ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer
August 12, 2008 12:46 PM
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Zimbabwe's opposition leader left crucial
power-sharing negotiations with longtime President Robert Mugabe with no
sign of a breakthrough Tuesday, two days after the talks began.
Movement for Democratic Change President Morgan Tsvangirai was stony faced
as he walked briskly from a Harare hotel to his car. He made no comment
other than to say the talks' mediator, South African President Thabo Mbeki,
would make a statement.
The opposition party's No. 2, Tendai Biti, denied the talks had broken down.
''The talks have not collapsed,'' he said. ''We are taking time out.''
Biti said the negotiations would ''most likely'' resume Wednesday. After
four hours of meetings, Mugabe and Mbeki apparently remained at the hotel.
The key stumbling block has been how much power Mugabe is willing to cede in
any unity government to the opposition movement, which gained a majority in
March parliamentary elections.
Mugabe gave a downbeat assessment Monday on the progress of the talks, which
began Sunday morning and havu dragged on longer than expected. When asked by
reporters if they were going well, he replied: ''Not exactly.''
Tsvangirai - who won the most votes in the March 29 presidential election,
but not enough to avoid a runoff - has said he could work with moderates
from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, but not with Mugabe.
But ZANU-PF and powerful police and army generals of the Joint Operational
Command insist Mugabe, who won the June runoff after Tsvangirai pulled out
because of widespread violence against his supporters, must remain
At a ceremony marking Armed Forces Day on Tuesday, Mugabe praised the
military and distributed medals to retired and serving military officers.
''It is a result of the alert, vigilant and patriotic manner they have
conducted their day to day duties,'' he said, promising more pay hikes and
housing for soldiers.
Independent monitors and human rights activists accuse the military of being
implicated in violence and intimidation targeting oppositi n supporters.
Human Rights Watch accused the ruling party and its allies of involvement in
the killings of at least 163 people, and the beatings and torture of more
than 5,000 others since the March elections.
The group said 32 opposition supporters have been killed since the June 27
runoff, and two since ZANU-PF and the opposition signed the memorandum of
understanding that paved the way for negotiations on a power-sharing
Mugabe's security and police chiefs reportedly are0worried that he will make
too many concessions at the power-sharing negotiations and strip them of
their privileges - and potentially their protection from prosecution.
One of the contentious issues is whether ZANU-PF would retain control over
the police and army in any power-sharing formula.
Mugabe, 84, and ZANU-PF have ruled Zimbabwe since the country gained
independence in 1980.
But the longtime president has come under international criticism for his
increasingly autocratic measures to hold onto power, including land reform
policies that have laid waste to the country's once-thriving agricultural
Zimbabwe now has the world's highest rate of inflation, with Zimbabweans
scrambling for jobs and basic goods and food.
August 12, 2008
Morgan Tsvangirai walks out of the talks.
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, stormed out of the power-sharing talks being held at the Rainbow Towers in Harare shortly before 8.00 pm.
He was in a pensive mood and refused to talk to waiting journalists.
“Mr Mbeki will issue a statement,” was all he said as he emerged from the hotel.
A source close to President Thabo Mbeki’s delegation said it appeared the expected deal had collapsed.
“What appears likely to happen now is that there will be a signing ceremony between President Mugabe and Mutambara, with provision for Tsvangirai to sign at a later stage,“ he said. “But as of now Tsvangirai has walked out of the talks and there is no indication he is returning soon.”
He said it appeared very likely Professor Arthur Mutambara would emerge from the talks as executive Prime Minister.
President Mbeki is expected to make an announcement any moment now.
August 12, 2008
Robert Mugabe yesterday rewarded the men who helped him steal Zimbabwe's
recent presidential election as talks on creating a power-sharing government
appeared to lose momentum.
Shortly before starting a third day of negotiations on ways to to end
Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis, the 84-year-old despot used a
ceremony honouring the country's military to decorate or promote the key
figures who prevented him being ousted by Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
The beneficiaries included George Chiweshe, head of the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission which ensured a second round of voting by denying Mr Tsvangirai
an outright majority in the first vote in March; Happyton Bonyongwe, head of
the Central Intelligence Organisation which is accused of seizing, torturing
and killing many MDC activists before the second vote in June; and Paradzai
Zimondi, the prison service chief who said he would never recognise a
Mr Mugabe also promised his military better pay and housing, and praised the
"alert, vigilant and patriotic manner they have conducted their day to day
The president's moves fuelled a growing sense of pessimism as his talks with
Mr Tsvangirai resumed at the Rainbow Towers hotel with South Africa's
President Thabo Mbeki mediating. The two foes had already talked for 14
hours on Monday and four on Tuesday.
They agree that Mr Mugabe should remain president, with Mr Tsvangirai as
prime minister, but MDC sources said Mr Mugabe was refusing to surrender
real powers to his nemesis.
Officials from Mr Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party said the talks were in danger of
collapse, and accused Mr Tsvangirai of "moving goal posts, forcing us to
negotiate issues we had already agreed on".
Aziz Pahad, South Africa's foreign minister, acknowledged the possibility of
failure when he told reporters that Mr Mbeki was scheduled to return to
South Africa last night and added: "If no agreement is reached the parties
must be encouraged to continue talking until a solution is found".
A report issued yesterday by Human Right Watch, the New-York based watchdog,
said the Mugabe regime's credibility as a negotiating partner was undermined
by the fact that it was continuing to repress MDC activists even as it
engaged in talks.
It claimed that hundreds of MDC activists remained in hiding, that Mugabe's
thugs swere continuing to terrorise rural areas, and that the regime had not
dismantled its torture camps. In the past four months it had killed 163
people and beaten or tortured 5,000 others. Of the 163 dead 32 had been
killed since June's run-off vote, and two since Zanu (PF) and the MDC agreed
a framework for talks.
August 12, 2008
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has showered glowing praises on Zimbabwe's
security forces for defending his government against perceived local and
Mugabe is the Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
"Our defence forces have stood the test of time and proved themselves to be
a true force for the nation," Mugabe said while addressing a capacity crowd
at Gwanzura stadium during the Zimbabwe Defence Forces day on Tuesday.
The crowd comprised staunch ruling Zanu-PF supporters as well as members of
the armed forces and their families who cheered the Zimbabwean leader as he
and Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga were driven around the
stadium on the back of an army truck.
"Since their formation, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have remained steadfast
in defending our national sovereignty, territorial integrity and interest as
well as the gains of our hard won independence," Mugabe said.
"This sterling achievement has overcome the numerous concerted efforts from
some sections of the international community to destabilize our peace and
stability and thus create confusion in our country.
"In short the Zimbabwe defence forces have demonstrated unparalleled
patriotism and professionalism in the way they have carried out their
constitutional role of defending our nation."
Mugabe accuses Britain of harboring plans to invade Zimbabwe .
Mugabe, who is said to be unpopular among the rank and file of the country's
security forces, pledged to continue reviewing the salaries and working
conditions of the country's security forces.
There is a public perception that Zimbabwe is now effectively under the
control of the army which masterminded his political survival after his
shock defeat in March this year.
Mugabe lost the ballot to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai during the first
round of Zimbabwe 's elections on March 29 this year.
But the margin of Tsvangirai's victory was not large enough to allow him to
form the next government.
Chiwenga, alongside the commanders of the police, air force, prison service
and intelligence service have vowed they will never salute any leader other
Soldiers were deployed into the countryside to unleash a violent campaign to
bolster Mugabe's prospect of victory in the presidential election re-run
held on June 27.
The exercise, code-named Operation Mavhotera Papi (Who did you vote for),
was allegedly sponsored by government to intimidate voters before the
During the period, the police were under instruction not to arrest Zanu-PF
perpetrators of violence of process any complaints by MDC supporters.
