EU formally extends
Zimbabwe sanctions for 1 yr
BRUSSELS (AFX) - The EU formally extended sanctions against Zimbabwe for
another 12 months, including a ban on President Robert Mugabe and 71 of his
associates entering EU territory.
A decision to renew the sanctions was adopted by EU finance ministers
following agreement by the bloc's ambassadors last week Under EU rules,
decisions by the ambassadors must be agreed at the next available ministerial
The EU has shelved an early April summit with African leaders in Lisbon,
after failing to secure guarantees that Mugabe would not attend.
But France has been allowed to invite the Zimbabwean leader to a
Franco-African summit in Paris on Thursday and Friday, after receiving a waiver
to the visa ban in return for supporting the renewal of the sanctions.
ZIMBABWE: Mugabe sidesteps EU travel sanctions
JOHANNESBURG, 18 February
(IRIN) - A European Union-sanctioned waiver allowing Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe to attend this week's Franco-African summit could undermine the
credibility of further sanctions, analysts said on Tuesday.
last week said the British government backed the waiver on travel sanctions to
allow Mugabe to attend the Paris summit as part of an arrangement in which
France agreed not to oppose the renewal of EU sanctions slapped on Mugabe and
members of his cabinet a year ago. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, however,
denied that London was complicit in the deal.
The waiver came after
French President Jacques Chirac sought a concession for an exemption on Mugabe,
citing the need for further dialogue to resolve the country's human rights and
economic crisis. He also said other African leaders threatened to boycott the
20-21 February summit unless Mugabe participated.
On Tuesday EU
ambassadors were expected to officially renew sanctions for a further 12 months
against Zimbabwe, including a ban on travel to EU states by the country's
The EU has also postponed indefinitely a summit with African
Caribbean and Pacific countries planned for Portugal in April to sidestep the
possibility of fresh controversy over another Mugabe visit to a European
But analysts told IRIN that the debate that has ensued among EU
members following the French invitation underscored the lack of a united policy
on how to resolve the political impasse in Zimbabwe.
"The fracas between
Britain and France over how the crisis in Zimbabwe should be resolved provides
further evidence that there is deep fragmentation and polarisation over a united
EU foreign policy. This relates not only to Zimbabwe, but extends to differing
opinions over the proposed war on Iraq," a researcher at the Pretoria-based
Institute for Security Studies, Chris Maroleng, said.
France's invitation to Mugabe is not surprising. The French have always
supported sustained dialogue with African regimes. Mugabe's attendance at the
summit sets a disappointing precedent and further throws into question not only
the credibility of further sanctions but the commitment of the West to
democratic change in Zimbabwe," he added.
Mugabe's trip comes as
sub-Saharan Africa's most influential nations, Nigeria and South Africa, last
week urged the Commonwealth to end Zimbabwe's year-long suspension, citing
progress towards resolving the country's political crisis. But Australia's Prime
Minister John Howard, a member of the Commonwealth troika committee monitoring
Zimbabwe, has called for Zimbabwe to be suspended for another 12 months.
The Commonwealth's decision to suspend Zimbabwe followed presidential
elections in March 2002, which a Commonwealth observer team said were marred by
violence and were not free or fair.
Critics say the decision by Obasanjo
and Mbeki to lobby on Mugabe's behalf has thrown him an undeserved diplomatic
"While Mbeki and Obasanjo talk about progress toward some kind
of normalisation in Zimbabwe there is in fact little evidence of this. What is
seriously lacking with regards to a solution in Zimbabwe is moral leadership.
There is lot of pragmatism but very little in the way of genuine political
will," Maroleng said.
Other analysts have suggested that
behind-the-scenes efforts were underway to persuade Mugabe to moderate his
policies, which could lead to a government of national unity as a way out of the
In an interview with the South African Broadcasting
Corporation (SABC) at the weekend, Mbeki said Pretoria's "quiet diplomacy" was
"One of the matters we've raised with them [Zimbabwe] is
that there have been complaints raised about ... legislation passed that has an
impact on the press. That it was necessary to look at that legislation and see
what was wrong with it and change it. And indeed the Zimbabweans have agreed to
that," Mbeki told the SABC.
South African Deputy Minister of Foreign
Affairs Aziz Pahad said on Tuesday: "Our critics fail to explain what 'megaphone
diplomacy' has achieved. They fail or refuse to acknowledge that since the
political and economic crisis started we have been tirelessly engaged in efforts
to help the Zimbabweans to deal with their crisis."
Under EU sanctions,
Mugabe, his wife Grace, and leading members of his ruling ZANU-PF party are
barred from entering EU territory. The sanctions also include a freeze on assets
they might have in the 15-nation bloc, as well as an arms embargo. The EU cited
pre-election violence, human rights violations and obstacles to a free vote as
reasons for the ban.
The United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada
have also imposed travel sanctions on government officials, but Mugabe has been
able to attend UN summits in both Europe and the United
Tel: +27 11 880-4633
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High Court Judge Arrested - BBC
LONDON -(Dow Jones)- A Zimbabwean High Court judge, who has made several
rulings defying the authorities, has been arrested for allegedly obstructing the
course of justice, the BBC reports on its Web site.
Justice Benjamin Paradza - who was arrested Monday - is due to appear in
court Tuesday. He is accused of trying to influence another judge in a case
involving an acquaintance of his.
Police say the case is "purely criminal" - but Justice Paradza's lawyer
insists it is politically motivated.
Justice Paradza last month handled the case against Harare mayor Elias
Mudzuri, who had been arrested for holding a meeting without police approval.
The judge said police failed to produce enough evidence and ordered the release
of Mudzuri, who is a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Last year, he also ordered the release of opposition supporters abducted by "
war veterans" supporting President Robert Mugabe.
Justice Paradza - a veteran of Zimbabwe's war of independence himself - also
struck down eviction notices against white farmers.
His lawyer said the judge felt he was being punished for standing up to the
authorities. "Some people have expressed their disappointment that he, as a war
veteran appointed to the bench recently, was embarrassing the government with
his judgments - particularly the Mudzuri one," the lawyer said.
But the police deny the charges are political. "This is a purely criminal
case we are investigating," Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijana said.
Bvudzijana gave no details on how the charges arose.
Human rights activists have accused President Mugabe's government of
undermining the rule of law and intimidating judges.
Last September, a white retired High Court judge, Feargus Blackie, was
arrested and charged with obstructing justice. Earlier, Justice Blackie had
sentenced a cabinet minister to three months in jail for contempt of court.
There have been tensions between the government and the judiciary ever since
judges ordered police to remove militants occupying white-owned farms in the
run-up to the 2000 parliamentary elections.
