The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Robert Mugabe loyalists plan final eviction of white
farmers as his "birthday present"
A secret plan has been hatched by by Robert Mugabe's
most loyal supporters to evict the last of Zimbabwe's white farmers from their
land before his 85th birthday.
Their leader is already planning to celebrate the
occasion with vast quantities of champagne and caviar, despite half his country
But just in case the Bollinger laid on for President
Mugabe's 85th birthday does not provide quite enough fizz, his acolytes are
preparing an extra surprise for the occasion - a fresh onslaught against
Zimbabwe's last white farmers.
Police, prosecutors and magistrates loyal to the
Zimbabwean president are understood to be co-ordinating a strategy of mass
summons against the few hundred remaining white owners, aiming to bring them to
court and serve eviction notices over the coming week.
The deadline for completing the action is on Saturday
Feb 21 - the day before Mr Mugabe's birthday, and a week before his planned
official birthday bash, which has already provoked a storm of criticism for its
extravagance. The hospitality will reportedly include 2,000 bottles of Moet and
Chandon and '61 Bollinger champagne, 500 bottles of Johnny Walker Blue Label
whisky, 400 portions of caviar and 8,000 lobsters.
While no official reason has been given for the fresh
campaign of evictions, insiders suspect it is timed to hand Mr Mugabe a potent
propaganda gift during his birthday celebrations, which normally feature
grandstanding anti-colonial speeches to the nation.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that last Tuesday,
in contravention of justice laws, groups of law enforcement officials held a
secret eviction strategy meeting in Mutare, 160 miles east of Harare. The plan
was to send out a blizzard of court summons to all local white farmers who had
so far defied eviction orders, aiming to put them on fast-track trial and jail
them for up to two years. In the meantime, new occupants, mostly servicemen,
will be allowed to move on to their land.
The officials are believed to think that with the
world's attention focused on the inauguration of Zimbabwe's new powersharing
cabinet, cries of foul play will go largely unheeded.
Among those to receive a summons was farmer Michael
Mackersie, who will head to court on Monday for the 63rd time in three years.
"If I lose this one, I think that will be it," said Mr Mackersie.
The Law Society of Zimbabwe said that if it could
that prove any of the government judicial officers were members, they would be
But as well as legal moves, the renewed land grab
campaign has also involved violent harassment. Mike Odendaal, a farmer, is
currently surrounded by a pro-Mugabe militia at his home in Chipinge, about 40
miles south of Mutare, "We have advised him to stay inside. If he moves outside
he may be attacked and they will take his house and then he is gone," said Deon
Theron, vice president of the Commercial Farmers' Union.
"This is the biggest push against us in the last few
years, worse than the violent weeks after the opposition MDC won last year's
Last November, Mr Mackersie was one of 78 farmers who
won their case at the Southern African Development Community Tribunal, a court
of last resort which ruled that Mr Mugabe had ethnically purged white farmers
and failed to pay compensation. It ordered that those white farmers who had so
far resisted the land grab, in which more than 4,000 white farming familes were
kicked off their land, be left in peace.
Mr Mugabe, who launched the land grab policy nine
years ago as part of a campaign to redress perceived colonial injustices, has
said that the tribunal has no jurisdiction in Zimbabwe.
100 WOZA and MOZA arrested in Byo
WOZA and MOZA arrested in the streets
of Bulawayo on Valentine's Day
Press statement from Women of Zimbabwe Arise
At least 800 members of WOZA and MOZA took to the streets of
morning, Valentine's Day, urging Zimbabweans to let love light
the way. At
the time of this release, at least a hundred women and men have
arrested by riot police. It is not clear exactly how many people in
have been arrested as the large group that had been sitting under
broken down into smaller groups by police and these smaller
groups are still
being taken in Bulawayo Central Police Station.
peaceful Valentine's protest had four different starting points - two
beginning at opposite sides of Herbert Chitepo Street in central Bulawayo at
10am and two beginning at opposite sides of Fort Street at 10.05am. The plan
was for all four groups to meet on 9th Avenue and process together to the
office of the state-owned Chronicle newspaper. All four demonstrations
started on time, despite a heavy police presence in the city centre. One of
the first groups starting on Herbert Chitepo was stopped after one block by
riot police however. A leader was arrested and the rest of the group told to
disperse, which they did peacefully.
The other three groups
successfully met up with each other on the corner of
9th Avenue and Fort
Street but were unable to process further as they were
stopped by riot
police. Hundreds of members were held under arrest at this
someone who was taking photographs. Due to the size of the
arrest however, several people were able to slip away.
As people slipped
away, they met up with those that had avoided arrest and
spontaneous marches through town or else congregated as
delegations at the
Chronicle. Several groups of WOZA members were seen
entering the Chronicle
offices to deliver Valentine's cards, roses and
is traditionally an occasion that WOZA has used to urge
choose love over hate and marks the 7th anniversary of WOZA's
demonstration also marks the first public action in Bulawayo
of the new WOZA
campaign, Take the Step, which is designed to encourage
continue with the civic participation that they demonstrated
This year the Valentine's Day protests take place at the dawn of a
government that was sworn in this week and follows the Harare
Tuesday protest to Parliament that resulted in the arrest of eight
and two lawyers. All 10 were released from custody on bail on
after appearing in court.