At Gwanzura Mugabe promised to improve the working conditions of the defence
forces. The salaries which have been constantly reviewed of late are now
among the best for civil servants in the country. Members of the armed
forces are generally treated differently from the rest of the population.
Recently, the Reserve Bank passed an order to compel banks to allow soldiers
to withdraw Z$1.5 trillion (now $150), an amount that was 15 times higher
than the maximum withdrawal limits for ordinary Zimbabweans.
"In the face of the hyper-inflationary environment obtaining in the country,
the government continues to cushion the defence forces by awarding them
regular cost of living adjustments," Mugabe said.
"I would also like to register the country's appreciation of the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe's move to provide 21 vehicles to army doctors under the
Zimbabwe health service retention scheme.
"The Zimbabwe Defence Forces have also received substantial financial
support from the Reserve Bank which enables them to procure blankets,
mattresses and vehicle tyres among other things," he said.
Mugabe also thanked China for facilitating the procurement of military
clothing material to the army.
The Zimbabwe government came under scathing criticism in April this year
after buying an assortment of artillery from China while millions were
The saber-rattling leader has never hesitated to unleash the army whenever
his rule has been under threat.
Between 1981 and 1987, he deployed the notorious North Korean-trained Five
Brigade that killed innocent and unarmed civilians estimated at up to 20 000
in Matebeleland and the Midlands regions.
The army has also accounted for the lion's share of the national budget, far
ahead of other key sectors such health and education.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
22:00 Mecca time, 19:00 GMT
The leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
left power-sharing talks in a Harare hotel, prompting fears the negotiations
may be close to collapse.
Morgan Tsvangirai gave no comment as left the third-day of talks with Robert
Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, and Arthur Mutambara, head of a smaller
MDC faction, on Tuesday
The talks have already continued for three days, longer than initially
"The longer these talks have lasted the further away it appears there is any
possibility of a settlement," Mike Hanna, Al Jazeera's correspondent in
Johannesburg, South Africa, said.
"It's been quite clear in these three days of ongoing negotiations there are
still substantive differences between the parties ... and now the talks
appear to have ground to a halt with Morgan Tsvangirai's decision to leave
"It's not clear if this is a permanent withdrawal from the negotiations."
The three Zimbabwean leaders have said little publicly about the details of
their meetings and all refused comment as they arrived for Tuesday's
Asked if a deal was close, Mutambara's chief negotiator, Welshman Ncube,
said: "We don't know, but we're praying."
Pressure has been building for the political rivals to resolve the crisis,
which intensified after Mugabe's controversial re-election in June.
Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, has been mediating the Zimbabwe
talks, but was due to fly home later on Tuesday.
"It's unknowable when a deal will be reached but the president is due back
from Zimbabwe later today," Mbeki spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga told AFP.
Earlier in the day Mugabe gave a speech in honour of the country's army and,
unlike in the past, avoided inflammatory comments about the opposition.
But he did, however, make a brief reference to international criticism of
"Since their formation, the Zimbabwe defence forces have remained steadfast
in defending our national sovereignty, territorial integrity and interests
as well as our hard-won independence," Mugabe said.
"These sterling achievements have overcome numerous concerted efforts from
some sections of the international community to destabilise our peace and
stability and thus cause confusion in our country."
Little about the negotiations has been released to the media, but the talks
have reportedly included proposals for Mugabe to take on a more ceremonial
role in exchange for amnesty from prosecution, with Tsvangirai being made
executive prime minister.
But political analysts have suggested Mutambara could hold the key to the
Members of the former robotics professor's MDC faction could bolster either
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party or Tsvangirai's main MDC party in the lower house of
Chris McGreal in Harare
Tuesday August 12 2008 18:35 BST
Talks to resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis were on the brink of collapse
tonight as Robert Mugabe refused to surrender control of the government,
despite losing the country's last credible election.
South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, who has been mediating the
negotiations, was making a final push to reach agreement before heading back
But the two sides remained far apart as the opposition leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, continued to insist that democracy be respected.
Mbeki arrived on Sunday with his aides predicting an agreement within the
day in the hope that a new government and parliament would be installed this
week, permitting Mbeki to claim a success at a regional heads of government
summit in Johannesburg this weekend.
But although Tsvangirai had endorsed a plan for Mugabe to remain president
with a largely ceremonial function, the opposition said it became apparent
Zimbabwe's ruler for the 28 years since independence did not intend to give
Zanu-PF is trying to reach a deal with the leader of a small breakaway
Movement for Democratic Change faction, Arthur Mutambara, whose 10 seats in
parliament hold the balance of power. Mutambara's statements in recent days
indicate that he is receptive to Mugabe's overtures.
But even if Mugabe were to draw Mutambara in, and then claim to have formed
a coalition government with the opposition, it is unlikely to open the door
to the foreign money needed to stabilise Zimbabwe's wrecked economy,
collapsing under the weight of inflation likely to rise to about 50m% this
Human Rights Watch today said the state-orchestrated campaign of violence
that crushed support for Tsvangirai in June's presidential run-off election,
after he won the first round of voting three months earlier, had claimed the
lives of at least 163 opposition activists and supporters. The group said 32
people have been murdered in political violence since the election.
Troubled power-sharing talks between the government and the opposition
in Zimbabwe entered the third day Tuesday, with diminishing hopes that the
two sides are close to agreement.
Tuesday 12 August 2008
South African President Thabo Mbeki is mediating in the talks between
President Robert Mugabe and two opposition leaders, which are focused on
hammering out a deal to share power to end a long-running stand-off between
the two sides.
The talks have been on-off for the last three days, dashing earlier hopes
that an agreement was close.
Both the government and opposition are claiming the presidency after
disputed presidential elections two months ago.
This prompted the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) to appoint Mbeki to mediate between the two sides, and
press for a Kenya-style power-sharing deal.
But officials close to the negotiations say the roles and powers of the
respective party leaders in a government of national unity had led to
disagreements which was holding up a deal.
Under an outline deal leaked to the media, President Mugabe was to retain
the presidency, and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai the
But insiders say Tsvangirai is insisting on executive powers, leaving Mugabe
as just a ceremonial head of state.
The Zimbabwean leader is said to be furiously resisting his opponent's
demands, leading to a deadlock in the crisis talks.
Mbeki, who has had to extend his stay in Zimbabwe from two to four days now,
is keen for a deal in Zimbabwe ahead of a SADC meeting this weekend in South
He has come under fire in the past for not pushing the two sides, especially
Mugabe, hard into a compromise to end the country's long-running political
By Alex Bell
12 August 2008
As the progress of the power-sharing talks between ZANU PF and the MDC
remains a closely guarded secret, pressure is building on the leaders of the
Southern African Development Community to intervene in the continuing human
rights violations in Zimbabwe.
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday released a report detailing the ongoing abuses
taking place in Zimbabwe, while the talks rage on behind closed doors. Three
weeks after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, violence has
reduced but continues and millions are dealing with abuse of a far more
sinister nature - starvation.
The report titled "They beat me like a dog": Political Persecution of
Opposition Activists and supporters in Zimbabwe is based on eyewitness
accounts from newly elected MDC MPs, councilors, activists, perceived MDC
supporters and others, to demonstrate the serious nature of abuses committed
by ZANU PF supporters, government-backed youth militia and "war veterans" in
the weeks leading up to the June 27 presidential runoff. These abuses
include killings, beatings, abductions and torture.
The cases documented include the death of police officer Kingswell Muteta
last month, who was brutally beaten by a group of ZANU PF supporters and war
veterans for visiting MDC supporters and sympathising with them. The beating
occurred after he visited his mother in Mudzi who had recently been beaten
by the same group of thugs. The report also details the horrific torture and
intimidation endured by MDC activists since the June 27 run-off that has
left at least 60 activists dead - at least three since the signing of the
MOU. The government ban on humanitarian food aid is also listed as an
ongoing abuse against MDC supporters, with the report saying that crucial
food aid is being used as a "political weapon" by the government against
those who need it most.
