This can only mean, despite some
earlier evidence to the contrary, that sanity has been discarded along with
truth in the offices of Zanu-PF.
The parliamentary majority the MDC has already attained has clearly been
replicated in the presidential results. The MDC has tracked every polling
station and recorded the results as they are released, and we can guarantee
that Zanu-PF and Mugabe have met their demise in the face of Zimbabwean
democracy. As official results will confirm when at last released, a mooted
presidential run-off (initiated if no individual reaches a 50% threshold) is
a sham. Our country is on a razor's edge.
How can global leaders espouse the values of democracy, yet when they are
being challenged fail to open their mouths? Why is it that a supposed "war
on terror" ignores the very real terror of broken minds and mangled bodies
that lie along the trail left by Mugabe?
This is a time for strong action. We urge the International Monetary Fund,
at its meeting this week, to withhold the £1bn of aid to Zimbabwe unless the
defeated ex-president accepts the election results in full and hands over
the reins of power. This is also the time for firm diplomacy. Major powers
here, such as South Africa, the US and Britain, must act to remove the
white-knuckle grip of Mugabe's suicidal reign and oblige him and his minions
We have assured Mugabe that the new government will not pursue him legally
through government offices. The work ahead is monumental and we need no
further self-made distractions. Recrimination is not on the new government's
job list. Our agenda is to restore the rule of law and good governance; to
face up to our dire health problems, including an HIV-Aids epidemic; to
reconstruct our once cutting-edge education system; to bring our abundant
farmlands back into health; to tackle rampant inflation and over 70%
unemployment; to encourage foreign investment and public works spending; to
depoliticise our security services; to stamp out corruption and graft. Every
day the new government is denied, these problems each get worse.
The new leadership is committed to nurturing democracy in Zimbabwe and to
begin rebuilding our shattered country. It is time to make a stand.
· Morgan Tsvangirai is president of the Movement for Democratic Change
· MDC may boycott run-off to protect voters
· High court to rule on forced release of results
Chris McGreal in Harare
Monday April 7 2008
Zimbabwe's war veterans have launched fresh invasions of the country's few
remaining white-owned farms as Robert Mugabe appears to be falling back on
the tested tactics of violence and raising racial tensions in preparation
for a run-off vote in the presidential election.
But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change warned that it might
boycott a second round of elections because it would lead Zimbabweans "to
the slaughter" of a wave of government-sponsored violence.
It is instead taking legal action to force the state election commission to
immediately release results from the presidential election, held nine days
ago, which the MDC says will show that its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, won
outright with 50.3% of the vote, making a run-off election unnecessary. The
high court is expected to rule on the petition today.
Writing in today's Guardian, Tsvangirai calls on Britain, the US and South
Africa to come to the defence of democracy in Zimbabwe. He said Zanu-PF was
withholding the election results and planning a violent second round
campaign in an attempt to maintain its "untenable grip on power".
War veterans, many of whom did not actually fight in the liberation struggle
against white rule, targeted farms in Masvingo, one of the provinces where a
significant number of rural voters swung from Mugabe to the MDC in the
presidential and parliamentary elections.
A camera crew from state television accompanied the war veterans, who gave
one white family four hours to get out of their home, suggesting the
invasions were officially sanctioned.
The police eventually moved in and some of the families were able to return.
But Hendrik Olivier, director of the Commercial Farmer's Union, said the
country's remaining 300 white farmers, out of the 4,200 a decade ago, feared
they were again to be made political targets.
"It's the war veterans in Masvingo, about six farms there, where they've
been going round giving notice to farmers to get off immediately. They've
been taking over equipment and livestock and telling the farmers their time
is up," he said.
"The police have been cooperating but the authorities stand back for these
things to happen. Why was the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation there to
film the threats to the farmer? You can see this thing is orchestrated."
Chanting war veterans, some of them beating drums, also threatened farmers
in Centenary, where the owners were given hours to leave.
