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Robert Mugabe to form government without Zimbabwe opposition

The Telegraph

President Robert Mugabe has placed the future of Zimbabwe's power-sharing
talks in grave doubt by declaring that he will form a new government without
the opposition.

By Sebastien Berger in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 5:19PM BST 27 Aug 2008

The main goal of the talks, mediated by President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa, was to bring Mr Mugabe and his opponents together in a power-sharing

But Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, refused
to join any government which allowed Mr Mugabe to keep his executive powers.

One day after the opposition's newly elected MPs heckled him during
parliament's official opening, Mr Mugabe said he would choose a cabinet
without them.

"We shall soon be setting up a government. The MDC does not want to come in
apparently," he said.

In a speech reported in The Herald, the state newspaper, Mr Mugabe claimed
that Britain had given new promises to the MDC.

"This time they have been promised by the British that sanctions would be
more devastating, that in six months' time the government will collapse. I
do not know when that day will come. I wish Tsvangirai well on that day," he

But Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is deeply split and the president signalled
that a ministerial purge was imminent. "This cabinet that I had was the
worst in history," he said, conveniently ignoring the fact that he appointed
them and presided over their actions. "They look at themselves. They are
unreliable, but not all of them."

Mr Mugabe appears to be positioning Emmerson Mnangagwa, the cabinet minister
who is closest to Zimbabwe's powerful military leadership, as his favoured

"It's very clear that if he announces the new cabinet it's a declaration of
war against the people," said Nelson Chamisa, the MDC's spokesman. "You
can't just have a cabinet without a mandate. Otherwise what he is doing is a
recipe for disaster."

Five MDC MPs are in custody. Eldred Masunungure, professor of political
science at the University of Zimbabwe, said he expected Mr Mugabe to "strike
back" after his parliamentary humiliation.

He expected a "lull" in the negotiations, saying: "I don't think Mugabe and
his close advisors will be in a hurry to revive the dialogue. The hardliners
are likely to harden their position."

But he added: "It will simply delay the day of judgment. The way I see it,
Zimbabwe is firmly anchored on a political transition which cannot be
reversed. At most it can be delayed. They will try to block it but this
transition is irreversible regardless of the wishes and desires of those who
are in charge."

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Mugabe plunges Zimbabwe into crisis with plan to ignore MDC

The Times
August 27, 2008

Robert Mugabe's move came hours after he was heckled at the opening of
Zimbabwe's parliament

Jan Raath in Harare
Robert Mugabe today plunged Zimbabwe into a new crisis by announcing he is
to form a government without the opposition.

Hours after being humiliated at the opening of the country's parliament Mr
Mugabe effectively demolished the five-week process toward power-sharing
with the Movement for Democratic Change.

"We shall soon be setting up a government," the state-owned daily Herald
newspaper quoted him as saying. "The MDC don't want to come in, apparently."

Mr Mugabe appears to have decided to withdraw from the negotiations -
although the MDC has repeatedly committed itself to the talks - and to go it
alone, in a move that will further deepen his international isolation.

The talks with the opposition were the outcome of months of delicate
diplomacy within the Southern African Development Community, the regional
bloc, and mediated painstakingly by President Mbeki of South Africa.
It had been hoped they would find a peaceful solution to the political
turmoil that has gripped the country since elections in March gave the MDC a
majority in parliament and saw Mr Mugabe come second in the first round of
presidential voting. The second round of the presidential election turned
into a bloody affair that saw his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, withdraw from
the poll.

Mr Mugabe's plans to form a cabinet from his Zanu-PF party mean he will be
drawing his ministers from the minority party in parliament, in apparent
violation of basic constitutional principles.

"It's another coup by Mugabe," said a Western diplomat.

The 84-year-old is risking the censure of the SADC and the loss of support
of Mr Mbeki who has seen his own credibility suffer because of his
protection of Mr Mugabe.

The chances of the United Nations Security Council successfully passing a
resolution - after an attempt thwarted in July, largely by Russia -
condemning the Zimbabwe government and opening the way to international
sanctions, will have been made much stronger, observers said.

Mr Mugabe's move has overtones of the unilateral declaration of independence
in 1965 by white minority Rhodesian government of Ian Smith who turned his
back on the world by introducing an illegitimate, racist constitution.

Significantly, his move came hours after MDC MPs, now in the majority in
parliament and occupying the government benches, subjected him to an
ignominious 30 minutes, heckling him throughout his speech and singing to
drown out his voice.

Mr Mugabe and Zanu-PF were already in shock after Monday when Mr Tsvangirai's
faction unexpectedly elected a speaker from its own ranks, stripping his
party of the advantage of a partial speaker it has enjoyed for the last 28

Mr Mugabe is faced with a parliament that could halt finance bills, starve
the government of money and abolish the arsenal of repressive laws he used
to stay in power.

The incidents in parliament either forced Mr Mugabe to abandon the route of
negotiation, or drove hard-line members of Zanu-PF to force him to go on the
political offensive again, said political analyst Eldred Masunungure. "I'm
sure they were saying they had cautioned him, 'you can't do business with
these people [the MDC]'.

"The lesson that Zanu-PF learnt in the last couple of days is that it is
faced with a hostile government and it needs to be neutralised, otherwise
Zanu-PF would not be able to legislate its intentions," he said.

"We are likely to see a hardening of postures by Mugabe, and a repeat of
assaults against the MDC. They want to teach the MDC a lesson. They will try
to regain parliamentary control, by arresting MPs and prosecuting them, and
forcing by-elections.

"I don't think the talks can be resuscitated. I think they are as good as

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Zimbabwe Opposition Denounces Mugabe's Government Plans


HARARE, Zimbabwe (AFP)--Zimbabwe's opposition said Wednesday it will not
join any new government with President Robert Mugabe until power-sharing
talks are concluded, after the 84-year-old president declared he would name
his own cabinet.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change described Mugabe's
intention to form a government regardless of the opposition as "a
declaration of war against the people".

Mugabe's move is a blow to power-sharing negotiations which have been
stalled for the past two weeks and outlines the scale of the task facing
mediator Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, to get them back on

Mugabe spoke at a lunch Tuesday after the opening of parliament when
opposition jeers drowned out parts of his ceremonial opening speech.

"We shall soon be setting up a government. The MDC does not want to come in
apparently," the government newspaper, The Herald, quoted him as saying.

"This time they have been promised by the British that sanctions would be
more devastating, that in six months' time the government will collapse,"
Mugabe told the lunch.

"I do not know when that day will come. I wish (MDC leader Morgan)
Tsvangirai well on that day," Mugabe added.

The comments drew an angry response from the both factions of the

"It's very clear that if he announces the new cabinet it's a declaration of
war against the people. You can't just have a cabinet without a mandate,"
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told AFP.

The MDC holds 100 seats to the once all-powerful ZANU-PF's 99 following the
March general election. A breakaway opposition faction holds 10 seats with
one independent making up the 210-seat assembly.

Chamisa accused Mugabe of trying to "hijack the leadership" of Zimbabwe and
said the veteran leader was trying to ride roughshod over his political

"He should wait for the conclusion of the dialogue together with the MDC,
and Mr Tsvangirai, on the way forward. Otherwise what he is doing is a
recipe for disaster."

Chamisa said the talks remained stalled and appealed to Mbeki and the
Southern African Development Community, which appointed him mediator, to
urgently intervene as Zimbabwe was "sliding and gliding into anarchy".

"The talks have not been formally terminated so the natural conclusion is
that the talks are on," Chamisa said.

"But there hasn't been any formal communication from SADC, from President
Mbeki, to say this is the way forward."

Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesman for the smaller MDC faction with whom Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party could conceivably form a majority in parliament, said it
wouldn't join a Mugabe government.

"We are actually looking forward to the conclusion of the dialogue when
Mugabe and Tsvangirai form a transitional government," Mushoriwa said.

South African Race Relations deputy chief executive Frans Cronje said
Mugabe's announcement was a last resort of intimidation and defiance by the
veteran leader.

"He is now left with limited options and is faced with signs of disunity
within his ZANU-PF members," said Cronje.

"Mugabe is a skilled political warhorse who has done so much to buy time for
his term in power. He can only lose through talks," he said.

On Wednesday, police were still holding five MDC deputies in custody
following their arrest this week. A bid by the opposition's number two
Tendai Biti to dismiss treason charges brought ahead of the presidential
run-off vote in June was adjourned to November.