Several Zimbabwean judges - including former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay -
have been forced to resign or retire early. The government says many judges have
been biased against it.
BBC Web site: http://www.bbc.co.uk
Euro MP Glenys Kinnock has called for fresh international action
to end the Zimbabwe crisis.
- Glenys Kinnock
- KINNOCK CALLS FOR ACTION
Mrs Kinnock - wife of ex-Labour leader Neil - issued her call on the eve of
President Robert Mugabe's controversial visit to Paris.
Britain has led international condemnation of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF regime.
And Mrs Kinnock accused the Zimbabwean President of bringing the country "to
"His corrupt regime has rigged elections and his henchmen have been
responsible for violence, intimidation and the torture of political opponents
and civilians alike," she said.
"Terrible fiscal policies now see the country spiralling towards total
meltdown, with millions facing starvation.
"The Zimbabwe debate now needs to move on from just discussion rights and
wrongs, we need also to focus on how best to secure a peaceful and democratic
future for Zimbabwe."
An EU travel ban on members of Zanu-PF has been lifted in order to let him
attend the Franco-African summit.
The move has angered Britain, which has accused President Mugabe of using
food shortages to literally starve his opponents of support.
But the ban was lifted after it appeared France would veto the whole summit
package unless he was able to attend.
Pahad hits back at Zimbabwe critics
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad today strongly criticised opponents
of South Africa's stance on Zimbabwe, and rejected any suggestion of regime
change by force.
Speaking during debate in the National Assembly on
President Thabo Mbeki's State of the Nation address, he said once again "we have
been subjected to hysterical concerns about our so-called failure to tackle the
The government remained convinced that the collapse of
Zimbabwe would have serious implications for the whole region, especially South
"Why would we want this to happen?" he asked.
Africa's quiet diplomacy was criticised without any credible suggestions on what
"we should do more than what we are doing".
"Our critics fail to explain
what 'megaphone diplomacy' has achieved," he said.
"They fail or refuse
to acknowledge that since the political and economic crisis started we have been
tirelessly engaged in efforts to help the Zimbabweans to deal with their crisis.
"Any honest person, not motivated by hidden agendas, must acknowledge
that we have consistently, bilaterally or through SADC, raised areas of concern
and sought solutions.
"The Commonwealth mandated us to engage with the
Zimbabweans to tackle some of these issues."
There had been some
progress. The Zimbabweans had agreed to look at some of their legislation on the
media, and they would also look at legislation that had been described as
anti-democratic, he said.
"The Zimbabwean government has declared that
the land distribution programme is over, and admit that some mistakes were
made," Pahad said.
"They have assured us that discussions are taking
place with Zimbabwean farmers who lost their farms," he said.
still areas of concern that are being discussed and hopefully solutions will be
"Let me once again categorically state that we reject any
suggestion of regime change by force. Also, no Zimbabwean has called for
sanctions and so this is not an option. We must accept that Zimbabwe is not the
10th province of South Africa," he said.
"Sadly, the DA (Democratic
Alliance) is trying to whip up minority fears by suggesting that what is
happening in Zimbabwe will happen in South Africa. This is a very dangerous
game, and I urge them not to persist with it.
"In the interest of
Zimbabwe and the region, let us constructively assist all Zimbabweans to jointly
find a solution," Pahad said.
Obasanjo is blatantly misinformed
2/18/2003 7:05:15 AM (GMT +2)
By A Special Correspondent
President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to John Howard concerning the renewing
of the Commonwealth sanctions on Zimbabwe is blatantly misinformed in relation
to the reality in Zimbabwe. He largely ignores the major problems in Zimbabwe,
and paints a favourable picture of President Mugabe and his government.
so doing he overlooks the root of the crisis. A critique is offered here of how
he misrepresents the land issue, the people of Zimbabwe and the legal system.
In his letter to Howard, published in The Herald on the 12 February,
President Obasanjo only briefly mentions the major reason for the formation of
the troika: the discussion of the Commonwealth report on the elections in
Zimbabwe. We all know that the main point in that report was the fact that the
elections were not free and fair.
The matter of the democratic right of
the people of Zimbabwe seems to have been
ignored or forgotten and the main
purpose of President Obasanjo’s visit to southern Africa seems to have been to
try to offer relief to the illegitimate regime in Zimbabwe.
Obasanjo cleverly shifts the main emphasis from the unfairly elected government,
to the land issue. The land issue is a symptom of the problem and not the cause
Treating and analysing the symptoms will not help at all if we
keep ignoring the main problem.
The real problem in Zimbabwe is not the
land issue, or the famine, or the breakdown of law and order, or the total
meltdown of the economy. The problem is the regime that is causing these
We have to reduce the influence of the cancer on the rest of
the body by restricting the freedom of the cancer. Reduce the regime’s negative
influence, until it is non-existent and only then will the lives of 11 million
innocent people return to normal.
There are various statements that we
need to take issue with in President Obasanjo’s letter.
A large part of
the letter dwells on the land issue in Zimbabwe. President Obasanjo states, “The
issue of land is at the core of the current crisis in Zimbabwe”. He also states
that land acquisition “has substantially ended since 31 August 2002” and that
“the Government of Zimbabwe has agreed to pay compensation for any
improvements on the land”.
The facts on the ground are very
different. Over 95% of all resettled land has not been bought or paid for and in
a large number of cases no legal channels have been followed to
land. The government has had little or no regard to its stated criteria for
acquiring land and farmers and farm workers are still being evicted illegally.
Farms continue to be listed almost on a weekly basis; compensation is
not being made available. The core of the issue in Zimbabwe is not land. The
core of the issue involves whether there is good governance or not.
President Obasanjo appears pleased that the Commercial Farmers’ Union
has been in
dialogue with the government of Zimbabwe and states that “the
Government has again reiterated to these farmers its readiness and preparedness
to provide land to anyone that wishes to continue farming and has so applied”.
It seems incredible that a bona fide farmer with his own land should have to
apply for land.
The root cause of this goes a lot deeper. The Zimbabwe
government wishes to control all land so that it can control all people on that
land. Is this a principle that the Commonwealth supports? Will the complete
abolition of the right to own property contribute to development, food security
and poverty alleviation?
It is clear that President Obasanjo spent very
little time in Zimbabwe and spoke to very few people. He states “I am informed
that of the estimated 400 000 people affected, some have been resettled while
many others have been re-employed by the end of March 2003 the problem of
displaced former foreign workers will no longer be an issue”. It is relevant to
note that approximately 20% of Zimbabwe’s population was employed or living on
the commercial farms.