The events in Bulawayo today,
together with the arrest of the 10 people
after Tuesday's protest, the
arrest of MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett on the day
of the swearing in of
Ministers and the continued incarceration of Jestina
Mukoko and other
abductees despite court orders instructing their release,
evidence however that nothing has changed in Zimbabwe. More than
Zimbabweans need to remain vigilant and participate in defending their
rights and freedoms against a regime determined to cling to power despite
the platitudes they mouth that they are prepared to share
Solidarity events are also being held in London, Canada and South
today. WOZA invites any friends or supporters to join one of these
to simply light a candle to show your solidarity with Zimbabweans
despite remaining in the darkness, are trying their best to let love
the way forward.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
in Zimbabwe Draws Fire of Premier
By CELIA W. DUGGER
February 14, 2009
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's new prime minister, Morgan
Saturday that the arrest of one of his closest allies on
treason charges on
Friday was politically motivated by elements in President
party "determined to undermine the spirit and credibility of
The arrest of Roy Bennett, a white farmer who
is treasurer of Mr. Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change and his
nominee for deputy agriculture
minister, soured what was to have been a day
of pageantry and good will as
ministers in the new coalition government were
Instead, Mr. Bennett's incarceration at a jail in eastern Zimbabwe
suggests how difficult it will be for Mr. Mugabe's party, ZANU-PF,
ruled Zimbabwe for almost three decades, to work constructively
political opposition that it has long derided as a pawn of the West
subjected to violent intimidation.
Hours before Mr. Bennett's
arrest, Mr. Tsvangirai, who was himself acquitted
of treason charges in
2004, told journalists that the world needed to stop
thinking of Mr. Mugabe
as the problem and to see instead that confidence was
building in the
power-sharing deal, under which he and Mr. Mugabe are to
In an interview on Saturday, Mr. Tsvangirai did not sound so
careful not to criticize Mr. Mugabe, he suggested that some
in ZANU-PF would
like the deal to fail. His view echoed that of civic
activists who worry
that hard-liners in Mr. Mugabe's repressive security
fearful of prosecution for their human rights crimes, are
trying to scuttle
Mr. Tsvangirai's party alleged in a
statement on Saturday that military
intelligence had planned Mr. Bennett's
arrest and that there was a plan to
"dump Roy Bennett into the Chivero
River," and it warned that any harm to
him "will be placed squarely on those
responsible." Mr. Tsvangirai said,
"President Mugabe and myself will meet to
address these issues as a matter
Mr. Bennett was
arrested by the law and order division of the police, which
political crimes, according to The Herald, a state-owned newspaper.
Tsvangirai said he knew that some had suggested that he was naïve to
government with Mr. Mugabe, but he insisted that the negotiated
was "the most workable solution."
"People have no food, no schools," he
said. "The country is on its knees. We
had to act. We could not be seen to
be authors of chaos."
Mr. Tsvangirai, a former trade unionist who has led
the political opposition
for the past decade, won more votes than Mr. Mugabe
in March but dropped out
of a runoff after widespread, state-sponsored
violence against his
followers. As prime minister, he is faced with running
the operations of a
government that is "Zanufied," as people in Zimbabwe
say, from top to bottom
by the ruling party's patronage.
seems to be to get civil servants, soldiers and policemen back
to work - and
win their loyalty - with a promise made in his inaugural
Wednesday to pay them in foreign currency. The vow was greeted by
applause. Astronomical hyperinflation has rendered the pay of all
employees so valueless that they cannot even afford bus fare.
prime minister of a country that has paid its bills only by printing
more worthless Zimbabwean dollars, Mr. Tsvangirai has not said where he
get the hard currency to pay the wage bill for what he estimated was
people. The cost: about $40 million a month.
He acknowledged that the
United States and Britain and the rest of Europe
were not going to pump in
aid to Zimbabwe until they were convinced Mr.
Mugabe was genuinely sharing
power and restoring democracy.
Military Intel. behind Roy Bennett arrest
MDC MEDIA ALERT
understood that the abduction, arrest and charging of MDC Treasurer
and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate Roy Bennett is being
directed and operationalised by the Zimbabwe Military Intelligence
Directorate (MID), led by one Mzilikazi, and the Special Agency SAS, the
torture unit of the army, led by one Manene . General Constantine Chiwenga
is also party to it. These people are known for their declared passionate
and fanatical hatred of Roy Bennett.
We are also aware of an intent
to dump Roy Bennett into Chivero river.
It is futile and ill-considered
for anyone to go against the very momentum
of history. Change in Zimbabwe is
inevitable. Bravado akin to ridding on top
of a hungry lion in a time of
unprecedented famine, hoping to remain in
control of both lion and the
natural process of weather is illogical. Any
harm on Roy Bennett will be
placed squarely on those responsible.
