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Roman Catholic bishops warn of mass uprising if Mugabe remains in power

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: April 8, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Roman Catholic bishops marked Easter with an unprecedented
message to President Robert Mugabe to end oppression and leave office
through democratic reform or face a mass revolt.

"The confrontation in our country has now reached a flashpoint," said the
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference in a pastoral message pinned up Sunday
at churches throughout the country.

"As the suffering population becomes more insistent, generating more and
more pressure through boycotts, strikes, demonstrations and uprisings, the
state responds with ever harsher oppression through arrests, detentions,
banning orders, beatings and torture," the nine bishops said.

The majority of Zimbabwe's Christians - including Mugabe - are Roman
Catholics. Several thousand worshippers who packed the cathedral in Harare -
clustered around the notice boards to read the message after morning Mass on

Although the Catholic bishops - especially Pius Ncube, the archbishop of the
second city of Bulawayo, have criticized the government in the past, the
tone of this year's pastoral message was the most strident since
independence from Britain in 1980.

In his traditional Easter address from the central balcony of St. Peter's
Basilica in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI singled out Zimbabwe among other
troubled countries.
"Zimbabwe is in the grip of a grievous crisis," he said.

The letter, entitled "God Hears the Cries of the Oppressed," likened human
and democratic rights abuses under Mugabe to the oppression of biblical
pharaohs and Egyptian slave masters.

"Oppression is sin and cannot be compromised with," it said.

As in the colonial era, the current conflict in Zimbabwe pitted those
determined to maintain their privileges of power and wealth at any cost,
even at the cost of bloodshed, against those demanding democratic rights, it

The conflict was "between those who only know the language of violence and
intimidation, and those who feel they have nothing more to lose because
their constitutional rights have been abrogated and their votes rigged," it

"Many people in Zimbabwe are angry, and their anger is now erupting into
open revolt in one township after another," said the bishops.

"In order to avoid further bloodshed and avert a mass uprising, the nation
needs a new people-driven constitution that will guide a democratic
leadership chosen in free and fair elections," it said.

A similar letter in the nearby nation of Malawi pressured longtime dictator
Hastings Kamuzu Banda into holding a referendum on reform in 1992 and
calling democratic elections, which he lost, ending 30 years of brutal rule.

The Zimbabwe bishops' letter was also reminiscent of the role of Catholic
churches in the eventual ouster of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines.

Deeply rooted Catholicism embraced the majority of the population in the
Philippines and churches in Malawi triggered resistance to Banda, said
Father Oskar Wermter of the Catholic communications secretariat in Harare.

"We cannot yet say what the response of our congregations will be, but basic
biblical teachings apply. Oppression is not negotiable. It must stop before
there can be any dialogue," he said.

Wermter said the bishops wanted the contents of the letter to receive the
widest possible distribution. The letter was delivered in the traditional
rural strongholds of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party across the country, where
priests showed what he called a very strong interest in it.

The bishops called for a day of prayer and fasting for Zimbabwe April 14 and
said there would be a prayer service for Zimbabwe every week after that.

The Anglican church has been more muted, with its leaders generally toeing
the ruling party line.

Police violently broke up a multi-denominational prayer meeting March 11,
describing it as a banned demonstration. Two pro-democracy activists died
and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, and a dozen senior colleagues were hospitalized after beatings.

Mugabe subsequently headed off a challenge to his leadership to win party
support to stand for another presidential term in national elections in
2008. There was no response from the government Sunday to the pastoral
letter and Mugabe was out of the country.

The once-prosperous nation is reeling under hyperinflation of more than
1,700 percent, 80-percent unemployment, shortages of food and other basic
goods and one of the world's lowest life expectancies.

"The suffering people of Zimbabwe are groaning in agony," said the bishops.
"A tiny minority of the people have become very rich overnight, while the
majority are languishing in poverty. ... Our country is in deep crisis."

But the letter said it also wanted to convey a message of hope.

"God is on your side. he always hears the cry of the poor and oppressed and
saves them."

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Tortured mercenary Mann close to death

From The Sunday Express (UK), 8 April

By Obert Matahwa

British mercenary Simon Mann, a close friend of Margaret Thatcher's son Sir
Mark, is close to death in a hell-hole prison after being tortured by the
henchmen of dictator Robert Mugabe. Mann, a former Old Etonian and SAS
officer, was last week revealed to be suffering multiple organ failure in
his cell in the Zimbabwe capital, Harare. He is also said to be going blind,
and has a life-threatening intestinal condition caused by poor diet. The
53-year-old "security consultant", originally from Hampshire, is serving a
seven-year sentence for his part in an attempt to oust another dictator,
Teodor Obiang Nguema, head of Zimbabwe's neighbour, Equatorial Guinea. Last
night Amnesty International said it was monitoring Mann's condition and
attempting to obtain further information. Mann has admitted being involved
in the arms trade in Africa, but always denied his alleged part in the
foiled coup. He has maintained that weapons found in his possession at
Harare airport in 2004 were destined for a private company guarding diamond
mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mercenary has also maintained
that any confession he made was beaten out of him. Sir Mark, an old school
friend, was convicted in 2005 by a court in South Africa, which ruled that
he had helped finance the coup attempt. Thatcher also denied any
involvement, but was given a suspended four-year prison sentence and fined
£265,000. Mugabe is believed to have been planning to hand Mann over to
Equatorial Guinea in exchange for oil. The tiny former Spanish colony is
Africa's third largest producer and poverty-stricken Zimbabwe is in
desperate need of fuel.

Mann has not been able to attend two successive court sessions after being
admitted to hospital at the Chikurubi maximum security prison. His lawyer,
Jonathan Samkange, said his client is awaiting major surgery because of his
deteriorating health. "We have applied to the minister of justice for the
second time to have my client treated at a private hospital but that has
been unsuccessful," he said. "Simon Mann is suffering from multiple organ
failure and he needs a major operation to recoup. His sight needs a
check-up, he has developed scabies, and his digestive system has always been
upset." Explaining Mann's deteriorating health, Mr Samkange said the
mercenary was tortured in a bid to force him to reveal his coup plan. "I
have requested the court to investigate the findings that Mann had been
tortured in the run-up to the extradition hearings to force a pre-determined
outcome to the process. I am happy the prosecution has accepted my
application," he said. Mr Samkange was part of the group of human rights
lawyers that visited the country's prisons in March. According to prison
sources, Zimbabwe police assaulted and tortured Mann during a special
interrogation in the presence of officials from Equatorial Guinea who had
requested to see him as evidence that he is still in prison. Mr Samkange
said: "My client was severely tortured by members of the military
intelligence and Central Intelligence Organisation operatives in prison. The
prison authorities have not denied that Mann was tortured during unscheduled
visits by state security agents." He added: "Simon Mann has already been
tortured here in prison and we will not have him extradited to Equatorial
Guinea for further torture. He has been tortured at the request of a country
applying to have him tried under its jurisdiction."