Very few of these people have now got jobs and
tens of thousands of them have been displaced from their homes and have no food.
Due to many of the farms being no-go areas the fate of many of these people is
Starvation though, something previously unknown in Zimbabwe, is
rife and many
innocent people are beginning to die. President Obasanjo
states that “all those found guilty of malpractices have been brought to book”
according to President Mugabe.
Obasanjo agrees that corruption exists
but lacks insight into the way government has abused the whole legal system.
Witness the increasing police brutality, turning a blind eye to corruption and
theft, change in the country’s laws and adopting those that are not
constitutional and that discriminate against minority groups, targeting of
judges by police, intimidation until they resign and are replaced by political
cronies. All this has put great strain on the legal system in Zimbabwe.
Obasanjo makes the observation that we should seek active participation,
investment and support from foreign investors. If the sound principles outlined
in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development were employed in Zimbabwe then
this would be one of the benefits and Africa would benefit.
Obasanjo concludes “the time is now auspicious to lift the stand on Zimbabwe
with regard to a suspension from the Commonwealth Council”. The question arises
what has Zimbabwe done to materially demonstrate its commitment to the
Commonwealth principles of good governance?
To individual Zimbabweans on
the ground, the situation continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Until
the rule of law is restored, the freedom of speech is allowed, proper economic
policies are pursued and independent, internationally constituted bodies are put
in place to monitor these developments, President Obasanjo’s credibility as an
honest broker in the Zimbabwe crisis remains seriously in question.
JAG blasts Obasanjo’s assertion
2/18/2003 6:57:07 AM (GMT +2)
for Agriculture (JAG)’s legal committee has roundly criticised Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo’s stance on the situation in Zimbabwe.
communique issued last Thursday, JAG said Obasanjo’s letter to Australian Prime
Minister John Howard concerning the renewing of the Commonwealth sanctions on
Zimbabwe was blatantly misinformed in relation to the reality in Zimbabwe.
JAG said Obasanjo was largely ignoring the major problems in Zimbabwe,
and painted a favourable picture of President Mugabe and his government.
so doing he overlooks the root of the crisis,” JAG said.
In his letter
to Howard, published in The Herald on 12 February, Obasanjo only briefly
mentions the major reason for the formation of the troika.
the Commonwealth report on the presidential poll, JAG said: “We all know that
the main point in that report was the fact that the elections were not free and
fair. The matter of the democratic right of the people of Zimbabwe seems to have
been ignored or forgotten and the main purpose of President Obasanjo’s visit to
Southern Africa seems to have been to try and offer relief to the illegitimate
regime in Zimbabwe. President Obasanjo cleverly shifts the main emphasis from
the unfairly elected government, to the land issue.”
The land issue was
a symptom of the problem and not the cause of it. Treating and analysing the
symptoms would not help at all if the main problem was ignored, said JAG.
“The real problem in Zimbabwe is not the land issue, or the famine, or the
breakdown of law and order, or the total meltdown of the economy. The problem is
the regime that is causing these disasters.
“We have to reduce the
influence of the cancer on the rest of the body by restricting the freedom of
the cancer. Reduce the regime’s negative influence until it is non-
and only then will the lives of 11 million innocent people return to normal,”
the lobby group said.
JAG said there were various statements that they
needed to take issue with in Obasanjo’s letter.
“The majority of the letter
dwells on the land issue in Zimbabwe. President Obasanjo states, ‘The issue of
land is at the core of the current crisis in Zimbabwe’. He also states that
‘land acquisition has substantially ended since 31 August 2002’ and that ‘the
government of Zimbabwe has agreed to pay compensation for any improvements on
The facts on the ground were very different. Over 95 percent
of all resettled land has not been bought or paid for and in a large amount of
cases no legal channels have been followed to acquire that land. The government
has had little or no regard to its stated criteria for acquiring land and
farmers and farm workers were still being evicted illegally.
to be listed almost on a weekly basis; compensation was not being made
JAG said: “The core of the issue in Zimbabwe is not land. The
core of the issue involves whether there is good governance or not.”
Obasanjo appears pleased that the Commercial Farmers’ Union has been in
dialogue with the government and states that “the government has again
reiterated to these farmers its readiness and preparedness to provide land to
anyone that wishes to continue farming and has so applied”.
incredible that a bona fide farmer with his own land should have to apply for
land. The root cause of this was a lot deeper.
JAG said: “The government
wishes to control all land so that it can control all people on that land. Is
this a principle that the Commonwealth supports? Will the complete abolition of
the right to own property contribute to development and food security and
It was clear that Obasanjo spent very little time
in Zimbabwe and spoke to very few people. Obasanjo states: “I am informed that
of the estimated 400 000 people affected, some have been resettled while many
others have been re-employed by the end of March 2003 the problem of displaced
former foreign workers will no longer be an issue.”
It was relevant to
note that approximately 20 percent of Zimbabwe’s population was employed or
living on the commercial farms. Very few of these people had jobs and tens of
thousands had been displaced from their homes and had got no food. As most farms
were no-go areas the fate of many of these people was unknown.
“Starvation though, something previously unknown in Zimbabwe, is rife
and many innocent people are beginning to die.”
Obasanjo states that
“all those found guilty of malpractices have been brought to book”, according to
Mugabe. Obasanjo agreed that corruption existed but lacked insight into the way
government had abused the whole legal system:
Police brutality, turning
a blind eye to corruption and theft, change in the country’s laws that were not
constitutional and that discriminated against minority groups was common.
Targeting of judges by police intimidation until they resigned and were replaced
by political cronies was also rife.
“All this has put great strain on
the legal system in Zimbabwe,” JAG said.
Obasanjo observed that the country
should seek active participation, investment and support from foreign investors.
If the sound principles outlined in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development
(Nepad) were employed in Zimbabwe then this would be one of the benefits and
Africa as a whole would benefit.
Obasanjo concludes: “The time is now
auspicious to lift the stand on Zimbabwe with regard to a suspension from the
The question being asked was: had Zimbabwe done
enough to materially demonstrate its commitment to the Commonwealth principles
of good governance?
To individual Zimbabweans on the ground the
situation continued to deteriorate in an alarming manner. Until the rule of law
was restored, freedom of speech was allowed, proper economic policies pursued
and independent internationally constituted bodies were put in place to monitor
these developments, Obasanjo’s credibility remained seriously in question, JAG
LEADER PAGE Tuesday 18 , February
Who will be controlling
our economy when crisis is over?
2/18/2003 7:03:43 AM (GMT +2)
By Cathy Buckle
When I was a little girl growing up and desperate for
any excuse not to go to school, my parents would tell me that I could only stay
at home if it snowed.
