by Godfrey Marawanyika Fri Feb 1, 10:54 AM ET
HARARE (AFP) - The alleged British mastermind of a foiled coup in Equatorial
Guinea has been deported there from Zimbabwe, even though he was still
appealing against his extradition, court documents showed on Friday.
Simon Mann, an ex-SAS officer was placed on a military plane and flown out
in the early hours of Thursday after being handed over to Equatorial Guinea
officials, a senior immigration officer said in an affadavit seen by AFP. He
had already served time in a Zimbabwean jail.
But Mann's lawyer Jonathan Samkange said he had only learnt his client had
already been flown out when he lodged legal papers on Friday relating to a
final appeal against his deportation.
"The idea was that by the time we filed a notice of appeal he would have
gone. This was designed to defeat the notice of our appeal," Samkange told
"Deporting a person at night is not only mischievous but unlawful."
Mann had lost a bid for freedom earlier this week when a high court judge
upheld an earlier ruling by magistrates but he was still pinning his hopes
on a final appeal before the supreme court.
The lawyer had turned up at court on Friday morning to file the appeal
papers when he was shown documents confirming the deportation order had been
already carried out at the behest of acting attorney general Bharat Patel.
Patel was also one of the judges at the high court ruling.
Samkange said the authorities had deliberately concealed the fact Mann had
been moved out of the Chikurubi maximum security prison, near Harare.
"I spoke to the officer in charge of Chikurubi last night and he assured me
that he was there," said the lawyer.
An affadavit signed by principal immigration officer Evans Siziba and later
lodged with the high court confirmed Mann had been flown out before dawn.
"On 31st January Thursday 2008 at about 0130 hours, I was informed by the
police to process the extradition papers of Simon Mann as his appeal had
been dismissed," Siziba wrote.
"I thereafter proceeded to collect the letter authorising the extradition of
Simon Mann from the acting minister's (attorney general's) office and I was
later accompanied by two police officers to collect Simon Mann" from prison.
Mann was then taken to the nearby Manyame air base and handed over to the
Equatorial Guinea authorities who had a plane already waiting on the tarmac.
"They boarded an air force plane which took off about 0450 hours," said
Mann's legal team applied on Friday for a court order for their client to be
returned to Zimbabwe but the application was rejected by a high court judge.
"The application has been dismissed because Simon Mann was deported before
the appeal was noted at the supreme court," Julia Woods, another of the
Briton's lawyers, told AFP after the hearing.
An alumnus of Britain's famous Eton school, Mann was arrested with 61 others
when their plane landed at Harare international airport in March 2004.
They were accused of stopping off to pick up weapons from Harare while on
their way to Malabo to oust President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled
the oil-rich Equatorial Guinea with an iron fist since 1979.
Mann said he and his co-accused were on their way to the Democratic Republic
of Congo and needed the weapons for a security contract at a mine.
He was sentenced to seven years in jail, but the term was later reduced.
Most of his co-accused were released from a Zimbabwean prison in 2005.
The case made headlines worldwide following the arrest in Cape Town in
August 2004 of Mark Thatcher, the multi-millionaire son of former British
prime minister Margaret Thatcher on charges that he allegedly helped
bankroll the abortive coup.
Thatcher pleaded guilty in South Africa to unwittingly helping finance the
plot and was fined some 400,000 euros (510,000 dollars). He has since left
February 1, 2008
Jan Raath, of The Times, Harare
'I was held in Black Beach jail'
Simon Mann, the former British SAS officer accused of plotting a failed coup
in Equatorial Guinea, has been extradited secretly from a Zimbabwean prison
to face charges in the West African nation, his lawyers said today.
Mann was collected from Chikurubi maximum security prison shortly after
midnight by officers of the notorious Law and Order Section and taken to the
Zimbabwe Air Force’s Manyame base, just south of Harare. He was flown out on
a military aircraft after being handed over to Equatorial Guinea officials.
The handover came hours after Mr Mann, 55, lost an appeal against
extradition in the Zimbabwean High Court, where his legal team argued that
he would face torture and a likely death sentence in a nation with one of
the worst human rights records in Africa. His lawyers, who denounced the
move as illegal, were to lodge a further appeal with the Supreme Court when
they discovered he had already been flown out of the country.
The prisoners' screams are so loud they wake nearby residents in the middle
of the night
a.. Post a comment
a.. 'I was held in the notorious Black Beach jail'
a.. Simon Mann fights ‘coup’ extradition
a.. Prisoners tell of torture hell awaiting Mann
“It was abduction,” said Jonathan Samkange, Mr Mann’s lawyer. “I am furious,
and I am ashamed that our Government should resort to these tactics.”
Mr Samkange was in the Harare court again today to demand an order that Mr
Mann be returned to Harare. He vowed to pursue the case to the International
Court of Justice.
It is believed highly unlikely that any court decision will affect the will
of Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the President of Equatorial Guinea, to have Mr
Mann tried for attempting to overthrow his Government, and have him
incarcerated in Black Beach jail, where, according to the International Bar
Association, torture is routine and deaths of prisoners due to abuse and
neglect are common.
