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Voting officials arrested in police crackdown

Zim Online

by Farisai Gonye Tuesday 08 April 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwean police have since Sunday arrested scores of
polling officers in a crackdown against voting officials they accuse of
conniving with the opposition to deny President Robert Mugabe victory in a
presidential election held nine days ago, sources told ZimOnline.

The sources, who are senior police officers and whom we cannot name to
protect them, could not give the exact number of Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) personnel arrested so far but said there could be as many
as 50 presiding and polling officers detained at Harare Central police

They said police and agents of the state’s spy Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) were questioning the voting officials.

Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka refused to take questions on the
matter. “I am not commenting on that,” he said before switching off his
mobile phone.

ZEC spokesman Shupikai Mashereni would also not answer questions from
ZimOnline, saying it was not yet time to discuss the matter.

“We cannot comment yet on any such reports. We are still receiving
complaints from political parties and we are looking at these,” said

However, ZimOnline has it on good authority that ZEC officials accused
of fixing results in favour of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
leader Morgan Tsvangirai were rounded up in various towns and transported to
Harare last Sunday night.

The election officials were still locked up in holding cells at Harare
Central police station yesterday, where they were said to be under "intense

"All the arrested officials were working as presiding or polling
officers at collation centres,” said a source.

The source added: "A scrutiny of the result returns has shown that in
some instances, Tsvangirai was being allocated President Mugabe's votes at
the constituency collation centre, which gives the impression some people
tempered with figures.

“There are several cases like that recorded mainly in Masvingo and
Manicaland provinces as well as Bulawayo, Binga and Lupane areas. The
anomalies are there but the figures are quite small they would probably not
alter the election result.”

The arrested ZEC officials, most of them from Mutare, Masvingo,
Hwange, and Bulawayo, have not been charged but were likely to appear in
court this week once police decided on the charges to bring against them,
sources said.

Although there are no official results from the March 29 presidential
poll, it is commonly accepted, including by Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party,
that the 84-year-old leader was beaten by long time rival Tsvangirai.

ZANU-PF and independent projections however, show that Tsvangirai was
a shade below the 50-plus percent required to take power from Mugabe, but
Tsvangirai has claimed victory saying he won enough votes to avoid a second
round of voting.

High Court Judge Tendai Uchena is on Tuesday expected to make a ruling
on an MDC petition demanding an immediate release of results of the
presidential poll.

ZANU-PF on the other hand has written to ZEC asking for a recount of
votes, arguing that Mugabe was prejudiced due to miscalculation and wrong
tallying of ballots by some ZEC officials.

Mugabe’s party, which lost its parliamentary majority for the first
time in 28 years, garnering 97 seats against 99 won by the MDC’s, also wants
votes recounted in more than 10 constituencies where it alleges
miscalculation by ZEC officials cost it victory.

ZANU-PF last Friday endorsed Mugabe to face Tsvangirai in a second
round run-off, amid fears that the three-week hiatus before a new vote could
spark serious violence between security forces and militia loyal to the
Zimbabwean leader on one side and opposition MDC supporters on the other.

Tsvangirai has called for the international community to intervene to
stop Mugabe unleashing violence against the MDC in a run-off election.

But South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is believed to wield
considerable influence over Harare, has told the international community to
back off saying it was not yet time to intervene in Zimbabwe.

The crackdown against ZEC officials is likely to instill fear in
workers of the commission who will handle future elections, including the
anticipated second round presidential election between Mugabe and

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Political violence resurfaces

Zim Online

by Nqobizitha Khumalo Tuesday 08 April 2008

NYAMANDLOVU – Politically motivated violence is resurfacing in parts of
Zimbabwe with reports on Monday that war veterans and ZANU-PF party militia
have unleashed an orgy of violence in three rural districts in the south of
the country.

Opposition activists and supporters from Insiza, Nyamandlovu and Lupane
districts in the southern Matabeleland region said the veterans were
apparently targeting people known to have led campaigning for the MDC or
former finance minister Simba Makoni in the last election.

A coordinator for Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile campaigns, Joshua Mhambi, said he
had received several reports of violence against their supporters in Insiza,
Nyamandlovu and Lupane.

“One of our campaign team leaders, Stanley Wolfenden, escaped from his farm
in Nyamandlovu and is now in Bulawayo after he was raided by the ZANU-PF
militias. The militias are targeting our supporters,” Mhambi said.

ZimOnline was unable to immediately establish whether the incidents of
violence reported by Mhambi were part of an isolated campaign of retribution
against opposition supporters or whether it could be the beginning of a
fresh wave of violence and human rights abuses.

Political analysts have warned that an anticipated re-run of a presidential
election between President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
could spark serious violence between militant supporters of the Zimbabwean
leader on one side and opposition supporters on the other.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena rejected claims of resurgent politically
motivated violence. “We have not received any reports of political violence
from anywhere in the country,” he said when contacted for comment on the
Matabeleland incidents.