The report says that "no durable solution to the political crisis in
Zimbabwe can be found unless the human rights violations that are at the
root cause of the crisis are addressed". The organisation also used the
report to call on SADC leaders to intervene saying more is needed than "mere
facilitation" by South African President Thabo Mbeki. The report say the
crisis "requires strong and principled action by SADC leaders and SADC as an
institution" to make it clear to Robert Mugabe and his party that a
resolution can only be reached "if his government acts immediately to end
human rights violations".
The organisation has also called on SADC to put pressure on Mugabe's
government to, among other measures, ensure that those people implicated in
serious human rights abuses are excluded from any future government. The
report highlighted the country's history of impunity for perpetrators of
human rights abuses and says that "accountability for serious past crimes is
the foundation for a durable transition and Zimbabwe's longer term political
The report also says SADC should "consider excluding Zimbabwe from any
future summits and meetings of the regional body" should the government fail
to initiate these measures.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
August 12, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - Members of the Joint Operations Command who stood by President
Robert Mugabe in his hour of greatest need after he suffered humiliating
defeat in the presidential election held in March have been rewarded for
Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi has announced the promotion by President
Robert Mugabe of two JOC members as well the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
chairman, George Chiweshe, from the rank of brigadier general to that of
Chiweshe, a lawyer by profession, who was the central figure in the
controversial March 29 harmonised and June 27 presidential election re-run,
was honoured in retirement from the army. He was appointed a Judge of the
High Court on retirement from the army but was subsequently appointed to
head the ZEC thereafter.
Chiweshe's role in the two elections has been steeped in controversy as he
has been accused of bias in favour of Zanu-PF. His major failure was to
delay the announcement of the election results by up to five weeks in the
case of the presidential election and without offering any plausible
explanation for the delay. The fact that Zanu-PF and the MDC were awarded
almost similar results in the parliamentary, presidential and Senate
elections virtually confirmed in the public mind the allegation of
manipulation in favour of Zanu-PF.
Morgan Tsvangirai won the presidential election by too narrow a margin for
him to form a new government, resulting in the staging of a second
presidential election on June 27. Tsvangirai boycotted this election at the
last minute leaving Mugabe to win the ensuing one-candidate poll "by a
Retired brigadier generals Happyton Bonyongwe, Paradzai Zimondi and Richard
Ruwodo were also promoted to the rank of major general.
Bonyongwe who is the director of the Central Intelligence Organisation and
Zimondi who heads the prison service both sit on the Joint Operations
Command which has effectively usurped executive powers from Mugabe. The JOC,
which also includes Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and Air Marshall
Perrence Shiri is headed by Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine
Meetings are chaired by Emmerson Mnangagwa, Minister of Rural Housing.
Mnangagwa, who was Zimbabwe's first minister of state security is said to be
extremely wealth. His name has been linked to various allegations of corrupt
Mnangagwa's aide, Lawrence Tanda, is a member of the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission . A source recently described Tanda as "Mnangagwa's man on the
The JOC is accused of master-minding the wave of brutal violence that
engulfed Zimbabwe after Mugabe lost the March 29 elections. The strategy was
to ensure that Mugabe would be re-elected on June 27 at any cost. Chiwenga,
Chihuri and Zimondi are on record as swearing they will never salute a
president other than Mugabe, least of all one who did not participate in the
war of liberation. This was a thinly veiled reference to Tsvangirai.
Sources say the future of the JOC members is one of the so-called sticky
points now delaying the ongoing power-sharing negotiations, which have
forced mediator South African President Mbeki to extend his stay in Harare
beyond the original two days as intended.
Brigadier General Engelbert Rugeje was also promoted to Major General. He
was assigned to take charge of the campaign of brutal violence in Masvingo
between April and June. Masvingo was one of the provinces most hard-hit by
the violence, which left hundreds of MDC officials and activists dead and
thousands injured or displaced nationwide.
The announcement of the promotions in the middle of sensitive negotiations
between Zanu-PF and the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai is not likely to
facilitate the way to an amicable solution.
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA Aug 12 2008 16:53
Zimbabwe's rival parties should push on with talks even if President Robert
Mugabe and the opposition fail to clinch a power-sharing deal this week,
South Africa's deputy foreign minister said Tuesday.
"If there is a successful outcome to the talks it will be a plus," Aziz
Pahad told reporters as South African President Thabo Mbeki spent a third
day in neighbouring Zimbabwe leading mediation. "But if no agreement is
reached, the parties must be encouraged to continue talking until a solution
The talks come ahead of a Southern African Development Community (SADC)
summit this weekend in South Africa, with Botswana threatening to boycott
the gathering of the 14-nation bloc if Mugabe clings to power without a
"President Thabo Mbeki is of course expected to give a report to the summit
on the mediation process because he has been mandated as the facilitator by
SADC," said Pahad.
Mbeki arrived in Harare late on Saturday, with Mugabe, opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara,
the head of a smaller MDC faction, holding hours of talks on Sunday and
A third day of negotiations was set for Tuesday.
Mbeki has been criticised for his quiet diplomacy approach to the country's
political and economic crisis.
Mugabe was re-elected in a June run-off poll after Tsvangirai boycotted the
vote, despite finishing ahead of Mugabe in the March first round, citing
rising violence against his supporters.
Mugabe marked Armed Forces Day on Tuesday by praising Zimbabwe's army before
going into the power-sharing negotiations with the opposition.
At a ceremony marking the public holiday, Mugabe made no reference to the
talks but heaped praise on the military, which independent monitors and
human rights activists accuse of being implicated in violence and
intimidation targeting opposition supporters.
He thanked the army for keeping peace in Zimbabwe. "It is a result of the
alert, vigilant and patriotic manner they have conducted their day-to-day
duties," he said, promising more pay hikes and housing for soldiers.
Mugabe distributed medals to retired and serving military officers,
including hard-line loyalists who now occupy top government posts.
Among them was a member of the joint operational command who, along with
other senior military officers, vowed before the polls never to salute
Tsvangirai if he won the presidency.
George Chiweshe, a retired brigadier general who heads the state electoral
commission, received the medal of the Grand Officer of the Zimbabwe Order of
Merit, the country's second-highest award, alongside former general Happyton
Bonyongwe, current head of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Mugabe's
feared secret police agency.
The awards came as Human Rights Watch said the ruling party and its allies
were implicated in the killings of at least 163 people, and the beatings and
torture of more than 5 000 others since the March elections.
Thirty-two were killed after the June 27 run-off, and two since Zanu-PF and
the opposition signed a memorandum of understanding that paved the way for
negotiations, the rights group said.
Mugabe's security and police chiefs reportedly are worried that he will make
too many concessions at the power-sharing negotiations and strip them of
their privileges -- and potentially their protection from prosecution. --
SW Radio Africa (London)
12 August 2008
Posted to the web 12 August 2008
A senior UN official, included in Zimbabwe's talks as part of a reference
group, is now back in New York after Mugabe's government blocked his
assessment visit last Friday.
Haile Menkerios, the United Nations Assistant Secretary General for
political affairs, was stuck in South Africa last week after being told he
was not welcome in Zimbabwe. He was due to hold meetings with both ZANU PF
and MDC officials before concluding his trip Saturday. But this never
happened, even though some reports had suggested the UN was going to extend
Last week Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UN, Boniface Chidyausiku, claimed the
talks had reached a delicate stage and they did not want outside
interference. 'Why does he want to engage in a parallel process?' he asked.
An MDC official close to the talks told Newsreel it was Mbeki himself who
blocked Menkerios from traveling to Harare. 'This issue (mediation) is very
personal for Mbeki and he wants to control everything. It seems he wants to
take all the credit if the talks succeed,' the official said.