“His health is poor,” said Mr Samkange. “He could stand it [Guinean prison
conditions] mentally, but not physically. If he is still alive, they are
torturing him now.”
Mr Nguema came to power in the tiny West African country in a violent coup
in 1979, ousting his uncle, whom he had shot by a firing squad.
Mann, a veteran of several ill-fated African business expeditions involving
guns, was arrested at Harare airport in March 2004 as he and 70 former
commandos of the apartheid-era South African special forces, attempted to
load firearms on to an Antonov aircraft, allegedly on its way to Malabo, the
Guinean capital, to mount a swift attack on the presidential palace and open
the way for the installation of a Spanish-based Guinean opposition leader.
Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of the former British Prime Minister, pleaded
guilty in a brief trial in South Africa in 2005 to unwittingly financing the
purchase of a helicopter meant to fly in the opposition figure after Nguema’s
Mann and his accomplices were jailed in September 2004 for various firearms,
aviation and immigration offences. Mann received four years and was at the
end of his sentence and about to be released when a court was convened to
hear an application for his extradition to Equatorial Guinea, in terms of a
hastily concluded pact between the two countries.
The magistrate gave her ruling in favour of extradition in a matter of days,
ignoring volumes of evidence from Mr Samkange of the brutal treatment of
political prisoners in Equatorial Guinea —including 20 of Mann’s alleged
advance group waiting to strike in Malabo — and of a judiciary made up of
political appointees with scant legal knowledge.
Mr Samkange got wind of a plan to extradite Mann covertly that night,
without an appeal and managed to get late-night court orders to stopped his
deportation. This time, Mr Mugabe’s legal and security agents succeeded.
Yesterday afternoon Mr Samkange drove to Chikurubi prison to brief Mann on
plans for an appeal to the Supreme Court, Zimbabwe’s highest court. He was
told that Mann was no longer there. He immediately began habeas corpus
applications to have the authorities produce him in court. “The whole of
yesterday I was looking for him, and they never told me,” he said.
“I was not advised, the British Embassy was not advised, and he was not
allowed to communicate with his lawyer,” Mr Samkange said.
When the security police came to fetch Mann after midnight, he refused to go
with them. “They told him that where they were going he could telephone me,”
Mr Samkange said. “They lied.
Mr Patel had given Mann an earlier undertaking that he would be given seven
days' notice before his extradition. Instead, according to another
affidavit, he telephoned Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to advise him
that Mann’s appeal had been dismissed and he could be deported forthwith.
“Patel played the most important role in this,” Mr Samkange said.
The entire judicial process “was politically guided,” he said.
“Arrangements [for Mann’s removal] had been made before we even went to
court. They didn’t want to waste time. I can only conclude that someone was
Western diplomats believe that the delivery of Mann to Malabo has been paid
for by Guinean oil for Zimbabwe’s stricken economy. Press reports here have
confirmed the delivery of fuel, but few details have emerged.
February 01 2008 at 02:10PM
Harare - The alleged British mastermind of a foiled coup in Equatorial
Guinea has been deported from Zimbabwe to Malabo even though he was still
appealing against his extradition, his lawyer said on Friday.
Jonathan Samkange said he had only learnt Simon Mann had already been
flown out of Harare as he lodged legal papers on Friday morning relating to
a final appeal against his deportation.
Although there was no immediate confirmation from the Zimbabwean
authorities, Samkange said Mann had been deported on Wednesday night before
his legal team had managed to lodge a final notice of appeal before the
"They deported him at night, late Wednesday night. There are
affidavits to that effect," the lawyer said.
"The idea was that by the time we filed a notice of appeal he would
have gone. This was designed to defeat the notice of our appeal.
"Deporting a person at night is not only mischievous but unlawful."
Mann had lost a bid for freedom earlier this week when a high court
judge upheld an earlier ruling by magistrates but he was still pinning his
hopes on a final appeal before the supreme court.
The lawyer had turned up at court on Friday morning to file papers
relating to the final appeal when he was shown documents confirming the
deportation order had been already carried out at the behest of acting
attorney general Bharat Patel, who was also one of the judges at the high
"The attorney general is the one signed who signed this deportation
order. He knew we were filing a notice of appeal but he failed to disclose
that they had deported him," said Samkange.
The lawyer said the authorities had deliberately concealed the fact
Mann had been moved out of the Chikurubi maximum security prison, near
"I spoke to the officer in charge of Chikurubi last night and he
assured me that he was there."
A former member of Britain's crack SAS troops, Mann was arrested with
61 others when their plane landed at Harare international airport in March
They were accused of stopping off to pick up weapons from Harare while
on their way to Malabo to oust President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has
ruled oil-rich Equatorial Guinea with an iron fist since 1979.
Mann said he and his co-accused were on their way to the Democratic
Republic of Congo and needed the weapons for a security contract at a mine.
