|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Dr. Keith Martin, M.D., M.P.
Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 01 December 2001
MP Martin Introduces Motion to Impose Sanctions on Zimbabwe
Ottawa: Dr. Keith Martin, Member of Parliament for Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca and Official Opposition Critic for Africa will introduce a Motion in the House of Commons today, November 28, 2001, at 3:00pm EST calling for sanctions against the brutal regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
Motion M-429 calls upon the Canadian government “in cooperation with other like-minded nations” to:
a) Freeze the personal assets of President Mugabe;
b) Ban all international travel by Mr. Mugabe and his Ministers;
c) Suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth;
d) Impose an arms embargo on Zimbabwe.
Dr. Martin, who recently returned from Zimbabwe, said, “The crisis in Zimbabwe deepens every day. As the world’s attention is on Afghanistan, President Mugabe and his band of thugs are terrorizing the Zimbabwean population. They are beating, raping, and murdering opposition members and the rural black population. It is time the international community acted and impose these sanctions. The only message Mr. Mugabe may understand is a firm unequivocal response from the international community that effects him personally.”
For further information, call:
Steven Barrett at 613-996-2625
From The US House of Representatives, 28 November
Democracy Bill passes key House committee
Washington, DC - As the situation in Zimbabwe descends further into chaos, the House International Relations Committee passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 [S. 494] on Wednesday unanimously. The legislation has been passed by the Senate and is supported by the State Department. It should soon head to the House floor for final consideration. Africa Subcommittee Chairman Ed Royce praised the bill, saying it provides reasonable guidelines for US engagement with Zimbabwe, expresses the United States' interest in assisting the Zimbabwean people with economic development, and provides funding for such efforts when the rule of law has been established and when free and fair elections are possible.
Royce took the gloves off when describing Zimbabwe's ruler, who many have likened to a dictator. "In Zimbabwe, we're sadly seeing a power-crazed, aged-dictator literally burning his country down. Desperate to keep his perks, and avoid accountability for his crimes, President Robert Mugabe has sanctioned utter anarchy in his homeland in an attempt to win an election he has been pressured by Zimbabweans into holding. If he had his way, Mugabe would undoubtedly run Zimbabwe as the one-party state he ran through the 1980s," he said. But Royce wasn't finished. He continued, saying, "Mugabe has spared no means in his attempt to suppress democratic expression. His Zanu PF party thugs have employed murder, mass beatings, systematic torture, gang rape, house burning, death threats and every type of police brutality. And while Zimbabwe police are quick to crack down on peaceful political protest, violent Zanu PF operatives are rarely brought to justice. Dozens of political opponents have been murdered in state-sanctioned violence. Yet Mugabe doesn't speak out against those doing the violence. He instead calls the peaceful political opposition 'terrorists,' and vows to crush them. Having led a congressional delegation to Zimbabwe several years' back, I saw then the climate of fear the Zimbabwe government long ago created."
One of the "sticks" in the bill is the imposition of personal sanctions on Mugabe and his ruling elite. "This legislation importantly asks the administration to begin a process of identifying the assets of Zimbabwe's rulers to impose personal sanctions against them for breaking down the rule of law in Zimbabwe," Royce said. Royce also contrasted the irresponsible and violent rule of Mugabe to the democratic and peaceful governing by Nelson Mandela. "What a depressing contrast between Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and South Africa's Nelson Mandela. Mandela prized democracy and the rule of law. He stepped down from power when people were telling him he was a king. He brought races together. What we have in Zimbabwe is Mugabe threatening his political opponents with death and who sends his thugs to terrorize teachers working for a better future," Royce said.