There were also signs of pressure on the opposition in Manicaland, another
province with a significant rural swing away from Mugabe. Prosper Mutseyami,
a newly elected opposition MP from Manicaland, said the police were
arresting MDC election agents there.
"Nine of our agents were beaten up by the police and then arrested for
behaviour likely to provoke a breach of the peace," he said.
In a sign that the government intends again to make white farmers an
election issue, the justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, a Zanu-PF
hardliner, claimed the MDC was bringing exiled farmers back in to Zimbabwe
ready to reclaim their land. "The MDC claim they have won and they are
unleashing former white farmers on farms occupied by new farmers to reverse
the land reform programme," he said."Their intention is to destabilise the
country into chaos over the land issue."
However, if the government is attempting to rekindle the land battles of the
past it may not have the same resonance with voters.
"The problem is that the countryside has turned and it will be a tall order
to turn sentiment around," said Wilfred Mhanda, head of the Zimbabwe
Liberators' Platform, a group of war veterans who no longer support Mugabe.
"He is a desperate man and the money printing machine will be working
overtime. Some will take part [in land invasions] but not out of conviction.
They will be more or less like mercenaries.
"There's a lot of misery in the countryside and people know who is to blame.
Life is getting more desperate for them by the day."
Writing in the Guardian, Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of a systematic attempt
to overturn the election results.
"Adept at stealing elections from the hands of voters, Mugabe is now
amassing government troops; blocking court proceedings where we have
attempted to seek an order simply for the electoral commission to release
the final tally of the March 29 poll, raiding the offices of the Movement
for Democratic Change; and casting a pall of suppression and gloom over the
country," he wrote.
"This can only mean, despite some earlier evidence to the contrary, that
sanity has been discarded along with truth in the offices of Zanu-PF."
Zanu-PF was stalling further on releasing the results yesterday. The
state-run Sunday Herald newspaper said the party was demanding a recount,
claiming the figures had been manipulated against Mugabe, in a sign that
there may be resistance within the electoral commission to efforts by
Zimbabwe's president to ensure there is a second round of elections because
no candidate won more than half the vote.
Tsvangirai also called on foreign powers to defend democracy in Zimbabwe.
"Major powers here, such as South Africa, the US and Britain, must act to
remove the white-knuckle grip of Mugabe's suicidal reign, and oblige him and
his minions to retire," he wrote.
The MDC feels badly let down by South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, and
other regional leaders, in particular.
In the party's view, Mbeki has played a deceptive role in which he has
projected himself as honest broker but sought to engineer a result in which
Mugabe leaves office but Zanu-PF remains in power.
White farmers in front line as Mugabe steps up fight
By Jane Fields
ROBERT Mugabe's feared war veterans this weekend launched a new wave of
white farm invasions in retribution for the ruling party's poor showing in
last week's polls.
Mobs invaded "five or six" farms in southern Masvingo province on Saturday,
said an official from the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU).
State-run ZTV filmed about 50 militants as they tried to break through the
gates of Crest Farm, owned by Graham Goddard, making the invasions appear
orchestrated, the official said.
"It's totally stage-managed. There was a government bus company that went
round and collected them (the veterans] this morning," said the official.
Zimbabwe's agricultural sector is in crisis. With food shortages rife,
attacking white farmers will only make the situation worse.
Mugabe, increasingly desperate, is lashing out in anger as suspicions grow
he may not even have secured enough votes in the 29 March presidential polls
to warrant a rerun against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The president, who is 84, claims white farmers gave Mr Tsvangirai's Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) financial support and are planning to recolonise
Several electoral officials have been arrested for "miscounting" votes in
favour of the opposition leader, the official Sunday Mail reported.
Lawyers for Mugabe's Zanu-PF, which has been in power virtually unchallenged
since independence in 1980, have demanded a recount of all votes, claiming
mistakes had been detected in at least four constituencies. This is likely
to further delay the release of results.