He was sentenced to seven years in jail, but the term was later
reduced. Most of his co-accused were released from a Zimbabwean prison in
The case made headlines worldwide following the arrest in Cape Town
(South Africa) in August 2004 of Mark Thatcher, the multi-millionaire son of
former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher on charges that he allegedly
helped bankroll the abortive coup.
Thatcher pleaded guilty in South Africa to unwittingly helping finance
the plot and was fined some €400 000. He has since left the country. - AFP
Fri 1 Feb 2008, 14:00 GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Simon Kamunhukamwe just shrugged when Zimbabwe's
official inflation figure topped 26,000 percent.
Exploding prices have become a part of life and protesting against the
economic meltdown can be risky, especially as President Robert Mugabe digs
in for elections next month.
The figure may shock the outside world; Simon thinks the truth may be even
"Of course that is not true, inflation is higher than that," said
Kamunhukamwe, who scratches out a living scavenging for used paper to sell.
Announcing the rise in a monetary policy statement on Thursday, Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono said the economy had also contracted by six
percent in 2007.
That kind of news would worry most presidents, especially ahead of general
elections. But analysts said veteran leader Mugabe seemed firmly entrenched
after what the opposition says are ruthless security crackdowns.
The government dismisses all charges of heavy-handedness and political
commentators doubt the divided opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) will be able to capitalise on economic woes to win support from a
population focused on daily survival.
"Normally people take political risks against their government but in
Zimbabwe we have a risk-taking government and a risk-averse population,"
said leading political analyst Eldred Masunungure.
"I doubt the MDC has the capacity at the moment to turn people's anger into
Zimbabweans struggle with cuts in electricity and water, burst sewers,
crumbling infrastructure, shortages of fuel, food and foreign currency and
One of the only certainties in life is spiralling prices.
Since the start of the year rent and prices of basic goods like bread, milk
and cooking oil have more than doubled.
The local currency has plunged against the U.S. dollar on a thriving black
market from Z$2.7 million beginning of January to Z$6 million on Friday. It
is officially pegged at Z$30,000.
"It is almost unimaginable and inconcievable to expect a change in economic
fortunes of this country under the stewardship of the Mugabe regime. People
are suffering and it is the MDC which can end that," MDC spokesman Nelson
He said the MDC would decide at the weekend whether to take part in the
March 29 elections after earlier threatening to boycott over the Mugabe
government's refusal to adopt an agreed draft constitution before the polls.
With a divided opposition, Mugabe has room to consolidate power. Economic
troubles may be the biggest threat to him, analysts say, even though he
blames them on Western sanctions.
Gono promised a comprehensive 24-month recovery programme after the
elections but many Zimbabweans are sceptical.
"Why should we wait until after the elections for the economy to recover? We
are suffering and nothing will change," said newspaper vendor and mother of
two, Vimbai Kafesu.
Zimbabweans were reminded how little say they have over their futures when
Gono delivered the grim news of galloping inflation with: "In God's hands I
commit this monetary policy". (Editing by Michael Georgy and Philippa
By Geoff Hill
February 1, 2008
JOHANNESBURG — Zimbabwean opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara are due to meet in the capital city of Harare today in an attempt
to reunite their Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ahead of March 29
Paul Themba Nyathi, director of elections for Mr. Mutambara's wing of the
MDC, told The Washington Times last night that a united opposition would
make a better showing at the ballot box, even though both wings expect the
election to be rigged.
"You have seen what is going on in Kenya where some people accuse President
[Mwai] Kibaki of proclaiming himself president even though they say he lost
"Here [in Zimbabwe] we have much worse conditions on the ground, our
unemployment rate is higher, then there's inflation out of control. I only
hope we don't have the same problems as we see in Nairobi," he said.
In Kenya, more than 850 people have been killed in ethnic fighting after
disputed Dec. 27 elections.
The MDC split in 2005 over whether to challenge President Robert Mugabe's
last bid to remain in office.
In Harare, a source close to Mr. Tsvangirai said talks involving officials
of both factions were "difficult and drawn out," and that it was too early
to announce the united front, under which the factions will contest the
But he said the two leaders were due to meet today and ink a deal in which
Mr. Tsvangirai will be their sole candidate in the presidential election.
Mr. Mutambara will run for a seat in parliamentary elections, also held
March 29, and has been promised a senior Cabinet post.
Mr. Mugabe, who turns 84 next month, has ruled the country since 1980 and
seeks to extend his rule by running for a new term in office.
He was returned to office in 2005 in an election many outside observers
claimed was marred by rigging and state-sponsored violence.
Today only one in six adults have jobs, inflation is at levels comparable to
that under Germany's ill-fated Weimar Republic — which helped Adolf Hitler
rise to power — and Zimbabwe depends on international aid to ward off mass
Mr. Nyathi said the opposition has no choice but to challenge Mr. Mugabe.
"We will do our best and we will not give up, but you must understand that
we are working under very difficult conditions," he said. "There is little
food, no fuel much of the time and you know the rest," he said.