From BBC News, 28 November
Zimbabwe police accused of torture
Bulawayo - Two opposition activists, held in connection with the murder of a leading war veteran in Zimbabwe, have said they were tortured into confessing by the police. Cain Nkala, a stalwart in the ruling Zanu PF party, was abducted from his home in the second city of Bulawayo earlier this month. His body was found a week later. The government accused the opposition Movement for Democratic Change of being behind the killing and 14 MDC suspects were detained, including an MP, Fletcher Dulini-Ncube. At Nkala's funeral, President Robert Mugabe, accused the MDC of being a "terrorist" organisation. The two suspects, Khentani Sibanda and Remember Moyo, made the disclosure during their bail application before Bulawayo High Court Judge, Justice Lawrence Kamocha. Mr Sibanda denied he was involved in Nkala's killing. He told the judge that the MDC leaders were also not involved in the abduction and murder of the Bulawayo war veterans leader. He said he made the confessions under torture after the police had threatened to kill his family. He told the judge: "My Lord, I have nothing to do with the murder. Even the MDC leaders were not involved. I was only forced to implicate them to save my life."
Mr Moyo described to the judge how the police in Mbembesi Camp tortured him and forced him to confess to the murder. He said his genitals were tortured by the police, who also told him to implicate the opposition party in the killing. Mr Moyo also denied receiving funds from the MDC Member of Parliament for Lobhengula constituency, Fletcher Dulini-Ncube to kill the war veterans leader. Mr Dulini is currently in police custody and was among six MDC leaders who were denied bail by the courts. Mr Moyo also denied before the court that he knew Simon Spooner, an advisor to the MDC Member of Parliament for Bulawayo North constituency, David Coltart. According to Mr Moyo, he only saw Mr Spooner at Khami Prison where they were both being held. He also denied that Mr Spooner, a former soldier who trained in Australia, was involved in Cain Nkala's murder. "All these people, my Lord, are innocent. I only implicated them because I was tortured by the police. Police officers kicked me all over the body. Two police officers held my legs apart while I was kicked in the groin until I lost consciousness," he said. Mr Moyo said when he regained consciousness he was in an empty cell. His clothes were removed and he was forced to sleep on the bare concrete floor for two days. He urinated blood because of the injuries to his groin, he told the court. The judge ordered the two suspects to be examined by a medical doctor. Among the people who packed the court were police, government agents, MDC supporters and journalists.
From The Financial Gazette, 29 November
Mugabe deploys troops in MDC base
President Robert Mugabe this week deployed troops in the opposition’s stronghold in northwestern Zimbabwe in a move analysts warned could hasten the total collapse of a nation that has in the last few years dramatically leapt from crisis to crisis. Analysts said Mugabe’s decision to send armed soldiers in the predominantly opposition supporting provinces of Matabeleland just when the international community is calling on him to uphold democracy and human rights could be the last straw to break the patience of both Zimbabweans and the international community. "Mugabe is living dangerously," said University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political science professor Masipula Sithole. Sithole was referring to Mugabe’s insistence that he will not heed the growing international calls for more democracy and his threats that if need be, the crisis-ridden southern African nation would go it alone without the rest of the world. Sithole said: "More powerful nations before have failed to get far along this go it alone path. How far can Zimbabwe go with an ailing economy and with the whole world united against it?"
Mugabe last week bluntly told off European Union (EU) council of ministers president Louis Michel, foreign policy chief Javier Solana and commissioner for external affairs Chris Patten that the EU had no business in Zimbabwean affairs. That was after the visiting trio had requested, during talks in Harare, guarantees that next year’s presidential election will be free and fair. Michel told the Press after meeting Mugabe that the EU would not recognise the outcome of the critical presidential poll unless Mugabe and his government allowed it to be organised by an independent electoral commission and unless it was held under the spotlight of the whole world. Analysts say Mugabe fears a free presidential ballot could easily be won by the popular opposition MDC party leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC weathered political violence in which more than 32 people, most of them its supporters, died to almost defeat Mugabe’s ruling party by grabbing 57 seats against Zanu PF’s 62. Another smaller opposition party won the remaining seat. Similar threats by the US government not to recognise the presidential ballot unless it was truly democratic have also been laughed off by Mugabe even as Washington is currently preparing legislation to impose sanctions on him and his top lieutenants for failing to uphold democracy and human rights.