However, sources and some villagers interviewed by ZimOnline spoke of a band
of war veterans and ZANU-PF youth militia who they said have been visiting
and harassing people who led campaigns for the two MDC parties and Makoni.

“The war veterans are harassing people and are accusing them of betraying
Mugabe in support of white commercial farmers,” said one villager, who spoke
on condition he was not named for fear of victimisation.

“They are saying there will be more violence if Mugabe loses the election
re-run and people are now afraid of even going to vote in the re-run,” the
villager added.

The ZEC has not released results of the March 29 presidential poll but it is
commonly accepted, including by Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party, that the
84-year-old leader was beaten by Tsvangirai.

ZANU-PF and independent projections however, show that Tsvangirai was a
shade below the 50-plus percent required to take power from Mugabe, but
Tsvangirai has claimed victory saying he won enough votes to avoid a second
round of voting.

Tsvangirai has called for the international community to intervene to stop
Mugabe unleashing violence against the MDC in a run-off election. –

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Farm invasions spread across Zimbabwe

Zim Online

by Hendricks Chizhanje Tuesday 08 April 2008

HARARE – White farmers on Monday said fresh farm invasions that
started after President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party lost elections
to the opposition were spreading across the country.

The Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU), the main representative body for
white farmers, said it was engaging various key stakeholders including the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to
intervene and help end farm seizures.

But the more militant Justice for Agriculture (JAG) said its lawyers
were on Monday preparing to file papers to court challenging the new
invasions that appear triggered by state media reports alleging some
disposed white farmers had visited their former properties threatening to
retake them once Mugabe was out of power.

CFU president Trevor Gifford, who described the situation on farms as
“very serious” said: “We are talking with everyone to find a sensible

Gifford denied the claim by the government’s Herald newspaper earlier
this week that some former white farmers had visited their former properties
in parts of north-western Zimbabwe.

The CFU leader applauded the police for their “professional and
commendable intervention” in Masvingo but said some officers in the northern
Mashonaland Central province had refused to take reports of new farm

Fresh farm invasions have reportedly occurred in Centenary and Shamva
districts in Mashonaland Central province, Karoi, Chinhoyi and Selous
districts in Mashonaland West province and Macheke in Mashonaland East

JAG chairman John Worswick said: “We have got fresh invasions. Farmers
are being pushed off farms. They (war veterans) are saying pack your bags.”

Worswick said that war veterans and some ZANU-PF sympathisers had
invaded a total of eight farms from Masvingo and 10 in the rich farming area
of Centenary.

While police had been deployed to restore order, the invaders
reoccupied the farms once the police moved out of sight, he said. “We are
going to court with urgent applications,” the JAG leader added.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said he was still checking on the
latest situation on farms and police deployment. He said, “I am still
checking on that. I don’t know what the situation is like.”

Analysts see new farm invasions and resurgent politically motivated
violence in some parts of Zimbabwe as part of a well-orchestrated plan by
Mugabe to regain the upper hand in rural and farming areas, where ZANU-PF
surprisingly lost several seats to Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

An anticipated re-run of a presidential election between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai could spark serious violence between militant supporters of the
Zimbabwean leader on one side and opposition supporters on the other,
analysts say.

Zimbabwe’s government has since 2000 seized most of the farms owned by
the country’s about 4 000 white commercial farmers ostensibly for
re-distribution to landless blacks. However, many of the former white farms
ended up in the hands of Mugabe’s top officials, some of whom grabbed up to
six farms each.

A SADC Tribunal is due to make a ruling in May on whether Zimbabwe’s
land re-distribution programme violates Article 6 of the regional treaty
that bars member states from discriminating against any person on the
grounds of gender, religion, race, ethnic origin and culture.

A ruling declaring land reform illegal would have far reaching
consequences for Mugabe’s government, opening the floodgates for thousands
of claims of damages by dispossessed white farmers.

Such a ruling could also set Harare on a collision course with its
SADC member governments, particularly if it – as it has always done with
court rulings against its land reforms – refuses to abide by an unfavourable
Tribunal judgment.

Farm seizures are blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into severe food
shortages after the government displaced established white commercial
farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded
black farmers.

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CCPJ raises concern over delays in releasing presidential poll results

Zim Online

Tuesday 08 April 2008


It is now more than a full week since the historic harmonised elections took
place on 29 March 2008 but there has been near deafening silence about the
outcome of the flagship election, the presidential contest.

The results of the House of Assembly and Senate elections were also released
at a painfully slow pace. This has understandably generated a hive of
rumours, speculation, fears and nervousness among the stakeholders, and in
the nation and international community.

At the centre of the mystery is the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), a
constitutional body mandated to conduct elections and referendums
“efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law.”

It is the CCJP’s understanding that this mandate includes but is not
restricted to ensuring that the results of the elections are made public to
the contesting parties and to the nation as a whole as expeditiously as
possible, that is, within reasonable time.

The rumours and nervous speculation swirling around the presidential
election results and the mystery surrounding ZEC’s reluctance to speedily
release those results has the effect of producing unnecessary suspicions
that ZEC is being manipulated to produce results at variance with the
verdict of the people.