Mr Samkange vowed to resist efforts outside the law that the West African
country was pursuing to win Mann's extradition. A Harare court will resume
extradition hearings on Friday and the prosecution has promised to bring
Mann to court this time. He is due to be released on May 11. The Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights, which has been on a fact-finding mission to the
prison, confirmed Mr Samkange's claims. The organisation reported: "Simon
Mann is very sick and is still awaiting permission to have a complicated
operation that is beyond the capacity of Chikurubi prison hospital." Another
European implicated in the coup attempt, a former German soldier, died in
mysterious circumstances soon after his arrest. He too was allegedly
tortured. Neil Durkin, spokesman for Amnesty International, said: "If it is
indeed true that he has been tortured in detention, it would be yet another
appalling example of gross human rights violations in President Mugabe's
Zimbabwe." Mann's wife Amanda was last night on holiday in Spain with their
three children. A family friend in the village of Exbury, on the edge of the
New Forest, said: "We didn't know anything about this, but we are not
surprised, given what they do in these places. We just hope it's not that
bad." Sir Mark Thatcher was last night unavailable for comment at his home
in London's Belgravia. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe police said yesterday they have
opened a murder investigation into the death of an independent journalist.
The body of Edward Chikombo, a former cameraman for the government-run
Zimbabwe TV station, was found on March 31, dumped in the Darwindale
district, 20 miles north of Harare.

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Zim opposition activist battles for life

Zim Online

Monday 09 April 2007

PRESIDENT Mugabe . . . cracking down on the opposition
By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri
HARARE - A Zimbabwean opposition activist was last night reportedly in
critical condition in hospital after state security agents shot him under as
yet unclear circumstances.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party spokesman Nelson Chamisa told
ZimOnline that Philip Katsande, a member of the opposition party's Harare
provincial executive had three bullets lodged in his body and was admitted
at the government-run Parirenyatwa hospital under police guard.
"He is still in a critical condition and that is why we are trying to have
him released from Parirenyatwa so we can take him to private doctors," said
Chamisa, who speaks for the Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the splintered
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he was unable to take questions from
ZimOnline because he was yet to be fully briefed on events leading to
Katsande's shooting, which comes on the back of a fresh crackdown by
government agents against the MDC and other dissenting voices.
The crackdown has seen dozens of MDC activists, civic society members and
independent journalists abducted and severely tortured by suspected agents
of the government's feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) secret
A independent television cameraman Edward Chikomba was last week abducted
from his home by suspected state security agents who accused him of
supplying foreign media with footage of a bruised Morgan Tsvangirai
following his torture in police custody last month.
Chikomba's body was found days after his abduction dumped near Darwendale,
some 50km west of Harare.
Tsvangirai last month accused President Robert Mugabe of sponsoring hit
squads to eliminate political opponents, a charge the government has
vehemently rejected.
According to sources, armed CIO agents raided Katsande's home in Harare's
Budiriro suburb, smashing windows and doors and demanding to see the MDC
activist, who meanwhile had sought refuge in the ceiling of the house.
The state agents beat up Katsande's wife and kids until they revealed that
he was hiding in the ceiling and one of the agents fired into the ceiling
hitting the opposition activist three times on the shoulder and body.
The severely injured Katsande was later rushed to Parirenyatwa hospital
where he is receiving treatment under police guard.
The shooting of Katsande is likely to stoke up temperatures in a country
where political tensions are already at dangerous levels, fuelled by a
debilitating economic crisis and food shortages that have seen the
government resort to more repressive methods to try and keep public
discontent in check. - ZimOnline

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Desperate Zimbabweans battle for survival miles away from home

Zim Online

Monday 09 April 2007

ABSALOM Mashanda, one of the many Zimbabweans making a living by selling
wares on Namibian streets
Own Correspondent
WINDHOEK - Some 2 000km away from home, 27-year Cuthbert Ngoro is busy
trying to rebuild his shattered life, selling almost anything to survive.
At this busy street corner in Windhoek, Namibia, Ngoro is selling cellphone
recharge vouchers, and anything else that he lays his hands on for survival.
Ngoro, a qualified teacher, is among millions of Zimbabweans who have been
forced to flee their country's unprecedented economic meltdown that has seen
80 percent of the working population without jobs.
"I am better off here than I was in Zimbabwe. I can make more than N$100 a
day (about Z$150 000), which is way more than what I used to get in my
country as a teacher.
"When I left Zimbabwe last year, I was earning Z$120 000 a month," he says
with a wide grin.
A few kilometers away, Kudzai, a gorgeous lady in her late twenties who
refused to give her full name, says she was a registered nurse in Zimbabwe.
She too left home and is part of a group of Zimbabwean women selling sex
behind the famous Kalahari Sands Hotel and Casino in the heart of Windhoek.
"It's a tough job," she says with a straight face.
"But it is nothing compared to the suffering I went through in Zimbabwe. At
least I can afford to send money home and look after my two children in
Harare," she told ZimOnline.
"Sometimes the police lock us up but they release us the next day and we
will be back on the streets. Sometimes we have to bribe our way out of
police stations," she says.
Ngoro and Kudzai are among thousands of mostly highly educated and qualified
Zimbabweans who are living in the Namibian capital engaged in petty trading
or doing menial jobs for survival.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of an unprecedented economic crisis that has
manifested itself in rampant inflation of nearly 2 000 percent, widespread
unemployment and poverty.
The major opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party blames the
crisis on repression and bad policies by President Robert Mugabe, in power
since the country's independence from Britain 27 years ago.
But Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and
her Western allies after he seized white farms for redistribution to
landless blacks seven years ago.
At least three million Zimbabweans or a quarter of the country's 12 million
people live in exile after fleeing an economic crisis described by the World
Bank as the worst in the world outside a war zone.
Also among these exiles is Jasper Kugotsi, who has been traveling to
Windhoek over the past two years to sell anything from catapults to
hand-made flower-pots.
Kugotsi says he used to work on a farm in the Chinhoyi farming district. But
the farm was seized from its white owner in 2002 under Mugabe's violent land
reforms leaving him to look for other means for survival.
"I had lived and worked on the farm all my life. I was born there, my
parents used to work at the farm. It was difficult for me to find new ways
of making a living, but I am better off here in Namibia," Kugotsi said.
The presence of the Zimbabwean traders has not gone without notice.
The Namibia Small Traders Association (NASTA), which represents small
traders and hawkers has expressed concern over the increasing numbers of
Zimbabwean traders on the streets.
Veripi Kandenge, the NASTA secretary general, described Zimbabwean traders
as a real nuisance and a threat to Namibian craftsmen.
"We need government protection from these Zimbabwean vendors. They are
killing our business because they are selling their wares at give away
prices," he said.
"The Zimbabwean crafts are sold very cheaply. These guys are accepting very
low prices for their products. Our crafts people and even shops that are
selling these crafts cannot compete with the Zimbabweans who are desperate
to make money," Kandenge said.
He said at every street corner where one used to see two Namibian vendors,
at least 10 vendors now occupy the spot, the majority of them being
Namibia's National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) which last month
organised protests over Mugabe's presence in the country, said the influx of
Zimbabweans in the country was a serious indictment on Mugabe's policies.
"It is pathetic. People who are now fleeing Zimbabwe are not just the
professionals but ordinary people as well. It is like people are running
away from fire," said Phil ya Nangoloh, the NSHR executive director.
Nangoloh said the mass exodus of Zimbabweans from their country was a
telling sign that Mugabe had dismally failed to run what was once one of
Africa's prospects for success at independence in 1980.
"The suffering in Zimbabwe is unprecedented. The crisis has reached boiling
point and Mugabe must just go," said Ya Nangoloh. - ZimOnline