Menkerios was included in the talks as part of a high level reference group,
seconded to the talks on the insistence of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who
made no secret of his lack of confidence in Mbeki's mediation. The other
members of the Group are the African Union and Southern African Development
Community. The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the negotiators came
about as a result of all 3 parties agreeing on the need for this reference
group to be on hand for the talks. The MDC have resisted the urge to
complain about the sidelining of Menkerios, saying they were still in
constant consultations with the UN envoy.
With a deadlock seemingly looming in the talks, questions are being asked as
to what role the UN envoy was meant to play if any in the process.
All the groups agreed to the expansion but to date no meaningful role has
been assigned to Menkerios or the other members of the group. No explanation
has been provided as to why ZANU PF and Mugabe are reluctant to meet the UN
envoy. What is clear however is that ZANU PF has already violated several
clauses in the Memorandum of Understanding. The violence has not completely
stopped, the reference group is not taking part in the process and Mugabe
publicly spoke about the negotiations during his Heroes Day speech, despite
the confidentiality clause.
By Tichaona Sibanda
12 August 2008
There are a number of indications that South African President Thabo Mbeki
might fail to deliver a Zimbabwe power-sharing deal to his SADC peers, when
they meet for the upcoming summit which starts on Saturday in Johannesburg.
Mbeki is under pressure to show results before he hosts the summit, which
appointed him to find a solution to the country's crisis that is undermining
regional security. But so far, his power sharing push has hit a political
On Monday the South African leader had to personally intervene to restrain
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai from walking out of the talks, after a heated
exchange of words with Robert Mugabe.
A source in Harare told us it would be a miracle if Mbeki secured a deal
before Saturday's summit.
The talks came to a boil when Tsvangirai told Mugabe point blank that while
he could work with Zanu-PF moderates he could not share power with him.
'Mugabe furiously went into a tirade, calling Tsvangirai names and accused
him of being used by Western leaders. An equally angry Tsvangirai hit back
accusing Mugabe of being a murderer, who hangs on to power by using
violence,' our source said.
It was allegedly at this juncture that Mugabe told Tsvangirai the talks
could go ahead without him, at which point the MDC leader retorted; 'well
thank you we are done here, we are walking out of the talks.'
Apparently Mbeki intervened and convinced Tsvangirai not to leave. It is now
an open secret that the negotiating parties are still worlds apart on the
key issue -- who will assume executive powers. If Mbeki fails to resolve
this, sources say the talks will collapse. There are also reports Tsvangirai
is fighting a lone battle at the talks, as it seems Mugabe, Arthur
Mutambrara and Mbeki are all pressuring him to accept the post of Prime
Minister, minus executive powers.
Political analyst Isaac Dziya blames the failure so far of the
'power-sharing deal' squarely on Mbeki, whom he accuses of approaching the
crisis talks 'without honest intentions.'
'SADC should tell it to his face Saturday that he has failed. He announced
the formation of a reference group comprising officials from the UN, AU and
SADC but no one from this group is at the talks in Harare. If Mbeki was
serious and honest, he would have invited this group along to Harare,' Dziya
He added that the breakdown of talks will pose a big problem for Mbeki this
weekend as Botswana has reiterated it will boycott the SADC summit, if
Mugabe is invited as a head of state.
At the centre of this political vortex is that SADC member states are
reportedly split on whether to allow Mugabe to attend or not.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Violet Gonda
12 August 2008
The power sharing talks between ZANU PF and the MDC formations are said to
have reached a critical point, as the dispute over the distribution of
executive powers remains unresolved. The ZANU PF rational is that Robert
Mugabe is the 'legitimately elected leader' and so he should remain as
executive President, and they are apparently pumping pressure on Morgan
Tsvangirai to capitulate and accept a position of Prime Minister, with
limited powers. Tsvangirai is refusing to accept this, resulting in the
talks breaking off on Monday night.
The MDC leader won the first round of the Presidential election on March
29th but Mugabe grabbed victory in an undemocratic run off on June 27th
where he stood unopposed. The MDC boycotted the run-off citing a campaign of
violence that had decimated its structures and killed hundreds of people and
displaced many tens of thousands.
The political parties reconvened Tuesday afternoon to see if they could
re-negotiate the issues, but journalists and commentators close to the talks
said it was unlikely that a deal would be signed in this round. It is
reported Tsvangirai nearly walked out of the talks on Monday night, but was
persuaded by South African President Thabo Mbeki to remain in the meeting.
It is generally felt that a good deal will not come out of the talks, as
Mugabe has over the years shown that he is not a man to just concede or give
up power. Observers have asked that if Mbeki is failing to pull a deal as
mediator, why doesn't he bring in the African Union and United Nations to
help. They all agreed to widen the mediation but there seems to be a game
being played, blocking the support facilitators. While this is going on
systematic violence against MDC structures continues and food aid is still
being politicised and millions face starvation.
Meanwhile, Zimbabweans await the outcome of the talks. There are fears that
if the talks collapse ZANU PF will confirm that it's a party incapable of
reform and a dangerous party to remain in power. It is this issue of
violence that the regime is using as a weapon to put pressure on the MDC to
There are many who believe it might be better for the MDC to pull out of the
talks. Arnold Tsunga the Director of the Africa Programme of the
International Commission of Jurists said, "If the talks completely breakdown
that might actually be better in terms of creating a basis for a sustainable
resolution of the crisis, around democratic values."
Well known anti apartheid activist Allan Boesak said recently that the talks
'should no longer be about making a pact with the devil, but about securing
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
12 August 2008
Court orders reinstatement of journalists suspended for not reporting
positively on President Mugabe's electoral campaign
SOURCE: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Windhoek
(MISA/IFEX) - The Labour Court has ordered the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC) to reinstate immediately, without loss of salary or
benefits, six journalists who were suspended in June 2008.
The six - Lawrence Maphosa (television production manager), Patrice Makova
(news editor), Sibonginkosi Mlilo (executive producer, Nhau/Indaba), Monica
Gavera (executive producer-national language) and reporters Brian Paradza,
Robert Tapfumaneyi and Garikai Chaunza - were suspended on allegations that
they were "acting in a manner inconsistent with the fulfilment of the
implied conditions" of their contracts. MISA-Zimbabwe is reliably informed
that the journalists were actually suspended for not reporting positively on
President Robert Mugabe's campaign for the 29 March elections. Henry
Muradzikwa, ZBC's chief executive officer, was fired after the same
elections on similar allegations of not supporting President Mugabe.
In nullifying the suspensions, Labour Court judges Justice Gladys Mhuri and
Justice Eauna Makamure ruled that the suspensions were "dubious" and
"The ZBC had sent my clients on forced leave from 1 June to 31 July but the
judge said it was illegal for the management to do that. They can now go
back to work," said the journalists' lawyer, Rogers Matsikidze.
The suspensions came barely a month after the dismissal of Muradzikwa on 14
May for defying ministerial orders to deny the opposition Movement of
Democratic Change (MDC) favourable coverage in the run-up to the 29 March
elections. Over the same period, there were also reports that senior
government officials were holding meetings with personnel in the state media
in an effort to ensure that they would cover the president's party, ZANU PF,
in a positive light.