In Zimbabwe, day after day throughout winter I looked
up at the skies for snow but it never came.
I wish I was still a little
girl looking for snow because there is no shortage of it in Zimbabwe at the
moment and I think I’d be off school for weeks on end.
Our government is
doing the biggest snow job of their 22 and a-half-year career. I’m not sure who
they are fooling apart from themselves.
By forbidding people from
forming queues outside shops, bakeries and petrol stations they assume they are
creating the impression to foreigners that everything is absolutely fine in
This snow job might even work except all foreigners have an
annoying tendency of doing a few similar things.
They all go into
supermarkets to look at the quality and prices of our goods.
They all go to
hotels and bars and talk to waiters and barmen and they all get into taxis and
talk to their drivers.
By just doing those three things, any visitor to
Zimbabwe can see for themselves just exactly how dire our situation has become.
The next fall of snow came with the repeated assurances that Zimbabwe
was a peaceful country in which to play cricket.
A short walk by Henry
Olonga and Andy Flower to the Press box at the opening cricket match against
Namibia last week melted the snow immediately.
These two brave men,
wearing black armbands, put paid to all the propaganda being incessantly spewed
out about the situation in Zimbabwe.
Olonga and Flower said they were
“mourning the death of democracy in Zimbabwe” and their short statement told of
oppression, torture, terror and starvation in the country. Zimbabwe salutes
Henry Olonga and Andy Flower and hopes that indeed their “small act” will
restore sanity and dignity to Zimbabwe. Perhaps their huge courage will also
inspire others to finally speak out.
Another deep fall of snow came last
Thursday when plans for Nuanetsi were
Zimbabwe government put out an appeal for tender to grow maize on 100 000
hectares of farm land in Nuanetsi.
Why on earth the government is
putting Zimbabwe’s crop growing out to tender in China is utterly beyond belief.
What exactly do Chinese farmers know about Zimbabwe’s climate?
they know about bush fires and drought, about baboons and armyworms, about
quelea birds who raid from above or monkeys who steal from below?
all these things should be cause for great concern among Zimbabweans, the most
worrying thing of all is the estimated yield being advertised by the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
Apparently from 100 000 hectares of land
the Chinese farmers will produce 2,1 million tonnes of maize. (ZBC TV news 13
Unless my maths is wrong because I missed so much school due
to too many snowstorms in the 70s, this means a minimum yield of 20 tonnes per
If I am not mistaken the highest yield of maize per hectare
ever recorded in Zimbabwe is just under 12 tonnes.
ZBC would have us
believe that on this one piece of land in Nuanetsi the Chinese will produce
enough maize for the entire country.
There is an important question that
all Zimbabwean’s should now be asking themselves especially the war veterans who
supposedly started this Third Chimurenga.
When Zimbabwe’s crisis is over who
exactly will be dominating our economy?
It won’t be those nasty white
Zimbabwean farmers any more it will be Libyans and Chinese and probably
The biggest snow job of all, however, came from
Zimbabwe’s two partners in crime, Presidents Obasanjo and Mbeki.
always brave Mbeki kept his mouth very tightly shut when it came to doing the
right thing about the renewal of Zimbabwe’s suspension from the councils of the
His Nigerian counterpart, who we all thought was a man of
high principle, was left to do the dirty work.
Clearly not even prepared
to try to defend their decision at a meeting of the troika, Obasanjo said he and
Mbeki would not support a renewal of Zimbabwe’s Commonwealth suspension.
Shame on you both.
I wonder if it is snowing in Nigeria? In
Ham-fisted handling of citizens could be costly
be controlling our economy when crisis is over?
|The key witness in the treason trial of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's
opposition leader, was questioned in court yesterday about the circumstances
which led to the recording of meetings where a plot to kill President Robert
Mugabe was allegedly hatched.|
Ari Ben Manashe, a former Israeli
intelligence agent, said his business partner Alexander Legault made the
decision to record two meetings, one in London and another in Montreal, with top
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders.
examination, Ben Manashe was asked whether the motive behind the recordings was
to use the contents of the tapes as evidence against the accused in court. He
replied that "it was to be used to substantiate what was said and to make sure
that what I heard was accurate".
Tsvangirai and two other senior MDC
officials have been charged with treason for allegedly plotting to assassinate
Mugabe. They deny the charges which carry the death penalty on
The defence is trying to prove that Ben Manashe was used by
the Zimbabwean authorities to frame Tsvangirai to discredit him ahead of the
March 2002 presidential polls. The State's case hinges on a poorly recorded
video of a meeting Ben Manashe held with Tsvangirai in late 2001, at which the
opposition leader allegedly requested the "elimination" of
|South African rail utility Spoornet, says it will invest R32, 2 million to
refurbish its wagons. This is to enable the company to fast track the delivery
of food to neighbouring Zimbabwe.|
Spoornet expects this refurbishment
exercise, to take approximately six months. It says the refurbished fleet, will
help it double the amount of grain it transports between East London, and
Zimbabwe every week.
The company presently exports 19 500 tonnes of grain
to Zimbabwe weekly. Half of Zimbabwe's 14 million people face food shortages
after last year's poor harvest and is also reeling from its worst economic and
political crisis, since independence in 1980.
I will arrest Robert Mugabe when he arrives
By Peter Tatchell
The French government plans to give Robert Mugabe VIP treatment
when he attends this week's Franco-African summit in Paris. While millions of
Zimbabweans starve, Mugabe will be wined and dined by Jacques Chirac at the
Tony Blair has agreed to this blood-stained banquet as part of a
trade-off to win French support for the renewal of the EU travel ban on Mugabe
and his top officials. He is prepared to see the ban violated in order to renew
it. Where is the sense or morality in that?
Instead of rolling out the red carpet for the Zimbabwean
dictator, M Chirac should enforce France's anti-torture law and have Mugabe
arrested. But he won't. That is why, early next week, I will go to a Paris
magistrate and apply for an arrest warrant. My aim is simple. I want the French
government to uphold its own laws against torture.
This won't be the first time I've attempted to arrest Mugabe.
Prior to the recent EU travel ban, he could visit Britain whenever he liked.
Even after the massacre of 20,000 people in Matabeleland during the 1980s,
neither Conservative nor Labour governments made any attempt to bar him.
Mugabe only stopped coming to Britain after four of us from the
gay rights group OutRage! ambushed his motorcade en route to Harrods in 1999.
Opening the door of his limousine, I seized him and placed him under citizen's
arrest on charges of torture.