Mr. Mugabe's secret police, the feared Central Intelligence Organization,
permeates every section of Zimbabwean society.
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch,
have accused the force of widespread torture and the slayings of opposition
supporters and candidates.
For the past year, South African President Thabo Mbeki has mediated talks
between senior representatives from Mr. Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union — Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and both wings of the MDC.
Those talks collapsed last month when Mr. Mugabe scheduled elections for
March 29 and set a Feb. 8 deadline for candidates to register.
Most Western countries, including the United States, Canada and Britain,
refuse to recognize the result of Zimbabwe's 2005 presidential election,
which local and international observers said was rigged.
The MDC's election platform is to be released Sunday and multiple sources
from both factions say the slogan likely to be chosen for banners and
T-shirts will feature two questions: "Are you angry enough?" and "Are you
SW Radio Africa (London)
1 February 2008
Posted to the web 1 February 2008
Police in Mutare and Rusape stopped the MDC 'freedom' marches, in which the
opposition is demanding a new constitution and free and fair elections. On
Thursday police chiefs in Mutare issued a prohibition order barring the
party from marching. That same day the MDC filed a court challenge which was
only heard the next day on Friday. A magistrate ruled that protesters could
not march into the city centre but should move to a venue outside town where
their leaders could address them. Protesters gathered at the Beit Hall in
Sakubva Township with the intention of marching through the city centre on
their way to Meikles Park. But police blocked the procession into town and
MDC MP Giles Mutsekwa later addressed supporters at the Beit Hall.
The march in Rusape and another one pencilled in for Makoni Central did not
happen, as a result of the last minute cancellation by police. Speaking to
Newsreel party spokesman for Manicaland Pishai Muchauraya said the decision
by the magistrate to side with the police was political. Only last week
Wednesday a similar march planned for Harare by the MDC was brutally
disrupted by police who beat up and tear-gassed protesters. A judge in
Harare then ruled that protesters could not move through the city centre but
should head for the Glamis stadium outside the town centre. The judgements
all seem to be designed to dilute planned protests into mere rallies, where
leaders can only address their supporters.
Police had earlier on granted permission for the marches in Mutare and
Rusape and are obviously playing a game with the opposition. Under new
amendments to security laws published in January the police are required to
produce affidavits as evidence, if they should decide to ban a meeting for
any reason. This has not happened in Mutare where again the police have only
said they received intelligence the marches would be disrupted and turn
violent. Asked if the MDC remained confident of winning a free and fair
election under these conditions Muchauraya said it was clear the election
would be rigged.
SW Radio Africa (London)
1 February 2008
Posted to the web 1 February 2008
Some Zimbabwean refugees who have been freed after South African Police
arrested 1,500 people at the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg on
Wednesday night, have revealed that the police are forcing them to hand over
money and cell phones for their release. Most of the arrested were released
Thursday without any charges, while an estimated 300-500 Zimbabweans are
being held at Lindela Detention Centre. Immigration officers at Lindela have
also been accused of forcing bribes to release detainees.
As we reported, heavily armed police stormed the church compound that
shelters Zimbabwean refugees, asylum seekers and homeless people. With no
search warrant they claimed they were looking for guns and drugs, but they
Lawyers for the church have since discovered that the order for the raid was
given by the Provincial Police Commissioner. They are considering an urgent
High Court application challenging the validity of the search and the
unlawful detention of refugees.
Bishop Paul Verryn who runs the church, said the remaining detainees were
due in court on Friday. But they had not yet appeared as of late Friday
afternoon. It is feared that they may be facing deportation from Lindela
back to Zimbabwe.
Regarding the bribes, Verryn said he was aware of two specific cases. One
was a church resident who returned from the police station saying he was
starving because he had used all his money to pay the police for his
release. Another was a woman whose property had been taken by the police,
who claimed it was stolen. She said that when she produced documents proving
she was the owner, the police took them from her and threatened to rip them
up if she did not pay.
The Bishop said it is deeply disturbing when defenders of the law cross
moral barriers. It shows that the society's boundaries have collapsed.
Verryn said he was not too concerned about the damage done to the church
building itself because that can be repaired. But the damage done to the
spirit of the people who were victimised in a church, that is supposed to be
a safe haven, will take a long, long time to repair.
SW Radio Africa (London)
1 February 2008
Posted to the web 1 February 2008
With just 56 days to go before presidential and parliamentary elections
political violence has erupted in Manicaland province. Last Sunday 3 MDC
activists were assaulted for walking near a business centre where a Zanu PF
rally was taking place. Zanu PF youths accused them of spying on their
election strategies, despite the ruling party using a busy shopping area to
conduct their district coordinating committee meeting. Cadwell, Frank and
Justice Chaguma, who are all related, had a beer drink at Marange Business
Centre and it was later in the afternoon when they were walking home that
the Zanu PF mob attacked them.
The MDC activists fought back and in the skirmish Zanu PF official Clarkson
Buwerimwe pulled out a gun. Frank Chaguma immediately disarmed him.