Updates alert on the purging of journalists at ZBC:
For further information on the Muradzikwa case, see:
For further information, contact Kaitira Kandjii, Regional Director,
Rashweat Mukundu, Programme Specialist, or Chilombo Katukula, Media Freedom
Monitoring and Research Officer, MISA
By Alex Bell
12 August 2008
South Africa's trade union federation COSATU, plus some civil society
organisations, on Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment to the fight for
democracy in Zimbabwe and pledged to intensify the struggle to achieve this
The groups gathered at the COSATU-convened Zimbabwe - Swaziland Solidarity
Conference and said in a statement that "electoral fraud, political
manipulation by ruling elites, institutionalised oppression and state
brutality" are the defining features of both states, and added that the
"organised power of the working class will break the back of this organised
The groups reiterated that no government in Zimbabwe will be recognised,
until an environment for free and fair elections is established. The groups
also echoed the call for political violence to end and the ban on
humanitarian aid to be lifted, if such an environment is to exist. The
groups again called for a transitional government to be formed instead of an
"elitist power sharing agreement" and emphasised that the leader of this
transitional government should be impartial and not a member of either ZANU
PF or the MDC.
The groups, headed by COSATU are set to hold a mass campaign against the
"illegitimate" government of Robert Mugabe at this weekend's SADC summit in
Johannesburg. Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi used his opening address at
the Solidarity Conference on Sunday to urge COSATU members and civil society
groups to join in the protest march on Saturday to show their "disgust" at
Mugabe's expected presence. He said: "We want a total isolation of Mugabe
and his cronies".
Vavi on Tuesday said the isolation of Mugabe will continue and said a week
long boycott of goods bound for Zimbabwe will be launched next month,
throughout the SADC region. Vavi said the boycott is a bid to put pressure
on Mugabe to concede power and end the ongoing suffering in his country.
Vavi added that that all workers across the region must refuse to serve
Mugabe and his cronies "so as to ensure that they indeed feel the heat of
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
12 August 2008
Posted to the web 12 August 2008
The Zimbabwe crisis continues to capture headlines as negotiations enter a
third week. Last week, AllAfrica sat down with Rejoice Ngwenya, a Zimbabwean
writer and intellectual who was visiting Washington DC at the invitation of
the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. In the interview, Ngwenya, who
also serves as a policy adviser to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
but does not speak for the party, discusses the current crisis, the economy,
and why he thinks his country was better under the rule of Ian Smith than
Robert Mugabe. Excerpts:
What do you think the outcome of the negotiations will be?
These talks are going to collapse eventually for two reasons. First of all,
Robert Mugabe can never play second fiddle to anybody. Mugabe has only had
two jobs in his life: he has been a teacher in Ghana and he has been the
president in Zimbabwe. So it would be a gigantic act of historical
transformation if he accepted to be a non-executive president. Politicians
want political power. They are not interested in clean air and fish in the
ocean. Morgan Tsvangirai wants to be in charge of the government, so any
arrangement that does not put him into the seat of authority and control, he
might also be very reluctant to accept.
[The negotiators on both sides] are very brilliant guys. You can imagine
that Zimbabweans... trust the judgment of the guys. But Mugabe is a bad
negotiator. He's a bad man. He's an evil man. He is the kind of person who
negotiates with an AK-47 behind his back. We just hope... there's going to
be some kind of large-scale compromises between Mugabe's demand for
executive authority and Morgan's demand to be the leader of the house. But
we have our reservations.
What do you consider the role of outsiders - the African Union, the United
States, China - if the talks collapse or if there is a government of
The role of SADC [the Southern African Development Community] and the AU
[African Union] is still critical in attempting to resolve the crisis. But
they've got a limited role in the sense that they can take the political
horse to the river, but they can't make it drink. The AU and SADC are
playing a very good role in overseeing the processes and ensuring that
[they]. are not defeated by personal interests. Well, they may not be doing
it well but at least their presence is very important.
Now, if the negotiations succeed, what we would want to ask the AU to do is,
during the process of transition, to put in a peacekeeping force because
Mugabe still has a certain semblance of influence over the military. If the
AU does not have a military force... you are not going to be able to
neutralize Mugabe's military stake... The African [Union] peacekeeping force
can... ensure that there is no further violation of human rights and
bloodshed. Once there is a force that neutralizes fear, that makes it
[possible]. for people... to live their lives in a normal way, then they can
begin to start thinking about ideas and projects where they can create
How feasible do you think it would be for Tsvangirai or Mugabe to accept an
For Tsvangirai it's not going to be a problem. But Mugabe might argue that
since we have agreed, and since we have set up parameters of mutual respect,
why do we need an intervention force? The only person in Zimbabwe who can
demilitarize the institutions of governance in Zimbabwe is either Mugabe or
an external force. Police have already put it on record more than three
times in eight months that "We will never ever support anyone who does not
have liberation war credentials." What is it that it's going to take to
change their minds? Mugabe. If Mugabe does not tell them to change their
minds, they are going to disregard the authority of the transitional
authority. They need a military force they can respect. I don't think Morgan
Tshvangirai has got that capacity.
Some argue that really the military is in control in Zimbabwe. Is Mugabe
still the one in power?
It's a complete fallacy. Each and every element of governance in Zimbabwe,
as contaminated as it is, is under the command of Mugabe. The carnage and
the brutality that is happening in Zimbabwe falls squarely in the lap of
Mugabe. Mugabe can never ever cede authority to anybody. I mean, you are
talking about a guy who neutralized Mr. Joshua Nkomo.
What do you think of the exclusion of civil society from negotiations?
Civil society is a watchdog entity. [It] has no role to play in [talks]
because [it is] supposed to be watching the process and hoping for slip-ups
then they can point out that, "Your agreement does not take into account
human rights," "Your agreement does not take into account the protection of
democratic space," which is what their core business is...
This is where civil society comes in: anybody who has got a list of
violations of human rights and where there's proof that [someone] has been
responsible for abducting and raping and killing citizens, [he] must face
justice. Mugabe is one of them.
Do you think the economic situation will force Zanu-PF to make concessions?
At one time, not far back, when inflation was about 10,000 percent,
economists were busy writing models that if inflation goes beyond 30,000
[percent] there's going to be an implosion and suddenly everybody will stop
going to work and things are going to collapse. But now inflation is 15
million percent, and people are still trying to get to work. So it would
seem to me that the theory of implosion is not going to work.
Unfortunately, Zimbabweans have a certain residual resilience... Zimbabweans
can improvise. There are about 2 million Zimbabweans outside Zimbabwe,
gainfully employed, remitting literally one million U.S. dollars every week.
And that is the money that is driving the economy.
You have said in the past that your country was better under the racist rule
of Ian Smith than it is under the current government. Do you still think
The oppression and the violation of human rights in Rhodesia was done with a
certain semblance of humanity. Ian Smith had his own excesses, but we were
in a state of war, it was a contest between the colonialists and the
indigenous people of Zimbabwe and we accepted that it was a civil war. Smith
was very clever. He never tampered with the market economy... The
engineering industry was more advanced than South Africa. We had the best
tourism in the world. We had the best education system in the world. There
was not a single time that my parents ever told me when I was going to
school that I was not going to be able to get this and that because it's not
in the shops. There was not a single time when I woke up in Rhodesia when I
was 19 years old that I never had a cup of tea with milk and bread. But
today there's no milk, there's no bread, there's no sugar in Zimbabwe.
I'm saying, Rhodesia was better than Zimbabwe now. And there are no
political dynamics, there are no racial innuendos. We are simply saying,
despite having to operate under sanctions and blockade, Ian Smith had a more
sensible economic blueprint because he never tampered with the market
economy. He allowed industrialists and businesspersons to run business the
way business is run.
What kinds of policies would you suggest to stabilize Zimbabwe's economy?
Consider somebody who has been run over by a train and is lying in the road.
What do you do first? You need, first of all, to get their heart to start
beating. Once we get our politics right, then we can establish institutions
that are legitimate, institutions that everybody has confidence in. I'm
talking about institutions of liberty and democracy.