Unused to defeat, ruling party officials now say the polls were "the worst
The MDC went to court twice at the weekend to try to force the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission to release presidential results, claiming the eight-day
delay was causing "unnecessary anxiety".
On Saturday, a man in a Zanu-PF T-shirt barred opposition lawyer Alec
Muchadehama from entering Harare High Court. Backed by three armed police,
the man told Muchadehama that if he went in he would not come out, the
There was no police presence at the court yesterday and Judge Tendai Uchena
announced he would give a ruling today.
Opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa maintained his party's claim that Mr
Tsvangirai won the poll outright and dismissed calls for a recount and a
run-off. Zimbabwe's electoral laws say a rerun must be held within three
weeks if no presidential candidate secures a majority of 50 per cent plus
one vote. The MDC says Mr Tsvangirai won 50.3 per cent of the vote.
Zimbabwe's remaining 450 or so white farmers looked to be first in line for
attack yesterday after war veterans vowed to evict them. At least 12 white
farmers have been killed since Mugabe unleashed bands of thugs on to
hundreds of white-owned farms in 2000, shortly after his unexpected defeat
in a constitutional referendum.
The authorities, trying to raise anti-white sentiment, claim there has been
a "huge influx" of white former farmers in the Save Valley
Conservancy who are waiting to take back their land if Mr Tsvangirai gets
State media have claimed that farmers have been massing in Mozambique and
near Lake Kariba. Farmers' groups deny the claims.
THE RESULTS SO FAR…
OFFICIAL results give the MDC 99 seats in parliament, a breakaway opposition
faction ten and Zanu-PF 97. One seat went to an independent. No presidential
results have so far been released.
Senate results show contested seats split 30-30 between the combined
opposition and the ruling party. Control of the 93-seat Senate will depend
on who becomes president, with powers to appoint 15 members directly and
strongly influence who gets other positions. The MDC said Mr Tsvangirai won
the presidential poll outright. Zanu-PF projections show that although he
won he fell short of the absolute majority needed for first-round victory.
The full article contains 643 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 06 April 2008 8:34 PM
Date: 07 Apr 2008
HARARE, April 7, 2008 (AFP) - President Robert Mugabe called for Zimbabweans
to protect their land from whites, stoking emotive land issues as the
country anxiously awaited presidential poll results, a newspaper reported
"Land must remain in our hands. The land is ours, it must not be allowed to
slip back into the hands of whites," Mugabe was quoted as saying by the
state daily Herald amid reports that his loyalists invaded several
white-owned farms at the weekend.
Speaking at a funeral of his wife's uncle, Mugabe urged Zimbabweans to
jealously guard the land for which thousands of freedom fighters died during
the liberation war in the 1970s.
"Today, we cannot afford to retreat in the battle for land," said Mugabe.
Mugabe's supporters on seized Saturday one of Zimbabwe's few remaining
white-owned farms, state media said, amid heightened tensions over the
unclear outcome of last week's presidential elections.
Ruling ZANU-PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa has accused the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of seeking to reverse Mugabe's
controversial land reforms.
"The MDC claim they have won and they are unleashing former white farmers on
farms occupied by new farmers to reverse the land reform pbread and cooking
oil are now hard to come by.
Women and children flee farm seizures
Nelson G. Katsande
Published 2008-04-07 13:22 (KST)
Reports of fresh farm invasions have surfaced in Zimbabwe, with Mugabe's war
veterans seizing a couple of farms in the opposition MDC stronghold. In
Bulawayo, the second-largest city, war veterans evicted two white commercial
farmers and assaulted laborers, forcing women and young children to flee.
As the political impasse between President Robert Mugabe and opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai continues, Mugabe's supporters have threatened to
burn houses of opposition loyalists. This follows reports that Mugabe was
outvoted by Tsvangirai at the just ended presidential elections held on
The Zimbabwe electoral commission's credibility has been questioned
following its failure to release the much-awaited results. The ruling
ZANU-PF party has already called for an election runoff citing
irregularities in the electoral process, claims refuted by the MDC.