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Police briefly seize opposition leader's passport

Zim online

Monday 09 April 2007

By Tsungirirayi Murandu
HARARE - Zimbabwean opposition leader Arthur Mutambara had his passport
briefly detained at Harare International Airport on Good Friday as the
police continued with a crackdown against government opponents.
Sources said a member of Zimbabwe's feared spy agency took Mutambara's
passport soon after the opposition leader arrived from Johannesburg, South
"He had to wait for some time while the CIO (Central Intelligence
Organisation) operatives at the airport went through his passport," a source
The source said the CIO move could have been prompted by the fact that the
spy agency suspected that Mutambara was coming from the United States. US
ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell was on the same flight from
"They eventually returned Mutambara's travel document after establishing
that he had not gone to the US," said the source.
Zimbabwe accuses the US and other Western governments of complicity in a
plot to topple President Robert Mugabe's government.
Dell and other Western ambassadors were in March threatened with expulsion
from Zimbabwe for involving themselves in the country's internal affairs.
Mutambara would have become the latest victim of a crackdown in which the
CIO has confiscated passports of opponents.
The spy agency had previously confiscated passports of media mogul, Trevor
Ncube, and trade unionist Raymond Majongwe.
The crackdown is meant to silence government critics.
Mutambara heads the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) which poses the greatest challenge to Mugabe's 27-year-old rule.
The Harare authorities have since February targeted members of the MDC and
other pro-democracy groups in a crackdown that saw several opposition
leaders - including Morgan Tsvangirai who heads the other MDC faction -being
brutally assaulted by the police. - ZimOnline

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US envoy: Zimbabwean government on "new height of ludicrousness"

Monsters and Critics

Apr 8, 2007, 7:07 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - The US ambassador to Zimbabwe has dismissed
accusations by President Robert Mugabe's government that Western diplomats
were interfering in the country's internal affairs, reports said Sunday.

Instead, he accused Harare of breaching obligations under the Vienna

Christopher Dell was reacting to accusations in state media that Western
diplomats were meddling in Zimbabwe's internal political affairs in breach
of the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic conduct.

This was after they attended a press conference on Monday called by
opposition leader Arthur Mutambara.

'We have reached a new height of ludicrousness this week in seeing the
government, the official media claiming that diplomats attending a press
briefing by an opposition figure is an unwarranted interference in
Zimbabwe's affairs,' Dell said in an interview with the private Standard

'I can't think of any country in the world, with the exception of North
Korea, which would have the effrontery to define meeting with political
figures in that country as a violation of the Vienna Conventions,' he said.

Mugabe has threatened to expel Western diplomats for what he says is their
meddling in local politics by showing concern for opposition activists
arrested and beaten in police custody since the start of a crackdown on the
opposition that began on March 11.

The US envoy instead accused the government of failing to abide by the
Vienna Convention by ensuring the safety of diplomats following threats in
the state media made against British embassy spokeswoman, Gillian Dare.

A columnist for the state-controlled Herald newspaper this week accused Dare
of being sympathetic to the opposition party and warned she could get caught
in the crossfire of the state's crackdown on the party and be returned to
London in a body bag.

'The threats we have seen in the State media dealing with open threats of
physical harm, culminating in attacks on Gillian Dare of the British Embassy
are a clear abrogation of its obligations under the Vienna Convention,' Dell

The ambassador, who is probably the most outspoken of all the Western envoys
accredited to Harare, shrugged off threats to expel him.

'Sending me away now would provide me an opportunity to speak out more
directly, not only in the US but throughout the region,' he said.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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Mugabe regime steps up violence in Zimbabwe

Register Guard

By Michael Wines
The New York Times
Published: Sunday, April 8, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe - There is nothing subtle about the reaction of President
Robert Mugabe's government to the latest surge of political unrest in

By the scores - by the hundreds, some opposition figures say - people
critical of Mugabe's rule are being cornered on sidewalks, hauled to jails
or simply abducted from their homes in early morning raids, and then
savagely beaten.

The main faction of the leading opposition group, the Movement for
Democratic Change, says that at least 500 of its members have been attacked
in the past month. The number of attacks on civic advocates and other
opposition figures is less clear but appears substantial.

Mugabe's government appears to have responded to recent opposition with a
crackdown that strikes some here as an act of paranoia, if not desperation.

Mugabe was widely quoted last month as saying that ''the police have a right
to bash'' protesters who resist them, and added that the main leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, deserved the beating he
received March 11 - leaving him hospitalized with a head wound and possible
skull fracture.

An international furor erupted this week after The Herald, a
government-controlled newspaper that frequently speaks for officials in
power, suggested that one British diplomat that it accused of aiding
opposition figures might return to London ''in a body bag, like some of her
colleagues from Iraq and Afghanistan.''

''This is not a regime that is ensconced in the affections of the people,''
Iden Wetherell, an editor of the weekly Zimbabwe Independent, said in his
downtown offices this week. ''There's a real fear of popular mobilization.''

Civic advocates, opposition figures and human-rights advocates call this a
low-intensity war on Mugabe's critics that represents a new chapter in the
government's years-long effort to stifle dissent.

Precisely who is behind the attacks is often unclear. Some have been
attacked by uniformed police officers, and frequently have been imprisoned
as well. At least 25 victims of attacks have faced charges in Harare courts
in the past week alone, Tafadzwa Mugabe, a lawyer for Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights, said in an interview.

Some opposition figures and civic advocates say they believe that the
government's tactics will backfire, drawing more international condemnation
and leaching away the support from neighboring governments that is seen as
critical to Mugabe's government. And in fact, Mugabe's threat to ''bash''
dissidents drew a mild rebuke this week from South Africa's president, Thabo
Mbeki, who told The Financial Times that African leaders were dismayed by
photographs of bloodied and beaten protesters. For the present, however, the
effect of the attacks has been to terrorize the government's critics, some
of whom have gone into hiding, changed their mobile telephone numbers or
simply fallen silent.