If there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe, if anybody can just pick up a gun
and shoot anybody, if businesspersons are being arrested for selling bread
over the regulated prices - as long as we don't have a political solution
that restores confidence in the institutions of governance, we cannot talk
Economically speaking, maybe the best thing is to reconstitute the Reserve
Bank so that we can curb its huge appetite for printing worthless money. We
don't want to talk about the World Bank, the IMF (International Monetary
Fund). We don't want to see them anywhere near Zimbabwe ... We don't want to
have huge injections of foreign money because the geopolitics that we have
now is not capable of running any aid program.
I would rather that we first of all restore the confidence we had [by]
resuscitating industry. We can get. support through the African Development
Bank, but we need to have a scenario where industry begins to run. All the
raw materials are there in Zimbabwe: we have the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
for tourism... we have gold mines, we have coal mines for thermal power
stations, so we have the resources. We don't actually need aid. What we need
is a change of mentality so that we move out of this cycle of poverty that
has engulfed our minds. Then we can begin to start producing our goods and
We can see in Zimbabwe the last agony of an aged national liberation
movement, since in a genuinely free election Zanu-PF would have been reduced
to a tiny residual sub-culture. It is a frightening example for South Africa’s
ANC, watching Zanu-PF take its own people hostage to force them to keep to
By RW Johnson
The sequence of events which produced the current deadlock in Zimbabwe began
on 11 March 2007 when a number of activists and leaders of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), including its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, were
arrested, tortured and beaten.
The pictures of Tsvangirai as he emerged from hospital, his head so swollen
that he could not see, went round the world. He had a cracked skull and
needed extensive blood transfusions. One of Tsvangirai’s bodyguards, who had
been beaten along with him, later died of his injuries; another MDC activist
was shot dead; and scores more were tortured and beaten. But it was the TV
footage of Tsvangirai, smuggled out of the country, that exposed the Mugabe
regime so badly. If this was what could be done to the leader of the main
and non-violent opposition party, everyone could understand the rest in an
instant. An unprecedented volume of international protest and condemnation
poured in, so vociferous that even Thabo Mbeki’s South Africa, Mugabe’s most
loyal supporter, expressed concern and politely asked the Zimbabwean
government “to ensure that the rule of law including respect for rights of
all Zimbabweans and leaders of various political parties is respected” (see
“South Africa: not yet post-colonial”). Mugabe realised the harm the TV
footage had done and tracked down the cameraman who had taken the pictures,
Edward Chikombo. He was abducted from his house in Harare. His body was
discovered some days later.
The international repercussions of these events were so severe as to cause a
change in tactics by Mugabe and Mbeki. Mbeki’s fundamental position was that
Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party must, as a fellow national liberation movement
(NLM), be maintained in power at all costs. The NLMs of southern Africa are,
according to this theory, those movements which successfully used armed
struggle to overthrow white rule – that is, the ruling parties of Angola,
Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. In Mbeki’s and Mugabe’s
minds, western imperialism is engaged in a struggle to overthrow the NLMs
and restore, if it can, the preceding regimes – apartheid, colonialism or
white settler rule. In so doing, imperialism will make use of various local
parties as their lackeys – Inkatha and the Democratic Alliance in South
Africa, Renamo in Mozambique, Unita in Angola – and the MDC in Zimbabwe.
Faced with this onslaught, in which Zimbabwe is currently the weakest link,
the other NLMs must defend Zanu-PF to the death, for if Zimbabwe “falls”,
then South Africa and the others will become the next target.
Ever since the Zimbabwe crisis first erupted in 2000, Mbeki had seen his
role as one of giving firm support to Mugabe (while insisting he was using
“quiet diplomacy” to solve the problem) who was thus to be given a breathing
space in which he could carry through his land revolution against the white
farmers, extirpate the imperialist lackeys of the MDC – and then
re-stabilise his country, with Zanu-PF regaining its de facto position of
unchallenged single party. The problem was that Mugabe had damaged his
economy beyond repair by getting rid of the white farmers. So the economy
and society would not stabilise – decline continued rapidly – and the MDC,
despite endless persecution, refused to disappear. Now Mugabe had made a yet
further and energetic attempt to make them disappear, but the result had
been a massive international reaction which had shaken all the states of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Most of these states are not ruled by NLMs, do not share the paranoid
imaginings of Mugabe and Mbeki about the re-imposition of white/colonial
rule, and are in any case heavily dependent on western aid. SADC has adopted
an electoral code of conduct, fully up to Westminster standards, which is
supposed to apply to all elections within SADC and western donors (who
finance much of SADC’s affairs as well as that of its constituent states)
wanted to see it observed. SADC, though normally deferential to South
Africa, the regional great power, was thus now pushed by its western donors
as well as by some voices in its own ranks, and wanted to see a mediated
resolution in Zimbabwe. Mbeki was, accordingly, appointed as mediator.
Mbeki led the SADC team in negotiations, which eventually produced a new
Zimbabwean constitution, a new Electoral Act and amendments to the Public
Order Act. The number of parliamentary seats was increased from 120 to 210,
the president’s right to name 30 extra MPs was abolished, and it was
determined that to win a presidential election a candidate must win at least
50% on the first round or, failing that, face a run-off within 21 days. SADC
emphasised that it did not wish to be embarrassed again by the
state-sponsored violence that had marred previous Zimbabwean elections and
Mugabe, in return, allowed in election observers from SADC and other states
thought likely to sign off on a Mugabe victory as “free, fair and credible”.
This new dispensation was essentially a deal between Mbeki and Mugabe to see
Zanu-PF returned to power by more genteel means. Mbeki, who was concerned
that Zanu-PF rule had become too identified with Mugabe, wanted the
84-year-old to stand down in favour of a younger moderniser, Simba Makoni.
When Mugabe refused to stand down, Makoni, with Mbeki’s tacit support, ran
as a dissident Zanu-PF candidate.
Freezing out the MDC
But on one thing Mbeki and Mugabe were united: Tsvangirai and the MDC must
not be allowed to win. And they were confident that the new arrangements
would achieve that. They believed that Mugabe could rely on the rural vote
and so the number of rural parliamentary seats was heavily increased, with
Mugabe expected to win them all. The MDC would, as in the past, be barred
from all state-owned media, including radio and TV. With the only
MDC-supporting newspaper, The Daily News, now suppressed and its presses
blown up, the MDC would be at a huge disadvantage in getting its message
across. Moreover, the MDC had split and the two rival movements were running
against one another – one an essentially Ndebele party, with support in
rural Matabeleland; the other Tsvangirai’s majority faction. This was bound
to be a major handicap for the opposition. The MDC was so conscious of its
problems that it frantically appealed for the election to be postponed.
On top of that the state had complete control of the electoral register, had
large numbers of dead and fictitious voters registered to vote, and the MDC
was denied any access to the register or any copy of it. Mugabe and Mbeki
thus believed that a Zanu-PF victory was guaranteed even in a peaceful
election. At the close of voting the SADC election observers hurriedly
proclaimed the election free and fair and left the country before any
results were declared. But the best laid plans of mice and men had gone
awry. It is doubtful if Mbeki read the fine print of some of the
administrative changes made by his SADC underlings, but a few of these were
crucial. One was an amendment to the Public Order Act which removed the need
for police permission for private meetings. This was vital in allowing the
Tsvangirai forces to penetrate and win many seats in hitherto safe Zanu-PF
territory. Allowing a peaceful campaign in the rural areas had completely
undone the assumption that these areas were “safe” for Mugabe.
But SADC’s drafters had also inserted Section 64(1)E into the new Electoral
Act, requiring all votes to be counted at the polling station where they
were cast and then the results, witnessed by the party agents, to be posted
publicly outside the station. This gave the opposition a virtually foolproof
way of detecting cheating. Neither Mbeki nor Mugabe had any experience of
competitive free elections and they simply missed the significance of this
Once the polls closed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) gave the
Zanu-PF Politburo its first private prediction of the presidential result:
Tsvangirai 58%, Mugabe 27% and Makoni, the dissident Zanu-PF candidate, 15%.
