Despotism cracks Plans to oust
Mugabe raise the pressure on him
Zimbabwe that two of the top people in the ruling party have recently
discussed the removal of President Mugabe from office are the first real
signs that the catastrophe now engulfing the country is beginning to
undermine its leadership. The proposal by the commander of the armed forces
that the 78-year-old President should resign has apparently been discussed
not only with the Speaker of parliament but also with Morgan Tsvangirai, the
embattled leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Only a
year ago this would have been unthinkable. But with widespread starvation
only months away, even those who have had the greatest stake in perpetuating
the Mugabe tyranny now realise that his rule must be ended.
The details of this extraordinary plot are vague, and it is not clear whether
Mr Mugabe faces the kind of palace putsch that has ended the rule of so many
other African strongmen or a dignified retirement that he himself may now be
seeking. Mr Tsvangirai is the only person to have confirmed that these talks
took place, and he has always said that Mr Mugabe would never leave office
peacefully or voluntarily. The fact that Mr Tsvangirai, who has seen his
supporters murdered and his party cheated of election victory, is now
offering Mr Mugabe immunity from prosecution suggests that not only the
opposition believes that the President has criminally abused his office but
so also do his own party lieutenants.
Until recently Mr
Mugabe seemed to thrive on the hatred that his despotic rule has provoked.
The more he was denounced, especially abroad, the more he was able to portray
himself as a struggling African patriot surrounded by enemies. This was the
tactic in his plan to steal the election. This was the way he cemented the
loyalty of the young thugs designated war "veterans" and the Zanu (PF)
officials, by playing on tribal and racial divisions to create an embattled
group of supporters who knew they had everything to lose if they abandoned
With the entire infrastructure of Zimbabwe falling
apart, however, the tactic is also failing; too many loyalists have
neighbours, families and fellow tribesmen who are suffering. They can see
that, unless Mr Mugabe goes, even their own privileged positions will be
threatened once the food and fuel runs out and the electricity fails. As with
Ceausescu's Romania, there comes a point in national suffering when even the
military and security apparatus turn against the despot in order to save
That point has not yet been reached in Zimbabwe.
The Government is still harassing its critics, arresting Harare's opposition
mayor and 21 others yesterday for not getting permission for a public rally.
The "retirement" plotters seem to have got cold feet. And Mr Mugabe has
been bolstered by the ill-timed and ill-judged endorsement of South
Africa's Labour Minister, who last week called for closer relations with
Zimbabwe and suggested that South Africa should copy its seizure of
South Africa should know better. President
Mbeki's Government now has an unusual chance to remove the threat of chaos on
its northern border without being seen to act under Western pressure. All
Zimbabwe's anxious neighbours should encourage the Zanu (PF) leadership to
press for the resignation of Mr Mugabe. A dignified departure, though
undeserved, would be far better than violence, and neighbouring countries
have shown that founding Presidents can resign with honour. The West,
meanwhile, should keep a wary distance to avoid any accusations of
encouraging a coup. But it need make no secret of its hopes that Mr Mugabe's
own associates will at last recognise their country's plight and turn out the
man who has led them to this disaster.
Zimbabwe chiefs in plot to exile
Mugabe by Jan Raath in Harare
the most senior figures in Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu (PF) party have offered to
deliver President Mugabe's resignation to secure a negotiated settlement of
the country's deepening crisis, The Times has learnt. The
secret deal put to Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), would also give Mr Mugabe, 78, immunity from
prosecution and allow him to go into exile abroad. A government of national
unity would run Zimbabwe until new elections were held in about two years'
Sources connected to the Zanu (PF) leadership said they
believed Mr Mugabe had agreed. Whether the deal will go ahead is
Colonel Lionel Dyck, a respected white former
Zimbabwean Army officer who has acted as go-between, put the proposals to Mr
Tsvangirai before Christmas. The Zanu leaders pulled back after he initially
condemned the plan, apparently fearing a trap.
Tsvangirai told The Times that Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Speaker of parliament
and number three in the Zanu (PF) hierarchy, and General Vitalis Zvinavashe,
commander of the armed forces, had assured him that Mr Mugabe would stand
down as the first step.
"Part of the deal would, of course,
include Mugabe resigning," said Mr Tsvangirai. "It is the critical element.