We summoned the police and handed him over, together with
affidavits from Zimbabwe torture victims. But the police let Mugabe go and
arrested us instead. The Attorney-General and Metropolitan Police Commissioner
have never explained why they freed this torturing tyrant and allowed him to
return to Zimbabwe to continue his reign of murder and mayhem.
Undeterred, two years later in Brussels, I made another attempted
citizen's arrest, swooping on the president as he left the Hilton Hotel. This
time I was beaten unconscious by Mugabe's bodyguards, in full view of the
Belgian police and secret service.
My arrest attempts were a response to government indifference and
inaction. Despite signing the UN Convention Against Torture 1984, world leaders
are doing nothing to enforce it. That is why I tried to make a citizen's arrest.
My aim was to bring a criminal to justice.
Enforcing the law against torture shouldn't be left to me. The
governments of Britain, France and the rest of the world should be issuing
warrants for Mugabe's arrest and extradition. He should be put on trial, like
Slobodan Milosevic. I hope a Paris magistrate will agree and grant me a
The UN Convention Against Torture has been incorporated into
French law since 1987. Article 1 criminalises not only the instigation or
perpetration of torture, but also "consent or acquiescence". Article 4 says this
law applies to "any person", giving no exemptions to heads of state.
In Zimbabwe, the use of torture by the police, army and the
intelligence services is routine and systemic. It is inconceivable that Mugabe
is unaware of what is going on. He has not stopped it. Under French law, that
makes him guilty of complicity with torture.
I have affidavits from two well-documented torture victims, the
Harare journalists Ray Choto and the late Mark Chavunduka. According to Amnesty
International: "Military interrogators beat both men all over their bodies with
fists, wooden planks and rubber sticks, particularly on the soles of their feet,
and gave them electric shocks all over the body, including the genitals."
Mr Choto's affidavit says his interrogators told him that "the
president had signed my death warrant and that my torturers were to 'go ahead'
". Mugabe later refused to condemn the men's torture. "I will not condemn my
army for having done that. They can do worse things than that," Mugabe told
Voice of America radio.
In response to four supreme court judges who wrote to him
expressing disquiet about the case, the president denounced their "impudence"
and called on them to resign.
Another prominent torture victim is Tom Spicer, 18, who was
tortured last year at Harare Central police station by Mugabe's secret police,
the CIO. In his affidavit, Mr Spicer recalls: "I was punched, kicked in the
stomach, beaten with objects, subjected to repeated electrical shocks.
"My body convulsed so violently that the handcuffs on my wrists
tightened causing my wrists to swell out of all proportion to their normal size.
I was also told categorically that those present had presidential powers and
that whatever methods they used or whatever they did to me would not result in
them having to account for their actions."
Reports from the Zimbabwean human rights monitors - the Amani
Trust and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace - confirms that these
are not isolated cases. The US government Institute of Peace corroborates that
torture is "rampant" and "systematic". What more evidence do Mr Blair and M
Chirac need? The legal and moral case for Mugabe's arrest is overwhelming.
Unlike Labour's feeble, slap-on-the-wrist sanctions, the issuing
of an arrest warrant would be effective and dramatic. It would create real
anxiety for Mugabe; haunting him with the nightmare scenario of ending up behind
bars like Milosevic.
If the French government refuses to arrest Mugabe, I will seek a
warrant from a Paris magistrate for his arrest under France's anti-torture law.
Legal precedent is on my side. The Nuremberg Tribunal on Nazi war crimes
established the principle that in cases of crimes against humanity, such as
torture, nobody is above the law.
This principle is reiterated in Article 27 of the UN Rome Statute
1998, which created the International Criminal Court. Ratified by France, it
expressly states there is no immunity for heads of state.
Putting this principle into practice, Milosevic was indicted for
crimes against humanity in 1999, while he was the serving head of state of
Yugoslavia. The indictment of the Yugoslav leader sets a contemporary precedent
for the arrest of the Zimbabwean president. Milosevic is on trial. Why not
NATIONAL NEWS Tuesday 18 , February
on media laws
2/18/2003 6:43:11 AM (GMT +2)
Mangwende Chief Reporter
Jonathan Moyo yesterday refused to comment on
weekend reports that President Thabo Mbeki had said Zimbabwe would change its
tough media laws following talks with South Africa and Nigeria.
But his boss
in the ruling Zanu PF politburo, Nathan Shamuyarira, was surprised at Moyo’s
refusal to comment.
The Zanu PF secretary for information and publicity
said Moyo should comment “since he is the one who piloted the media law”.
Told that Moyo was not forthcoming on this and other issues, Shamuyarira
asked: “Why? He should comment.”
But Moyo, the Minister of State for
Information and Publicity in the President’s Office, would not comment on
reports that Mbeki said on Sunday Zimbabwe had agreed its media laws, which
critics say are aimed at muzzling the free Press, needed to be changed. South
Africa has been criticised for its soft approach to the Zimbabwe crisis
characterised by gross human rights abuse in the face of a collapsing economy
and chronic food shortages.
In an interview with the South African
Broadcasting Corporation, Mbeki said Pretoria’s behind-the-scenes talks, or
so-called “quiet diplomacy”, were bearing fruit.
Mbeki said: “Over all
this long period . . . we’ve raised concerns about a whole variety of matters
“One of the matters we’ve raised with them is that there
have been complaints raised about . . . legislation passed that has an impact on
the Press. That it was necessary to look at that legislation and see what was
wrong with it and change it. And indeed the Zimbabweans have agreed to that.”
Efforts to get comment from Moyo were fruitless. His secretary said:
“The minister has instructed me to tell you that he doesn’t speak to The Daily
News until they change their way of reporting. There is nothing I can do about
it. I am sorry.”
Moyo crafted the draconian Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). The law makes it an offence to publish a
“false story”, compels journalists to apply for licences and bars foreigners
from working permanently in the country as reporters. Several journalists have
been detained under AIPPA.
Mbeki said South Africa had discussed with
Zimbabwe legislation that was “limiting democratic freedoms . . . and indeed
they are looking at that”.
Mbeki’s comments echoed those of Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo, who said in a recent letter to Australian Prime
Minister John Howard that Zimbabwe was making “genuine efforts to respond to . .
. concerns” about the media laws.
A deep rift has opened in the
Commonwealth over Zimbabwe, with Mbeki and Obasanjo who together with Howard
form a Commonwealth “troika” mandated to look at what course of action to take
on Harare pushing to lift sanctions that were imposed on the country last year.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth last year following
President Mugabe’s disputed re-election. The embargo expires on 19 March.
Mugabe’s domestic critics have accused South Africa and Nigeria of
“sanitising” the Zimbabwean situation, pointing out that Mugabe had not
disbanded pro-government militias blamed for political violence.