These estimates, based on a narrow urban sample, were too favourable to
Tsvangirai, but the message was clear. Mugabe ordered the ZEC to declare him
elected with 53%. Angry at Makoni’s “treachery”, he also demanded that his
vote be reduced to 5%. This produced resistance both from the ZEC and from
the security chiefs. The ZEC objected that manipulation of the results on
such a scale would be obvious, while the security chiefs worried that the
country might become ungovernable if the popular will was so brutally
flouted. Mbeki was continuously on the phone from Pretoria and had his
emissaries in Harare. Could not the results be “adjusted” so that Tsvangirai
got less than 50%? Mugabe could get 41% and Makoni 10%-12%. Mugabe should
then withdraw, leaving Zanu-PF to rally behind Makoni and, provided the
security forces could be given a strong role in the way the run-off was
conducted, Makoni could then be given just over 50% and Tsvangirai kept out.
But Mugabe refused to stand down.
The opposition had won 111 seats to Zanu-PF’s 96 (with three seats vacant).
There were discussions about Tsvangirai heading a government of national
unity, including some Zanu-PF ministers and granting complete amnesty to
Mugabe and his henchmen, but the real struggle was going on within Zanu-PF
and the armed forces.
It was not until the Thursday after the vote that we got the picture. I had
that morning sallied into MDC headquarters at Harvest House, a place watched
by the security police and frequently raided by them. Failing to find
Tsvangirai, I sat round until I was slapped on the back by a bevy of MDC MPs
whom I knew. They’d arrived for their caucus meeting only to discover – the
usual MDC shambles – that the meeting had started five minutes ago and there
was no transport to take them there. I happily drove them there and then
went to Meikles Hotel to hear the MDC’s press conference. Meikles lounge is
always a honeypot, abuzz with journos, but I don’t like it. It’s full of
spies and electronic surveillance, so I left quickly and went back to the
lodge in which I was staying.
Mugabe had finally re-asserted his control that day and the crackdown had
begun. A few minutes after I’d left Harvest House the riot police raided it,
arresting anyone remotely like me. Then, not long after I’d left Meikles,
the police surrounded the place and arrested the journos they found inside.
Finally, that night 30 armed police arrived at my lodge. They had caught
some journos at a neighbouring lodge and arrested the lodge owner. He, poor
man, was sitting on the back of an open lorry, being taken away god knows
where, his lodge now shut down for the newly invented crime of harbouring
journalists. I managed to bluff my way through this visitation. But the
story was now clear. Mugabe would stay in power and do whatever it took.
Which is what happened: ZEC officials arrested, appeals to overturn the
parliamentary results, a presidential recount even before the first count
was released and then a ferocious campaign of terror in which some 136
people died and many thousands more were tortured and beaten, leading up to
a much-delayed run-off on 27 June, a contest from which Tsvangirai withdrew,
leaving Mugabe as sole candidate. Tsvangirai was frequently arrested,
prevented from campaigning and Mugabe made it quite clear that “only God can
remove me”: mere votes would not be allowed to count. Mbeki flew to Harare
and tried frantically to cover for Mugabe. (“There is no crisis in
Zimbabwe,” he told journalists after an hour’s talk with Mugabe. He was, as
he spoke, holding hands with Mugabe.) Even within South Africa this was
greeted with widespread ridicule and protest.
Is Mugabe really in charge?
For the first time it was unclear whether Mugabe dominated his ruling group
or whether it dominated him. Its key members are all part of Mugabe’s Zezuru
clan, several of them directly related to Mugabe, and were members of Zanla
(the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army). All have benefited
enormously from Mugabe’s rule and own numerous farms stolen from white
farmers. Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor, is also Mugabe’s private
banker and accompanies him on his trips to Malaysia where most of his
ill-gotten assets are stashed. Emmerson Mnangagwa and Perence Shiri (who is
Mugabe’s cousin) were the two men principally responsible for the
Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s. Constantine Chiwenga, the army boss,
and Paradzai Zimondi, head of the prison service are also part of this top
group is as Augustine Chihuri, the police chief.
The current campaign of terror has been carefully planned and implemented by
the Joint Operations Command (JOC) which Mnangagwa heads and in which Shiri,
the air force chief, plays a key role. All of these men have committed major
crimes against humanity and all of them are wealthy, with much to lose.
There is a further stratum below them whose ill-gotten wealth is still
mainly held inside Zimbabwe and who lack the well-stuffed foreign bank
accounts necessary to make exile a palatable option. During the liberation
war those who offended Mugabe or the Zanla high command were routinely
consigned to “the pits” – specially dug holes in the ground where almost
indescribable tortures would be inflicted. Interestingly, a number of this
hard core – Chihuri is one – endured “the pits” and were thus in no doubt
about the ruthlessness of the cause they served. Mugabe’s rule could
continue while there were well-armed and well-paid men willing to protect
him, but his regime now resembled that of Papa Doc Duvalier and rule by the
Mugabe had suffered a huge blow to his legitimacy both domestically and
internationally and the MDC openly rejected Mbeki as a mediator because of
his open partisanship towards Mugabe. Similar doubts were openly expressed
by the western powers, at the UN and throughout Africa. Together, these
developments meant that things could not go on as before. Meanwhile, Mugabe
launched a campaign of terror which continued after the election, the aim
being to pre-emptively eliminate the MDC so that it could never become the
successor regime. In effect the Mugabe regime held its people hostage,
threatening a Rwanda-scale genocide unless international pressure upon the
regime was de-escalated.
The key move was the ban on the distribution of food in Zimbabwe by
international famine relief agencies. One must never forget the statement by
Didymus Mutasa, a Mugabe intimate and Minister of State Security, that the
country would be better off with only six million people – all presumed
Mugabe supporters – rather than the 14 million which normal demographic
growth would suggest. In fact up to four million have fled and perhaps
another one to two million have died of Aids or starvation. But thanks to
the disastrous results of Mugabe’s “land reform”, the UN Food and
Agriculture Organisation now estimates ′that production of maize – the
staple African diet – is down to only 28% of what is needed. ′By the end of
August, two million people will face starvation, a number which will grow to
5.1 million by January 2009. If nothing is done to prevent this, Zimbabwe
will become a wasteland with perhaps only three to four million survivors. A
genocide many times larger than Rwanda’s now threatens unless there is rapid
intervention to prevent it.
The new factor: Jacob Zuma
What can stop this? With inflation multiplying by 10 every month, the rate
should reach 100,000,000% before the end of August. That is to say, the
currency is worthless and the armed forces can be expected to demand payment
in foreign currency – which the regime cannot do. There is also the fact
that the new president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress
(ANC), Jacob Zuma, has taken a considerably more critical attitude towards
Mugabe. Zuma will be president of South Africa in nine months’ time and he
already casts a long shadow.
The chances are that the negotiations now under way between Mugabe and the
MDC will see the end of the game for Zanu-PF simply because of the weight of
development aid poised to go in to help a new democratic government and the
fact that the Mugabe regime has nowhere else to go. Moreover, US pressure on
Mbeki has built up very strongly in the past month. Mbeki too is cornered,
his mediation now suspect in the AU, SADC and the UN. The probable result
will be a transitional government with Mugabe still the titular president
but with Tsvangirai, leading an MDC cabinet majority, the real boss as prime
minister. In that event, the key variable will be the question of immunity
from prosecution for Mugabe’s major security chiefs, even as they are
forcibly retired from office.
What we are watching in Zimbabwe is the death agony of a national liberation
movement. In a genuinely free election Zanu-PF would now be almost wiped out
and would quickly reduce to a tiny residual sub-culture. This will be a very
frightening example for the ANC and the other ageing liberation movements.