We demand the unconditional release
of Roy Bennett unharmed so that he can
attend to his normal duties in the
party, in government and to his family.
The real issues are creating
conditions for economic recovery and
dismantling institutions of
dictatorship. This is what all parties to the
Inclusive government should be
Another vehicle which is part of the operation is a Toyota
registration number ABD1317.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
arrest threatens Zimbabwe power-sharing deal
Zimbabwe's new prime minister
has claimed the country's powersharing
agreement is being sabotaged after
one of his key aides faced charges over a
long-discredited plot to kill
President Robert Mugabe.
By Colin Freeman, Sebastian Berger in
Johannesburg, Peta Thornycroft in
Last Updated: 6:49PM GMT 14 Feb
Morgan Tsvangirai, who was sworn in as prime minister last week,
after the Mugabe-controlled police force pressed treason
his colleague Roy Bennett, who is due to serve in the
new joint cabinet.
"His arrest raises a lot of concerns," said Mr
Tsvangirai, who is seeking a
meeting with Mr Mugabe to protest Mr Bennett's
detention. "It undermines the
spirit of our agreement."
newspaper, widely considered the mouthpiece of Mr Mugabe's
claimed on Saturday that Mr Bennett was being investigated in
with an alleged assassination conspiracy brought against several
MDC members from 2006.
One man was jailed for alleged weapons offences,
but the rest of the case
was dropped against other alleged MDC conspirators,
who claimed it was an
act of political malice. Mr Bennett, 52, fled abroad
three years ago after
fearing he would be fingered as a fellow suspect, but
had returned to
Zimbabwe after being offered the post of deputy agriculture
Arrested on Friday, he is now languishing in a small, filthy
cell in the
colonial-era police station in the eastern border city of
wellwishers are camped outside, despite police opening fire over
at one point in a bid to disperse them. His detention came
assurances from Mr Mugabe last week that he was "sincerely and
committed" to partnership with the MDC. It also adds greatly to Mr
Tsvangirai's woes as he struggles to persuade his party to stick with the
The new joint cabinet was sworn in Friday, but Mr
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has
retained control of all key posts in the security
hopes that a power-sharing government would curb his
capacity to intimidate.
The continued harassment of Mr Tsvangirai's
political allies is just one of
the mounting difficulties facing Mr
Tsvangirai as he attempts to use his new
role in government to steer
Zimbabwe away from all-out crisis.
Many feel he has taken on an
impossible task, which will simply result in
the MDC party being tainted
with the incompetence and failure of the Mugabe
regime. Mr Tsvangirai's
ministers have taken on portfolios which could well
backfire because of the
sheer scale of the challenges they present.
When he walks into his
department for the first time on Monday, new finance
minister Tendai Biti
will have the task of curbing the world's highest
inflation rate, while
health chief Henry Madzorera wil grapple a cholera
outbreak that has killed
3,500 people. Education minister David Coltart must
overhaul a schools
sector where only one in five pupils attend at present,
having left on masse to work abroad. Mr Bennett's in-tray
included the task of reviving the farming sector of a country
that is now
unable to survive without foreign food aid.
Mr Tsvangirai himself,
meanwhile, must honour his personal pledge to pay the
civil servants in foreign currency rather than the
He made the promise to cheers in a speech in a Harare stadium
last week, but
has yet to say where the cash will come from, illustrating
the risks he
faces in trying to act as a national saviour.
close to the MDC leadership said it would be examining the contents
"national piggy bank", if any, then looking at other sources. "We are
approaching the Southern African Development Community, the donor community
and looking at the viability of a loan as well," he said.
estimated, however, that around $60 million will be needed within the
two weeks, and so far no foreign benefactors have indicated a
stump up. Western nations have also said that the unity
prove it is committed to economic reform before billions in
and development aid are released. But the MDC source added:
"The more they
help us make it work the faster it will work."
Concerns have likewise
been raised about how the MDC will be able to
implement its policies if
there is resistance from civil servants and public
officials, among whom
Zanu-PF's influence stretches far and wide. The MDC
insider source said
there would be no political purge of government
employees, as doing so would
generate resentment and create obstacles.
"I don't think there's that
many that want to obstruct us, particularly when
we are talking about
doctors back in hospitals and kids back in schools," he
ACTION for Roy Bennett
February 14th, 2009
“Whatever these challenges, if we remain unwaveringly dedicated, we
will achieve peace, freedom and democracy in our life time-believe me.”
(Roy Bennett - via MDC Press Release, 14 Feb 09). View updates
Send this e-card by following this link. Click on it to view large
The Mutare numbers to call are +263 (0)20 64212 for the main
charge office in Mutare
This cell number, we believe, is for the man in charge: +263
CIO: +263 (0)20 66314 and +263 (0)20
CID: +263 (0)20 65645
Please call (or sms the cell) these numbers to let the police holding Roy
Bennett know that the world is watching very closely and want Roy Bennett to be
released immediately. Tell them you will continue to monitor the situation
closely, and that you are conveying your concerns to your local MP and the
government in your country.