This is unfortunate if only because there does not appear to be any
compelling reason for the inordinate delay in releasing the results. This
delay is stretching the patience of the people to the limit to the point
where ZEC appears to be abusing the legendary patience of the Zimbabwe

We have previously noted with considerable satisfaction that ZEC managed to
conduct what to many objective observers has been one of the most free and
fair elections since independence though there were still many flaws and

The integrity of the election body is now seriously under threat because of
its disinclination to quickly make the results public and allay the fears
and suspicions of the nation. If ZEC has the public interest and is not
driven by partisan interests, then it surely should release the results
without any further equivocation.

The inordinate delay is a recipe for distrust, political tension and even
instability. ZEC must not only act impartially and honestly, it must be seen
to be respecting these cardinal values. So far, and with respect to the
snail’s pace at which the results were announced and the apparent reluctance
to release the presidential election results, ZEC is failing the test.

The autonomy and professionalism of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have
been seriously eroded and deeply compromised, reinforcing accusations of
embedded partisanship and bias.

In the event of a re-run of the presidential election, Zimbabweans and the
international community now have grave doubts about the fairness and
impartiality of ZEC to conduct the poll.

The CCJP joins the domestic and international community in urging ZEC, in
the interest of peace and the search for justice, to urgently release and
publicise the results of the presidential election held on March 29, 2008.

Many Zimbabweans are anxiously waiting for these results; and they deserve
and have a right to know. CCJPZ will continue to observe the post election
period countrywide and produce reports.

Alouis Munyaradzi CHAUMBA Harare, 7 April 2008

National Director

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Frustration mounts at South Africa's failure to criticise Zimbabwe poll

The Times
April 7, 2008

Jonathan Clayton, Africa Correspondent
Commentators and political analysts across Africa expressed mounting
frustration yesterday at the near silence of African leaders on the Zimbabwe
election crisis.

With presidential results still not announced more than a week after the
poll, many also voiced concern that continuing turmoil in the country could
have damaging economic consequences for the entire region.

South Africa's Sunday Times said that the “festering sore” of Zimbabwe must
be brought to an end and lambasted the “quiet diplomacy” of President Mbeki.
“The South African Government must not allow Mugabe to subvert democracy
again. No matter what Pretoria's spin doctors say, South Africa's strategy
of quiet diplomacy has done little more than to cosset Mugabe while he raped
his country,” it said. “Mugabe has over the past eight years shown that he
has no respect for Thabo Mbeki and has made South Africa's President the
laughing stock of the diplomatic world.”

The weekly Mail & Guardian took a more positive line. It emphasised that Mr
Mugabe had been dealt a mortal blow and no matter how protracted and bloody
it may be that the end was finally in sight. “His halo of invincibility has
been damaged beyond repair,” it said.

Amid reports from Zimbabwe of a hardening of positions by hawks within the
ruling Zanu (PF) party, the paper again reiterated that Mr Mugabe had to
leave office for any negotiations to succeed. “No progress can be made until
he is forced off the body politic he has clung to, like a blood-sucking
parasite, for so many years,” it said.
Many analysts called on Mr Mbeki, mandated by the Southern African
Development Community to be the mediator for Zimbabwe, to come out more
forcefully and call for the results to be made public.

Reports from Zimbabwe indicated that the military were in no mood to let Mr
Mugabe, 84, step down, even if he wanted to do so, and had won the day over
others, such as his wife, Grace, who were urging him to depart the scene.
“We told him: 'Papa, you are not going anywhere. We are in this together, to
the end',” a senior army officer told The Times.

Military and security hardliners are apparently preparing to retake control
of parliament and put Mr Mugabe back in charge by alleging that the
Opposition bribed members of the Electoral Commission. Such a scenario
terrifies neighbouring countries, such as Zambia, which has put its army on
high alert and wants to see an end to the crisis so that a British-led 1
billion-a-year rescue package can start taking effect. African diplomats say
that a military crackdown is “too dreadful to contemplate”.

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Zimbabwe: desperate Mugabe begins new assault on white-owned farms

The Times
April 8, 2008

Catherine Philp in Centenary, Mashonaland Central
The sound of hands beating on drums grows louder, chanting voices chiming
in, more insistent, wilder with every minute. At the entrance to the
driveway, young men stand scowling, inhaling on fat joints. A lone
policeman, trembling with fear, hangs back, glancing up and down the road.

At the corner of the driveway a farm invasion is in full swing. A
hundred-strong mob bays against a flimsy wire fence and drunken men with
cold, glazed eyes, surround our car with menace. Inside, a besieged,
frightened family is weighing its options.

“Mr Westheim is not coming out,” a bearded man in a Mugabe T-shirt tell us
in a mocking voice as others parade around, whipping up the mob. Perhaps we
could persuade him to leave, the still shaking policeman tells us. “We don’t
want violence,” he says.

Violence and intimidation are, however, what this is all about, the last
refuge of a wounded President fighting desperately to cling to power. Eight
years after he launched his first bloody campaign to seize white-owned
farms, Robert Mugabe has unleashed his shock troops again.