† (END) Dow Jones Newswires
† 08-27-081232ET

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Zimbabwe opposition: Mugabe will fail alone

Washington Times

Originally published 11:04 a.m., August 27, 2008, updated 10:44 a.m., August
27, 2008

HARARE, ZIMBABWE (AP) - Zimbabwe's opposition accused President Robert
Mugabe of abandoning talks aimed at forming a unity government, and said
Wednesday he would fail if he tried to rule alone.

State media said Mugabe had announced Tuesday he was soon to form a new
Cabinet after concluding the opposition Movement for Democratic Change did
not want to take part. Coalition negotiations have been deadlocked over how
much control Mugabe should surrender.

Opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Wednesday the Movement for
Democratic Change remained committed to power-sharing talks, but accused
Mugabe of "giving a death certificate ... to the talks and negotiations."

"The bottom line is he has to come to the negotiating table and negotiate
with the MDC as representatives of the people of the country to find a way
forward," Chamisa said.

Among recent steps Mugabe has taken that the opposition says undermine
negotiations was the appointment of his loyalists as senators and governors.
The opposition also says Mugabe should not have unilaterally convened
parliament on Tuesday, and accuses him of ordering the arrests of its
members to try to regain a parliamentary majority. Police have arrested five
opposition lawmakers allegedly linked to political violence.

While the Movement for Democratic Change says Mugabe had no authority to
open parliament, the MDC holds the most seats in the house and its members
participated in the opening session _ subjecting Mugabe to unprecedented
heckling on national television.

Mugabe, addressing guests at a luncheon after opening parliament, said he
planned to announce a new Cabinet. The opposition would be welcome to join
if it wished, but it "does not want to come in apparently," the Herald, a
government newspaper, quoted Mugabe as saying.

"They have been promised by the British that sanctions would be more
devastating and that in six months time the government will collapse. I do
not know when that day will come. I wish (main opposition leader Morgan)
Tsvangirai well on that day," Mugabe said.

Chamisa, the Movement for Democratic Change spokesman, said his party had
hoped Mugabe "would be fair enough and reasonable enough" to stick with
power-sharing negotiations.

"But unfortunately he is a driver who is so determined to crash the vehicle.
He's trying to take us into a ditch."

Chamisa said that if Mugabe unilaterally appointed a Cabinet, opposition
lawmakers would simply ignore any attempts it made to introduce legislation.
Parliament, which was to reconvene to begin work in October, in the past
simply rubber-stamped sweeping legislation drawn up by Mugabe's party.

Parliament's first order of business will be to approve funds for government
ministries and projects.

If there is deadlock, Mugabe could dissolve the assembly and rule by decree.
It is unlikely the opposition could summon the two-thirds vote needed to
impeach him.

Tsvangirai's party holds 100 seats in the 210 seat parliament, Mugabe's
party has 99, and an opposition splinter group has 10. An independent who
broke away from Mugabe's party won the remaining seat in parliamentary polls
on March 29.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe and two other candidates in presidential elections
held alongside the legislative balloting, but did not gain the simple
majority needed to avoid a runoff. Mugabe held the one-man runoff after a
campaign of violence against the opposition and declared himself victor
despite Western condemnation.

The opposition blames Zimbabwe's crisis on Mugabe's increasingly autocratic
and corrupt rule. Zimbabwe began unraveling after Mugabe in 2000 ordered the
often-violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms that disrupted the
agriculture-based economy. Many of the farms went to Cabinet ministers,
generals and Mugabe loyalists who let them lie fallow, destroying the
country's economic base.

Mugabe has repeatedly blamed his country's woes on European and U.S.

More than a third of Zimbabweans depend of foreign food aid but Mugabe has
barred charities from handing out the food, charging they were favoring
opposition supporters. Opposition legislators on Tuesday called on Mugabe to
honor his agreement to allow food to be distributed, signed as a
prerequisite for the power-sharing talks.

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MDC petitions to bar Mugabe from parliament


August 27, 2008, 19:15

John Nyashanu, Harare
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has handed a petition to
President Robert Mugabe, barring him from coming to parliament until
on-going talks are concluded.

This comes as the veteran leader announced yesterday that he shall soon name
a cabinet that excludes opposition members. Now the MDC is questioning the
legality of the presidency.

"There is no need for Mr Mugabe to come to parliament masquerading as
president when in fact he is not. Negotiations have to be concluded first."
says MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa.

Despite its bravado, senior MPs are being targetted by Zimbabwe's feared
security apparatus. Five members have been detained in the last two days and
it's uncertain if and when they will appear in court.

Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena says there is a 48-hour limit, but
extenuating circumstances can warrant further detention. The MDC has
labelled it political harassment

Zanu-PF is studying the MDC's petition to bar Mugabe from parliament. State
media reports that Mugabe is forming a new government, but both MDC factions
have scorned the move.

Mugabe says MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is being misled by his Western
allies. The country has got to move on. However, on the other hand, some say
should an exclusively Zanu-PF government be formed, that's the death of the
SADC initiated talks.

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MDC allege plot to force by-elections as 5 MP's remain in custody

By Lance Guma
27 August 2008

The MDC, fresh from winning the speaker-ship of parliament on Monday has
accused ZANU PF of plotting to regain its parliamentary majority by securing
the criminal convictions of its MP's. Two MDC MP's were arrested on Monday
while a further 3 were picked up at Harare's parliament building on Tuesday.
Police claim the MP's are wanted for mostly 'public violence' charges, in
spite of the state sponsored campaign of violence that has already claimed
the lives of over 120 MDC activists and officials.

Broadwin Nyaude (Bindura South), Mathias Mlambo (Chipinge East) and Pearson
Mungofa (Highfield East) were all arrested on the day MDC MP's heckled
Robert Mugabe during his speech marking the official opening of Parliament.
On Monday Shuwa Mudiwa the MP for Mutare West and Eliah Jembere from Epworth
were arrested before they were sworn in as members of parliament. Mudiwa was
released on the same day. Armed police raided Harare's Quality International
Hotel around 4 am on Tuesday claiming they were looking for MDC MP's on a
wanted list. They later arrested the 3 MP's. Another MP Trevor Saruwaka
(Mutasa Central) is now also in custody.

On Wednesday MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Newsreel they knew of a plot
to drag their members of parliament to court and secure criminal convictions
that would disqualify them as MP's. Under the country's laws an MP who gets
a jail sentence of more than 6 months for a criminal offence can no longer
be or stand as an MP. Most of the MDC MP's face 'public violence' charges
while one of them faces 'rape' allegations.

The arrests before a crucial vote to elect a speaker of parliament sparked
accusations ZANU PF wanted to prevent the Tsvangirai MDC from winning the
post. Chamisa however told Newsreel a more sinister agenda lay behind the
arrests with a total of 15 MP's being targeted. The Tsvangirai MDC holds 100
seats in parliament, the breakaway Mutambara MDC 10, ZANU PF 99 while 1
independent MP takes the number to 210. ZANU PF would need to take back more
than 12 seats to regain its majority.

According to reliable sources Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku was heard
muttering in the parliament car park on Monday that 'they' were going to
deal with all the petitions and cases involving MDC MP's 'expeditiously.'
Apparently angered by the MDC MP's heckling Mugabe during his parliamentary
speech, Chidyausiku is said to have warned they were going to deal with the
MDC 'once and for all.' The comments are said to have shocked policemen and
MP's who were standing within hearing distance.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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MDC must exploit parliamentary power

Last updated: 08/28/2008 09:59:41
THE faithful multitudes of the Beautiful Game, as that greatest of its
exponents, Pele called it years ago, are familiar with the oft-repeated
claim that no matter the level of the match, a team must always play to win,
if only because winning is a good habit. The same applies; more so, perhaps,
to that other game of life and death, the less aesthetically pleasing one,
called politics.

There can be no doubt that the Tsvangirai-led MDC scored a significant
political victory over their adversaries with the election of Mr Lovemore
Moyo as the new Speaker of the House of Assembly, turning the tables on Zanu
PF, for the first time in 28 years.

These developments surrounding the institution of Parliament have to be seen
within the context of the negotiating process. Having failed to pin down the
MDC in Pretoria, Zanu PF played what they perceived to be a disarming card,
by going ahead with the convening of Parliament.

For a moment, this decision appeared to have caught the MDC unawares given
the apparently conflicting signals over the matter last week by the MDC
leader Tsvangirai and his Secretary General Tendai Biti. But after the
initial panic, they made the right decision to play their own card and, so
far, as events have shown, it was a card that Zanu PF found hard to counter.