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Those who don't recall history get to be Mugabe's dupes

Comment from The Sunday Times (SA), 8 April

Mondli Makhanya

There's this old saying about how the one thing we learn from history is how
we learn nothing from history. It always comes back to me when I think of
the events of Good Friday, 2000. Dozens of us journos had gathered at the
Elephant Hills Hotel in Victoria Falls to cover a make-or-break summit that
would stop Zimbabwe's slide into the abyss. The government-backed land
invasions were in full force; opposition members campaigning ahead of that
year's June parliamentary elections were being beaten and tortured by police
and Zanu PF militias; the media and the judiciary were being strangled; the
Zimbabwean dollar was heading south in a most dramatic fashion; fuel
shortages were rife and the general economy was in free fall. So South
Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, Mozambique's Joachim Chissano and Namibia's
Sam Nujoma descended on Victoria Falls with a view of talking nicely to
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe .

They came out of the marathon meeting brimming with optimism. They told us
that Mugabe had agreed to a series of measures to restore normality to a
country that had been one of post-colonial Africa's shining stars. Among the
measures were that war veterans would be removed from the farms within 30
days; the rule of law would be restored and conditions for free political
activity would be created. On the economic front, an orderly land-reform
programme would be agreed on and negotiations on funding it would be entered
into with Britain and donor agencies. When queried about why they were so
confident that Mugabe would meet his end of the bargain, the three
presidents expressed irritation that such a question could even be asked.
"He is a head of state making a commitment to fellow heads of state and that
is good enough. Why would you want to question his integrity?" was the basic

The following week, Mugabe and his lieutenants were traversing the
countryside, repudiating everything that had been said at Victoria Falls.
The message to the masses: there is no way we will order Zimbabweans off the
land they have reclaimed from the colonialists; there is no way we will set
comrade against comrade by getting security forces to evict war veterans
from occupied farms; there is no way we will allow the stooges of
colonialists (the Movement for Democratic Change) to campaign to give the
country back to the British. Point by point they rubbished the Good Friday
agreement, the very commitment that man of integrity had made to fellow
heads of state. I am writing this column on Good Friday 2007 (yes, some of
us poor sods had to get up this morning to produce the newspaper you are
holding in your hands) a week after the South African Development Community
heads of state gathered in Tanzania, where Mugabe's colleagues received a
commitment from him on restoring political stability to his country.

In terms of the Dar es Salaam minute, Mugabe agreed to a process to enter
into dialogue with his rivals and other sections of Zimbabwean society. By
all accounts, the SADC leaders were quite tough on Mugabe behind closed
doors. And they walked away believing that the man of integrity would help
them to help himself. But a day after the summit, Mugabe was back on the
podiums, proclaiming that his brother leaders had in fact backed his errant
ways because they believed his version that the imperialists were behind the
opposition. Over the same weekend, his goons beat up more opposition leaders
and jailed more activists. And Mugabe was endorsed as a candidate for yet
another term of office - all as if nothing had happened in Dar es Salaam.
The point is that if South Africa and its neighbours had been willing to
learn from history, they would have known by now that Mugabe is a liar who
has no respect for them or the offices they occupy.

A question that is asked of those who are critical of the so-called quiet
diplomacy approach is: "What were we expected to do?" The answer should
always start with what they should not have done. They should not have
legitimised him by endorsing three stolen elections and by repeatedly
denying - in the face of incontrovertible evidence - that there was erosion
of human rights and democratic practice. At various international forums our
representatives should not have acted as Mugabe's bodyguards. Here at home
the government and the ANC should not have given Zanu PF revolutionary
credentials when it was clear there was nothing left in the party that said
"liberation movement". So what could we have done and what can we still do?
The first step for the South African government is to treat Robert Mugabe
with a great degree of distrust. The next step would be to get the rest of
Zimbabwean society, mainly the civil society activists who we have betrayed,
to trust our honest-broker bona fides. And then we need to speak loudly
about the principles of the African Union charter and the SADC treaty and
protocols - documents that the Mugabe government has endorsed. These are not
imperialists' impositions, but minimum standards that we on the continent
have agreed to. They are a legitimate platform for intervention.

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Why Mbeki faces uphill struggle in Zimbabwe

Mail and Guardian

Susan Njanji | Harare,

08 April 2007 10:29

South African President Thabo Mbeki's mission to resolve the
crisis across the border in Zimbabwe faces slim prospects of success due to
deep-rooted suspicion between the protagonists, analysts say.

Mbeki was entrusted with the task by fellow Southern African
leaders at a summit last month to broker talks between the opposition and
President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF.

Sources close to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) said Mbeki had already begun paving the way by setting up a
five-strong team to draft the ground rules for the negotiations.

In an interview last week, Mbeki acknowledged that there was
ultimately little he could do if neither side wanted the mediation to work.

"The only way to deal with these problems and the only way to
achieve results is if we encourage the Zimbabwean political parties to
engage with one another ... Whether we succeed or not is up to the
Zimbabwean leadership," he told the Financial Times. "None of us in the
region has any power to force the Zimbabweans to agree."

Both Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai have given their
approval to Mbeki's intervention, but Zimbabwe commentators have voiced deep
scepticism about him getting results given the mistrust and issues to be

"The prospects are a mixed bag; the outcome is likely to be
half-baked," said University of Zimbabwe political scientist John Makumbe.

Political scientist Eldred Masunungure said the enmity between
the MDC and Zanu-PF could be an insurmountable hurdle, especially in the
wake of a recent crackdown on the opposition that saw Tsvangirai arrested
and assaulted.

The latest violence "deepened the mistrust and suspicion and
that is a major stumbling block", said Masunungure.

While the onus would be on Mbeki to craft confidence-building
measures, analysts believe the South African president may not himself be
widely trusted by the opposition given his reluctance to criticise Mugabe.

"Mbeki himself is a source of suspicion by the MDC," said
Masunungure. "Previously they did not see him as an honest and impartial
broker and he may be seen as part of the problem by the MDC."

Makumbe agreed that "the other hurdle is Mbeki".

"He has not yet said he has abandoned his quiet-diplomacy policy
and that will be a major drawback," said Makumbe.

Most of the three million Zimbabweans to have fled their country
in the wake of an economic meltdown, which has seen inflation climb to 1
730% and unemployment at 80%, have crossed over to South Africa.

Kid gloves
While Levy Mwanawasa, president of Zimbabwe's northern neighbour
Zambia, has said the "quiet diplomacy" policy has not delivered, Mbeki is
sticking to his guns.

"Mbeki can't afford to handle the parties with kid gloves any
more while the economy continues to break down and human rights violations
escalate," said Makumbe.

Experts say issues that need to be addressed include opposition
demands for a new democratic constitution and a credible electoral body to
oversee presidential and parliamentary elections next year. Mugabe, Africa's
oldest leader at 83, was recently chosen as Zanu-PF's candidate.