Westheim Farm became yesterday the ninth in northern Centenary to fall to a
raid by so-called war veterans, the militias who led the first wave of farm
seizures, sparking the collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy. Nationwide, it was
the 23rd farm to be invaded over a weekend of violence as Mr Mugabe whipped
up fears of a new “white invasion” of Zimbabwe.
On Friday the veterans — many of whom are too young to have fought against
white rule 30 years ago — marched through Harare. The Movement for
Democratic Change, they said, was plotting to hand back farms to their
previous owners and the country to its former colonial masters. In reality,
there were no returning farmers, so the veterans turned their ire on the
last of white farmers in Zimbabwe.

Uys van der Westhuizen was merely monitoring developments when the invasions
began miles away in southern Masvingo, but on Sunday morning he awoke to a
“terrible commotion” from Tom and Karen Price’s neighbouring farm. “By that
afternoon, three farms had been breached and we were thinking of how to get
out,” Mr van der Westhuizen told The Times. “One farmer set off for Mount
Darwin but discovered that they had made a blockade on the road and we were
trapped.” The family decided they had no choice but to stay put and hunkered
down behind the grenade-proof walls and blast doors.

Mr Mugabe was at a family funeral when news of the invasions trickled out.
He told mourners: “The land is ours, it must not be allowed to slip back
into the hands of whites.” The next morning the occupants of Westheim Farm
woke before six o’clock to the sounds of drums outside their windows. The
veterans, many drunk or high, had arrived.

“You know what we’ve come for,” one of their leaders shouted through the
fence. Then they took the black labourers from their lodgings and marched
them before the house where Mr Westhuizen could see them. They would not let
them go, they said, unless he handed over the keys.

At the Commercial Farmers’ Union in Harare, reports of invasions were
pouring in, as were hints of the orders that had been given. “We were told
that they came from the very highest levels of government,” Trevor Gifford,
the union’s president, said. “They said they wanted to see white farmers’
bodies on the streets by Monday.”

When The Times arrived at Westheim Farm on Monday, tension was mounting. The
family had not left and the mob was growing agitated. Mr van der Westhuizen
fashioned a fake copy of his kitchen key from an old one. He, his three
daughters, son, brother-in-law and wife, walked through the mob to their
cars and got in.

At the gate, the veterans suddenly baulked. “We thought we’d had it, that
they’d sussed out the key,” he said. “It was really sticky for that moment.”
But the vets suddenly threw open the gate and the family fled in convoy to
Harare, where they went into hiding.

Only a couple of hundred white farmers have remained on their land in
Zimbabwe. Fears are growing that in the lead-up to a possible presidential
run-off second vote, the farmers and their thousands of black labourers, the
lucky few still to have employment, will once again find themselves in the
front line of Mr Mugabe’s war.

I know,I know it is so easy for me to say, but believe me
when I post that I do recognize the difficulties.

I would hope that were I located in Africa that I could liquidate
my assets amounting to enough to decamp Africa.

I would say' "I'm outta here"

My heart goes out to those being being driven off their land.
Shades of South Africa.

Jerry Scroggin, Phoenix, Arizona/USA

I yearn for the day when Mugabe's palace will be taken over by the
long-suffering Zimbabweans, and "Bob" will be subjected to mob justice.

Richard Estes, Peterborough, NH

Something has to be done & done NOW !!!!

Ian Payne, WALSALL,

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Our role in Zimbabwe’s history

The Times
April 8, 2008

Remember who made Mugabe who he is
Sir, There is of course no excuse for Robert Mugabe’s outrageous
mismanagement of Zimbabwe.

However, before we smugly condemn him as a monster, it should be remembered
that he is our monster. The history of colonialism is a history of
humiliation, exploitation and degradation of native peoples. After these
centuries of abuse is it any wonder that ex-colonies are often dysfunctional
as independent nations?

At a more personal level, during his ten-year imprisonment for a “subversive
speech” in the 1960s, Mugabe was not even permitted by Ian Smith to attend
the funeral of his four-year-old son who had died of cerebral malaria.

Daniel Emlyn-Jones

Sir, Tim Hames (Comment, April 7) is surely right about the mystery of Mbeki’s
support for Mugabe, particularly since South Africa has to cope with so many
of Zimbabwe’s refugees. But his analysis doesn’t take account of a declared
objective of Mugabe’s regime — to destroy political opposition by reducing
the population drastically.

Didymus Mutasa, a leading “freedom fighter” and henchman of Mugabe’s, made
it clear that he wasn’t just referring to white land-holding farmers when he
declared recently that Zimbabwe “would be better off when we’ve halved the

When Mugabe massacred several thousand Africans in Matabeleland he realised
from international reaction that a different strategy for “removal and
reduction” was necessary — starvation, land requisition, terror and driving
people out are just elements of that objective.