NATIONAL NEWS Tuesday 18 , February
farmers cry foul over food
2/18/2003 6:42:34 AM (GMT +2)
THE Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ) has been
criticised by resettled farmers across Mashonaland provinces for allegedly
denying them access to food aid they are distributing to displaced farm workers.
The settlers also accused the FTCZ of causing divisions among people living
on the farms.
This has led to friction between the former commercial
farm workers and the new settlers who now view each other as enemies.
The FCTZ has maintained that its mandate was to provide food only to
former farm workers who lost their jobs following the violent farm invasions.
Godfrey Magaramombe, the organisation’s director, said they were only
mandated to deal with vulnerable former workers but were now realising the need
to refocus their attention to cover the new settlers.
He said they
wanted everyone to benefit but that was impossible due to the limited nature of
resources at their disposal.
According to oral evidence given to the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service Labour and Social Welfare,
chaired by Webster Shamu, the Chegutu MP, starvation was worsening on the farms.
Shamu said the FCTZ created an infrastructure which was only geared to
look after former farm workers.
“We feel that the situation was not
correct,” he said “As has come out of the fact-finding mission, they need to
refocus their attention to include everyone living on the farms.
Madziya, 36, a settler at Handlecross Farm told the committee that the FCTZ
needed to change its approach to the distribution of food on the farms.
LEADER PAGE Tuesday 18 , February
Ham-fisted handling of citizens could be costly
7:03:05 AM (GMT +2)
The decision by the High Court, last week, to
bar the MDC from holding a rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo has raised
The rally was to be addressed by the party leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, his deputy, Gibson Sibanda, and the secretary-general, Welshman
The police, hiding behind the repressive and controversial Public
Order and Security Act (POSA), denied the opposition party permission to hold
The police cited lack of adequate manpower because of the
Cricket World Cup matches being played in the city.
The MDC is not the
only recent victim of POSA. During the last two months, the Bulawayo Agenda, a
community-based organisation, has been barred from holding meetings in the City
Hall because the police said they feared the meetings would lead to a breakdown
of law and order.
How the police arrived at that conclusion boggles the
But what seems to be emerging from all this needless fuss by the
police is that they are afraid of something, an unknown creature bent on
destabilising the government.
This is very similar to the Shona saying,
Kuvhunduka chati kwata, hunge une katurike. Translated literally, it means
people with something to hide are easily unsettled, even by the slightest sound.
Fear is by its very nature an undesirable trait, more so if experienced
by those running a country. For if they are afraid, they will not be capable of
discharging their duties diligently and effectively.
Their eyes are
always glancing over their shoulder, wondering if someone is going to strike at
them. They will lose focus and concentrate on their own safety. They see
everyone as a potential enemy and they will trust no one, seeing enemies
under every bed and bush.
In so doing, they will spend time and
resources fortifying their home. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis quickly come to
mind. Despite his public macho image, Hitler was so insecure he even had someone
taste his food before eating it himself, in case it was poisoned.
home, the Young Pioneers of Kamuzu Banda of Malawi and our home-grown Green
Bombers are examples of how leaders lose focus and concentrate on their own
Hitler and his ilk are the leaders often described as
the New Unhappy Lords who put up a show of happiness in public, but withdraw
into closets of unhappiness and fear when they are out of the public eye. What
are they afraid of, if they are good leaders?
Ever since POSA became
law, the police have been given a free hand to do as they please. They have, so
it would seem, been empowered to arrest people on the most spurious excuses. The
arrests include members of political parties such as the MDC and organisations
such as the National Constitutional Assembly, which have been agitating for
change through legal means.
POSA is now being used willy-nilly to
suppress views that are critical of or different from those of the government.
This is a flagrant abuse of authority which curtails people’s
Only last week, the same law was used when Tendai
Biti, the Member of Parliament for Harare East, and Paul Madzore, the MP for
Glen View (both MDC) and 12 other party supporters were detained overnight by
the police for holding a political rally in Mabvuku.
They were later
released without being charged.
This is one of many examples where the
rule of law is being trampled upon with impunity, all under the obnoxious piece
of legislation called POSA.
There may be a high price to be paid for this
ham-fisted handling of innocent citizens trying to assert their inalienable
NATIONAL NEWS Tuesday 18 , February
2/18/2003 7:04:26 AM (GMT +2)
Pedzisai Ruhanya Deputy News Editor
IN an unprecedented move, the police
yesterday arrested a High Court judge, Justice Benjamin Paradza, in his chambers
at the High Court building along Samora Machel Avenue over allegations that he
attempted to obstruct the course of justice.
His lawyer, Jonathan Samkange
of Byron Venturas, said the judge was being held at Borrowdale Police Station.
He said he was last night making frantic efforts to have the judge released.
This is the first time in Zimbabwe’s legal history that a sitting judge
has been arrested, some senior Harare lawyers pointed out yesterday.
Samkange said Paradza was arrested yesterday morning at the High Court
as he was preparing to preside over a case.
He said that the State is
alleging that Paradza called Justice Misheck Cheda at the Bulawayo High Court to
inquire on the passport of a French citizen which was being held by the court as
part of his bail conditions.
It is alleged that Paradza interfered with
the course of justice.
Samkange said: “The judge had an urgent court
application before his arrest. He was supposed to preside over a case, but
instead he got arrested. This is very sad.”
He said that assuming that
Paradza attempted to interfere with Cheda’s work, then the appropriate move was
to raise the matter with Judge President Paddington Garwe and Chief Justice
Godfrey Chidyausiku and not to arrest a sitting judge.
the president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, yesterday condemned the arrest
“and the liberal use of powers of arrest”.
Moyo said: “Except for very
serious criminal conduct where there is a danger that the interests of justice
may be prejudiced by the judge absconding or interfering with investigations,
charges levelled against judges should be dealt with in terms of the
Constitution, which requires that an inquiry takes place to establish whether or
not the allegations of misconduct are well found.”
He said the liberal
use of powers of arrest and resort to the rules of the Criminal Evidence and
Procedures Act when proceeding against a serving judge had an intimidatory
effect on other judges.
“Accordingly, it impacts negatively on judicial
independence and the interests of justice.”
Last month, Paradza ordered the
police in Harare to bring Engineer Elias Mudzuri, the Executive Mayor of Harare,
to court or release him together with 20 others after they had arrested him
while holding a consultative meeting with the residents of Mabvuku.
had been arrested under the draconian Public Order and Security Act on
allegations of holding an illegal public meeting. He was later released
without being charged.