Zanu PF, plainly, miscalculated, thinking erroneously, not only that they
would benefit from the support of the Mutambara MDC MPs but also in hoping
that the MDC would carry out its threats of boycotting, in which case they
would have had ample room to manoeuvre and gain an upper hand in a House of
Assembly in which they are now juniors.

The proceedings also demonstrated the angst among MPs who showed they can no
longer be easily manipulated as has been the case in previous Parliaments,
when that institution was no more than a rubber-stamping organ of the

At a time when the confidence in the judiciary as the last bastion of
protecting fundamental freedoms is very low, Parliament has, like a phoenix,
risen from the dead to demonstrate, at least fleetingly, that it can stand
its own ground. One can look to the future and say that gone, perhaps, are
the days when Parliament was simply part of the gravy train, which the
Executive took for granted. That can only be a good thing for Zimbabwe's
fledgling democracy. These are the small but no less significant gains in
the tortuous road towards democracy.

For my part, this new found power is something that the MDC must build on.
They should recognise that, finally, they no longer have to play the
hand-maiden at the party. It is no longer necessary to resort to the
all-too-familiar tactic of boycotting because they now have power which can
be used pro-actively. The MDC should not underestimate the kind of power
that comes with the type of leverage they now have in the main House of
Parliament. The heckling on Tuesday is just one form of protest but it not
enough - they now have to be pro-active in the use of the law-making

Instead of boycotting and withdrawing into its cocoon for purposes of
scoring moral victories, the MDC must exploit their parliamentary power and
use it pro-actively to redress the repressive legislative framework
represented by laws such as AIPPA, POSA, the Electoral Act, etc. They might
fail because of obstacles that will be placed in their way but they should
not stop trying. In other words, instead of saying, 'chitongai tione' (Go
ahead and govern), they should be saying 'ngatitongei tione' (Let's Govern)
because in this arena they can now assert a counter-power to its adversaries
in the business of government.

Clearly, what these developments show is that for as long as it intends to
use the veil of legal process to govern, Zanu PF has, rather inconveniently,
driven into a cul-de-suc and the options are very limited without the
co-operation of the MDC.

A government needs to make laws, which in terms of the Zimbabwe
Constitution, have to be passed by both Houses of Parliament - Assembly and
Senate. It is crucial to appreciate that under Section 32 of the
Constitution, the legislative authority vests in the legislature which
consists of the President and Parliament. Bills ordinarily originate from
the Assembly, pass through the Senate and eventually require Presidential
assent in accordance with the provisions of Section 51. And herein are the
ingredients of a possible constitutional crisis, which means no party can
govern effectively without the other.

The law-making process requires a simple majority except that where it
involves the amendment of the Constitution, there must be a two-thirds
majority. This means that on the basis of the precedence set at the election
of the Speaker, the MDC can, surely, muster a simple majority to effect
changes to the vast plethora of legislation that it has challenged without
much success over the years because it has been hamstrung by Zanu PF's

Of course, success will be subject, first, to the agreement of the Senate,
which is dominated by the handpicked faithful of Zanu PF and second, the
overall power of the President, who may withhold his assent to legislation.
But it is important to note that this power of rejection by the President is
not absolute.

This is because, the Constitution states under S. 51(3b), that were certain
conditions are met, a that is Bill rejected by the President may be returned
to him if the House of Assembly by a vote of at least two thirds majority
resolves that this be done. In that case, the Constitution states in
mandatory terms that the President 'shall assent' to the Bill within 21
days. His only other option at that point would be to dissolve Parliament, a
circumstance that cannot be ruled out, but is unlikely.

This of course is predicated on the assumption that the MDC can persuade
some Zanu PF MPs in order to muster that two-thirds majority. This cannot be
guaranteed but also can no longer be ruled out given the voting pattern for
the Speaker which appeared to show that some Zanu PF MPs voted for the MDC
candidate. Zanu PF's failure to crack the whip on this occasion is unusual
and indicates some fissures within the ranks, which the MDC might exploit.

There also seems to be a latent marginalisation of the Mujuru faction,
signalled most prominently by the relegation to the inferior divisions of
former Mashonaland East Governor Ray Kaukonde in favour of Aeneas
Chigwedere, who in the wake of electoral defeat had sought to claw his way
back by claiming the controversial Mubaiwa Headmanship. The question remains
whether and how they will react to this apparent marginalisation.

What this boils down to is that Mugabe cannot go ahead in the business as
usual mode. By convening Parliament, there is now the realisation that Zanu
PF will need to work with the MDC, as equal partners, not juniors and his
affirmation that negotiations are still possible indicate his own
recognition that there is not much way out of this conundrum.

Conversely, the MDC would also need the cooperation of Zanu PF, because it
could create the same blockages, through the Senate or the Presidency, which
might be hard to surmount. In normal democracies, such a scenario would
ordinarily lead to a coalition arrangement. This indeed is the cases in
older democracies such as Germany. This reliance on partners presents an
effective check on the potential excesses of the Presidency.

But, in the midst of the celebrations, it is important that the MDC keeps
the eye on the ball. They have now shown that they have the power in
Parliament which Zanu PF cannot do without unless it decides boldly to
by-pass that institution and rule by decree. Mugabe of course can still use
the temporary powers under the notorious Presidential Powers (Temporary
Measures) Act. But these would eventually require Parliamentary approval and
can only buy time for no more than six months.

In addition, having been forced into a corner, there has to be that old and
familiar fear of how Zanu PF will react. The security structure, which holds
de facto power will have been watching from the sidelines and, surely, this
will have caused some consternation. Knowing Zanu PF and its history of
dealing with setbacks, one would be naÔve not to expect a ferocious
counter-attack from the old warriors. The challenge for the MDC is to plan
ahead, anticipating, yet again, another worst case scenario.

In the Beautiful Game, faithful followers know very well that clinching the
title comes after a marathon - you have to win the big games as well as the
small games but when you lose, you learn to pick yourself up and look to
another day. I will be saying a prayer for my beloved Arsenal. I will also
be saying a similar prayer for Zimbabwe. It a little hard, I have to admit,
at this stage, to be a Gunners faithful and Zimbabwean at the same time. But
you have to remain hopeful - after all, as they say, Hope springs eternal.
If you watched that inspirational film, The Shawshank Redemption, you should
know that everything is possible.

Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, The University of Kent. He can be
contacted at

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Junta mouthpiece speaks of war

Wednesday, 27 August 2008 10:34
HARARE - A few days before the MDC won the speakership of Parliament
the following revealing snippet was carried in the state-controlled Herald

Presidential spokesman George Charamba in his weekly column† in the
paper on Saturday, August 23 2008, had this to say: "We need Government, a
strong Government, which will take bold decisions without flinching.
Globally, developments pitting Russia against Nato present real
opportunities. Back home, the mature realisation that the enemy within needs
to be handled conclusively, will help. Structures of war - economic war -
are needed and will come shortly. As will leadership. In the few months it
will become apparent whether or not the revolution can or cannot defend
itself. By any means necessary."

Political observers here describe this as "a clear statement of their
intentions " and are concerned that the military junta will unleash yet more
violence on the weary, hungry population which has endured almost a decade
of vicious political persecution, exacerbated by economic meltdown and the
collapse of all basic services.

Readers Comments
written by Mafirakureva, August 27, 2008

It is a shame to see a regime putting structures of war against peace
loving people of this country. What revolution is this Manheru talking
about. We need a government that is accountable. Manhheru needs to know that
Gushungo said that the previous cabinet was the worst since independance. It
was a cabinet of looters and it is not surprising to be where we are as a
country today. Nathaniel Manheru nyarawo. It is obvious that Gushungos
cabinet cannot run a tuckshop. Your propaganda about sanctions cannot fool
us anymore. Ask the good Governor and he will tell you that CHEFS have run
this country down. Your revolution Manheru is an illusion. Zanu is a sinking
ship. I rest my case.

Manyepo Aya
written by Gandanda, August 27, 2008

They now know that ZANU yapera. Reflect on the Iraq issue when they
said they were still in control!!!!!!!!
I think we are now heading towards democracy.