T. Bottomley
Letchworth, Herts

Sir, Am I the only person who feels that we should stop all this nonsense in
Iraq and Afghanistan (at great cost to British lives) and be prepared to
sort out, with force if necessary, the situation in Zimbabwe.

After all, we caused it all.

Edward Reader

Sir, The Government feebly (via my MP) advises me that it is not its
“immediate priority” to strip Mugabe of the honorary knighthood bestowed on
him in 1994. But what vast administrative machinery does it take to deprive
this murderous African tyrant of such a signal sign of honour and approval?

John Humphreys

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Zimbabweans Speak: 'We Want Change'

ABC news

Rising Prices, Empty Shelves: Zimbabwe at a Crossroads
Reporter's Notebook by JIM SCIUTTO
HWANGE, Zimbabwe, April 7, 2008,

American journalists are not welcome in Zimbabwe, so we entered the country
as tourists, crossing the border from neighboring Zambia.
The difference between the two countries is immediately clear.

Zambia is buzzing with a vibrant tourist trade. Zimbabwe is a country that
has come to a complete stop.

The first sign comes on the roads. Heading inland toward the town of Hwange,
in western Zimbabwe, we drove along the main road for nearly an hour without
seeing a single car.

That's one measure of the economic collapse here. Very few people have the
money to buy gas and, beyond that, there's very little reason to travel: no
business, exports, or tourism.

When we arrived in Hwange, the hardship was even clearer.

Inside the main grocery store, the shelves were empty. Store employees told
us suppliers hadn't come for months. The one thing they did have was cheap
cane liquor. We found a bakery with no bread and a butcher with no meat. I
wondered why they bothered staying open.

The people here blame Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe. He has ruled this
country for 28 years — first, seen as a hero for winning independence from
Great Britain, but later as a ruthless dictator known to have slaughtered
opponents and presided over the dissolution of the Zimbabwean economy.
Zimbabweans have waited more than a week for the results of the presidential
election between Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition.
The opposition has claimed victory but Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party
are using every tactic they can to delay the results and — opposition
supporters increasingly worry — steal the election.
Now, there's talk of a possible run-off election.

There's no doubt about who won the initial round in Hwange. Local election
results showed more than 8,000 for Tsvangirai, just 16 for Mugabe.

"I tell you, people are struggling in this country," local opposition
supporter Bernard Staddon told us. "They're struggling, and they can't take
it anymore."

"He [Mugabe] is hoping to rig the runoff again. That's what he's hoping,"
he said.

"He's already rigged the election so why can't he rig the runoff."

Around town, many people say that Tsvangirai is their president.

"Do you think Mugabe tied with Tsvangirai?" I asked a shopkeeper in a local
market. "No, I don't believe it," she said.

"You think he fixed it?" I asked.

"Tsvangirai is the winner," she said.

It was amazing to see what qualifies as a market in Zimbabwe. There were
just a few stalls selling basic things. And yet inflation is so high that
the prices of simple things are denominated in the tens of millions of
Zimbabwean dollars.

I changed two U.S. dollars and received one hundred million Zimbabwean
dollars in return, which still wasn't enough to buy a bag of flour.
In the market, we met Kumbalani. He used to work as a locksmith. Now he
sells tomatoes grown in his back yard.

"Can you make a living doing this?" I asked him.

"This is just to survive," he said. "The money I make here can't buy
anything, just bread."

Even that is difficult here, when the bakeries don't have any bread.

"We just want a change," he said. "We don't know what will happen, but what
we want is a change."

Most of all, Kumbalani and many other Zimbabweans want a change in
leadership. But, for now, change in Zimbabwe has been delayed once again.


This is so historically sad. Why do we always wait until a country has been
completely devastated, like Darfur, before we offer help? I was in Zimbabwe
shortly after Mugabe took over. He started out with rhetoric that he was
going to 'build a bridge' and keep the country afloat. Within months he had
fired all white gov employees, and replaced them with unskilled black
workers. Still, there was hope. Even if the buses no longer ran on time, and
the streets became full of garbage, there was hope. Then he turned into the
exact same kind of robber baron, dictator, ruthless killer, etc... as all of
the other African black leaders. Is Mandela the only exception? Please tell
me. I weep for the beautiful country of Zimbabwe. If only the Intl community
or leaders would intervene before a dictator got to this disgraceful state.
America allowed Saddam Hussein to be in office, being the exact same, or
worse, until Bush decided he was a threat. What if we had paid attn to
Amnesty Intl and helped get rid of Saddam a decade before the threat of WMD?
Once again, another dictator takes over an African country and bleeds them
dry. The land, the animals, and the people are being destroyed.
Posted by:
GaDove2005 6:32 PM

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'No need to hurry' in releasing Zimbabwe poll result

The Scotsman

By Jane Fields
in Harare
ZIMBABWE'S electoral commission made the astonishing claim yesterday that
there was no need for urgency in releasing the long-awaited results of
presidential elections that Robert Mugabe may have lost.

Lawyers for the state Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) asked a High Court
judge in Harare yesterday to rule that the announcement of the results from
the 29 March poll was not "an urgent matter".