Bright Matonga, a junior minister has attacked the opposition leader in the
government-controlled press. A Bulawayo-based MDC activist likened Matonga
to the late Saddam Hussein's "Chemical Ali." He said of Matonga, "Despite
conclusive evidence that Mugabe lost the election, Matonga still insists the
people of Zimbabwe are in support of Mugabe. Chemical Ali alleged that Iraq
was defeating the Western allies yet it was vice versa."
Matonga's rise to political stardom is questionable. From being the
state-controlled Herald newspaper's columnist, he became the Chief Executive
Officer of the government-controlled ZUPCO bus company. Previously accused
of corruption at the bus company, he joined Mugabe's cabinet as deputy
minister of information. Opposition supporters now call him deputy minister
Zimbabwe now has the highest inflation rate in the world. It suffers a high
unemployment rate and an acute shortage of basic commodities and medicine.
At government hospitals patients are reportedly turned away due to
inadequate medicines, linens and food. Those lucky enough to be admitted in
hospitals are required to bring their own linen and foodstuffs.
At Parirenyatwa hospital nurses are reported to be selling foodstuff to
vulnerable patience at exorbitant prices. The shortage of fuel and spare
parts has forced ambulances off the road and the government has failed to
Mugabe's land distribution exercise of 2000 is blamed for the country's
woes. It left more than 3,000 white commercial farmers displaced. Those who
refused to let go of their land were either killed or maimed. Industries and
commercial entities were also threatened with closure.
The fresh farm invasions will no doubt cripple the already paralyzed
economy. Mugabe who has ruled the Southern African country for 28 years has
been accused of hanging on to power despite reports of his defeat to
Tsvangirai. The government controlled state radio has been playing
liberation war songs since the elections were held.
There has been growing pressure on Mugabe to release the presidential
07 April 2008
IT’S a touch-and-go situation in Zimbabwe as President Robert Mugabe fights
for political survival after his defeat by main opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai in the recent election.
After a week of growing tension and uncertainty, sparked by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission’s (ZEC’s) failure to release election results in time,
the country is headed for a potentially explosive run-off between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai. Indications are that it will be a dirty and ugly affair.
Elections in Zimbabwe have a history of violence, intimidation and ballot
The fever for the run-off is climbing, and social unrest too. Within Zanu
(PF), some want violent methods to secure a Mugabe victory , while others
reject this — creating a vacuum likely to be occupied by a “third force”.
This leaves room for a vicious campaign that would further damage the
already crumbling economy and worsen social misery.
Shocked by Mugabe’s and the party’s defeat, the Zanu (PF) leadership is
prepared to go to any lengths to fight back against Tsvangirai and his
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). On Friday, Zanu (PF) defined the
terrain for the contest after its highly charged politburo meeting to review
the election results and map the way forward. It is said the meeting was
characterised by fascist utterances and belligerent rhetoric that set the
parameters for the looming fight.
Insiders say Zanu (PF)’s Jacobin club — made up of hawkish core members of
the party — took charge at the meeting, urging the party to fight back like
a wounded buffalo. They resolved the party should mobilise social and
economic resources on a massive scale for the run-off. This means state
resources will be commandeered to boost the party’s campaign for Mugabe.
The Zanu (PF) diehards demanded a recount of presidential and parliamentary
election ballots, even though results for the presidential poll are not yet
out. They also demanded that the ZEC be disbanded, that some of its
officials be arrested and jailed for incompetence, vote-rigging and
Already, the signs are there that Zanu (PF) will fight dirty. Last week,
there were raids at the MDC’s offices; foreign journalists were arrested and
harassed; and people were put on notice that fierce repression would soon be
visited upon them for voting for the MDC.
The war veterans came out of the woodwork, breathing fire and spoiling for a
fight. They accused the MDC of provoking “freedom fighters” and warned it of
dire consequences. White farmers, scapegoats for Zanu (PF) policy and
leadership failures, were accused out of the blue of “re-invading” the
country to march on to the farms because the MDC was about to assume power.