Mugabe's kleptocracy
written by Vaughan, August 27, 2008

Believe it or not there are more Zimbabweans who are against the
current kleptoctratic regime. The problem is we have been subjected to so
much terror and lawlessness, being reduced to a nation of intolerant
cowards. We would rather speak ill of each other, and drag ourselves into
the dirty muck we find ourselves in, instead of working together to better
our country.
We have turned a blind eye to all the cronyism, nepotism, tribalism
and racism to find ourselves where we are today. Our crisis is not an
overnight occurrence, and there is no remedy without unity and transparency.
United we can rid ourselves of the thieves and murderers in power, divided
we are forever enslaved by our fear. A coward dies a thousand deaths, but
the brave only taste death once. We can all make a difference by doing the
right thing and standing up to these guys.

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Amnesty exhibit urges immediate stop to Zim human rights abuses

By Alex Bell
27 August 2008

A new multi format exhibition hosted by Amnesty International is set to
build pressure on the Zimbabwean government to immediately put a stop to
ongoing human rights abuses in the country. The exhibit features images of
torture victims and police beating protesters along with the words of human
rights activists that Amnesty International hopes will inspire citizens
across Africa to press their governments for action against Zimbabwe.

Celebrated South Africa human rights activist Albie Sachs opened the exhibit
in Johannesburg on Tuesday, saying its strongest images weren't the most
gruesome. They were often taken by photographers risking arrest for
portraying Zimbabwe in a bad light. He said the formal portraits of
Zimbabweans like lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, renowned for her defense of
opposition politicians, journalists and human rights campaigners, were
stronger. Sachs said such portraits represent the "spirit of what the people
of the country can achieve despite all the difficulties."

The exhibition includes a video and a short play by a Zimbabwean street
theater group that is set to be performed daily, depicting Zimbabweans
declaring their refusal to live in constant fear. The portraits are
accompanied by taped testimonials, such as one from trade union activist
Lucia Gladys Matibenga, who described being beaten at a workers rights rally
in 2006 - a beating that left her with a broken arm and a ruptured ear drum.

Amnesty International's Simeon Mawanza told Newsreel on Wednesday that the
exhibition is not only an appeal to Africa to stand in solidarity with
Zimbabwe, but also for pressure to build on Zimbabwe's government to force
immediate change. He said the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe 'is very
desperate,' citing the ban on humanitarian food aid that left millions of
Zimbabweans facing starvation.

Over the next month, the exhibition titled 'My Rights My Struggle' is
scheduled to travel to countries including Tanzania, whose president
currently chairs the African Union; as well as Botswana and Senegal, whose
governments have been unusually critical of Robert Mugabe.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zimbabwe talks expected to resume

By Violet Gonda
27 August 2008

The gulf between the MDC and ZANU PF widened on Tuesday when Robert Mugabe
went ahead and convened parliament, in breach of the Memorandum of
Understanding signed by the rival parties. The rift cracked further as a
result of events in the House on Tuesday when MDC MPs drowned out Mugabe's
speech with booing and heckling.

This has resulted in South African President Thabo Mbeki convening a meeting
between the rival parties to resume the aborted negotiations. It's reported
the six negotiators, representing the Tsvangirai MDC, Mutambara MDC and ZANU
PF are expected to meet with South African officials on Thursday.

Because of the media blackout surrounding the talks it has been difficult to
verify this information but a senior MDC official, speaking on condition of
anonymity said the negotiators were expected on Thursday to meet South
African officials. The official said Mbeki convened the meeting in a bid to
explore the way forward in light of the developments in Zimbabwe where ZANU
PF has breached the MOU and has reversed gains achieved in the talks. "The
meeting seeks to explore opportunities on how the process can be salvaged
from total collapse," said the official.

South African media reports that Mbeki is set to travel to Zimbabwe for the
talks. But a South African spokesman denied this.

Some believe that Mbeki's plan to put pressure on Morgan Tsvangirai to sign
the deal by pushing for the convening of parliament backfired when the MDC
won the Speakership, humiliating both Mugabe and himself. He is now trying
to pick up the pieces by restarting the talks.

The talks reached a deadlock two weeks ago over the issue of how power would
be shared between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

It remains to be seen if ZANU PF will continue with the talks since Mugabe
appears to be unfazed by the deadlock and has not only gone ahead and
convened parliament, but has appointed his loyalists as senators and
governors. The ZANU PF leader is also making plans to form a new government.

It is feared the stalemate will result in the regime hardening its position
and hardships continuing. Already five MDC MPs were arrested this week, and
despite widespread appeals by humanitarian agencies, a food aid ban is still
in place.

In a clear sign of the regime's intentions Nathaniel Manheru, widely
believed to be Presidential spokesman George Charamba wrote in his weekly
Herald column: "We need Government, a strong Government, which will take
bold decisions without flinching. Globally, developments pitting Russia
against NATO present real opportunities. Back home, the mature realisation
that the enemy within needs to be handled conclusively will help. Structures
of war - economic war - are needed and will come shortly. As will
leadership. In the few months it will become apparent whether or not the
revolution can or cannot defend itself. By any means necessary."

Questions are now being raised as to why the MDC is continuing with this
charade as it is clear that the talks cannot yield anything. One observer
asked: "Why are both parties not calling off the talks or announcing that
they have failed? They all claim to be committed but the events on the
ground are contrary."

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Trial of Chikurubi 14 Postponed to 15 October 2008

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Bulawayo)

27 August 2008
Posted to the web 27 August 2008

FOURTEEN members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) appeared yesterday
morning, 26th August, before Magistrate Doris Shomwe in Harare Magistrate's
Court. They had been arrested near the Zambian Embassy in Harare on 28 May
2008, where they were to hand over a petition to the SADC chair calling for
an end to post-election violence.

Magistrate Shomwe allowed the state's application for the trial to be
postponed to 15 October 2008 on grounds that the prosecutor, Zvekare, who
was familiar with the case, had fallen ill and could not be in court.

Harrison Nkomo, the defence lawyer, had requested that the group be removed
off remand on the grounds that the state was obviously not prepared as they
had failed to deliver the court papers by 18th August as promised and the
continued appearances in court were prejudicial to the accused. He also
argued that the state had not provided any evidence that Zvekare was
actually ill, what he was suffering from and how long he had been ill for.

The replacement prosecutor Kaka had the activists speechless with his
antics. He insisted that the state was ready to proceed and could
immediately hand over copies of the docket but when the defence followed him
to his office following the hearing; it became apparent that the docket is
not complete.

Just another day in a politicised court system. WOZA look forward to the day
there will be a democratic transition in Zimbabwe that results in the
judiciary and police being depoliticised so that long-harassed human rights
defenders can access a just and fair legal system.

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MDC treason case postponed

Article By:
Wed, 27 Aug 2008 17:29
A court in Harare adjourned on Wednesday a bid by the deputy leader of
Zimbabwe's main opposition party, Tendai Biti, to have treason charges
dismissed, his lawyer said.

"We had opposed the continued placement of Mr Biti on remand on treason
charges," lawyer Lewis Uriri, told AFP, after the Movement for Democratic
Change secretary general's case was adjourned to 17 November.

The charges were brought in June ahead of the controversial presidential
run-off which saw President Robert Mugabe declared winner of a poll
internationally condemned as a sham.

Mugabe was unopposed after the first round winner, MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, withdrew due to election violence.

Uriri said a document on which Biti allegedly outlined a plan to rig the
March elections and install a transitional government was a forgery.

It was also a photocopy and therefore inadmissable, he added.

"There is nothing to investigate," Uriri said.

"The magistrate said the prosecution should be given more time to
investigate after they failed to deliver on their undertaking to provide a
trial date," he added.

Biti was arrested on 12 June minutes after arriving back in Zimbabwe
following a long stay in South Africa.

He faces a total of four charges including subverting the government,
election rigging and "projecting the president as an evil man" and was
accused of prematurely declaring Tsvangirai winner of the election after the
29 March first round.

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Watch out for the backlash!

As old as he is, Mugabe is taking nothing lying down

If anyone thinks that a surprise triumph in the election for Speacher, plus
a few boos and jeers and rude songs, in what is laughingly called our
parliament, will change anything, they are mistaken. That much became clear
this week, as Mugabe's thugs went back into action.

Members and supporters of the MDC in Harare's urban areas, particularly
Glenview and Mabvuku, who were unwise enough to begin celebrating
parliamentary events on Monday and Tuesday, soon found themselves under
attack. A gang of members of the National Youth Service, otherwise known as
the Green Bombers, went into their familiar action with batons and fists.