The judge, Tendai Uchena, was due to rule on the case this morning.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) headed by Morgan
Tsvangirai went to court at the weekend to try to force the electoral
commission to release the results.

Mr Tsvangirai, 56, claims he won the poll with 50.3 per cent of the vote.

Independent observers say the figure may be nearer 49 per cent. This will
force the opposition leader into a run-off against Mr Mugabe, who has ruled
Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

There are fears that the 84-year-old leader is using the delay to prepare
the ground for a bitter campaign for re-election.

Mr Mugabe is reported to be furious that his Zanu-PF party lost control of
parliament in the elections.

The electoral commission has already tried to block the appeal once, arguing
on Sunday that the court had no jurisdiction over the poll.

Mr Uchena overturned that objection, confirming yesterday that the court
could rule on the matter. Lawyers for the ZEC then argued that the matter
was not urgent, said a lawyer for the opposition. "We're going round in
circles," Alec Muchadehama said.

Mr Tsvangirai has asked the United Nations and the African Union to help
convince Mr Mugabe to step down. The MDC leader was in South Africa
yesterday for meetings with "important people", the party's
secretary-general, Tendai Biti, said.

The full article contains 308 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 07 April 2008 10:46 PM

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Bob must face wrath of the law

The Times, SA

Published:Apr 08, 2008

Columnist Justice Malala, “Zimbabwe drops Africa’s grovelling political
bar ” (April 7), writes that African leaders have been “falling over
themselves to declare the March 29 elections in Zimbabwe free and fair”.

But what I want to know is why those African leaders are not now “falling
over themselves” to reject any recount or rerun of those free and fair
elections and to demand that the official result be disclosed?

Are these hopelessly biased leaders now going to claim that a recount/rerun
will produce a “freer and fairer” result, while President Robert Mugabe
deploys his security forces and war veteran bullyboys to intimidate

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is also becoming increasingly pathetic.
He urges Mugabe to accept defeat so that he can make an “honourable exit”
from power.

A despot and tyrant who has rubbished his country and is responsible for
countless killings must be booted out of power and straight into the courts
to face the full wrath of the law.

He must not be permitted to take his ill-gotten gains and luxury-loving wife
to Malaysia (or perhaps Pretoria?) to escape retribution.

His vicious generals must suffer the same fate.

Tyrants must face the full, legal consequences of their deeds. If not,
Africa will create yet another disgraceful precedent.

Fully opening the Pandora’s box of tyranny in Zimbabwe would serve as a
warning that the end result of misrule will not be a “settlement” that
ensures the continuation of a life of luxury. — Cliff Saunders, by e-mail

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EU fears Kenya-style deterioration in Zimbabwe


08 April 2008, 00:15 CET
(BRUSSELS) - Europeans fear that Zimbabwe could descend into the kind of
post-election violence seen in Kenya if the electoral impasse there
persists, a European diplomat said Monday.

"We are very concerned that the results of the presidential election have
still not been published nine days after the vote, that raises suspicions,"
said the diplomat close to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

"The scenarios are very similar in the two countries," she added.

Kenya suffered its worst post-independence political crisis when the vote
count was delayed after the December 27 presidential poll.

Incumbent president Mwai Kibaki pipped pre-election frontrunner Raila Odinga
to retain the top job.

Odinga accused the 76-year-old Kibaki of rigging the results, sparking
nationwide riots which descended into violence and left at least 1,500 dead
and hundreds of thousands displaced.

In Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe is seeking to stay in power,
there is increasing pressure for the official vote results to be published
and "each day that passes makes things more difficult," the source said.

The European Union has nonetheless opted for a "discreet diplomacy"
involving contact with countries in the region, notably South Africa,
Botswana and Tanzania, which heads the African Union.

On Monday a high court judge in Zimbabwe postponed his ruling on an
opposition bid to force the declaration of presidential election results, as
Mugabe stoked tensions ahead of a possible run-off.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims outright victory in the March 29
poll but the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) says there was no clear winner and has endorsed President Mugabe
for a second-round vote.

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Mandela and Mugabe both embraced violence, but one could not give it up

Zimbabwe has been ruined by a leader who was once so full of promise, but
became a vicious tyrant

Martin Meredith
The Guardian,
Tuesday April 8 2008

The careers of two of Africa's most prominent politicians - Robert Mugabe
and Nelson Mandela - have striking similarities. Both were born in an era
when white power prevailed throughout Africa, Mandela in 1918, Mugabe in
1924. Both were products of the Christian mission school system, Mandela of
the Methodist variety, Mugabe of the Catholic. Both attended the same
university, Fort Hare in South Africa. Both emerged as members of the small
African professional elite, Mandela a lawyer, Mugabe a teacher. Both were
drawn into the struggle against white minority rule, Mandela in South
Africa, Mugabe in neighbouring Rhodesia. Both advocated violence to bring
down white-run regimes. Both endured long terms of imprisonment, Mandela, 27
years, Mugabe, 11 years. Both suffered the anguish of losing a son while in
prison; and both were refused permission to attend the funeral.