Across southern Africa we are watching the gathering throes of a dying
culture, still impregnated with a lethal militancy and self-righteousness.
Zimbabwe has been a terrible warning of how dangerous the dying kicks of
such a movement can be. Such movements came to power believing that they
solely represented and incorporated the people. A loss of popular support
was simply not in the script and Zanu-PF’s response to that situation was
effectively to take its own people hostage, visiting terrible punishment
upon it to try to force “the popular masses” to behave as they were supposed
to in the script.
This could happen again; though one must hope against hope that the lessons
of Zimbabwe will now sink in across the region, obviating the need for this
almost genocidal defiance of historical change. For the national liberation
movements would like to believe that their coming to power was the end of
history, that they will stay in power forever. The beginning of wisdom is to
accept that nothing lasts and that the “popular masses” will happily embrace
a “neo-colonial” future if one is on offer.
12 August, 2008
Today, 12 August 2008, marks the third historic day of the inter-party
negotiations in the unfolding post election Zimbabwean drama not only
because the people of Zimbabwe who voted on 29 March 2008 have been
condemned to a prolonged state of suspense and limbo about who will be their
leader but the crisis has managed to detain the SADC appointed mediator,
President Mbeki, in Harare where his presidential plane has been parked
since Saturday, 9 August 2008.
Principals to the inter-party talks have still to strike an agreement
between them and yet it is clear that the remaining sticking points have
little to do with the future of the country but the fate of the incumbent
President who still holds the view that Zimbabwe is less secure with anyone
else at the helm.
On 29 March 2008, the people of Zimbabwe voted for change and the results
clearly confirmed that ZANU-PF had lost the confidence of the people as a
ruling party and more importantly that President Mugabe no longer enjoyed
majority support. Notwithstanding, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
could not announce the presidential results on time and the people of
Zimbabwe were subjected to the first suspense of the year.
When the results were finally announced, many expected that President Mugabe
would bow out of the race in the interests of nation building and allow the
country to turn a new leaf. President Mbeki intervened and assured the
skeptical world that there was no crisis and the electoral process would
proceed as provided for in the laws of the country.
The 29 March 2008 election results set in motion the end of President Mugabe's
reign not because of an externally engineered conspiracy but because of the
desire by the majority of Zimbabweans to take back ownership of their
future. President Mugabe's election campaign had little to do with the
future but the past and the people of Zimbabwe saw through it.
What was not predictable was that President Mugabe could actually proceed
with the run-off on the belief that he had been robbed of victory by
27 June 2008 will remain etched in Zimbabwe's history as a disgraceful,
embarrassing, and dishonorable day. There is no doubt that in the quietness
of his time, President Mugabe is going through a painful emotion caused by a
strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, disgrace and unworthiness.
Since 29 March 2008, the people of Zimbabwe have been uniquely placed in a
state of limbo while three men with the assistance of President Mbeki try to
find exit points to what is increasingly turning to be the exit of one man
who still refuses to see the light.
The three parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 21 July 2008
providing a framework for a negotiated arrangement for power sharing. Given
the attitude of ZANU-PF and its leader to the crisis, the road was never
expected to be easy but even President Mbeki would agree that the country's
future has now been effectively subordinated to President Mugabe's legacy.
While President Mugabe is optimistic about the outcome of the negotiations,
it cannot be denied that Zimbabwe needs a new leader. There are only two men
left standing and one of them has to emerge as the face of change. President
Mugabe must be arguing that he alone represents not only the face of change
but a reliable and dependable custodian of sovereignty and empowerment.
Even yesterday, it was evident from his speech at the Heroes Acre that he
has not changed his understanding of the nature, causes and risks of the
Zimbabwean crisis. He still believes that a Zimbabwean solution is required
and such a solution should leave him at the helm to continue to do what he
has done in the past.
It must be accepted that any residual power that President Mugabe may remain
with can be toxic to the agenda of change. The viability of the economy of
Zimbabwe ought to be at stake not who is in or out of government. The
alleged role of the West in the Zimbabwean crisis has to be dismissed with
the contempt it deserves because it is not evident that the negotiators
particularly ZANU-PF representatives know what time it is for Zimbabwe. It
is time for change that people can believe in.
The outcome must be credible and linked to the real cause of the crisis. It
would be naïve to argue that the crisis began with the land reform when
history shows that the structural distortions were already in existence well
before the commencement of the land reform program.
In 1779, Mr. John Newton, an Englishman authored a Christian hymn, Amazing
Grace, whose lyrics may have a powerful message for President Mugabe as he
enters the third day of the negotiations in Harare. Newton's beliefs lacked
conviction and his youth was marked by religious confusion and a lack of
moral control and discipline. After a brief time in the Royal Navy, Newton
began his career in slave trading and it took a violent storm for him to
realize his helplessness leading him to conclude that only the grace of God
could save him.
Newton's lyrics have become a favorite for Christians all over the world,
largely because the hymn eloquently captures the mood of a helpless people
and in the words of Tendai Biti, Zimbabweans must pray for salvation.
What is more important is that people have to pray for President Mugabe to
see the light and free his people. With him the exit route takes the country
to a political and economic cul de sac.
Newton's song is appropriate for any supporter of freedom and human rights,
both Christian and non-Christian, principally because the words capture the
mood of an abused people but also it should resonate with a person like
President Mugabe in the unlikely event that he is still blind to his role
and culpability in causing and sustaining the avoidable crisis.
It was not surprising that Newton's hymn was quite popular on both sides in
the American Civil War and there is no doubt that the three negotiating
teams would find the hymn appropriate as they deliberate on what is
important for Zimbabwe and its future.
President Mbeki would no doubt now agree that there is something unusual in
President Mugabe's mind and it cannot be correct to argue that everything is
still okay in his mind and that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe.
If President Mbeki can be detained for three days in Harare, it is not
difficult to imagine what lies ahead for Zimbabweans under a power sharing
arrangement. Perhaps President Mbeki ought to consider another job after his
term ends next year i.e. becoming the head of the Zimbabwean Transitional
Authority because his diplomatic skills may be indispensable to make the
What a shame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
August 13 | Jon Tuxworth
Zimbabwe swimmer Kirsty Coventry is THE most important athlete at the
For the embattled African country, Coventry's heroics in the pool are just
what it needs.
A pleasant distraction from president Robert Mugabe's brutal dictatorship.
From the hardship. The poverty. The terror.
The 25-year-old has won dual silver so far in the 400IM (she's that girl
that finished behind Stephanie Rice) and yesterday in the 100m backstroke.
And, thanks to the International Olympic Committee, this is one of the few
national treasures that Mugabe won't be able to pillage.
The IOC has banned Mugabe from attending the Olympics.
A very wise move.
The Olympics are all about unity - imagine the hypocrisy if the most hated
man in Africa, who stands for anything but, was able to celebrate with the
I'm pretty sure Coventry wouldn't want to shake his hand, either.
Sure, Coventry was able to escape Zimbabwe, and swam competitively for
Auburn University in Alabama, but she's the role model her countrymen crave.
Zimbabwe's biggest sporting outfit, the national cricket team, hardly play
Which makes Coventry all the more important.
For strife-torn countries, sport is their outlet to feel some patriotism.
To escape. To feel good about themselves. Whether it be for a minute or two
watching a swimming race, or a five-day cricket Test.
Here's hoping the most famous African swimmer since that walking
advertisement for floaties, Eric the Eel, keeps doing her country proud.
I am writing thrugh your column to really request and ask our people a
simple question? Why are we having a conference to talk about accomodating
President Robert Mugabe, who lost a " normal" election ?
Why are we being forced to accept that he beat, coerced, intimidated, has
torture camps to this day, a political army,a weak political judiciary,"mock
elections" and what else? Why are we even considering a man who has led us
into the abyss.