I myself was in Glenview, and witnessed a man I know, Takura Moyo, an MDC
supporter wearing a party t-shirt who was unwise enough not to flee, catch
the full force of the thugs. He is now in hospital in a critical condition.

I myself had to run for my life, when Green Bombers spotted I was taking
photographs of the events.

MDC members of parliament, those who boldly heckled and humiliated Mugabe
when he officially opened parliament yesterday, were today seeking police
protection for their journey between home and office, according to MDC
member Sekai Holland.

But such reliance on the forces of law and order may be self-defeating. At
the last count, the police admitted that they had five MDC members of
parliament currently under arrest, on charges ranging from sedition to rape.

The five have been named as Eliah Jembere, member of parliament for Epworth,
Pearson Mungofa of Highfield East, Bednoc Nyaude of Bindura South, Matthew
Mlambo of Chipinge East, and Trevor Saruwaka of Mutasa Central.

Much more of this kind of police protection, and Mugabe will once again have
a Zanu-PF parliamentary majority.

Posted on Wednesday, 27 August 2008 at 15:29

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SADC criticism grows as humanitarian crisis continues in Zim

By Alex Bell
27 August 2008

The criticism aimed at the Southern African Development Community has
continued to grow this week after the regional body failed to facilitate an
end to Zimbabwe's humanitarian and political crisis at a summit of heads of
state in South Africa this month.

The once influential group of African leaders has been under fire since the
summit that saw Robert Mugabe invited and welcomed as head of state - a move
which has been described as a disconcerting recognition by SADC of an
illegitimately elected leader. Meanwhile, a leaked confidential document
this week exposed SADC's support for Mugabe as Zimbabwe's leader, after it
revealed that SADC leaders sanctioned an agreement that would see Mugabe
remain as head of State and of the government.

With MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai refusing to sign the deal, SADC's call has
sparked widespread speculation that it is backing a deal that supports
Mugabe. The regional body's failure to pressure a signature out of
Tsvangirai has reportedly led to Mugabe being given the green light to
convene parliament. The speculation surrounding SADC's preferred leader has
since been justified with the leaked document exposing that a deal would be
fully in Mugabe's favour.

At the same time the regional body made no move to pressure an end to the
ongoing violence in Zimbabwe or call for the ban on humanitarian food aid to
be lifted - a ban that has left millions of Zimbabweans facing starvation.
The summit seemed the ideal opportunity for leaders to debunk the growing
belief that the region has no regard for the Zimbabwean people. However
despite pressure on SADC to take action in ending the humanitarian crises,
the body failed to even mention the ongoing abuses.

Tiseke Kasambala from Human Rights Watch told Newsreel on Wednesday that
SADC's silence on the humanitarian crisis is an indication that 'SADC has
once again failed the people of Zimbabwe.' She said SADC has 'rewarded the
main abuser, ZANU PF, by backing Robert Mugabe,' and said it is now
necessary for the African Union to take over the role that SADC has failed
at to bring an end to Zimbabwean crises.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Government Stalling on Media Reforms - MAZ

HARARE, August 27 2008 - The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) has
raised concern over the failure by the government to embrace principles of
freedom of expression and access to information since the signing of the
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by political parties on 27 July 2008.

"MAZ also notes with great trepidation that the harassment, torture,
threats as well as legal cases against journalists and media workers have
continued without any corrective actions by those that are in control of the
state security services or any statements of condemnation or redress from
the political parties involved in the current mediation process," said MAZ
in a statement.

MAZ said it was disturbed by the manipulation of the
government-controlled media, which has shut out dissenting voices and
provided only a partial and partisan account of the talks.

"What is required at this juncture is a media which informs the public
of the issues at stake and allows a variety of views to be heard.
Journalists should not behave as government public relations officers and
should adhere to professional standards. That is clearly not the case at

"The Alliance, therefore, recommends to the political parties involved
in the negotiations, the SADC appointed mediator, President Mbeki of South
Africa, his excellency the Chair of the African Union Commission Jean Ping,
the United Nations Special Representative to Zimbabwe, Haile Menkerios, the
Members of Parliament elect of the 7th Parliament of Zimbabwe that any
meaningful negotiations for the people of Zimbabwe must in them ensure the
following," said MAZ.

The organisation called for the repealing of the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act, the Broadcasting Services Act and the
Interception of Communications Act, a constitutional provision that
explicitly guarantees Freedom of the Press in line with other democratic
practices and recognition of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, a
professional media self-regulatory body that was endorsed by all media
stakeholders in 2007.

The organisation also proposed that the Media and Information
Commission, which has been open to official abuse, be abolished, the
formulation of media laws that guarantee freedom of the media to criticise
public office bearers and not unnecessarily protect them from public
scrutiny, and a broadcasting law that promotes media diversity through a
three-tier system as espoused in the African Charter on Broadcasting of 1991
that Zimbabwe is signatory to.

"The current Broadcasting Services Act has failed the nation and the
test of democracy in the past eight years," said MAZ.

Among the reforms proposed by MAZ include the conversion of Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation and Zimpapers from state media to truly public
media that serve all concerned Zimbabweans, enactment of a broadcasting law
that encourages foreign investment in the media for growth of the industry,
enactment of enabling legislation that recognises the convergence of
broadcast, telephony and other information communication technologies (ICT's);
and the rescinding of regulations that impede cost effective access by the
public to ICT's, including wireless spectrum and voice over internet
protocol services.

MAZ also called for the immediate cessation to the continuing climate
of repression in the country, including the arrest, assault and
incarceration of journalists and media workers, and use of hate speech by
those in public office against alternative voices. People should not be
afraid to air their views.

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Zimbabwe Health Experts Concerned That Most Sick People Cannot Afford Treatment


By Carole Gombakomba
26 August 2008

Health experts are concerned that most sick people are now opting to stay at
home due to lack of funds for treatment and the economic and political
climate in the country.

Some private doctors are now charging for services in foreign currency,
while medical aid societies are reportedly failing to honor payments to
hospitals and doctors, as the country's economy continues to spiral
Secretary of Health, Dr Henry Madzorere of the MDC formation led by Morgan
Tsvangirai, tells studio 7 for Zimbabwe reporter Carole Gombakomba that the
ongoing strike by junior doctors and nurses at state hospitals, has worsened
the situation and that there could be far too many unnenecessary deaths due
to the declining health care system.

Itai Rusike, executive director of the Community Working Group also tells
studio 7 that the burden has now been left to community health care workers
and relatives who are now struggling to take care of the sick in their

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US Warns of Humanitarian Disaster As Harare Keeps Lid on Aid Agencies


By Blessing Zulu
27 August 2008

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee has raised serious concern
with Harare's continued ban of food aid even as millions are on the verge of

Harare banned some NGO's from distributing food accusing them of
politicizing food distribution to effect regime change.

More than 5 million Zimbabweans will suffer food insecurity in the next nine
months, a million people more than the previous year, the Food and
Agricultural Organization (FAO) and World Food Program (WFP) said in its
crop assessment forecast released on 18 June.

"The Mission estimates that 2.04 million people in rural and urban areas
will be food insecure between July and September 2008, rising to 3.8 million
people between October and peaking to about 5.1 million at the height of the
hungry season between January and March 2009," the report said.

Ambassador McGee told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that there is food available but that Harare has stopped its distribution.

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ZBC Journalists Get Retrenchment Letters

HARARE, August 27 2008 - The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcast Holdings
(ZBH) has formally notified the seven journalists, who it once suspended on
accusation of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
in the run-up to the March 29 harmonised elections, of its intention to
retrench them.

The seven were served with letters on Tuesday, notifying them of the
company's intention to retrench them, under the guise of† "developing an
appropriate structure to meet the future needs of the corporation".

"The proposed new structure for our business has necessitated the
review of the current staffing levels of the corporation. This means that
there is a need to undertake a retrenchment exercise for the people who can
not be accommodated in the new organisation structure," reads part of the
letter from head of human resources, Benania Shumba.

Shumba said the retrenchment exercise would be handled in accordance
with the Retrenchment Regulations as outlined in statutory instrument (SI)
186 0f 2003.

The senior journalists were suspended three months ago as punishment
for failing to run a favourable campaign for President Robert Mugabe's
government, which lost elections to the opposition in March.

Those issued with the retrenchment letters are news editor Patrice
Makova and producers Monica Gavhera, Sibonginkosi Mlilo, Joel Mafema† and
Lawrence Maposa.