But whereas Mandela used his prison years to open a dialogue with South
Africa's white rulers in order to defeat apartheid, Mugabe emerged from
prison bent on revolution, determined to overthrow white society by force.
Military victory, said Mugabe, would be the "ultimate joy".

Even after seven years of civil war in Rhodesia in which at least 30,000
people died, when the opportunity to gain power through elections was on
offer, Mugabe expressed his disappointment that he would be denied the kind
of power that military victory would have given him. Power for Mugabe was
not the means to an end but the end itself.

This year Mandela celebrates his 90th birthday, acclaimed around the world
as one of the great leaders of his time, while Mugabe battles on grimly
after 28 years of power in Zimbabwe like an 18th-century prizefighter
blinded by his own blood - and the blood of many others.

Yet the early years of Mugabe's rule seemed so full of promise. Instead of
the angry Marxist ogre that the white minority had feared, after winning the
1980 election Mugabe appeared as a model of moderation, pledging to work for
reconciliation and racial harmony. Even the recalcitrant white leader, Ian
Smith, who had previously denounced him as "the apostle of Satan", now found
him "sober and responsible".

Western governments lined up with offers of aid. In its first year of
independence, Zimbabwe was awarded 900m in aid, enabling Mugabe to embark
on ambitious programmes of education and health development. The white
population, too, benefited from growing economic prosperity. Given large
increases in commodity prices, white farmers - the backbone of the economy -
became ardent supporters of Mugabe's government and his ruling Zanu-PF
party. "Good old Bob!" they cheered.

But Mugabe's black political opponents fared less well. Within weeks of
gaining power in 1980, Mugabe set out to crush political opposition in
Matabeleland and establish a one-party state. The military campaign he
unleashed there in the 1980s culminated in mass murder. As many as 20,000
civilians are estimated to have died. But it gave Mugabe the total control
he had always sought.

In Harare, meanwhile, Mugabe's inner circle scrambled for property, farms,
businesses and government contracts. Mugabe joined the fray, but his real
obsession was not with personal wealth but with power. Year by year, he
acquired ever greater powers, ruling the country through a vast system of
patronage, favouring loyal aides and cronies with government positions and
ignoring the spreading blight of corruption. "I am rich because I belong to
Zanu-PF," boasted one of Mugabe's proteges, a millionaire businessman. "If
you want to be rich you must join Zanu-PF."

With his one-party system, Mugabe's tentacles reached into every corner of
the land. One by one, parliament, the state media, parastatal organisations,
the police, the civil service and, eventually, the courts, were subordinated
to his will. In dealing with dissidents, his secret police were licensed to
harass, intimidate and even murder at will.

By the mid-1990s, Mugabe had become an irascible and petulant dictator,
brooking no opposition, contemptuous of the law and human rights, surrounded
by sycophantic ministers and indifferent to the incompetence and corruption
around him. Whatever good intentions he had started out with had long since
faded. A land reform programme financed by Britain came to a halt when it
was discovered that Mugabe was handing out farms intended for peasant
resettlement to his own cronies.

Ordinary people meanwhile suffered the brunt of government mismanagement. By
2000, Zimbabweans were generally worse off than they had been at
independence: average wages were lower; unemployment had trebled; public
services were crumbling and life expectancy was falling.

As opposition to his rule mounted, Mugabe struck back with increasing
ruthlessness. His first target was white farmers who, worried about their
title to land, had shown signs of supporting a new opposition coalition, the
Movement for Democratic Change. Hoping to bolster his popularity, Mugabe
sent gangs of party activists to rural areas to seize control of white-owned
farms to distribute to his supporters, but it led only to the collapse of
the agricultural industry.

His ultimate objective, however, was to crush all opposition and remain in
power for as long as he wanted. Since 2000, he has used all the government's
resources to attack his opponents, sanctioning murder, torture and
lawlessness of every kind, rigging elections, violating the courts and
suppressing the independent press. In a speech in 2003, he warned he would
use even worse violence if necessary, threatening to act like a "black
Hitler" against the opposition. "If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler
tenfold. That is what we stand for."

The cost of this strategy has been enormous. Zimbabwe has been reduced to a
bankrupt and impoverished state, threatened by economic collapse and
catastrophic food shortages.

But still Mugabe fights on. "No matter what force you have, this is my
territory and that which is mine I cling [to] unto death," he said in 2001.
And he is far from finished. Though losing control of parliament in last
month's election, he can still rely on party militias, youth groups, war
veterans, police and army generals to help him win the next round of the
presidential election. Violence has been Mugabe's stock-in-trade for more
than 30 years. Indeed he has boasted that he has "a degree in violence". It
is not a pleasant prospect for Zimbabweans yearning for something better.

Martin Meredith has written biographies of both Robert Mugabe and Nelson
Mandela. He is the author of The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years
of Independence. His latest book is Diamonds, Gold War: The Making of South

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Mugabe and the Africans

Wall Street Journal

April 8, 2008


You will have missed it if you're not a fanatical Africa watcher. Last
Wednesday Botswana, often referred to as the Switzerland of Africa, saw a
change of leadership. It's a nice, and instructive, contrast to the current
shennanigans in Zimbabwe.