They also say the electoral roll needs to be revamped, with
hundreds of thousands of potential voters absent from the list.

Such demands are likely to be met with resistance by Zanu-PF,
which analysts say has used the present system to ensure victory. "I don't
think that Zanu-PF will like to dig their own grave by accepting" conditions
for free and fair polls, according to Masunungure.

Takavafira Zhou, a lecturer at southern Zimbabwe's Masvingo
University, doubted Mbeki would ever be prepared to get tough with the
notoriously stubborn Mugabe.

"I don't think that he will succeed, because African leaders see
President Mugabe as a champion of pan-Africanism and not as a crocodile
liberator and an autocrat," said Zhou. -- Sapa-AFP

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Stop cricket tour to hurt Mugabe: rally

The Age, Australia

April 9, 2007 - 2:24PM

Australia must cancel the scheduled cricket tour of Zimbabwe because it is
one measure its brutal dictator Robert Mugabe would notice, a pro-democracy
rally has been told.

Addressing a demonstration outside the Zimbabwe embassy in Canberra,
Zimbabwe Information Centre president Meredith Burgmann said President
Mugabe was a cricket tragic just like Prime Minister John Howard.

"It would mean a huge amount if Australia didn't travel to Zimbabwe," she

Mr Howard, who is considering stepping up sanctions against Zimbabwe because
of its brutal repression of opposition activists, was also urged to aim
sanctions at the children of Zimbabwe regime officials studying at
Australian universities.

Dr Burgmann, the former Labor president of the NSW Legislative Council said
Mr Mugabe, patron of Zimbabwe cricket and president of the Harare Cricket
Club, played a key role in selecting the Zimbabwe side, excluding those
opposed to his regime.

"My understanding is that the contract that the Australian Cricket Board has
with international cricket is they have to forfeit, I think it is $5
million, unless the government tells them they must not go.

"That is what we are calling the government to do. It is really important
for the Australian government to step up."

In the protest, some two dozen demonstrators chanted slogans and waved
placards calling the Zimbabwe president a brutal dictator who had to go.

Canberra has imposed so-called smart sanctions on Zimbabwe, including
freezing Australian assets of top officials and barring their travel here.

Protest organiser Peter Murphy said it was time for those sanctions to get
even smarter and target the dozen or so children of top regime officials
studying at Australian universities.

"We believe they are mainly in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth," he said.

Mr Murphy said the current sanctions did not specifically bar them studying
in Australia.

"However it does say all financial transactions of these people are banned.
So sending money here must be banned," he said.

"Children are getting money from their parents. They (the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade) could be tougher. I believe they can do this."

Catholic Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn Pat Power said the world could not
stand by and watch as had occurred with the Rwandan genocide.

"I compare it to abuse and violence in a family," he said.

"You can't just stand by and say that's the business of this family. When
vulnerable people are involved, people such as ourselves have got to stand
up and say enough is enough."

© 2007 AAP

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Zimbabwe Crumbles

The Cornell Daily Sun, New York

Brutal Honesty
By Jeff Purcell
Apr 9 2007

The crisis in Zimbabwe might be reaching its climax. Dozens of stories have
appeared in the most prominent publications describing the freefall in the
country. If only our eyes were wider sooner.

Zimbabwe's 13 million people have the lowest life expectancy on earth -
women can expect death at 34 and men by 37. Inflation is over 1000 percent
and for some time currency has been used as toilet paper in many places,
including the capital, Harare. Because trade stopped and shelves were empty,
the money retained but one use. In May, a roll of toilet paper cost over
140,000 Zim dollars.

In July I was in Durban, South Africa, and I met people from Zimbabwe. Some
were refugees, selling tomatoes and wooden souvenirs on the side of the
road. Malcolm had come from Zim the prior year, and worked near my
apartment. Every week or so, on my walk to work, we talked for a few
minutes. When news surfaced that the country's President, Robert Mugabe, had
recently completed a new 26-bedroom palace - while the rest of his country
was starving - Malcolm said, "We suffer for his riches." Tom, another Zim
man I met, gave me a 100,000 Zimbabwean dollar note. It had an expiration
date printed six months from then - a signal of the currency's

Mugabe has done much to destroy local health clinics and to ban media into
his country. The BBC is barred, for instance, and most reports we get from
Zim are filed from Johannesburg, 600 miles away. We already viewed Zimbabwe
from a distance, but for the past six years our field of vision shrank
further. Credible estimates, however, indicate that about 33 percent of the
population carries HIV. Without a health infrastructure (nurses, clinics,
doctors, pharmacies) and funding for adequate care, the virus rapidly
becomes AIDS, and soon infections and ailments that can be cured
inexpensively elsewhere kill Zimbabweans early.

Last May, Zim's National Pharmaceutical Company ran out of money. The
anti-retroviral drugs that keep HIV from multiplying were administered to
about 20,000 people in the country, out of an infected total of around 1/3
of the adult population, so roughly 3 million people. Zimbabwe is ravaged by
HIV: more than one in 10 newborns are expected to die of an AIDS-related
illness by five and 25 percent of the labor market will die by 2025. There
are more orphans per capita there than anywhere else in the world. The
amount of money needed to buy the next batch of drugs was $7.4 million
American dollars, and the company only had $106,000.

Consequently, the few patients receiving the medicines stopped treatment. As
a result, they cannot take ARVs again because their HIV will become
resistant. As the virus replicates, it will prevent them from resisting
minor infections and routine viruses. These people go from statistic to
statistic. And all the time they're just data points.

Today, all this adds up, quickly, to millions of people dying early and
painfully. Zimbabwe didn't collapse overnight; on the sidelines we've
watched its people decline for decades. Three decades ago, Mugabe led the
Zimbabwe African National Union to victory over what remained of colonial
Rhodesia. Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company drove out everyone who
lived there and divided the assets of land, minerals and people. The
settlers were particularly opposed to ending their racist control over the
land and government - after decades of settler rule, they declared
independence from Britain in 1965, basing the declaration on America's. The
world took notice and put sanctions on Ian Smith's Rhodesia, but mostly the
history played out without much interest from abroad after that.

It wasn't until almost 1980 that the war between black African
revolutionaries and white settlers finally ended. The Rhodesians conscripted
every white man to fight in the most brutal ways - anthrax was spread on
food stocks, and cholera and rat poison were dumped in rivers. When it all
ended, Mugabe became president, and it was time to rebuild. But in terms of
land reform, there was no success. The government could return land, but
only if the whites who owned most of it agreed to sell, the "willing
buyer-willing seller" model. Their refusal meant that most Zimbabweans
stayed poor and landless. Though the farms were productive and Zimbabwe
could feed itself, the black majority population never touched a profit, and
continued to live as they had before their country became independent. As
the population grew after independence and productive requirements on the
soil increased, more and more citizens demanded land reform. Mugabe's rule
was challenged, and he silenced and killed thousands of opponents, yet kept
winning reelection. Though recent elections were clear frauds, his
supporters are still many. One group of opponents, the Movement for
Democratic Change, has spearheaded a campaign for free and fair elections, a
return to media and political freedom and an end to the policies that have
starved their country. In the past year, Mugabe has become increasingly
violent against urban supporters of the MDC, and has razed thousands of
shack settlements, like the one Malcolm grew up in.