Two reporters Brian Paradza and Robert Tapfumaneyi have also been
shown the door.

Makova said they were told that the retrenchment negotiations would be
handled by Shumba and the seven's legal representative, Rodgers Matsikidze.

"We are very lucky because we took the matter to court, these people
wanted to fire us just like that. I personally have no hard feeeling and I
just have to move on with life," said Makova.

ZBH runs Zimbabwe's only television and four radio stations. ZBH was
initially conceived as a public broadcaster but is tightly controlled by
Mugabe's government, which has the final say on senior editorial and
managerial appointments.

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CHRA to hold harare municipal conference

27 August 2008

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) is holding the Harare Municipal Conference on Friday 29 August 2008 at Jameson Hotel in Harare. The conference is a platform on which the residents and the councilors come together to develop a common vision as well as strategy of addressing the service delivery problems bedeviling the once sun shining city of Harare. CHRA noted with concern the events at Town house, where such decisions like the approval of the supplementary budget was made without adequate consultation of the residents. While CHRA remains essentially a watchdog against the city council in the quest for service delivery improvement, the Association is also more than wiling to work together with the councilors to improve the lives of the residents.

While the residents and the councilors will work together to map out, prioritize and develop strategies to address the service delivery issues in Harare; the Conference is expected to tackle the following key issues;

The theme of the conference is “Consultation and Participation: The hallmark of good Local Governance”. This conference is one of the key activities being rolled out by CHRA in its bid to help improve service delivery in Harare The Association remains firmly committed and ready to defend its demand for enhanced civic participation in local governance.


Farai Barnabas Mangodza

Chief Executive Officer

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)

145 Robert Mugabe Way

Exploration House, Third Floor


†Landline: 00263- 4- 705114

Contacts: Mobile: 011 563 141, 0912638401, 011862012 or email, and

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What Mbeki must tell Mugabe

27 August 2008, 16:18 GMT + 2
PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki was set to head out to Harare, Zimbabwe, today to try
and salvage the talks between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai over the
future of that country.

He does so following a dramatic turn of events in that country as the MDC
won a vote for the position of Speaker and as opposition MPs jeered Mugabe
as he delivered his opening of parliament speech.

Mbeki, already regarded with some suspicion by the MDC, goes to Zimbabwe
with his legitimacy as a mediator at an all-time low.

This follows the decision by the recent SADC summit that the Zimbabwean
parliament should be allowed to convene despite a memorandum of
understanding between Mugabe and Tsvangirai in which it was agreed that such
institutional action be suspended until a settlement was reached.

It seemed the decision was designed to pressure Tsvangirai into caving in
because Mugabe had, at the time, cobbled together an alliance with an MDC
splinter group that would give him a majority in the house.

This is largely academic now as it appears that the MDC splinter group has
thrown its lot in with Tsvangirai.

But Mbeki will not easily be trusted again by the MDC.

Fortunately he has a ready opportunity to demonstrate his neutrality. Mugabe
is now planning to tear up what remains of his agreement with the MDC by
unilaterally forming a government.

This, coupled with the repeated detention of opposition MPs, suggests that
he has decided to go it alone.

Mbeki must refrain from holding hands with Mugabe. He must refrain from
grinning through garlands of flowers at Mugabe's side. He must refrain from
continuing the charade that Mugabe is a legitimate head of state.

He must stand up to Mugabe and deliver one simple message: Step aside, the
game is over.

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Morgan Tsvangirai: My dinner with Robert Mugabe

The Telegraph

Zimbabwe's opposition leader and President Robert Mugabe set aside years of
bitter rivalry and talked like a father and son when they met for a private
dinner last month.

By Heidi Holland in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 5:27PM BST 27 Aug 2008

Morgan Tsvangirai, who has repeatedly suffered arrest and assault at the
hands of Mr Mugabe's regime, described how the tension disappeared during
their first one-on-one meeting.

"A passer-by might have mistaken it for a lost father-son reunion," said Mr
Tsvangirai. "Initially, there was tension between us but as we chatted about
this and that and became more relaxed, I discovered that he was a human
being after all."

This private dinner, details of which have never previously been disclosed,
followed the public handshake between Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Mugabe in Harare.
Only weeks earlier, scores of opposition supporters had been murdered and
thousands assaulted or tortured during a bloody presidential election

But in an exclusive interview, Mr Tsvangirai said these traumatic events did
not come between him and the 84-year-old president. "We chatted about
family, about my mother, as well as about politics and the talks. Mugabe ate
a lot and knew exactly what he wanted. He is very alert mentally but,
physically, the age is telling."

Mr Tsvangirai said it would be "unfair" to reveal the political details of
90-minute dinner with Mr Mugabe. But he said the ageing leader was concerned
about his place in history and genuinely worried about Britain's alleged
plots to oust him - a constant feature of his speeches.

"I got the impression that he has a deep commitment to his legacy. I
realised that he actually believes a lot of what he is saying; it's not all
said just for propaganda purposes. He is paranoid about the British. I think
overall he wants to prove to them that he is right," said Mr Tsvangirai.

As for the British Government, Mr Tsvangirai discovered that Mr Mugabe views
Gordon Brown as an even more dedicated opponent than Tony Blair. "I said,
'Why don't you talk to them?' And he said, 'Well, you know, Blair was bad
enough but this Brown, he is even worse'."

Mr Mugabe's regime has been responsible for thousands of deaths since he won
power 28 years ago. But the old leader appeared genuinely pained about how
he is portrayed.

"At one point Mugabe told me, 'You know, some people say I'm a murderer. But
I'm not. Let the two of us carry on eating together and showing that we can
go forward in peace'," said Mr Tsvangirai.

But Mr Mugabe seemed to have blanked out the violence which scarred the
presidential election campaign and was firmly in denial about his own

"It felt like a remarkably normal conversation most of the time, apart from
his denial of the violence in Zimbabwe," said Mr Tsvangirai. "He seemed to
be unaware or he feigned ignorance of the atrocities committed by his own
people. I wondered if he was suppressing knowledge of something he was not
comfortable with. Right up to the end of the dinner, I kept coming back to
the issue of violence and he kept denying any knowledge of it."

Only a week after this meeting, however, Mr Mugabe gave a very different
message. During the annual ceremony remembering the dead of the war against
white rule, Mr Mugabe said: "We used violence to defend what is ours."

Mr Tsvangirai remains puzzled by the president's capacity for double-think
and denial. "I left the hotel wondering why Mugabe is so violent. Why does
he resort to violence whenever he is cornered? Being in his company, I
couldn't imagine where the violent streak was: I think he suppresses it,
even to himself. Or is it the people around him? He doesn't seem as bad when
you're with him, but I know he was trying to manipulate me that night."

Despite this friendly meeting, Mr Tsvangirai later refused to sign a
power-sharing deal that would have left Mr Mugabe in command of Zimbabwe's
government. But he said he felt "no sense of bitterness," adding: "I
actually have to admit that I have some respect for Mugabe, who used to be
my hero."

. Heidi Holland is the author of "Dinner with Mugabe", published by Penguin

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This moment of controversy

I am worried. I am worried that, caught up in the throes of the fight for
power sharing, we will compromise the principle of justice and reparations.
I am worried that we will turn the real deaths, torture and dismemberment of
real people into mere statistics to be read out on Heroes Day for years to
come. I am worried that the real stories of real 74 year old men in Gokwe
whose limbs have been broken, by design, for daring to father children who
grew up to be opposition activists, will disappear; that the stories of real
grandmothers who have succumbed to injuries from real beating by real hordes
of real youths sent by a real political machinery to spread fear and rob
people of their dignity will be but a distant memory.

I am worried that we will achieve peace but not justice. I am worried that
weary of all this crap, we are now preparing to favour expediency over
conviction. I look at the Simon Wiesental Centre that has given some measure
of justice to the Jewish people. I look at the truth and reconciliation
commission of South Africa that has given some measure of closure to the
people of South Africa and then I look at the struggle for "'power sharing"
in Zimbabwe and I worry.

How can you share power with the people who, by design, not in a civil war,
but by cold, calculated planning terrorised an entire nation just because
they lost an election? What manner of pragmatism is this that achieves
results for an elite and leaves gaping wounds seared into the memories of
thousands upon thousands of Zimbabwean citizens whose sole crime was to
exercise their right to choose? Have the chosen ones taken this very real
choice with very real consequences in vain?