War veterans started conducting raids on the farms to justify Zanu (PF)’s
strategy of wreaking havoc in the farms and rural areas .
Farmers would be used during the run-off as the pretext for a violent
campaign. Zanu (PF) thrives in conditions of violence and chaos; its history
shows that. Usually, infighting takes over when there is no “war” for it to
fight and it becomes disjointed. Sometimes the party creates enemies where
real ones don’t exist to keep itself going. Now the perceived enemies are
the farmers, whereas in the 1980s, “dissidents” had to be created in
Matabeleland to crush the then main opposition, Zapu.
Zanu (PF) operates on the basis on a spurious correlation between violence
and victory at the ballot. Because, in the past, the party was able to
coerce people to vote through violent measures, it now believes that brute
force automatically yields votes whenever applied in calibrated dosages.
The argument in Zanu (PF) is that Tsvangirai and the MDC won because they
were given too much room to campaign freely and this must not be allowed
again in the run-off, if Mugabe is to win.
Zimbabweans and the international community must step up pressure on Mugabe
to stop him from plunging the country into turmoil in his desperate bid to
hang on to power.
Muleya is Harare correspondent.
By James Butty
07 April 2008
There’s great expectation and anxiety in Zimbabwe and perhaps the whole of
Africa as the country waits to see whether the Zimbabwe High Court will
Monday rule to force the country’s electoral commission to announce the
results of the March 29 presidential election.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) asked the court Sunday
to force the release of the results. But President Robert Mugabe’s ruling
ZANU-PF party said the results should be delayed and that there should be a
vote recount. The MDC said it will not accept any recount because its leader
Morgan Tsvangirai won the election and should be declare president of
Nelson Chamissa is MDC spokesman. He told VOA the MDC has already begun
forming a government of inclusion irrespective of what the high court might
“The judgment we need is to have an urgent effect within four hours upon
judgment haven being handed down to release the results so that people will
know how the various candidates performed. This is what the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission and ZANU-PF are reluctant to do because they know that
they were defeated and wouldn’t want to announce the outcome to the people.
And we are saying this has caused an unnecessary anxiety in the nation
because people would know the outcome of this election. It’s a life defining
election,” he said.
Chamissa rejected the ruling ZANU-PF’s demand for a vote recount of the
presidential election vote because he said Mugabe’s people have tampered
with the ballot papers and boxes. He also said the demand is a clear
demonstration of the party’s inability to accept defeat.
“They have been defeated; they have been rejected by the people because of
their still and sterile policies, because of their antiquated program. So
they are finding it very difficult. It’s a bitter pill for them to swallow
for them. Surprisingly, you can’t talk of a recount of an election which
result is not known. It would be quite a myth for a student to ask for a
remark of an exam whose results he’s not had,” Chamissa said.
He also brushed off any suggestion of a run-off election, saying the MDC is
already working on plans to form a government based on inclusiveness and
“As far as we are concerned the so-called run-off is a non-starter for us.
We know that we won the election and this is why they are pussyfooting and
dragging their feet. But we are already putting plans afoot to form a
government, a government based on inclusivity and accommodation. And that is
our focus at the moment,” he said.
Chamissa said given Zimbabwe’s political configuration, the high court
judges might be unable to render an independent judgment. But he said the
MDC has other options.
“You must understand that we are taking this matter to court for posterity
purposes and also to put the record straight. We have a number of tools in
our box. And in our tool box the legal option is only one of them. If it is
not effective enough, we are going to use our most important weapon; that is
the people tool. It is what is going to achieve the results for us,”
He said MDC does not intend to resort to the violence that followed Kenya’s
presidential election last year. But he Chamissa said the people of Zimbabwe
have the right to reclaim their dignity if they feel that their government
has not respected them.