He's blamed the British and Americans for supporting his rivals, but he's
wrong. The British stopped funding land reform when Mugabe started stealing
farms for his cronies. And the U.S. has barely made a sound. South Africa,
too, has been silent, unwilling to disturb Mugabe for the sake of the
millions he makes "suffer for his riches."

Zimbabwe is a complicated country with a deep history. It is exceptional in
so many ways. But so often we imagine countries like Zimbabwe to be only a
place of hungry victims. In America, we're used to treating Africa as one
large village, or one tiny nuisance. But neither of those things is true.
Africa is huge, heterogeneous and complex. There are some who are simply
good and bad, and rich and poor, but there are millions more who are driven
by many factors, and not simply any one thing.

A snapshot of Zimbabwe is an attempt to complicate its situation, not reduce
it to a children's story. As Mugabe's rule comes toward its end, the MDC's
Morgan Tsvangirai is recovering from brutal attacks. Last month Mugabe's
police nearly beat him to death. But he fights to regain his strength, and
not become another number. He fights, and the next day comes nearer to his
56th birthday. Zim is worth our efforts and our interest, and not just when
it freefalls. It's not a world away from us - there's one world for us all.

Jeff Purcell is a graduate student in Africana Studies. He can be reached at Brutal Honesty appears Mondays.

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Founding president urges Mugabe talks

From correspondents in Lusaka

April 08, 2007 07:40pm

Article from: Agence France-Presse

ZAMBIA'S founding president Kennneth Kaunda today urged his long-time ally
Robert Mugabe to open talks with Zimbabwe's opposition in order to end the
political crisis in the southern African nation.
Mr Kaunda, in his weekly newspaper diary, said all parties in Zimbabwe
should come together and embrace South African President Thabo Mbeki who has
been mandated by regional leaders to help resolve the crisis.

"I hope and pray that Mugabe will ... talk to Morgan Tsvangirai and they
will sit together to find answers to the problems Zimbabwe is facing today
regardless of who brought these problems," he said.

He said the appointment of Mbeki as mediator by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) regional bloc was bringing hope to Zimbabwe.

"It is therefore a very hopeful situation developing in Zimbabwe. With the
outstanding ability of SADC, who can have doubt that we are getting ready
for a new start in Zimbabwe," the 82-year-old former president said.

Mr Kaunda insisted that there was no need to "demonise" Mugabe over the
problems in his country saying the crisis had been caused by a historic
blunder of Zimbabwe's former colonial master, Britain.

Mr Kaunda's support for 83-year-old Mugabe is in contrast to that of
Zambia's current President Levy Mwanawasa who has compared the situation in
Zimbabwe to the sinking of the Titanic.

Zimbabwe has currently has the world highest rate of inflation at 1730 per
cent while four out of five people are unemployed. Mugabe has also attracted
Western criticism after recent assaults on opposition leaders.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 7th April 2007

The Vigil started ahead of time - people are so keyed up by developments in
Zimbabwe.  For the third week in a row Vincent arrived well ahead of
everyone else.  It helps to have barriers outside the Embassy.  It means we
can get our banners up very quickly.  In the past the police have only
provided barriers for big demonstrations but there is so much happening at
the moment that they now leave them permanently.  Our start up today took a
different pattern - we sang the national anthem followed by an impassioned
prayer for those suffering at home by Vigil Co-ordinator, Evelyn.

As you will know, Zimbabwean churches have called for prayers for Zimbabwe.
They have asked for our support.  On Wednesday 4th April the Vigil wrote to
the Archbishop of York, the Ugandan-born John Sentamu, asking him to join us
at our Vigil on 21st April, when we are having a special focus on prayer for
Zimbabwe.  Here is the text of the letter we sent:

"Dear Archbishop Sentamu

Request for you to be a guest speaker at the Zimbabwe Vigil on 21st April

Mulimutiya Baba

We hope this finds you well, and we wish to apologise for the late notice of
this letter.

We are having a special Vigil on the 21st April to pray for Zimbabwe. The
date is significant because it will be the first Vigil after 18th April
2007, the 27th Anniversary of Zimbabwe's Independence.  We seek to
acknowledge that only a God-centred solution will bring peace to our land,
and an end to the turmoil that has engulfed our beloved homeland.

The Zimbabwe Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes
place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations
of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started
in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

We have thought and prayed long and hard about who we would like to speak at
this event, and decided that you would be the best person. We believe you to
be a powerful prayer-warrior and someone who speaks without reserve when it
comes to saying what needs to be said. It would be less easy for Mr Mugabe
to brush you aside as an agent of the imperial masters as you are a fellow
African. Also, as you are someone who has faced persecution for standing
against the whims and fancies of an African dictator, we feel that your
voice will be the quiet voice of reason that cannot be drowned out by the
cacophony of political gerrymandering that so often swamps the Zimbabwe

We hope and pray that you will be able to come.  God bless you.

The Zimbabwe Vigil Team"

The letter concludes "PS Christians in Zimbabwe are hoping that a "Prayer
Call" can be scheduled for church services across the country and hopefully
the world on 15th April to focus on the governance of the country, the
respect for the rule of law, basic human rights, the hyper inflation that is
decimating all salaries and savings and last, but not least, the HIV / AIDS
pandemic and other infections, diseases and ailments that often go untreated
due to lack of staff, drugs and money."

Because  our request was so late and the Archbishop is such a busy man, we
will be lucky if he is free.  But we wanted to register with him our country's
great need.  Several churches have been invited to join us and we have also
asked churches in the UK to join churches across Zimbabwe in prayers for the
country on Sunday, 15th April.   We are sorry that our good friend the
Reverend Dr. Martine Stemerick is unable to come.  She has to be at a synod
on 21st April but is speaking about the situation in Zimbabwe on the Rob
Frost show on Premier Radio (Christian Radio) on 22nd April.

On Wednesday, 32 Vigil supporters joined Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA)
and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in support
of a general strike by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. A senior
Labour MP, Michael Meacher, was with us together with the human rights
campaigner, Peter Tatchell, and many trade union leaders. We were proud that
our supporters, with their singing and dancing, gave the demonstration such
a true touch of Zimbabwe.  We are pleased to have the strong support of our
British trade union friends and ACTSA, the successor to the Anti-Apartheid
Movement, which is campaigning hard against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Today we launched our new petition and took pains to explain the background
(see Press Release - diary item 3rd April 2007). The petiton reads "We
record our dismay at the failure of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) to help the desperate people of Zimbabwe at their time of
trial.  We urge the UK government, and the European Union in general, to
suspend government to government aid to all 14 SADC countries until they
abide by their joint commitment to uphold human rights in the region."   The
petition may be controversial but many passers-by were happy to sign it.
Vigil supporters remain very angry at the lack of public condemnation of
human rights abuses in Zimbabwe by the governments of the SADC countries.