To cap a grand plot under which Mugabe has tightened election rules and other laws in his favour and clamped down on the media, the 77-year-old president earlier this week ordered heavily armed troops into some parts of Matabeleland. A government spokesman told state television the army was in Matabeleland to quell terrorism following the recent killings of two Zanu PF supporters in the region. The deployment of the soldiers has revived bitter memories of a bloody army crackdown in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the early 1980s that left more than 20 000 civilian supporters of the late nationalist Joshua Nkomo dead. UZ Institute of Development Studies associate professor Brian Raftopoulos said the deployment of the army was a ploy to destabilise the MDC ahead of the presidential poll and to create conditions that made it impossible for the opposition party to campaign. Raftopoulos said Mugabe was going to continue defying international calls for a free and fair presidential poll and that he will go ahead and stage the ballot under conditions well below acceptable standards of democracy in the hope that other southern African leaders will back him anyhow. He added: "Mugabe knows that there are many among his southern African colleagues equally less committed to democracy and that they will simply endorse the election even if it was not free and fair." With the blessings of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Mugabe could try to re-engage the international community by offering some compromises even on the contentious land issue in order to get back international support, Raftopoulos said. "It is a gamble that might not pay. But it could also be a successful gamble given the fact that the international community itself can be very flexible at times," Raftopoulos noted.
But Sithole was adamant that even this strategy would not pay off for Mugabe because the international community was not going to relent on its demands that he upholds democracy and the rule of law. According to Sithole, even if SADC leaders were to endorse an undemocratic presidential election, such recognition would not be beyond SADC borders. "There is a higher price to pay for staging a kangaroo election and Mugabe and his government may not survive that price," Sithole observed. The international community, which until now has only threatened to impose targeted sanctions against Mugabe and top officials of his government, could react to any attempts to steal the ballot with more severe and comprehensive sanctions, Sithole said. UZ business studies professor Tony Hawkins said Zimbabwe’s tottering economy would not be able to withstand sanctions for long. But much more worrying, said Sithole, was that if Mugabe used the army to suppress growing but peaceful opposition to his rule, that could eventually lead to an underground and violent resistance by the people. "If you discourage democratic politics by denying the people a peaceful means to change the situation, what recourse have they but to turn violent?" he asked.
From The Independent (UK), 29 November
Zimbabwe's churches defy Mugabe by delivering food to starving people
Bulawayo/Harare - Faced with increasing reports of deaths from malnutrition in Zimbabwe, churches are openly defying an edict from President Robert Mugabe that only ruling-party officials may distribute food aid. The churches' defiance comes as an independent newspaper, the Financial Gazette, reveals today that the 77-year-old leader has ordered bomb-proof underground bunkers to be dug around his home and offices, as well as the delivery of 86 army trucks believed to come from Austria - although there is an EU embargo on defence equipment to Zimbabwe. The underground chambers, to be built of reinforced concrete, are being planned to allow Mr Mugabe to prepare for unrest or civil war, in the event of his losing next year's elections, according to the paper.
In Bulawayo and rural districts in the south of the country, Mr Mugabe's campaign to stay in power has already translated into hunger among thousands of people, according to the prominent Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube. He said: "The hunger is caused by the government's hypocrisy. It wants to distribute food assistance itself, so as to buy votes. It does not care how many people die as long as it can stay in power." The looming crisis comes after Mr Mugabe earlier this month banned hundreds of the country's commercial farmers from working their land and told their properties had, in effect, been nationalised. The regional World Food Programme director, Judith Lewis, said: "What we are seeing is a developing complex emergency."
In Masase, a village of some 2,000 people in the Midlands, it is the Lutherans who are defying the ruling Zanu PF), and covertly supplying food. It is to people like Reverend Anders Berglund, from the Swedish Church, that Zimbabwe's Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, refers when he claims foreigners "might try to smuggle election monitors into Zimbabwe using the guise of food aid". Rev Anders said: "Children are fainting in class and the school day has had to be shortened because kids do not have the energy to concentrate." Masase is a well-kept village which voted for Zanu PF in the parliamentary elections. Despite living in a "privileged" place, the women struggle to feed their families. Dozens of them congregate every day at the Vashandiri milling co-operative, set up by the church. Here, for a small fee, they mill maize corn and turn a profit from selling the flour, which is the staple food in these parts. But they are unable to grow their own maize due to poor weather conditions. For two years, the south and east of the country, which are drought and flood-prone, have been subject to devastating weather.