Ask them to observe the rule of law, and to treat Roy Bennett with dignity
If the person you are speaking to appears to be listening, keep talking, and
ask him/her to carry a message to Roy Bennett to let HIM know you are watching
over him from all over the world.
If they pretend they don’t know what you are talking about, or claim it is
not a police station, keep talking and make sure you convey your message.
Please be calm and measured
and polite. No matter how angry you are by the
outrageous actions, it won’t help Roy Bennett if you lose your temper.
Please let us know how you got on via the comments.
'Zanu-PF not ready
to work with anyone'
HARARE, ZIMBABWE Feb 14 2009 18:04
finance minister said on Saturday a top opposition figure's
President Robert Mugabe's party was not ready to work with its
in a freshly sworn in unity government.
Following ministerial nominee Roy
Bennett's arrest Friday on what his party
says were treason charges, Tendai
Biti said the move was an ominous start
for the unity government sworn in
the same day.
"Bennett's arrest proves what we have always argued: that
Zanu-PF is not yet
ready to work with anyone," said Biti, referring to
However Biti, who has been the Zimbabwe opposition's
number two and faced
treason charges himself in the past, said he and
Bennett's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party had no choice but to
remain in the government.
"Whoever ordered his arrest is not a friend of
Zimbabwe. What it does is to
shake any semblance of a foundation for the
inclusive government," said
"Pulling out does not offer any
solution. Sadly we are forced to stay in
this arrangement for the sake of
the people of Zimbabwe."
Bennett, designated to become deputy agriculture
minister, is to be
questioned by police on treason charges later on
Saturday, his lawyer said.
"Lawyers representing Roy Bennett have been
told that they can only see him
at 2pm, the MDC said in a
"We demand the respect of Roy Bennett's basic human rights and
unconditional release unharmed," said the MDC in a
His arrest came shortly before Mugabe swore in new ministers
for the unity
government and cast doubt on the credibility of a
The unity government will see the country's bitter
enemies attempt to work
together to pull Zimbabwe out of a deep crisis
marked by hunger, the world's
highest inflation rate and a deadly cholera
Bennett, arrested at an airport on the outskirts of Harare, is
farmer from Chimanimani, a lush region near the border with
He had returned last month from three years of self-imposed
exile in South
Africa, where he had fled to escape charges of plotting to
He was initially charged with attempting to leave the
country illegally, but
the charge was later changed to treason, according to
Bennett was among the most striking names on new Prime
Tsvangirai's cabinet list.
His Charleswood farm was
expropriated under Mugabe's land reforms in 2003,
and the following year he
was jailed for eight months for assault after he
punched the justice
minister during a heated debate in parliament on the
On Friday evening, police fired shots in the air to disperse a
crowd of MDC
supporters who were gathered outside Mutare police station
Bennett's release, his lawyer said.
One analyst said
Bennett's arrest seemed to reflect concerns from within
party as it begins sharing power for the first time.
"The arrest mirrors
divisions among the top brass of the long-ruling party
who are not happy
about losing power," said Daniel Makina, a Zimbabwe
analyst at the
University of South Africa. "Some of them are against the
Regional leaders pressured Mugabe and Tsvangirai into the
to end nearly a year of political turmoil following
disputed elections last
They are meant to work together to
battle nationwide food shortages, a
cholera epidemic that has killed 3 400
people and inflation estimated in
multiples of billions.
three million Zimbabweans have fled the country's economic and
instability, and are now supporting their families with
remittances of both
cash and food. - AFP
Embarrassed Mugabe forced to drop five extra ministers
POLITICAL drama unfolded on Friday at the
swearing-in of Zimbabwean
cabinet ministers in the new inclusive government,
when President Robert
Mugabe was publicly forced to drop five ministers who
were not supposed to
be part of the cabinet . The chaos delayed the ceremony
by almost five
hours, leaving foreign dignitaries - including South African
Kgalema Motlanthe and former president Thabo Mbeki, who has been
mediator - and other guests frustrated.
In terms of the
political agreement reached last year, Mugabe was
entitled to appoint 15
cabinet ministers and two additional ministers, not
the 23 he brought to the
Mugabe was compelled to remove from his cabinet list Zanu
chairman John Nkomo, David Parirenyatwa, Paul Mangwana, Sylvester Nguni
Flora Buka, leaving a bitter taste in their mouths after they were
exhibited as incoming ministers.
Mangwana said he was
shocked to have been dropped because Mugabe did
not explain his
"Nothing was explained to us. We were told to come to State
the swearing-in ceremony, which we did, but we were later left out
team," Mangwana said.
"No one explained anything to
Nkomo, Parirenyatwa, Buka, Nguni and Mangwana spent the rest of
day holed up inside State House as they could no longer come out to face
gathered guests and journalists .