We were grateful to have Patson down with three carloads from Leicester. He
was also down on Wednesday and last Saturday.We are inspired by his
dedication.  It was also great to have Ancilla back complete with baby,
Prosper.  Unusually we were joined by 2 Muslim ladies, who signed our
petitions.  One of the ladies was from Somalia and said she knew what we
were going through.

The Vigil ended with a whipround for the family of the murdered news
cameraman, Edward Chikomba - we raised nearly £100.  Talking about raising
money for the suffering back home, Roy Bennett, Treasurer of the MDC, is
appealing for funds for medical expenses:

For this week's Vigil pictures:

FOR THE RECORD:  62 signed the register.

-   Monday, 9th April, there will be no Central London Zimbabwe Forum
because it is a public holiday.
-   Wednesday, 18th April, 2 - 5 pm - the second Belfast Vigil (to
mark Zimbabwean Independence Day). Venue to be advised.
-   Saturday, 21st April, 2 - 6 pm outside Zimbabwe House - special
Vigil to pray for Zimbabwe (but with the usual singing and dancing!)
-   Saturday, 28th April, 11 am - 3 pm. The Bristol Vigil meets under
the covered way, just near the Watershed, Canon's Road, Harbourside.

Vigil co-ordinator

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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Simmons call on the ICC to investigate Zimbabwe finances

Cricinfo staff

April 7, 2007

Phil Simmons: 'Where's all the money gone?' © Getty Images

Former Zimbabwe coach Phil Simmons has spoken out about the state of cricket
in country and called on the ICC to take action to investigate allegations
of mismanagement.

Simmons, who takes charge of Ireland after the World Cup, told that there were many things that needed looking into, with
the most pressing being the unanswered questions about the whereabouts of
the millions of dollars poured into the board in the last few years.

"Where's all the money gone? Because there's no new infrastructure, no new
grounds have been built. Where has the money gone?

And he warned things were only likely to get worse. "If things aren't run
properly, it's the players that you lose. They've lost so many players over
the years and they're going to lose a lot after this World Cup. A lot of
these youngsters are disillusioned with what's happening and they're going
to lose a lot of them straight after this World Cup because they're fed up
with all sorts of things.

"I think that the ICC should get a full independent audit team to go in and
go through all the books and find out where all this money went before they
decide to pay the millions they're meant to pay them now. Because all that's
going to happen is that those funds are going to disappear too. They should
also make sure that everyone who they owe money is paid before any money is
given to the organisation."

Simmons is owed more than US$100,000 by the board following his dismissal as
coach in 2005, and several other players, including Heath Streak and Andy
Blignaut, are believed to be claiming more than US$200,000. It is the manner
of his removal that grates as much as the money. "Even before they told me
that they were re-assigning me, Kevin Curran [the current coach] was down
there to take over so it must have meant that they had spoken to him before
they decided to re-assign me. They seemed pretty eager to get rid of me
because players were still coming to me for advice.

"They even tried to ship me out to Kenya, saying that Kenya wanted someone
to run their academy. If you look now a lot of players are still coming to
me and asking for advice."

Referring to reports that shortly after his dismissal almost all the
Zimbabwe players had signed a petition asking for his recall and saying they
did not want Curran, Simmons told "Well, if you sign a
petition saying that you don't want someone as your coach it means you don't
have any confidence in him. And as far as I've heard from the players
nothing has changed since then."

© Cricinfo

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A single brick now costs the same as a 1990 house as Zimbabwe inflation soars

Cape Times

April 09, 2007 Edition 2

Angus Shaw

THE economic chaos engulfing Zimbabwe has turned even a mundane task such as
renting a car into an unachievable dream for the average law-abiding

A car rental company on Saturday quoted a day rate of Z$690 000 to hire a
basic model, plus a deposit of Z$25 million. This is the equivalent of a
staggering US$2 760 per day - plus a deposit of US$100 000 - at the official
exchange rate, but only US$35 and US$1 250 respectively on the black market.

The figures provide an insight into the growth of the black market economy
in this once-prosperous nation, which is now reeling under hyperinflation of
over 1 700% and suffering from shortages of most basic goods.

Most analysts predict inflation will soar even further this year.

The number of Zimbabwe dollars that bought a three-bedroom house with a
swimming pool and tennis court in 1990 today - at official exchange rates -
would buy a single brick.

The independent Consumer Council estimates regular supermarket goods
increased in price by between 50 and 200% last month alone.

President Robert Mugabe blames sanctions, drought and former colonial power
Britain for the collapse of an economy based on exports of agricultural and
mineral products.

Others blame land grabs, in which Mugabe encouraged blacks to force out most
of the 5 000 white commercial farmers who owned 40% of all agricultural land
and produced 75% of agricultural output.

Zimbabwe's main foreign currency earnings comes from an estimated 3.5
million of its nationals living abroad, replacing tobacco exports, tourism
and mining revenues slashed in six years of political turmoil.

Zimbabweans abroad routinely send hard currency home to their families, much
of it ending up on the black market - and giving even impoverished villagers
the benefit of black market deals, making most of the population
lawbreakers, analysts say.

Currency violations carry the penalty of a fine or imprisonment in laws,
which are invoked often but mainly by political and business rivals seeking
to settle grudges.

Many Zimbabweans are prepared to run the risk, saying they have no choice as
the official rate is Z$250 to the US dollar, and the black market rate is
Z$20 000 to the US dollar.

For instance, a pack of six wax candles, traditionally used by the rural
poor but now essential in urban homes during frequent power outages, sold
for Z$47 000, which was US$188 by the official rate, or US$2.35 at the
unofficial one.

A can of soda water on Saturday cost Z$10 000, or US$40 at the official
rate, and 50 US cents at the black market rate. The shop price of a bottle
of imported Scotch whisky was about Z$500 000, or US$2 000 officially and
US$25 on the black market.

A Zimbabwean motorist wanting to rent a car on Saturday was told that the
Z$25 million deposit on a Volkswagen Chico was payable in cash - bundles of
it - or a bank certified cheque on a day banks were closed for Easter.

Automatic teller machines dispense a government-fixed maximum of Z$500 000 a
day, or US$2 000 officially and US$25 on the black market, to each account

"When we accept cash, it's obviously coming from the black market.

"We don't ask questions or we'd be out of business," said an official of the
rental company. - Sapa-AP

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Diplomacy need not be quiet

Pretoria News

April 09, 2007 Edition 1

America's ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell is being singled out by
President Robert Mugabe's government as public enemy number one because of
his increasingly frank and public criticism of the government.