Justice where art thou? Conviction, have you fled our hearts as we savour
the prospect of wood paneled offices? Shall we pay for this later and start
the cycle all over again? Who, in "this moment of controversy" shall remain
true to what we stand for?

"Truth above power, nation above government!"

This entry was posted on August 27th, 2008 at 11:37 am by James Hall

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Justice Versus Reconciliation

By Rejoice Ngwenya

Reconciliation talks mean that our self-inaugurated president Robert
Mugabe is now unlikely to face justice in Zimbabwe but it is hard to see
where he could run from international law - and he must know that.

The last colonial-vintage ruler, Ian Smith, spent the twilight of his
years peacefully at his Shurugwi farm. Credited with a dirty anti-liberation
war that accounted for 20,000 deaths in the 1970s, Smith received a
handshake of forgiveness on the eve of freedom in April 1980 from a Mugabe
who had been expected to vent his Marxist-Leninist vengeance on him. Now
national hatred has turned on Mugabe.

Mugabe's political resume features the Gukurahundi massacres in
Matabeleland with North Korean-trained troops, Operation Murambatsvina that
"cleaned out the filth" of slum-dwellers, military intervention in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, and the abduction, torture, murder and
displacement of thousands of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists:
These fall squarely into the category of crimes against humanity.

Now faced with the real prospect of him losing power, many of us
believe that for his every past action there should now be an opposite and
equal retaliation. There might be, however, a substantial part of the
present generation that will want to adopt a more conciliatory position to
facilitate rapid nation building.

We cannot expect any support for his prosecution from our neighbors
(except Botswana). Many Africans of all types support Mugabe and really
believe his economic vandalism is caused by Western (principally British)

Other Africans tell me Mugabe is not as bad as Uganda's Idi Amin or
Ethiopia's Haile Mengistu -- but this callous moral relativism means nothing
to the dead, the tortured or the fearful in Zimbabwe or to more than two
million refugees.

The only person with the moral authority to stand up and call the
dictator a dictator is our neighbor Nelson Mandela, but his single mild
comment about "failure of leadership" last month during the election terror
gave the impression that all Zimbabwe needs is a few policy adjustments.

In practice, it is difficult to see what trade-offs Southern African
Development Community-appointed mediator President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa can demand in order to insulate Mugabe from national or international

Pursuit of consensus like the 1979 British-brokered Lancaster House
Agreement calls for large-scale compromises but this depends on the ability
of MDC to extinguish the anger of its supporters and allies who bore the
full brunt of Mugabe's post-2000 political wrath followed by the latest
post-election campaign of terror.

Many groups are crying foul for being shut out of the negotiations in
Pretoria between Mugabe's representatives and the MDC: The 1998 People's
Convention that gave rise to the formal opposition was a concoction of
disparate civil society bedfellows.

Ironically, it is in Mugabe's own interest to encourage an inclusive
negotiating team since reconciliation and forgiveness are backed by the
Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Christian Alliance of Zimbabwe and the
Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe.

Yet the very relationship between freedom and justice is a potential
hazard for Mugabe and his cronies. If Zimbabweans suddenly find themselves
once more with a credible judiciary, even where Mugabe's legitimacy is no
longer a priority issue, aggrieved citizens -- and there are millions -- may
use their new-found freedom to challenge any immunity clause.

And international law now makes it impossible for dictators to retire
in comfort to the Cote d'Azur or even inside their own country: The
International Criminal Court's prosecutor filed charges of genocide, crimes
against humanity and war crimes against Sudanese President Omar Hassan
al-Bashir last month, around the time Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic
was mysteriously seized to face justice and while the trial of fallen
Liberian ruler Charles Taylor continues at the ICC.

Paradoxically, it makes dictators harder to shift as they have nowhere
to hide. China didn't seem to want him at the Olympics but they have no
problem selling him arms so maybe they or his friends in North Korea will
have him. Any offers?

*Rejoice Ngwenya, freelance columnist since 1986 and civil society
strategy consultant, has been involved in constitutional research and
electoral supervision from 2000 to the present. He campaigns for a free
market economy and liberal democracy and runs a policy dialogue think-tank
in Zimbabwe, Coalition for Market & Liberal Solutions

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Who goes on holiday to Zimbabwe?

Wednesday, 27 August 2008 12:34 UK

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

By Lucy Rodgers
BBC News Magazine

The Foreign Office warns against all but essential travel to Zimbabwe, but according to the country's tourism chiefs, thousands of people from overseas still head there every year. So who are Zimbabwe's tourists and why do they go?

With its economy shattered, poverty endemic and political strife and repression widespread, the state once described as an "outpost of tyranny" by the US is probably not at the top of everyone's holiday destination list.

But Zimbabwe boasts one of the natural wonders of the world in the magnificent Victoria Falls, the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and herds of roaming wildlife, and some hardy tourists are still being drawn across its borders.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls - 100m-deep gorge
Zambezi River - it flows 2,574km (1,544 miles)
Great Zimbabwe - most extensive ruins in sub-Saharan Africa
Wildlife reserves, including Hwange National Park and Matopos National Park

According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, more than 218,000 tourists from outside Africa entered the country last year, some 109,119 from Europe.

One of those who included the country in their travel itinerary was Adrian Wright, originally from Hampshire, who wanted to witness the elections earlier this year.

"I've always had an interest in the economy and politics and it was the most interesting time," says the 29-year-old, on a career break.

After a trip to Victoria Falls, Adrian headed to capital Harare, where he found he was the only tourist at the city's grand Meikles Hotel. The only other overnighters were election observers, he says, and the tourist industry appeared to have "completely shut down".

"I realised it wasn't going to be Disneyland. I saw a couple of other tourists in a backpacker place - but basically there was nothing to do for tourists."

Although the shops and shelves "were empty", if travellers have US dollars, supplies can always be bought on the black market which is "working proficiently", says Adrian, who now lives in Australia.

'Not recommended'

Safety was one of Adrian's main concerns and he ensured he always stayed near other people. The suburbs in particular "felt more intimidating", he says.

However, despite the challenges, Adrian says Zimbabwe was the most interesting part of his travels so far, but reluctantly admits: "I wouldn't be recommending people to go there."

Volunteer Ffion Bishop with a lion
I may even come back to Zimbabwe given half a chance
Ffion Bishop

As well as those attracted to Zimbabwe by history-in-the-making, the country's wildlife still acts as a draw for hunters, those on safari and volunteers on working holidays.

For former gym manager Ffion Bishop, of Kent, the desire to get involved with a lion conservation project was stronger than her safety concerns. The reassurances of her volunteer placement organisers, African Impact, also helped her feel more comfortable.

"I would have considered it [Zimbabwe] due to what I heard about the variety of wildlife here, although it would have been a harder decision if the project was not here to help," she says.

Although the 21-year-old has experienced daily power cuts, problems with telephone lines, the impact of food shortages and currency difficulties, she admits she has been shielded from much of Zimbabwe's troubles thanks to the protective environment at Antelope Park, in the country's midlands.

A generator on site allows her to "straighten her hair" and internet access means she can update her Facebook page to let family and friends know how she is doing.

Ffion has even extended her original one-month working holiday until September. "I may even come back to Zimbabwe given half a chance," she adds.

Falling numbers

But Adrian and Ffion remain in the minority. Tourism in the country is not what it once was.

In 1999, before the government began its forced seizures of white-owned commercial farms in 2000, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority recorded 597,000 overseas arrivals. But by 2005, after the collapse of the economy, the number of visitors from outside Africa was down to a low of 201,000.

Elephant in Zimbabwe

The wildlife is nowhere near as abundant as it was because of all the poaching and illegal hunting. This is all linked to the failing economy
Johnny Rodrigues
Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force

"Tourism has slowed to a trickle in the last few years," says Tom Hall, travel editor of the Lonely Planet guides.

"It is a shame because as well as Zimbabwe being the bread basket in that area of Africa - with agriculture and farming - it was also a tourism success story."

However, Zimbabwean authorities claim figures are now slowly climbing again, with 217,600 overseas tourists arriving last year. This includes a massive 42% rise in visitors from the Middle East.

"It has been a real challenge for us because not always what the media says is what is going on on the ground," says Felicia Munjaidi, who promotes Zimbabwe tourism in the UK for the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.

The country remains a "value-for-money" destination, she says, and insists Zimbabweans are still "known worldwide as the most welcoming hospitable people".

However, not everyone accepts the optimistic figures quoted by tourism chiefs.