“We don’t want the lost of blood. You will want a situation whereby people
are able to at least get respected. If they are not respected, they have the
right to reclaim their dignity,” Chamissa said.
07 April 2008
IT WAS his mincing manner that surprised me most. When I first
interviewed Robert Mugabe in January 1980, it seemed odd in a tough
guerrilla chieftain. And his articulate English was slightly contrived;
almost perfect BBC. His intelligence impressed me the most, however. For
four years I had interviewed many black and white political leaders in the
dying Rhodesia. Mugabe was head and shoulders above them all.
Rhodesian propaganda had portrayed this Catholic-trained Marxist
as a bloodthirsty latter-day Hitler. Whites were preparing for the Beit
Bridge 500, the dash for the South African border, when Mugabe won the
election in March 1980. Instead, the vast majority stayed, swayed by Mugabe’s
clarion call for reconciliation.
Mugabe was the popular son of the masses. Only he could bring
peace, and that is why the majority of Shonas voted for him. Nevertheless,
his party still engaged in massive electoral intimidation.
Prefiguring by 14 years the almost saint-like quality of Nelson
Mandela’s magnanimity, the new Zimbabwean president started well. He
appointed a ministry of all the talents, including Rhodesian Front
stalwarts. As a former teacher, Mugabe set about reforming the country’s
education system, with impressive results. Later, he helped to end the civil
war in Mozambique.
Had he anticipated Mandela’s style by remaining in office for
just one term, Mugabe’s legacy would have been that of a world-famous
statesman. Instead, in Desmond Tutu’s phrase, he became the caricature of an
African despot. So what went wrong?
He may be bad, but he has never been mad. The idea that absolute
power over 28 years, plus senility, caused him eventually to become demented
is not convincing. Mugabe’s sober and ruthless determination has always been
a mark of his character. He outflanked the original Zanu leader, Ndabaningi
Sithole, then imposed his leadership during the final dramatic three years
of the liberation war. Opponents were crushed.
He has displayed a logical consistency in transforming his
country. The white settlers seized the land illegally in the 1890s, and thus
inspired the first Chimurenga, or uprising. The second Chimurenga of 1965-79
was based partly on the historical grievances of the original resistance
After taking power, Mugabe waged a third Chimurenga against all
his perceived enemies: first the Ndebele, then trade unionists who supported
the opposition parties, and finally white farmers and businessmen. Along the
way he silenced the churches, media, judiciary, social activists and
especially the gay and lesbian community.
His greatest crime was committed early in his dictatorship: the
Gukurahundi in Matabeleland in the 1980s. Estimates vary, but at least 10000
Ndebeles were killed and many more were raped, tortured and abducted. It is
true that South African intelligence backed a few hundred dissidents in the
apartheid war of regional destabilisation, but the main reason for the
devastation wrought by Mugabe’s Fifth Brigade was to eradicate the power
base of Joshua Nkomo’s rival Zapu party.
Eventually, Nkomo had to sue for peace, and accept Mugabe’s
one-party state. The Zanu (PF) leader stayed in power by bribing his
cronies, particularly in the security services. In many African states, the
military, rather than the ballot box, had been the main instrument for
change of leadership. This was not possible in Zimbabwe because of a
creeping coup. The generals, police chiefs and the Central Intelligence
Organisation had been absorbed into the inner core of the dictatorship. They
would stand and fall with their boss. This suited Mugabe’s leadership style.
The president doesn’t like being thwarted. Mugabe faced his
first loss of face when he was defeated in a referendum on a draft
constitution in 2000.
Blaming whites for supporting the opposition, he encouraged his
thugs to seize white commercial farms, even though many farmers had been
given legal land rights after 1980. This accelerated the economic meltdown.
A few thousand white farmers were ejected, but hundreds of thousands of farm
workers were also put out of work. Agriculture collapsed. Famine meant
Mugabe’s henchmen could control the countryside by centralising the
distribution of food.
The cities turned to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
led by Morgan Tsvangirai. Mugabe’s solution? Bulldoze the urban shantytowns.