Mugabe looked embarrassed by
the incident and Zanu (PF) officials
much deliberation, Motlanthe suggested Mugabe and Prime Minister
Tsvangirai hold talks this weekend to decide whether they could both
increase the number of their ministers to accommodate the extra five Zanu
(PF) ministers .
This would result in a cabinet of almost 50
ministers. Apart from the
fact that most of these ministers would not have
genuine responsibilities in
government, the country cannot ill afford to pay
the salaries and benefits
of such a bloated cabinet.
suggestion added fuel to charges that he and Mbeki always
seem willing to
bend over backwards for Mugabe.
The comedy of errors at State House
later degenerated into a
tragicomedy after the arrest of Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC)
treasurer and Agriculture Deputy Minister Roy
Bennett at Prince Charles
airport in Harare. The incident cast a pall over
the ceremony as it reminded
the MDC of the repression it had endured over
the past 10 years.
Bennett was on his way to SA when he was picked up
by a group of
unidentified people thought to be state security
"These people will never change," said Tsvangirai's top aide,
Makone. "Why arrest him when we are busy trying to bury the hatchet and
Sources said Bennett was arrested in connection
with an alleged plot
to assassinate Mugabe three years ago.
number of people were arrested after an arms cache was allegedly
in Mutare when Mugabe was expected to attend his birthday party.
At the time
the government claimed that saboteurs had planned to pour oil on
road to derail Mugabe's motorcade and kill him.
The case has failed to
stick in the courts .
Tsvangirai on Thursday visited a group of MDC
activists languishing in
prison on charges of plotting to oust Mugabe
through military means.
Bennett, who until recently was living in exile
in SA, was jailed for
a year a few years ago for pushing a Zanu (PF)
minister to the floor in
Parliament. He is due to be sworn in as deputy
minister next week.
in Three-Day Jail Stakeout
Members of Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights have now spent
parked outside Harare's Chikurubi's maximum-security prison,
trying to get
three seriously ill detainees to hospital for examination and
Last week when the prison authorities finally obeyed a court
order and sent
them to hospital, Zimbabwe Prisons Service Commander General
Zimondi sent orders they be taken back to their cells instead of
Yesterday the three most seriously ill, Fidelis
Charamba, 72 with cardiac
failure, Gandi Mudzingwa in his 50s, with
"dangerously high" blood pressure,
and human rights worker Jestina Mukoko,
were taken to a Harare private
hospital, where they were examined by a
private doctor and one from the
Both doctors said
the three should be taken to hospital. But before they
could be admitted,
Zimondi again ordered them back to prison.
Today they are due in court
with their medical certificates in their long
struggle to be released as
courts have ordered several times since they were
kidnapped from October
"Gandi Mudzingwa is dangerously ill," a nurse who saw him in
yesterday. "His blood pressure is through the
The three and about 30 others were kidnapped from their homes and
places. About 16 remain in solitary confinement in Chikurubi
When the three were on their way to hospital, Prime Minister
Tsvangirai arrived at Chikurubi Prison to see the detainees. Most of
are Movement for Democratic Change supporters and organisers.
said he would do all he could to speed up their release. All have been
charged with plotting against President Robert Mugabe.
said several times he would not be sworn in until they were
freed, but he
was sworn in anyway on Wednesday.
After two nights in inhumane conditions
at the Harare Central Police
station, two members of Zimbabwean Lawyers for
Human Rights were released
yesterday, along with six Women for Zimbabwe
Arise members arrested as they
held another peaceful Valentine's Day
demonstration in Harare on Tuesday.
New Deputy Agriculture Minister Roy
Bennett was not sworn into office
because he was arrested yesterday at a
small airport outside Harare.
The fragile unity government swearing-in
ceremony on Wednesday was boycotted
by all service chiefs from the police,
army, and airforce.
In 2002, they said they would never salute Tsvangirai
if he was ever elected
to senior office.
Tsvangirai has already
juggled his cabinet and kicked out the only white
man, Eddie Cross, and
brought in Sam Nkomo after there was revolt in the MDC
at the lack of
Ndebeles in the province.
Tsvangirai has also dropped one of the smaller
MDC party's most popular and
successful members, Abdenico Bhebe, as water
Mugabe is reported to have appointed six more ministers
than the 16 he was
allotted in last September's political agreement which
created the framework
for the unity government.
February 14 2009 at 12:39PM
Zimbabwe's MDC party, which has just formed a unity cabinet
Robert Mugabe, said on Saturday a party official it had
reported as being
arrested had not in fact been detained.
It had said Brian James,
mayor of the city of Mutare, was arrested at
the same police station where
senior MDC official Roy Bennett, who has been
charged with treason, is being
"We have just been able to locate MDC Mutare Mayor Brian
James whom we
had also feared to have been abducted. We can confirm that he
has not been
arrested," it said in a statement. - Reuters
support Valentine's Day vigil for Zimbabwe
Posted: Saturday, February 14,
2009, 10:57 (GMT)
Zimbabwean Christians will join human rights
campaigners in a Valentine's
Day vigil outside Zimbabwe's embassy in
Representatives of Christian organisations including the Council
Zimbabwean Christian Leaders in the UK, the Evangelical Alliance,
and other Christian agencies working in Zimbabwe, will deliver a
card to the embassy.