The government was not happy with Paradza’s
Wayne Bvudzijena, the police spokesperson, told The Herald, the
State-controlled daily, that Mudzuri still had a case to answer and queried why
he had been ordered released by the judge.
Bvudzijena said then: “We
don’t know why the High Court judge dismissed the case.”
BUSINESS Tuesday 18 , February
Domestic debt hits $370 billion
2/18/2003 6:56:25 AM (GMT
By Colleen Gwari Business Reporter
The country’s domestic
debt has risen to about $370 billion in the past eight years.
represented a twenty-two fold rise, with fiscal indiscipline on the part of the
ruling Zanu PF government and dwindling donor support mainly to blame.
In its weekly economic highlights, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
said: “Since 1995, the stock of domestic debt has risen twenty two-fold from
$24,5 billion to $369,2 billion by end January 2003.”
said government’s failure to control expenditure had often seen the central
authority borrowing funds to finance its operations.
The situation has
worsened over the past three years following the withdrawal of international
Multilateral financial organisations led by the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank discontinued support to the
Zimbabwe government to register their discontent with the ruling party’s
As a result government has had to borrow from the domestic
market to finance its programmes.
In a majority of cases, recurrent
expenditure went towards civil servants’ salaries thereby consuming a big chunk
of the cake.
Efforts by civil society and business to force government
to cut expenditure to a level commensurate with revenue, had failed.
Defence Ministry has continued to get a higher allocation than Health when the
country is enjoying relative peace.
The country’s health delivery system
has consequently declined to appalling levels with major hospitals such as
Harare Central and Parirenyatwa running without essential drugs.
Murerwa Finance and Economic Development Minister, in his budget speech
allocated the Ministry of Defence a staggering $76 billion ahead of the Health
and Child Welfare Ministry’s $73 billion.
Murerwa justified the
allocation by saying that Zimbabwe’s sovereignty was threatened and the army
needed to be recapitalised.
The RBZ said the country’s failure to retire
past debt and the continuous mismatch between fiscal revenue and expenditure
resulted in a massive build-up in domestic debt.
A surge in inflation from
below 20 percent in 1996 to 200 percent by year end, resulted in a shift in the
composition of the domestic debt, from longer-dated stocks, to costly short-term
Of concern has been the impact of debt burden on
The RBZ said: “Interest on debt absorbs a
significant proportion of budgetary resources, thus depriving the economy of
much-needed developmental capital.”
The perpetual accumulation of new
debt and rolling over of past debt has put the country into a debt trap.
Who is Dr. Shire? To all information
Who is this man Dr. Shire
whose name is the same as the one who was allegedly in charge of handling the
dissident situation in Matabeleland in the early 80's?
He is referred to as a
Zimbabwean analyst and a ZANUPF supporter (most definitely) and is yet another
apologist for the government. He resides in London and is obviously not familiar
with what is happening on the ground in Zimbabwe. He espouses pure theory and
support for the ruling party and accuses, in a general manner, any journalist
who reports the truth as liars. And yet, Sky News, Hard Talk, Network Africa and
BBC World Today have given so much air-time to this individual it is
unbelievable. Their interviewers seem unable to control his dominating views
against more logical arguments and personal
In an interview on BBC
last Saturday morning, MDC foreign affairs shadow minister Mzila Ndlovu finally
managed to get an answer across to the common "we mustn't get involved"
statement that Zimbabweans "must sort out their own problems" How can
Zimbabweans achieve this when no elections are perceived by the majority to be
free and fair and generally rigged, basic freedoms of movement and association
are forbidden, meetings of any kind are banned, the State media gives no TV or
newspaper space to any opposition views and only seeks to denigrate any
opposition? Where a partisan police and security forces totally support the
governing regime and quell any dissent that dares challenge those Draconian new
laws Posa and the ATIPA, a police force that continually harasses and arrests
opposition members on trumped up charges. Where those arrested often give
testimony of the torture and beatings they receive at the hands of their
captors. We must not forget, the selective starvation, intimidation by state
sponsored "green bombers" of perceived opposition members, which include the
rape, torture, burning of opposition houses, property etc etc................
It is ironic that on
many occasions, the victims are those arrested while the perpetrators go free!
The vast majority of crimes against perceived opposition members go
So, to Mbeki,
Obasanjo and other defenders of the regime who are stating that
the situation has improved and preach "Zimbabweans must sort out their
own problems", please tell us how this can be achieved with out a
return to the rule of law and democracy. Are you suggesting an uprising of the
The rhetoric in terms of NEPAD for the
monitoring of regional countries and subsequent condemnation of policies
detrimental to human rights and good governance has proven once again a farce
I have enclosed a few relative addresses for lobby
purposes and hope you will feel inclined to drop them a line requesting more
balanced dialogue and encourage interviewers to ask the question how
to resolve our problems in the current circumstances and not just
accept propaganda responses but to counter with a knowledge of what ordinary
Zimbabweans know and face every day.
The following is from Eddie Cross and highlights
recent events for those who have doubts. My wife was almost detained with
Eddie, but there was no room in the vehicle.
Yesterday a small group of women from all walks of life
held a "valentinesday" walk for women's rights and against violence. After 30
minutes or so -having a lot of fun, handing out flowers to passers by, they were
confronted by police. After the initial shock subsided they decided they would
not beintimidated and continued with their walk. The riot police then moved in
broke up the walk with force and took 15 women and two men into custody -
mywife of 40 years, Jeanette, amongst them.
They were manhandled into
police vehicles and taken to the main policestation where they were detained
overnight in the cells - 22 women in onecell built for 4 or 5 prisoners. Most of
the women spent the night standingor trying to sleep tightly packed on the
floor. The toilet was a hole in thefloor without the means to be flushed and the
only ventilation was a small hole in the door. It was hot and airless in the
cell and pretty rough for a grandmother who had never had any experience of this
sort of thing in her life. The one man arrested with them, a Catholic priest,
was severely and roughly handled and knocked to the ground at one point during
Prison breakfast was some beans on a plate - one plate for
a cell. No toiletries were allowed and they were forced to remove their shoes
and any other extraneous clothing except the absolute basics. They were insulted
and verbally abused. During the night they observed one prisoner (a man) being
severely beaten with batons before being taken back into the charge
The police were running a club with a bar in it serving liquor until
late at night - actually within the precincts of the station. One of the male
prisoners in the next cell was injured seriously and had been given no medical
treatment at all. The origin of his injuries was not known. When the ladies were
given iced water during breakfast, they were able to wash off one mans cuts and
bruises and give another man with a very swollen face the ice. Food for the
ladies came from family, churches and friends and they were well provided for
and could even share with others less fortunate.