More than 700000 city dwellers lost their homes or livelihoods.
Farming had been destroyed. So had tourism. The final straw was
to force foreign companies, especially mining, to give 51% control to
indigenous black Zimbabweans, effectively a last handout to Mugabe’s
Under Mugabe, life expectancy has been halved; unemployment
reached 80%; nearly all the whites and more than 3-million blacks fled the
country. Zimbabwe became a rogue state, which threatened to implode the
His last throw was simply to print money. The inevitable result
was hyperinflation. The Commonwealth turned its back, largely because of
human rights abuses. And the international financial organisations deserted
him because of chronic financial mismanagement and broken pledges.
Some African leaders stood by him out of a misplaced sense of
solidarity, including President Thabo Mbeki, who held the economic levers.
Then Jacob Zuma’s ascendancy spawned a change in the African National
Congress. Tsvangirai became a much more attractive option.
The South African role in Mugabe’s long farewell is still a
mystery, yet to unfold: no news yet on any deal for Mugabe’s retirement. The
MDC has said it wants to follow the South African model of reconciliation,
but there may be precious little truth, or justice.
Destroying one’s country with lunatic policies is not a criminal
offence, but crimes against humanity, especially the genocide in
Matabeleland, are different. Liberia’s Charles Taylor ended up in The Hague,
but that is a special case. In theory, the International Criminal Court
could try Mugabe for crimes committed after 2002, in this case the
destruction of urban settlements in 2005.
The endgame will be political, not legal. China’s influence in
Harare has to be finessed, and SA might have to provide rock-solid
amnesties, probably in-country, not abroad, for Mugabe and his top military
and police enforcers.
It could be a golden — but brief — hour for possible
reconstruction. The United Nations and the International Monetary Fund will
promise much, but do little. All hopes for reconstruction efforts are
predicated on Mugabe’s exit.
If events turn violent, as recent clampdowns indicate, perhaps
the Commonwealth, as it did in 1980, might just provide a core
British-officered monitoring force. The African Union is overstretched in
Darfur. The Southern African Development Community is too complicit in
It will take decades to rebuild the three main pillars of the
economy: agriculture, tourism and mining. Is Tsvangirai capable of
rebuilding from ground zero?
Mugabe had always been a master manipulator. And stubborn. Now,
short of massive rigging and naked use of the army and militias, he cannot
win if he has to enter a second presidential round. Worse, he could declare
martial law and rule by decree.
He could have saved something of his reputation had he conceded
early and gone into a dignified retirement. Instead, he has created massive
uncertainty for a transition, which could yet become a second Kenya. Mugabe’s
rule destroyed Zimbabwe. The manner of his departure might yet disgrace the
.. Prof Moorcraft is the director of the Centre for Foreign
Policy Analysis. His new book on conflict in Zimbabwe, The Rhodesian War, is
published this month.
ZIMBABWE’S former finance minister, Simba Makoni, may have come a distant
third in the presidential election, but he could emerge as the kingmaker .
Makoni, 58, quit the ruling Zanu-PF party to mount his challenge against
President Robert Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but
unofficial results put him a distant third in the March 29 vote.
“Obviously he will be a kingmaker. Either of the two will need Makoni,” said
Professor Eldred Masunungure, a political expert at the University of
Makoni is thought to have played a “spoiling” role in the presidential
battle so far, winning enough votes to prevent his rivals from passing the
50% mark needed for outright victory. But this could change if the duel for
the presidency goes to a run-off.
Analysts believe his supporters will hold the balance of power.
In an apparent bid to spruce up his electoral machinery, Makoni’s camp
announced plans on Saturday to form a his own party, after he stood as an
independent in the presidential elections. “We will be formalising our
movement into a fully-fledged political party,” his spokesperson, Denford
Magora, told reporters.
For the parliamentary polls, Makoni entered a loose alliance with a splinter
faction of Tsvangirai’s MDC and a host of independent candidates.