The London vigil comes three days
after Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangari was sworn in as prime
minister of a unity government, sharing
power with President Robert
It marks the launch of the Love Zim campaign of prayer and
Zimbabwe. The campaign aims to build support among UK churches
and is calling on Christians to pray and fast for its people
at this crucial
Cards will also be delivered to the South
African and the Ugandan High
Commissions and Number 10 Downing Street. Each
card, headlined with the
message "Don't go breaking our hearts", includes a
personalised message and
Qobo Mayisa, General Secretary of
the Council of Zimbabwean Christian
Leaders in the UK, said: "Zimbabwe is
embarking on a journey towards
national recovery and reconstruction amid
economic chaos, hunger, a cholera
outbreak and continuing human rights
"We believe the Love Zim prayer campaign will support what to
appear to be an impossible outcome by inviting divine guidance and
intervention through this process of transition. The church and people of
the UK can help the reconstruction efforts by committing themselves to
offering prayers for our ravaged nation."
The event is organised by
activist group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA),
who will hand out roses at
the vigil. Eight WOZA activists were arrested
outside parliament in Harare
on Tuesday for distributing roses symbolising
their call for peace and
On the web: www.lovezim.org
Caution rules in the new Zimbabwe
Andrew Harding evades Zimbabwe's restrictions on foreign journalists to
assess the country's new power sharing arrangement.
Opposition supporters in Zimbabwe still fear the security
It has been a strange few days in Zimbabwe, it is hard to sum up the mood
Everything has changed and nothing has changed.
I drove into Harare late on Monday, or rather, slalomed round the potholes.
The city is looking shabbier than ever.
Unkempt grass along the roadsides as tall as a man. Derelict factories.
Listless crowds on littered pavements.
The place reminds me of the Burmese capital, Rangoon. That same sense of
decay and, frankly, fear.
People are wary about catching your eye, or talking too long on the phone. Or
talking at all.
And yet, on paper at least, Zimbabwe is now a different country. No longer
run as what you might call President Robert Mugabe's feudal gangster
Instead after months of painful labour, a new unity government has been borne
Morgan Tsvangirai, the new prime minister, stood at an outdoor stadium on
Wednesday and, between rain showers, told a rapturous crowd that this was
Zimbabwe's "yes we can" moment.
It was the 19th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from jail in South
Africa and Mr Tsvangirai was keen to stress the historic parallels, saying that
Zimbabwe too was at the start of a momentous political transformation.
And yet, as he acknowledged, just like in South Africa, the path to democracy
here will be neither straight nor inevitable.
The crowd seemed to recognise that. I wandered round the stadium.
Two young men holding beer cans said they had no illusions, all this they
said, was the just the start.
"The aim is new and legitimate elections, as soon as possible. Then we can
get rid of Mugabe at last."
Roy Bennett does not seem the type to be easily intimidated. But on the phone
he was sounding cautious.
He is a prominent figure in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). He has spent eight months in Harare's notorious Chikurubi prison, and he
had just come back from South Africa to take part in the new government as a
The men who have plundered and wrecked this country certainly seem
unlikely to relinquish power without a struggle
But when I called him on Thursday, he said he was in hiding.
Robert Mugabe's security services had, it seemed, just put out an arrest
warrant for him.
Mr Bennett was in no doubt that Zanu-PF hardliners were trying to scupper the
"They want us to walk away from this deal," he said. "We've just got to be
smarter than them."
But Robert Mugabe, just shy of his 85th birthday, is not an easy man to
It feels, one prospective MDC minister said to me, "like we're about to get
into bed with a snake".
And, sure enough, just yesterday afternoon Roy Bennett was arrested by the
police and driven as far from the capital as possible.
It was an act, as one fuming diplomat put it to me, of supreme bad faith by
The men who have plundered and wrecked this country certainly seem unlikely
to relinquish power without a struggle.
There is every chance they will try to co-opt or corrupt Mr Tsvangirai's
ministers and MPs, or simply bypass them altogether and run a secret parallel
They may well succeed. Then again, history sometimes happens when you least
Maybe this unlikely political experiment will actually work. It could be
months before we know for sure.
Although an early sign will be whether or not dozens of MDC supporters and
activists are finally released from prison.
On Friday morning I went to meet Zimbabwe's new prime minister. Well,
actually, he came to meet me.
Like most foreign journalists, I am here illegally, sneaking around, hopping
between safe-houses in Harare.
It is hard to tell if things are getting safer now for us. I suspect they may
be. But we are still being cautious and so is Mr Tsvangirai.
MDC supporters are still in Harare's notorious Chikurubi
And so we met, somewhere, shall we say, in the suburbs. He came, tellingly,
in his own personal convoy with his own personal guards.