"I don't believe them," says John Robertson, an independent economist in Harare, who states the government is "desperate to express what is happening in more upbeat terms".

The FCO advises against all but essential travel to Zimbabwe. But such travellers are told:

Keep a low profile
Avoid demonstrations
Do not travel to high density, low-income suburban areas
Monitor local media for developments
Source: FCO

Although tourism is probably no worse than it was a few years ago, it cannot be argued there has been a recovery, he says.

"We have very, very under-occupied hotels, a very low degree of trade of tourist type items - those shops are barely functioning."

He believes it will take years for the industry to get back on its feet. Hotels need overhauling, new aircraft bought, fuel and food shortages resolved and favourable exchange rates brought in before tourists will be drawn back in any great numbers, he says.

But, he adds, the biggest challenge will be restocking the country's wildlife, which he claims could take 25 to 30 years.

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force estimates game ranches have lost between 80% and 90% of wildlife to poachers, with national parks down almost 40%.

"The wildlife is nowhere near as abundant as it was because of all the poaching and illegal hunting. This is all linked to the failing economy," says Johnny Rodrigues, the task force's chairman. "Unemployment is rife so the locals have no money and no food. They see the wildlife as meat for the pot."

Economic benefits

So what of the ethics of visiting a country with such a poor record on human rights and conservation?

Tourism Concern does not advise against going, but says travellers should bear in mind tourist dollars spent at "big international hotels or foreign-owned safari lodges" will not necessarily benefit local people or the wildlife.

People go on holiday to have an experience and that place has that has the wow factor
Timothy George
Tour operator

But Timothy George, of British-based tour company African Sunset, is more positive about the power of tourist cash. For every 22 tourists, one job is created for a local person, he says.

He believes visitors will return to Zimbabwe because the country still has what tourists are looking for and this will, in turn, help the country get back on its feet.

"Yes, there is political strife and things that are not right in terms of what the government is doing, but the country is really something to behold. People go on holiday to have an experience and that place has that has the wow factor."

Yet, however optimistic some in the industry remain, most appear to agree Zimbabwe will only truly win back its rightful place on travellers' itineraries when it achieves genuine economic and political stability.

Add your comments on this story, using the form below.

I was at Victoria falls, Zambia, last year and there were many tourists paying the 50 USD for a Zim visa simply to see the falls from the other side of the border. I wonder how many of the 218,000 visitors are only venturing about 1km into Zimbabwe to see Vic Falls for the day.....
Alex, Norwich

This was an interesting story but I would have liked to know what 'value for money' means. There were no prices in the report. How much is it for one of the empty hotel rooms, a safari, beer or taxi?
Chris Allen, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

The western scribes exaggerate the safety concerns for tourists in Zimbabwe. This place is safer than what you may think of. We concur that there is economic meltdown, but there is more to that. Zimbabweans are a resilient lot showing tremendous energy even in the hardest times, beaming with every aura of warmth for visitors. Come visit us here in our little piece of heaven of Mutare, one of the less beaten tracks for the tourists
Lovemore Dzakamenywa, Mutare, Zimbabwe

Read the article with interest and can concur with a lot of the comments. As to our feelings, we visited for the first time Christmas and New Year 2008 with our 15 year old son and so fell in love, that we are returning this Sept 08 for 3-4 more weeks. The country is amazing, wildlife was abundant (even in the worst rainy season for years)but the people made it very special. I am not sure about the visitor numbers quoted above, I think Christmas/New Year would be one of the busiest times and we saw nobody at Vic Falls at Christmas! We are partaking in a national game count at Mana Pools this year so will also have accurate info on game numbers after that. We are taking the majority of food with us (dried goods) as it is near impossible to buy except through some hotels. It is not a place for folk who are not prepared to be flexible but it does make our whingeing about minor inconveniences seem rather pathetic!
Becca Charron, Corfe Castle, direst, UK

As Ffion's sister, I know she has had the time of her life in Zimbabwe. She is due home in 2 weeks, though I fully expect FFion to return in the near future, regardless of the current problems the country is facing. She has loved every minute! (However we miss her terribly)
Elin Bishop, Manchester

I visited Zimbabwe in 2006 and have declared to visit again. The situation was not good then, and it pains me to see the situation the country is now in, just 2 years on. I only travelled through the western side, from Vic falls to South Africa, but during the 2 weeks found the people the most friendly, and the countryside the most stunning of all 4 Southern African countries I visited during my trip. I have utter admiration for all the local park rangers and lodge owners in Hwange & Matopos NPs, all pooling in together to ensure the welfare of the remaining wildlife. Some of the rangers used to work on the farms until the land re-distribution, but had to seek other work to feed their families as they did not have the skills to the run the farms. Their dedication to the cause is bordering on heroic in light of the political situation.
Stuart, Netherlands.

I visited Zimbabwe last year & I'm due back in 2 weeks time. We found everyone, officials & citizens very welcoming & helpful.

If you want "away from the maddening crowd" here it is! I do not see my money as supporting Mugabe but as giving life to wonderful people!
roger, Ashford, Kent. UK

I think many people would like to visit countries like Zimbabwe which have a lot to offer but most tourists would find that there were too many complications, such as travel insurance and currency issues. I recently went on an overland tour from Cape Town to Nairobi and most of the overland companies are unfortunately no longer entering Zimbabwe. Our tour company was still planning on entering Zimbabwe when we left Cape Town but when we got nearer political tensions had intensified and at the time Zimbabwe was on the list of countries the Foreign Office advised against all travel to. I was disappointed because I would like to have seen even a small part of Zimbabwe and if it had been a few weeks either side of the elections we still would have gone in. Some people from my tour went across from the Zambian side of Victoria Falls but British people only get single entry visas into Zambia which cost more than any other nationality (USD140) so it wouldn't have been worth paying all that money to get back in to Zambia again which I needed to do to continue my tour. I would consider going to Zimbabwe in the future but only if the political and economic situation there stabilised.
Amy Bryant, Hertfordshire, UK

My wife son and I spent 6 weeks in Zim last Sept. and it was the best holiday we have ever had. We did have inside help as my sister lived there at the time (she has since left) but we never felt unsafe. Wonderful people, wonderful place. We stayed out of trouble spots, (there are some parts of London I wouldn't walk around after dark!) and as long you had US dollars you could get stuff. Hotels in Victoria Falls had food, beer wine and the like but you paid in US. Wangi game park had more food and drink than you could eat and enough fuel to get us around. Again paid in US. They just popped across to Botswana periodically for supplies. The problem is the people who have to live there and get paid in Zim dollars. Desperate!!!!
Brian, Potton

As an ex Zimbabwean, I agree that the beautiful country has a lot to offer, but it must not be forgotten though that every amount of foreign currency that goes into the country helps to prop up the Government.
Lesley Strasser, Seaford. UK

I think it is pretty disgusting to visit Zimbabwe at this time as a tourist. Too flaunt your western wealth in the faces of people who have suffered so much at the hands of a wretched and despicable dictator is frankly brainless. I visited Zimbabwe in the mid nineties and even then the poverty in the rural areas was obvious. I hate to think what it is like now and I would not spend one more penny propping up such a nasty regime whose clear aims and objectives are to annihilate life on earth too fill it's on coffers.
E C, Whetstone UK

The story is very good because it tells the real truth about the issue of tourism and reality about political situation in Zimbabwe. so, tourism authority in the country should be independent from the government problems and provide security measures to protect tourists. Zimbabwe is a good place for tourism especially its some times called a home for lions and elephants without forgetting Victoria falls created by God him self. Authorities should really work hard to provide security so that we the nature lovers can visit all animals and good nature created by God. if you do not do that, i think God will ask you many question and even question why you make those animals remain in starvation for good tourists.
John Sesonga, Kigali, Rwanda

Backpacker tourists still flocking to Zimbabwe does not surprise me at all. Backpackers are usually very tight with cash, but desperately yearning to have impressive and "hard-core" tales to tell in a blase manner when they get home. So, going to a destination like Zimbabwe fits the bill perfectly. Backpackers perceive that it's not an all out "shooting war", which would seem actually dangerous. They see that it's just suffering "economic and internal political problems", which is interpreted as seeming cheap and non-threatening to outsiders. Many feel that the kudos amidst peers that they can earn through vicariously dropping in and scooting around the country with their fistfuls of Rands and Pounds in a country in the news all the time is just the ticket.
T Miller, London, UK

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