President Festus Mogae stepped down, a year before his term was due to end,
and handed over to his party's new leader, Ian Khama. He did so to
demonstrate his readiness to prepare a new man for the position. Mr. Mogae
himself had won free and fair elections in 1998 and steered the country on a
fabulous growth path that followed on from the successes of his predecessor,
Ketumile Masire.

After discovering diamonds in the 1960s, the poor, sparsely populated
country spread the benefits of mineral wealth across the board. It made
great strides against AIDS, reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV
from 40% of all births 10 years ago to a mere 4% today. It is the world's
largest diamond producer and the most stable and prosperous country in
Africa. And it has held regular elections since independence in 1966.

At a farewell rally on March 29, the day Zimbabweans went to the polls, Mr.
Mogae warned: "Let me advise those leaders in similar circumstances: Leave
when the time for you to leave comes and you will be embraced with love by
your people."

Here's proof that democratic systems can work in Africa and are generally
accompanied by economic growth and human fulfillment. But the achievements
of a handful of leaders and countries such as Mr. Mogae's Botswana are
undermined by strongmen like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

In power the last 28 years, the octogenarian has brought Zimbabwe to its
knees. Annual inflation stands at more than 100,000% and life expectancy a
mere 34 years. More than a week after a vote that many (Zimbabweans, above
all) hoped would bring an end to his despotic rule, the Mugabe regime has
refused to release the results of the presidential election, which
opposition and independent observers claim he lost. He has arrested
journalists, restarted the illegal occupation of white-owned farms and
ordered his police to ransack opposition offices. In broad daylight, with
the world watching, Mr. Mugabe is stealing this election.

Almost as shocking is the response of other African leaders. Their deafening
silence feeds perceptions that Africa is a bad neighborhood destined to

On Sunday, Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF demanded that votes for the presidential
elections be recounted. Why? The ruling party says it suspects vote-rigging.
It was a mind-boggling demand: The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a body
packed with Mugabe cronies, had not even released the results, eight days
after the poll. And rich, too, considering ZANU-PF's past success in rigging

The day before, Zimbabwe police stopped opposition party lawyers from
entering the High Court to demand that the electoral commission make the
vote numbers public. They had been posted outside polling stations a day
after the elections. As of yesterday, the commission still refused.

There have been other outrages. Foreign media were barred from Zimbabwe from
the outset, although many journalists simply went in as tourists and
reported on the election anyway. It wasn't long, though, before the Mugabe
regime cracked down. The opposition MDC's offices at the Meikles Hotel were
raided on Thursday evening, while a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times
reporter and several others were arrested.

At the end of last week, ZANU-PF announced ominously that it was ready for
"battle" in a run-off presidential election between Mr. Mugabe and the
opposition MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC and independent observers claim
Mr. Tsvangirai got above or near the majority needed to avoid a run-off.
Clearly the government agreed, though ordinary Zimbabweans had not seen any
official result, and was now looking for ways to hang on.

Reasonably peaceful on polling day, the election in Zimbabwe has been
anything but free and fair. In the run-up to the vote and in its aftermath,
Mr. Mugabe has done everything possible to intimidate voters and skew the
result in his favor. More than 3,000 ghost voters, for example, were
discovered at just one voting station in the capital Harare. Armed forces
and so-called war veterans have been sent out into the streets in recent
days to intimidate opponents of the regime.

* * *
And where have African leaders been during all this? Well, former Mozambique
President Joaquim Chissano flew into Harare to discuss a "settlement." South
Africa's President Thabo Mbeki told the world the situation is manageable
and that we should all wait patiently for the results to be announced. The
rest of the continent's leaders kept quiet.

In the face of incontrovertible evidence that the Mugabe regime is poisoning
the electoral process, their silence causes great damage to the reputation
of the continent. Once again, African leaders have chosen to appease a man
who makes caricatures of all of them.

Proponents of Mr. Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" often say that more has been,
and will be, achieved through negotiation with Mr. Mugabe than by condemning
his actions. In this case, however, the clearly expressed will of the
Zimbabwean people is ignored. African leaders could stand on principle –
and, for starters, call loudly on Mr. Mugabe to release the outcome of the
election. Failure to do so, and instead to continue to negotiate with the
man, just means that in Africa elections mean nothing. It means that in
Africa, even if an opposition wins an election the loser has to be begged to
leave the stage with his ill-gotten gains.

We cannot continue this way.

The example of South Africa's Nelson Mandela, who stepped down after only
one term despite massive popular support, needs to be held up as the
standard for the continent. As does the commitment to democracy shown by the
people of Botswana and their leaders. It is, after all, the standard for the
whole world. Africans deserve no less.

Mr. Malala is a South African magazine publisher and newspaper columnist.

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Photos of a one-man protest

See the story Camp Restore Democracy in Zimbabwe on

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