The MDC faction garnered just 10 of the 210 parliamentary seats, while
Tsvangirai’s main bloc took 99 and Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, 97.
Makoni’s movement is expected to back Tsvangirai in the event of a run- off
with President Mugabe, but his spokesperson said nothing had yet been
finalised. “We are still awaiting results of the presidential elections,” he
However, if Zimbabwe’s elections have proved anything so far it is that
nothing is for certain.
One-time Mugabe information minister Jonathan Moyo believes Makoni’s
candidacy is actually a ruling party ploy. “He denied Tsvangirai an outright
victory and gave Mugabe a new lease of life. It was a Zanu-PF project aimed
at preventing Tsvangirai from the leadership,” said Moyo.
But in the run-up to the polls, Mugabe labelled his former protégé a
political “prostitute” and described him as “a frog trying to inflate itself
to the size of an ox”, warning he would “burst in the attempt”.
Less than half of Zimbabwe’s 5.9million eligible voters voted last week, and
both Mugabe and Tsvangirai will look to tap into this huge reserve of voters
if the presidency goes to a run-off. — Sapa-AFP
From (Swedish) Dn.se
April 6, 2008
Dagens Nyheter’s correspondent, Anna Koblanck, has been observing events in
Zimbabwe following the presidential elections. She, and several other
Swedish journalists, traveled to the country, without permission from the
authorities, and have remained in the capital of Harare since Thursday. On
Sunday, she succeeded in leaving the country.
Late Sunday evening, Anna Koblanck, (Swedish) Dagens Nyheter’s
correspondent, landed in Johannesburg after four days living in an apartment
in Harare. When she arrived in Harare on Thursday, the situation still
seemed bright. Ten days of openness had swept through the country and it
seemed as if foreign journalists would be able to report freely.
“But at the same time, just as I landed, armed riot police attacked a hotel
where many foreign journalists were staying. In an instant, everything
changed,” she says.
Instead of being able to conduct interviews and report home to Sweden, she,
and other Swedish journalists from Swedish [state] Television, TT, TV 4, and
Radio Sweden, were left sitting in a [private] house, without being able to
leave. The risk of being arrested was too great. The reports she managed to
file, she did so anonymously.
[Reporter] Why did you enter the country without permission?
“A number of journalists applied for permission to cover the elections, but
only a handful were allowed by the Zimbabwean government. All Swedish
applications were denied. When we thought that the climate was improving, we
decided to go anyway. At the time we left South Africa, everything seemed
“Instead, a witch hunt of journalists had begun. I could hardly leave the
house we were staying in and had to gather information from international
news agencies, my own impressions and the few telephone calls I could make.
None of us dared to go out on the streets. If anyone discovered who we were,
there was a big risk that we would be arrested.”
[Reporter] How did it happen that you couldn’t write using your own name?
“Some of my colleagues had already reported back, using their own names. But
we know that Zimbabwe’s embassies know what is written and send these
reports to Harare. So, I made a quick decision, not to be seen, using my
name or filing date. On the other hand, I couldn’t do much else. It wasn’t
possible to hold any interviews and the telephone hardly worked. Mostly, I
sat in the house and waited for new information.”
When Anna Koblanck’s plane lifted from Harare International Airport late
Sunday evening, the sun shone in through the cabin windows on one side. On
the other side, it was as dark as one could see. While she felt an enormous
relief about being on the way back to South Africa, she also felt very
worried about what will happen now in Zimbabwe.
“Darkness or light. That’s how it feels in Zimbabwe, at the moment. It can
go whatever way possible. Mugabe has, once again, taken the initiative. The
War Veterans and youth militias are back on the streets.”
[Reporter] Are you going to be able to go back to Zimbabwe?
“I don’t know. As I see it, I’ll still be able to come back and visit
friends. I also hope to be able to continue working as a journalist in the
country. But everything depends on the political developments.”
Reporter: Clas Svahn