He could have used the official state motorcade but clearly he and his team
do not yet feel comfortable entrusting their safety to the same security
services that have tortured, abducted and terrorised members of the MDC for
State security came along anyway. Sixteen officers. We hid discreetly in a
bedroom, waiting for the prime minister to arrive, savouring the absurdities of
Zimbabwe's new political landscape.
Grounds for optimism
Mr Tsvangirai was bullish, feistily defending his shotgun wedding to Mr
"Mugabe may be part of the problem," he said. "But he's also part of the
solution. We have to have a negotiated settlement for the sake of the people."
He promised that the next time we met, it would be legally and in his own
Reassuringly, state security kept their distance. No funny business.
"It's a process," said one of Mr Tsvangirai's own guards, with a broad grin.
"Sure, there have been some frictions. But actually it's going pretty well so
Saturday 14th February
Dear Family and Friends,
the loser of last years election swearing in the winner was an
to be forgotten. The irony of it stuck in the throat and yet
the reality of
it brought the hope of change ever closer.
Its a change that is still not
being reflected by state broadcaster ZBC who
seemed incapable of filming the
ceremony and used SABC's live coverage of
events at State House in Harare.
The irony of that was not lost us on us
either considering that South Africa
only introduced television broadcasting
many, many years after Zimbabwe. In
between the flickering, flaring,
haltering attempts by ZBC to record any of
the inauguration of Prime
Minister Tsvangirai, we were bombarded with yet
another of the seemingly
endless supply of politically themed music
As Prime Minister Tsvangirai was preparing to pledge his oath
ZBC's concert had a banner reading: "We will never let go of our
then another which read: "Uniting against sanctions." There is no
where their allegiances lie!
Two days after our new Prime
Minister was sworn in, ZBC TV still hadn't been
able to sort themselves out
in order to record the swearing in of the new
cabinet. Again they jumped
from SABC TV to ZBC radio commentaries and then,
at 4 pm, and before all the
Ministers had been sworn in, the TV transmission
We'd had long enough though to see the fresh, lively,
faces of the new MDC cabinet Ministers. Long enough too
to see the same old,
unsmiling, tired faces of the Zanu PF cabinet Ministers
- no changes there,
just reshuffling and recycling yet again. We also had
time to see that the
nominated deputy Minister of Agriculture Roy Bennet was
not there. This man,
so admired and respected by Zimbabweans from all walks
of life had been
arrested, moved to another city 250 kilometres away and is
The arrest of Roy Bennett gave credence
to the sceptics and doubters of this
unity government. There is no good
faith here by the old order and the
leopard has not changed its spots. A
long, hard road lies ahead. Our
thoughts are with Roy Bennet and with all
the other civic society members
and political activists who are still in
custody. None are forgotten.
I close with a message of condolence and
sympathy to Australians who have
lost family members, friends, homes and
possessions in the devastating fires
of the last fortnight. Zimbabwe knows
how you have stood up for us in our
struggle and despair and our thoughts
are with you.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy
letter from the diaspora
Friday, 13 February 2009
Watching a sour-faced President Robert Mugabe at Prime Minister
inauguration, it was difficult to believe that anything good
would come out
of this botched up Government of National Unity. But then no
one seemed to
be smiling, it was rather like a shotgun wedding where both
sides knew that
there was no alternative. They had to go through this sham
of a wedding to
give their relationship legitimacy but no one really
believed that the
marriage would last. It was a different matter at the
'reception' after the
ceremony. Lots of smiling happy MDC faces and shouts
of joy from the
thousands gathered in Glamis Stadium to welcome the new
Prime Minister. "We
used to be dead. Now we are alive," said one observer."
This is the start of
change." That's what we all desperately want to believe
that, we all want to
hope that Zimbabwe has turned the corner at last but
the signs are not good.
Right up to the very last moment before Tsvangirai's
inauguration we were
all longing to see the activists released - but it did
not happen. It would
have been a sign of Mugabe's good faith, a sign that
perhaps we could place
some reliance on him to do the right thing. The Prime
specifically to the plight of the abducted activists but
carefully did not
say what steps he would take if they were not released.
Then on Thursday,
the very day that Morgan Tsvangiri became Prime Minister,
three of the
abductees were taken to the Avenues clinic for medical
Mukoko, Ghandi Mudzingwa and Fidelis Chiramba were each
seen by two sets of
doctors from the state and private sector. The doctors
all agreed that the
three were in urgent need of hospitalization but
according to reports they
were once again taken back into custody at
Chikurubi Maximum Security
Prison. So much for hope, so much for placing any
trust at all in Robert
Mugabe and his murderous regime. Hope deferred again!