According to Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC spokesman in Manicaland, the three
brothers took the gun to Marange police post around 7pm that same day. It
was at the police station that they were brutally assaulted by police. Two
riot police, a neighbourhood watch member and seven other armed security
agents are said to have conducted the beatings.
By late Friday the Chiguma brothers (Cadwell and Justice) were still locked
up in police custody while Frank is said to have escaped and is currently on
the run. The remaining two have been moved to Mutare central police station
and have now completed six days in detention, despite police only being
allowed to hold suspects for 48 hours. The fallout from the incident has
created havoc in Marange. According to MDC youth member Fred Marange, war
veterans led by a man called Kadzura are going door to door after midnight
and beating up well-known MDC members. They have been accused of abducting
Shylet Mubanda and Energy Chaguma, whose whereabouts are now unknown.
By Carole Gombakomba
31 January 2008
United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee says he has not made as
much progress as he had hoped in engaging senior Zimbabwean government
officials since taking up his assignment in Harare in November 2007.
Among members of President Robert Mugabe's cabinet he has so far only
managed to work with Health Minister David Parirenyatwa on projects to stem
the spread and help those living with HIV/AIDS - the United States is the
leading funder of such efforts.
The U.S. ambassador expressed confidence in the Zimbabwe crisis resolution
process mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki under the auspices
of the Southern African Development Community, despite recent setbacks which
have led opposition officials and observers to declare the so-called SADC
process a failure.
The negotiations deadlocked over the issue of the timing of elections, and
President Robert Mugabe's recent decision to call elections March 29 led
opposition negotiators to conclude that he had effectively swept aside the
crisis resolution process.
McGee expressed concern about the conditions in the country ahead of the
elections, citing official obstacles to auditing voter rolls and the
extremely limited distribution of a report by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission on house redistricting as indications of an uneven playing field
in the presidential, parliamentary and local elections.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper took aim at McGee this week, accusing
him of laying the groundwork for the U.S. government to say the elections
were not free and fair if Mr. Mugabe should be re-elected and ZANU-PF
maintain its majority.
Herald writer Isdore Guvamombe said McGee has made such comments because the
country has "not approached a single foreign donor" seeking election
McGee told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he
will continue to seek to engage Harare and to call for free and fair
By Patience Rusere
31 January 2008
South African President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday briefed senior political
officials of the Southern African Development Community on his efforts to
mediate a solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe - an undertaking many believe
has reached a dead end.
No details immediately emerged as what Mr. Mbeki told his SADC peers on the
sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He was
briefing SADC's committee on politics, defense and security, whose members
now include Tanzania, Angola and Namibia. The meeting was chaired by
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete in the absence of Angolan President Jose
Eduardo dos Santos.
Mr. Mbeki was appointed mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis in March 2007 when
SADC met in an extraordinary summit to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe, which
had seen an upsurge in political violence as the state cracked down on the
The negotiations appeared to be making headway late last year, producing
bipartisan support for a constitutional amendment and revisions of
legislation regarding public order, elections, press freedom and
broadcasting. But Mr. Mbeki was unable to overcome President Robert Mugabe's
resistance to broader reforms despite a personal appeal for a postponement
of elections now set for March 29.
For a sense of the atmosphere in Addis Ababa, reporter Patience Rusere spoke
with National Coordinator Alois Mbawara of the British-based Free Zim Youth
organization, who said that while little is known of Mr. Mbeki’s
intervention, there seemed to be less sympathy for President Mugabe among
African diplomats at the summit.
Steve Bloomfield, Monocle
Extracted from Issue 10, Volume 01
Harare's Meikles Hotel has everything a five-star hotel should. A porter in
top hat and tails opens gold-plated doors to a world of luxury. In the
lobby, the chandeliers sparkle and a pianist plays softly, while in the
hotel's exclusive restaurant, waiters serve champagne and foie gras to
guests paying up to €300 a night for a room. No expense has been spared.
Zimbabwe is a country on the brink of economic collapse. Inflation has hit
15,000 per cent, with one US dollar now worth up to $2m Zimbabwean on the
black market. Z$1,000 notes lie untouched in the gutter. The country is
running out of food and fuel. There are queues half a mile long for staples
such as bread and milk. Electricity is scarce and entire districts can go
weeks without water. And yet, at the Meikles, the champagne flows and the
tuxedo-sporting pianist continues to play. Zimbabwe may be sinking, but the
orchestra plays on.
President Robert Mugabe has been in power since 1980 and shows no sign of
relinquishing it now. Elections have been rigged, opponents arrested and
beaten up; dissent has been brutally quashed. Fresh elections have been
planned for March, although there are no guarantees they will be free and
fair. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), once a beacon of
hope, has split in two following a series of bitter rows.
On the eve of the elections, Monocle spent a week travelling across the
country. Posing as tourists in a country where international journalists are
banned, we drove more than 1,000km, meeting opposition activists and
government officials, corrupt police officers and white farmers, as well as
dozens of ordinary Zimbabweans struggling to survive.