This weekend he said that Zimbabwe had entered a new phase of brutality
since the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had failed to rein
Mugabe in after its recent summit in Tanzania.

"The mask is now off and we can see the beast for what it is," he said.

Much hope is now being pinned on the SADC summit's appointment of President
Mbeki to facilitate dialogue between Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) opposition towards a new political dispensation to
enable free and fair elections next year.

However, in an interview with Independent newspapers, Dell expressed great
scepticism about the SADC initiative, warning Mbeki and the SADC not to be
hoodwinked by Mugabe as they had been several times before.

Dell also said that there was little chance of real change in Zimbabwe with
Mugabe at the helm. This kind of frankness is, of course, really annoying
Mugabe and also, to a degree, other countries in the region, including our
own, which has been rejecting calls for what it calls "regime change".

Talking about regime change is presumably intended to evoke subliminal
images of the US launching cruise missiles to take out Mugabe's government
and install a pro-Western MDC "puppet regime".

This is of course nonsensical. America and the West are simply calling for
the political playing field to be levelled to give the opposition a fair
shot at power. In fact, Dell made it clear that he believed the MDC should
contest next year's elections - even if the political playing field had not
been levelled by then.

Democrats fight elections he said, however unfair those elections might be
and he warned the MDC that if it vacillated about its participation in the
expected March 2008 elections as it did about its participation in previous
elections, it would do itself and the cause of democracy further harm.

These were not exactly the words of a hawkish neocon calling for the violent
toppling of Robert Mugabe. This was a democrat calling on the government to
allow truly democratic elections and on the opposition to oppose Mugabe by
peaceful, democratic means.
Dell's suggestion that Mugabe might have to go before any real change
happened was not so radical either.

Even the ANC sent a delegation to Zanu-PF in December 2001 to try to
persuade it not to nominate Mugabe as a candidate for the March 2005
presidential elections.

But in the end, is Dell's increasingly critical stance helpful to the cause
of democracy?

It can be argued that he is playing into Mugabe's portrayal of the MDC as
mere stooges of the West.

Mugabe's propaganda got an apparent shot in the arm last week when the US
State Department issued a report in which it acknowledged that "to further
strengthen pro-democracy elements, the US government continues to support
the efforts of the political opposition, the media and civil society . "

The MDC rapidly distanced itself from the report which did indeed look like
another example of one arm of the State Department's vast bureaucracy not
knowing what the other was doing.

The report was written by the State Department to demonstrate to the US
Congress that it was fulfilling its congressional mandate to promote
democracy around the world.

Such blapses aside, though, one senses Dell is becoming increasingly vocal
out of growing frustration that all the SADC has done is yet again retreat
behind the facade of quiet diplomacy to leave Mugabe to beat the hell out of
his opponents with impunity.

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End to Mugabe's rule is in sight

The Canberra Times

09 April 2007

Cameron Ross

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe's extraordinary instinct for
survival has been underestimated before, but recent events suggest his
27-year grip on power could be in the initial stages of disintegration.
The national strike called for last week proved to be a damp squib,
with many Zimbabweans too poor to be able to afford to stay away from work.
Mugabe's candidacy for the 2008 presidential elections has been endorsed by
the ruling Zanu-PF party, but elsewhere pressure is building on the
President to step down.

The United States has admitted it is supporting opposition figures in
the country, and sponsoring events aimed at "discrediting" statements made
by Mugabe's Government. America (like Britain) does not support regime
change, but a State Department report issued last Thursday committed the US
to sponsoring "public events" that presented economic and social analyses
discrediting the Government's excuse for its failed policies. Speaking at
the launch of the report, a State Department official said the US had a duty
to speak out so Zimbabweans knew they had support.

Mugabe has long made effective propaganda out of perceptions of
western interference in Zimbabwe's affairs, and this State Department report
is likely to be further grist for the mill. As distasteful and embarrassing
as his regime is, Mugabe knows he can count on the support of his neighbours
whenever Zimbabwe is criticised by a "colonial" power.

There are a signs however, Mugabe has become an embarrassment to two
of his greatest supporters South Africa and his own Zanu-PF party. South
Africa's benign view of Mugabe's behaviour, rooted in notions of black
solidarity and the shared struggle to overthrow white supremacist colonial
regimes, has been the biggest outside influence on its hold on power. Were
it not for South African aid, Zimbabwe would have collapsed long ago.

But so blatant has Mugabe's behaviour become (especially last month's
attack on senior Zimbabwean opposition figures) that South African President
Thabo M'beki has been forced to back off in his support of the Zimbabwean
President. It has been reported that South African Government officials have
even had talks (described as "very positive") with senior members of the
Movement for Democratic Change, the best known of Zimbabwe's opposition
parties. Whether this was indicator of progress or a matter of international
window dressing is hard to divine. The African National Congress (the ruling
party in South Africa) has a barely disguised hostility toward the Movement
for Democratic Change. That antipathy is ideological and practical: the
congress sees the Movement for Democratic Change as a movement intent on
usurping the power of a government of national liberation. And it fears that
legitimising it could lead to the formation of a mass opposition in South

Many commentators hoped South Africa might take a more proactive role
at the March 28 meeting of the Southern African Development Community in
bringing Mugabe and the movement to the negotiating table. However the 14
regional leaders, charmed perhaps by Mugabe's assurances to respect human
rights and a commitment to freedom of expression, simply issued a
communique{aac} replete with boiler-plate expressions reaffirming their
"solidarity with the Government and people of Zimbabwe", and mandating Mbeki
to "continue to facilitate dialogue between the opposition and the

If Mugabe's fellow leaders are reluctant to take the matter further,
those within Zanu-PF are less inclined to see him continue in power
indefinitely. Although Mugabe recently secured the party's nomination for
the presidency, the desire for change has intensified. Those seen as
potential successors include a former parliamentary speaker Emmerson
Mnangagwa, former minister Simba Makoni, retired general and businessman
Solomon Jujure, and the current Vice-President Joice Muure. None is free of
the taint of corruption, brutality and incompetence that is synonymous with
Zanu-PF rule, which is bad news for millions of Zimbabweans, probably more
concerned with economic salvation than greater political freedoms. Whether
the opposition is capable of resurrecting what was once one of southern
Africa's most prosperous economies is questionable opposition parties have
demonstrated little capacity for anything other than disunity and
squabbling. Tragically for Zimbabweans, the politics of race has ensured few
in the international community are prepared to devote the attention to this
situation that it warrants. Mugabe needs to be persuaded to stand down
(preferably by his fellow Africans) so a unity government can be installed
and free elections arranged. The moves by the US to shore up the country's
opposition suggest this process is underway, but few ordinary Zimbabweans
have reason to count their blessings just yet.

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