Michael Ncube, co-ordinator of the Catholic Development Commission in Bulawayo, said: "Matabeleland is mainly a cattle and ranching area. Crops do not do well here at the best of times. Two years of bad weather is too much for people to bear. Now their seeds are depleted. So as well as supplying food aid to children, breast-feeding mothers and the elderly, we are buying maize and sorghum seeds in town and transporting them to rural areas were we sell them for less than we paid." Food experts explain that Zimbabwe - usually a "food-surplus country" - is in normal circumstances capable of assisting its southern and eastern provinces when disaster strikes. But the political turmoil in fertile Mashonaland, in the north, was so intense ahead of last year's parliamentary elections that stocks were never built up.
To the archbishop, a long-time critic of Mr Mugabe, Matabeleland's crisis has a more sinister explanation. "We have always been neglected because we have a history of not supporting Zanu PF," he said. The Most Reverend Ncube, who received so many death threats ahead of last year's elections that the Vatican demanded that Mr Mugabe guarantee his safety, said 80 per cent of people in Matabeleland live below the poverty level. He said: "As far as I am concerned Mr Mugabe can take a flying jump into the Zambezi River. Last year, Matabeleland voted against the government. Now they are not distributing food here ... So we are having to circumvent rules to help people keep body and soul together. We did not tolerate racism when there was white rule here, and we will not tolerate this."
Lovemore Madhuku, the 34-year-old law professor who was arrested while trying to organise a demonstration on Tuesday in Harare, was set yesterday to spend a second night in police custody. Pro-democracy campaigners said he had still not been charged or allowed to see a lawyer.
From Business Day (SA), 29 November
Harare attacks ‘pack of lies’ on Congo looting
Harare - Zimbabwe's government has dismissed as false a damning United Nations report implicating it in the looting of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The state-run Herald reported Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge yesterday as saying the UN report was a "pack of lies" invented by the British. While UK citizens were among many dozens of government officials, businessmen, bankers, diplomats and representatives of nongovernmental organisations from many countries questioned by UN investigators, no British official sat on the UN panel. Mudenge said: "We know that the report has been created by the British government, who are keen to discredit Zimbabwe at all costs." The UN report was issued last week to complement a study on illegal exploitation of Congo's natural wealth and other resources that came out in April when the UN Security Council extended the mandate of UN investigators. The panel found that all sides in the conflict were plundering Congolese natural resources. The 38-page study was released by a team headed by Egyptian ambassador Mahmoud Kassem and including members from Pakistan, Senegal, Switzerland and the US. Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola deployed troops to the Congo in 1998 to back the Congolese government against a rebel insurgency launched with military support from Rwanda and Uganda.
All parties concerned whether invited or uninvited by the Congolese government are undertaking "commercial activities" there, but the report was particularly critical of the role played by Zimbabwe on the side of the allies, as well as some Ugandan and Rwandan army elements and their rebel associates among Kinshasa's foes. Harare has clinched a range of Congolese business deals, including mining concessions. The UN investigators highlighted the influential role of the Zimbabwean defence force in the mineral-rich Kasai and Katanga provinces, but said the military had begun reducing its "direct involvement" while "increasing the role of concerned ministries". "President Joseph Kabila's personal protection is partly ensured by Zimbabwean special forces," the report said. "The government of Zimbabwe views these exploitation activities (mineral, timber and other resources) as legitimate commercial ties with a neighbouring sovereign state, to whose aid it had come under the Southern African Development Community Treaty's collective security provision." Relations between Zimbabwe and former colonial master Britain are looking increasingly strained. Last week British Foreign Minister Jack Straw threatened diplomatic action over the Zimbabwe government's labelling of foreign correspondents here as "terrorists".