Harare, like its flagship hotel, appears at first glance to be thriving.
There are BMW dealerships, fancy restaurants and smooth roads. Zimbabwe's
economy may be in freefall, but some people know how to make money in
difficult times. Beside the road we meet Will, a 30-year-old dressed in
shorts, Brazil football shirt and Ray-Bans. He sells cars to foreign
businessmen and party bosses, pocketing 7 per cent commission on sales. "I'm
not doing too badly," he grins. "You could say business is good." Two days
ago he sold five cars to a senior Zanu-PF official, making almost €5,000 on
a single transaction.
Money changers are also benefiting. The official rate of exchange at the
bank is Z$30,000 for one US dollar. But no one changes money at banks.
Instead, they go to money changers such as Clever, who give anywhere between
Z$1.3m and Z$2m to the US dollar.
Clever used to be a maths teacher. Not any more. "If you can make good
money, why not?" he asks, as he drives through Harare in an Audi, sucking a
lollipop. Besides the car, he owns three houses and is building three more.
He takes Monocle's US$100 notes and hands over a plastic bag full of
Zimbabwean dollars. The Reserve Bank hasn't been able to keep up with
inflation. The largest denomination is Z$200,000 - 10 US cents.
Spending money is not easy. Supermarkets shelves lie empty. There are no
staples. Meat Paradise, a butcher in central Harare, has no meat. When food
is delivered, or is rumoured to be delivered, queues develop quickly. The
biggest lines are for ATMs - there is such a shortfall of actual notes in
the system that customers are limited to Z$5m a day at some banks and z$10m
Across the city, Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro ushers us into his corner
office in the University of Zimbabwe before closing the door firmly behind
him. "We don't want anyone listening," he says. As well as being a lecturer
in political science he is a leading figure in the faction of the MDC led by
Morgan Tsvangirai. Mid-sentence he pauses. "Hear that man?" There are two
voices in the corridor: one male, one female. "He's just been promoted from
an informer to an intelligence officer."
Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is rumoured to have a
budget 10 times the size that for health care. Elaborate sting operations
have targeted senior opposition figures, most recently appearing to film the
Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, one of Mugabe's most outspoken critics,
in bed with a married woman. CIO operatives, sometimes called "Charlie 10s",
are on every street corner, in every organisation, and in every class that
Professor Mukonoweshuro teaches. "Some of them see it as a badge of pride,
not shame," he says.
Before leaving Harare to drive the 450km southwest to Bulawayo we need to
find petrol. The government does not have enough foreign currency to import
the fuel the country needs. Most people rely on the black market, where fuel
has reached Z$3m a litre – compared to the official government price of
At a back-street garage, we buy 25 litres that is poured into our tank
through a funnel made from an old vegetable-oil bottle. A handful of
mechanics still work at the garage, which is full of old cars, many of which
have been stripped for their parts. Business is slow.
"We are starving," says Mawoko Tayiti, simply. A 58-year-old mechanic -
Mawoko is Shona for "hands" - Tayiti can no longer afford to visit his
grown-up children in Bulawayo. "The bus fare used to be Z$2. Now it's Z$8m
one way." He makes around Z$20m a week. "How can I afford Z$16m just to go
to Bulawayo?" he asks.
Tayiti does not hold high hopes for the election, nor does he think the
opposition would be much better. There is one thing, though, he is sure of.
With a look more of sadness than fury, he says: "A hungry man is an angry
man. There are a lot of hungry men now."
On the road to Bulawayo we pass mile after mile of untouched bush and
scrubland. Much of it used to be farmland before the land invasions began.
At every junction and every town dozens of people gather searching for a
ride. Some are heading home to their villages; others are heading to Beit
Bridge, the border town with South Africa where thousands try to cross,
looking for work and a better life. The hitchhikers include police
officers – even they don't have enough fuel.
Sivas and Elijah accept the offer of a ride. They are "new settlers" – men
given a small parcel of land taken from white farmers. "Life was hard in
Harare," says Sivas. "Some days we did not eat." Now each manages to grow
around two tonnes of maize a year, selling each 20kg bag for Z$500,000. But
high food prices mean they still struggle. "Money cannot buy anything," says
Sivas. They should be Mugabe supporters; his land reforms gave them their
new life. But they won't be voting for him – not that they think it will
make any difference. "Even if he loses he will win," laughs Sivas.
In Bulawayo we meet Thys Devries, a white farmer who can trace his ancestry
back to the Dutch settlers who came to southern Africa in the 1600s. His
20,000-hectare property in Hwange National Park was taken by force by the
local governor and the trade minister's brother-in-law. He was given six
hours to leave. "I'm not against the land programme," he says. "It has to
happen. But not like this." Once it was farmers, now it is business people
being targeted. A law has just been passed requiring all businesses be
majority-owned by "indigenous Zimbabweans". People are wary of speaking out.
In a house in Bulawayo, a civil engineer agrees to speak but is too scared
to be named.