In the morning they were
released without charge and allowed to go home. The Act under which they were
detained and their march disrupted is called the "Public Order and Safety Act
(POSA). In a similar incident in Harare, 38 women were detained for the same
offense. It was my wife's second brush with the "law" in a year. It was pure
Today, Morgan Tsvangirai was supposed to speak at
a rally in White City Stadium - it was advertised and all that the Party is
legally obliged to do is to "notify" the police that this is happening. The
Police banned the rally and when the MDC went to court to have the ban
overturned, the Judge ruled with the Police. On Thursday, a meeting of Church
leaders was called
at Northside Community Church in Harare to discuss the
crisis in Zimbabwe and the church response. When they got there, armed police
surrounded the Church and several of the leaders, including a Bishop who is
chairman of the Evangelical Alliance, were detained. John Makumbe, a well known
lay leader in the Church and the chairman of Transparency International in
Zimbabwe, was arrested in handcuffs and thrown into the back of a Landrover and
taken to the local police station. There they were harangued, insulted and
abused and at least one person was beaten. At midnight they were released
Yesterday a man died in hospital from beatings inflicted
in a local police station (Makoni Police Station). Friends of ours have taken in
the youth chairman of a constituency in Harare who has been arrested, beaten and
tortured continuously for the past few months. He is married, and is on the run.
No criminal record - just politics. Every single office bearer in the Kuwadzana
Constituency (a bi election due next month) has been detained and beaten in
custody - many with severe injuries.
A South African journalist, has been
in the country - could not get permission to operate so came in as a tourist and
has been writing some very strong stuff on the manipulation of food supplies by
the authorities and also about state sponsored poaching in the Gona re Zhou game
reserve. The police are hunting for him and his hotel was raided. He faces a
two-year jail sentence if he is caught under an Act labeled "Access to
Information and the Protection of Privacy Act." Mike Carter went to watch the
first world cup cricket match in Harare - wearing a black armband to protest at
what is happening in Zimbabwe - 5 policemen who were waiting for him at the gate
arrested him. A leading human rights lawyer (Shumba) is threatened and
the country in fear for his life.
What else happened this week - oh yes,
20 000 Zimbabweans fled the country as economic refugees, 3 000 people died of
Aids and an unknown number of people and children died of hunger and
malnutrition and 6 000 people lost their jobs. Then just to round off our week
the Presidents of South Africa and Nigeria stated publicly that "things are
looking up in Zimbabwe and there are no reasons to continue with Commonwealth
sanctions." That was certainly news to those who live here, to us the situation
has never been worse or conditions more repressive.
To those who seek to
defend this regime we ask, what are our rights as citizens and people? We have
no voice in the state-controlled media, radio and television. We cannot gather
in groups of more than three people without being physically threatened and
imprisoned, we cannot hold public gatherings or demonstrations, we are not even
allowed to wave or show displeasure in the most innocuous ways when the
President - or any senior figure goes by. We are tortured and murdered, our
property taken from us and our freedom of movement denied without recourse to
the rule of law. The most serious of
crimes committed by agents of the State
are not even investigated. Our phones are tapped, our mail is intercepted,
foreign journalists are banned and the local independent media burned and bombed
and harassed at every turn. We are targeted in our business activities and are
denied governmentcontracts; denied allocations of products in short supply and
for prosecution under price controls and foreign exchange
I listened very carefully to a program on the BBC today
where Paulo Jordan, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the South
African Parliament talked about a resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis. In this he
stated very clearly that it was the South African position that the Zimbabweans
must find their own way out of this mess. They (SA) felt that this would best
achieved if we (Zimbabweans) formed a government of "national unity", then
drafted a new constitution and once that was in place, held fresh
Sounds great but how will this transition get started if the
governing Party, Zanu PF, which holds all the reins of power, will not even sit
down with the MDC and discuss a way out of the maze. There is nothing,
absolutely nothing, in the recent behavior of Mugabe and his cohorts, which even
remotely suggests they are ready for such talks. They will not happen if force -
in some form - is not used.
So the choice of the way forward lies in
three places - in State House or with the people of Zimbabwe or in Pretoria.
There is no doubt in anyone's mind that if South Africa told Mugabe that he had
to enter into negotiations with the MDC and was obliged to agree on a way out of
this political impasse, that he would have to do so. South Africa holds all the
cards. If the man in State House does not have the gumption or the courage to
initiate the process himself then that leaves two centers for change. If Mbeki
and Obasanjo have had the last word, then it leaves us with only
I just want to remind those who say it is time we took events
into our own hands, that this means violence in one form or another. It means
wholesale repression and killings by the state machinery. Once that genie is out
of the lamp, it is pretty tough task to get it back inside. Look at the Ivory
Coast, Liberia, the Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. If the MDC is then
and its leadership imprisoned, as we know is planned, then the only
ways out is armed conflict, and do not tell me this is impossible - we know
otherwise. We in the MDC stand for peaceful, democratic change; Kenya shows this
is possible - but only if the incumbent allows it.
This morning I dropped
a market vendor off at the Mbare Msika - the largest fresh food market in the
country. She told me that no senior Zanu PF functionary could come into the
Msika today for fear of the people's reaction. She said to me that the people
were angry and hungry. That's an explosive mix and this week Mbeki and Obasanjo
might just have tossed into
the ring, a burning wick.
Bulawayo, 15th February, 2003.
SA has intensified its efforts to bring about a government of
national unity in Zimbabwe, with President Thabo Mbeki meeting a top Zimbabwean
politician touted as a possible successor to President Robert Mugabe. Mbeki is
understood to have met Zimbabwe's former finance minister, Simba Makoni, a
leading Zanu PF moderate, in secret at an undisclosed venue in SA in January.
Mbeki's spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, could neither confirm nor deny the meeting.
Makoni has been linked in the Zimbabwean media to initiatives by prominent
politicians, business people and church leaders to found a new political party
made up of moderates from both the ruling Zanu PF party and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Mbeki has argued that only an inclusive
political settlement will end the Zimbabwean crisis. "People want us to
participate in the removal of the government of Zimbabwe We are not going to be
going around the African continent removing governments," he said on Sunday. The
SA plan for a government of national unity in Zimbabwe apparently hinges on the
MDC dropping its court challenge to Mugabe's presidential election victory in
2002, and on the Zimbabwean government terminating MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai's treason trial. Zimbabwe's Sunday Mirror reported earlier this month
that Makoni was being touted as the potential head of a new party, which would
try to end Zimbabwe's international isolation and revive the country's economy.
Makoni quit cabinet in August after a fall out with Mugabe over plans to devalue
the Zimbabwean dollar.