There was one sign
that Morgan Tsvangirai perhaps had some influence - if
not real power. To
his credit, one of his first calls as Prime Minister was
to Chikurubi to
visit the detainees. Despite the fact that the service
chiefs, including the
head of the Prison Service, have vowed never to salute
the guards on the prison gates apparently gave Tsvangirai
a snappy salute
and addressed him as Prime Minister. Perhaps that was a good
wondered, but if it was, then it was the last one. As I write on
13th February the BBC are reporting that Roy Bennet the Deputy
Agriculture in the new government has been arrested, allegedly
Prince Airport while attempting to board a flight to South
Zimbabwean this morning contained a heart-warming picture of Roy
arms round a smiling black man. There they were, their faces
beautiful smiles. It was surely a sign of hope for the new
Now Roy is again under arrest. I phoned home immediately. 'Was it
asked and the news was confirmed. 'Pachedu' is indeed in the hands
Law and Order department. The ZBC, I was told, is also reporting that
new government has not yet been sworn in. The ceremony was due to take
at 10.OO Zim time. It is not hard to understand the reason for the
Roy Bennet was one of the MDC's cabinet nominees and without him the
swearing in cannot take place. or can it?
It begins to seem that nothing
will halt the MDC's progress, if that's what
it is, into government; not the
violent abduction and imprisonment of
activists, not the arrest of their own
cabinet members and not the wholesale
infringement of human rights. The
latest news is that the swearing in is
taking place even now - presumably
without Roy Bennet. To those who have
been saying all week that it was all a
terrible mistake getting into a
marriage of convenience with Robert Mugabe,
I have to admit that it's
beginning to look as if they are right; hope and
trust are just not in
Robert Mugabe's vocabulary. For the rest of us at home
and in the diaspora,
hope is deferred yet again; none of us will be going
home any time soon.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.
Zimbabwe's road ahead
Saturday, 14 February 2009
Morgan Tsvangirai is prime minister. But there's a long
battle against a
pernicious Zanu-PF regime yet to be negotiated
The MDC's Morgan
Tsvangirai is the Zimbabwean prime minister at last.
It has been an arduous
and turbulent road to his inauguration, and
Tsvangirai is right to caution
that it is not the end for Robert Mugabe and
Zanu-PF. The road remains long
and beset with six key impediments.
First, the devil is not in the
details about how the unity government
will actually work. The devil is in
the lack of detail. These grey areas
threaten the unity government's shelf
life, and are sites for power battles
and competition over which party will
be better positioned to win the next
elections, which are high on the list
of priorities for all parties
Second, Zimbabwe's unity
government has received a mixed reception
because of the considerable
influence and control Mugabe still wields. Many
international donors are
cautious about reengagement. They have adopted a
meaning reconstruction will be slower than
anticipated. While Zanu-PF will
have to reform its kleptocratic and
undemocratic practices for the unity
government to attract external aid,
there is need for clarity about the
nature of external assistance that will
be required. Short-term
international donor aid is not a silver bullet for
turning around the
Zimbabwean economy and strengthening fragile
institutions. Long term
coordinated international donor commitment fused
with an active constructive
role by local actors will be the primary
determinants of reconstruction
Third, Zimbabwe has a large diaspora, estimated at 3 million,
all over the world. The diaspora needs to be harnessed and its
fused with those in Zimbabwe to facilitate reconstruction. However
diaspora implies a cohesive community with shared values. Contrary
the Zimbabwean diaspora is a splintered one because of ethnic and
differences, gender, class, immigration status, political affiliation
conflicting visions about the constituent elements of a reconstructed
Zimbabwe. As a consequence, there was no coordinated strategy by the
Zimbabwean Diaspora for confronting the Zanu-PF government since the
Zimbabwe crisis began in 2000. Presently the Zimbabwean diaspora is not
coordinating on how it can play a role in Zimbabwe's
Fourth, Zimbabwean civil society, while still active,
paralysed by Zanu-PF-ordered imprisonment, violent attacks,
assassinations, and the economic crisis. European and American
international NGOs, have supported civil society groups
governance reforms and respect for human rights. These
groups will require
further sustained assistance that should take into
account civil society's
struggles for improved economic rights. Land reform
especially is critical
for furthering economic rights. Nonetheless there is
no articulate and
widely agreed upon action plan for addressing the
disastrous effects of the
Zanu-PF government's "fast track" land-reform
institutional efficiency, transparency and fairness in
land reform have been
non-existent. A robust and engaged civil society will
help to alleviate
Fifth, the necessity of
constitutional reform cannot be understated.
Indeed it would be the MDC's
greatest achievement in government if an
inclusive democratic constitution
were drafted and enshrined as the supreme
law of the land. Much of
Zimbabwe's governance problems have their genesis
in a defective national
constitution that, since 1985, has been amended by
parliaments to entrench the party's rule. Zanu-PF will
look to frustrate
meaningful constitutional reform in ways that could cause
Sixth, constitutional reform cannot go ahead in
the absence of a
revision of Zimbabwe's political values system. A political
violence, intolerance and kleptocracy has been fostered by
decades to the extent that it is ubiquitous. It is manifest in
and civil society circles. A fundamental crisis Zimbabwe faces is
of values. Technocratic intercession without tackling the political
crisis will result in the unity government reproducing the Zanu-PF
destructive rule. Pernicious values militate against effective and
democratic and developmental institutions.