"It is blatant looting," he says. " They change the laws so theft becomes
legalised. They have created an environment that is conducive to crime."
Like many, he does not see Mugabe as the sole problem. "Mugabe gets used as
a personification. But it is a mafia, it is a gang which runs the country."
The economic crisis has devastated public services. Schoolteachers and
doctors are paid a pittance, supplies are non-existent. HIV/Aids has ravaged
the country. Life expectancy has fallen from 58 in 1980 to 34 for women and
37 for men. Zimbabwe has the world's highest percentage of children orphaned
We drive to Bulawayo's Mpilo hospital. Inside, it is clean and quiet.
Doctors and nurses sit behind a desk chatting. They have little to do. The
paediatric ward is full, but there are no medicines, no treatments to
administer. Parents have to buy drugs privately for their children. Babies
and small children lie in cots, some crying, most just staring into space. A
two-year-old girl, stick thin with bulging eyes, is sitting wrapped in a
blanket. Both her parents are dead. She is HIV positive. Doctors cannot give
her antiretroviral drugs because they don't have any. Her name is
A two-minute drive away lies West Park Cemetery. In an area no larger than a
football pitch there are three funerals taking place. Gravestones used to be
as ornate as anywhere in Europe. Now the details of deaths are scribbled in
white paint on a small scrap of black metal stuck into the ground. We pass
row upon row of children's graves. Many are unmarked paupers' graves.
Mugabe's attempts to get a grip on the economy and bring down spiralling
inflation have only made things worse. Three zeros were taken off the
currency last year. Rumours are circling that four, five, maybe even six
zeros will be taken off before the election.
Mugabe lays the blame for Zimbabwe's economic crisis solely on the shoulders
of the West, and in particular Britain. He cites the "economic sanctions"
that prevent the World Bank and International Monetary Fund from giving
money to Zimbabwe. But a lack of development loans does not lead to
five-digit inflation. Mismanagement and corruption slowly eroded the
productivity of one of Africa's strongest economies in the 1990s.
The land invasions from 2000 saw commercial farming - once the backbone of
Zimbabwe's economy - collapse, as farms were handed over to government
officials with no interest in working the land. Everything worth anything
was stripped away and sold by Mugabe's cronies; tens of thousands of workers
lost their jobs. Zimbabwe, once an exporter of food, now relies on food aid.
New economic policies have become little more than fresh ways for the elite
to make money. Senior party officials can make a fortune from buying US
dollars at the official rate. Foreign investment has been scared away by
out-of-control inflation and rampant corruption. Zimbabwe is sliding
backwards at a frightening rate.
Bulawayo's government-controlled newspaper, The Chronicle, reports that
"animal-drawn ploughs" are being given to new farmers as part of the
country's "agricultural mechanisation programme". "What did Zimbabwe have
before candles?" asks one businessman we meet in Bulawayo. "Electricity."
The Victoria Falls are marketed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
They lie on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. For decades Zimbabwe was
the place to go to see the Falls; there are better views from the Zimbabwean
side of the border and more luxury hotels. But few tourists holiday here any
more. By lunchtime only 100 people have gone through the turnstiles.
At the international airport two flights are about to leave and 40
passengers mill around, spending the last of their wads of Zimbabwean
As we pass through immigration the officer stamping our passports says:
"You'll come again, yes?"
Written by Desie Heita
Friday, 01 February 2008
A statement by the Zimbabwean Minister of Energy this week that the
US$50 million free-electricity deal with Namibia is “alive and kicking” does
nothing to clear up contradictions that hover around the Hwange Thermal
The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) and NamPower continue
giving contradicting information on the status of the refurbishment process,
with news from Zimbabwe saying Hwange was in fact only fired up on Thursday
NamPower is adamant that the first unit at Hwange has already been
refurbished and the country started receiving electricity in December last
NamPower is also lacking in its explanation on the exact route
electricity from Hwange is being fed into the country considering the
absence of a completed Caprivi Inter-connector.
ohn Kaimu, spokesperson for NamPower, says the electricity is being
fed in through the 440 kV line in the south which connects Namibia's Auas
substation to South Africa's Aries station via the Kokerboom substation.
Nevertheless, contradicting statements on the status of the Hwange
station abound, with the head of Zesa, Ben Rafemoyo, having been quoted in
the state-owned Herald newspaper as saying that the newly revamped unit was
only fired up on the afternoon of 24 January, with a subsequent
synchronisation the next day. Sources in Zimbabwe told the Economist this
week that they are dumbstruck by the Namibian media reports as they
contradict what is being said by Zimbabwean officials.
This week Zimbabwe’s Minister of Energy and Power Development, Mike
Nyambuya, said the three units at Hwange will only be ready by December.
“The deal is alive and kicking. By December we would have overhauled three
units at Hwange,” Nyambuya told reporters this week.
NamPower loaned US$50 million to Zimbabwe to refurbish the Hwange Power
Station in return for a free 150MW of electricity last year.
NamPower had always planned connecting to Hwange, as well as to the Zambian
grid at Livingstone. But this was to be accomplished through a transmission
line connecting the two grids of Zimbabwe and Namibia at Hwange and Caprivi
A 200/400MW Caprivi Link Inter connector, which is yet to be commissioned,
was also planned to connect the rest of Namibia at Oshikoto via Caprivi to
the Zambian grid at Livingstone. There is no connecting line between Rundu
and Caprivi. The total cost was put at N$2.6 billion, according to 2006
Kaimu says in the absence of these transmission lines the four countries of
Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe have signed an agreement that allows
for the transmission of electricity from Hwange through their lines to
It is not only NamPower that has come to rely on Hwange for stable power
generation. Zimbabwe itself is putting its hope on the refurbishment of
Hwange for steady energy generation. The country's economic turmoil has left
the country cash strapped and unable to pay its debts to its major supplier,
Mozambique's Hydroelectrica de Cabora Bassa (HCB), which last year cut
electric supply over a US$26.5 million debt of which $10 million has since
Zesa also owes the Democratic Republic of Congo's energy utility about US$5
By Cindy Saine
31 January 2008
A number of African countries have been cited for human rights violations in
the latest Human Rights Watch report, including Kenya, Zimbabwe and Sudan.
VOA's Cindy Saine reports from Washington.
The New York-based group Human Rights Watch says countries claiming the
mantle of democracy, including Kenya and Pakistan, should guarantee the
rights that are central to it, including the rights to free expression,
assembly and association, and free and fair elections.
Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth has called for an
investigation of events in Kenya, where post election violence has left more
than 850 people dead and the opposition has accused President Mwai Kibaki of
rigging the December 27 vote.
"We want to see investigation into the electoral fraud and, assuming that
nobody can really figure out exactly who did what, a new election held
within a year or two," he said. "And we also want to have accountability
for this violence, so that people on both sides, in both the government and
the Orange opposition don't get the message that they can get away with
impunity with this kind of violence."
But the report also praised Kenya, saying the country's political climate
has improved considerably since the 1990s. It also said Kenya has one of
the most assertive, independent parliaments in Africa today.
Human Rights Watch had no such praise for Zimbabwe's rulers, saying that in
2007, the country descended further into political and economic chaos as
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party strengthened its hold on power.
Roth says there is great concern about upcoming presidential and
parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe.
"The opposition there continues to face violence and all kinds of
constraints imposed by Mugabe," he added. "And we are very fearful that the
proposed elections for March will not be free and fair. There has to be
quite a radical change in electoral conditions for this exercise to be
The report says the arrest and brutal assault of more than 50 opposition and
civil society activists during a prayer meeting last March marked another
low point in the country's seven-year crisis.
Human Rights Watch says Sudan's government bears principal responsibility
for five years of the Darfur crisis, and warns that civilians are still at
great risk today as all sides ignore international humanitarian law. The
report says grave human rights abuses are also fueling the worsening
humanitarian crisis in Somalia and the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia.
Roth called the situation there "a forgotten tragedy."
The report also cited atrocities in Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Eritrea and Libya.
Elsewhere in the world, the rights group cites gross violations in Colombia,
Iraq, Sri Lanka, Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and
Vietnam. It also criticized France, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the
United States for abuses in the war on terror.
Zimbabwe Global Forum
A worldwide non partisan coalition for Zimbabweans and friends of Zimbabwe
For North America Contact:
The Zimbabwe Global Forum is calling on all Zimbabweans in Diaspora and
friends of Zimbabwe to join in the protest for their right to vote, and for
free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. Elections are scheduled for March 29.
But the Zimbabwe Government has, despite all the appeals, absolutely refused
to allow the Diaspora to vote.
ZGF will hold a protest outside the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Washington DC on
February 22, starting at noon.
All Zimbabweans in Diaspora and friends of Zimbabwe are actively encouraged
Activities outside the Embassy of Zimbabwe will include:
1. A petition to the Ambassador demanding the right of Zimbabweans in
Diaspora to vote, and calling for free and fair elections.
2. Protesters will symbolically register as voters and cast their ballots.
3. A minute of silence for all the victims of politically motivated acts of
violence in Zimbabwe
4. A news conference for members of the mass media.
A conference on Zimbabwe is planned for February 21. The venue will be
As a result of the crisis of governance under the Robert Mugabe regime,
Zimbabwe is going through an economic meltdown and a dilapidation of social
infrastructures in health, education, agriculture and social services.
Inflation, estimated at over 100,000 percent is the highest in world.
Unemployment is well over 80 percent. The economy has shrunk by over forty
percent. An estimated four million Zimbabweans, or about one quarter of the
country’s population, have left the country.
Through their remittances, amounting to about $US1 million a day,
Zimbabweans in Diaspora are now the second largest source of foreign
currency for Mugabe’s government . About half the Zimbabwean population
inside the country is now dependent on the remittances from the Diaspora.
Zimbabweans in Diaspora are sustaining Zimbabwe through their remittances.
There have a right to vote.