As far as Mnangagwa and Zvinavashe are concerned, it's part of the
Sources said Mr Mnangagwa and General Zvinavashe have
already secured assurances from Mr Mugabe. "He wants to go," said
Mr Tsvangirai said the MDC was ready to offer Mr Mugabe
immunity for crimes committed in pursuit of his lawless, violent campaign
of repression of his opponents and the seizure of nearly all white-owned
farms in the country.
"That would be the leadership we
would give if people are prepared to say 'forget the past, let's move
forward'," the MDC leader said. "We have to give dialogue a
The sources say the British Government had been made
aware of this plan, and had offered its support. The Malaysian Government is
believed tentatively to have agreed to offer Mr Mugabe
The disclosure of the secret talks comes as England's
cricket authorities are about to meet to decide whether to participate in
next month 's World Cup game in Harare.
Until now it was
believed that Mr Mugabe would cling to power no matter what the cost to his
strife-torn country. But the economic meltdown since the President was
returned to power in rigged elections last March, and drastic food shortages
that have left tens of thousands facing starvation, have forced Zanu (PF)'s
power-brokers to stage what appears to be a gradual coup.
Mr Tsvangirai said Mr Mugabe had been sustained in office by Mr Mnangagwa and
General Zvinavashe, and their offer showed "they are the ones calling the
shots". Sources in Harare say that once it becomes known Mr Mugabe has
accepted he must go, it will be impossible for him to cling to power for much
Sources said the initiative was started about five
months ago when Colonel Dyck, who is regarded as "an honest broker" with no
ties to either of the main parties, made an approach to General Zvinavashe,
his former commander.
After a series of wide-ranging
consultations, he presented a set of principles drafted by Mr Mnangagwa and
General Zvinavashe to Mr Tsvangirai shortly before
It proposed Mr Mugabe's resignation, a
transitional period of about two years in which both parties would administer
the country, and then elections. It was not decided who Zimbabwe's interim
leader should be.
The sources said Mr Tsvangirai agreed to
the proposals, to the delight of the two ZANU(PF) leaders. However, two days
later,he denounced the initiative as a "dirty plan" in which Colonel Dyck was
"being used to promote an agenda that seeks to legitimise the rogue regime"'
Soon after ZANU(PF) pulled back and Colonel Dyck withdrew as go-between. Mr
Tsvangirai explained that he feared he was being used in a succession
struggle inside Zanu (PF). He now believes the halt in negotiations is only
temporary. "The pot is boiling," he said.
"The nation is
really suffering. We have to find a solution to the current crisis, and that
is a burden on the MDC, on ZANU(PF) to consider seriously. This is the only
way we can break the impasse."
Mugabe 'sees he
is at the end of road' From Jan Raath in
TRAPPED by a disaster of his own making,
President Mugabe of Zimbabwe appears finally to have accepted that he has
reached the end of his 22-year rule of violence, corruption, lawlessness and
abuse of power. "Never has he been so vulnerable," Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said in
an interview with The Times at the weekend. "I think given the chance he
would take the first opportunity to get away from all of
Citing Mr Mugabe's age, his family and his
security considerations, coupled with the departure of President Moi of
Kenya, Mr Tsvangirai continued: "The isolation is now intense ... It's very
obvious all over the country that Mugabe has become a liability to his own
Morale in the ruling Zanu (PF) party plumbed new
depths in early December when Mr Mugabe addressed the party's annual
conference and failed to mention the famine that has brought seven million
people to starvation, national fuel shortages and inflation of about 200 per
cent. "Mugabe lost it there," Mr Tsvangirai said. "Zanu (PF) was more
disillusioned than at any time."
Mr Tsvangirai said that
in December Lionel Dyck, a former Zimbabwe army officer, communicated to him
the offer of the 78-year-old dictator's resignation, which was made by
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ruling party's third-in-line, and General Vitalis
Zvinavashe, commander of the defence forces. Mr Tsvangirai said that he was
told that the two men were "the ones who are keeping Mugabe (in office),
otherwise he would have resigned long back".
ruling party officials make a formidable combination. Mr Mnangagwa, the
secretary for administration in the ruling party's politburo, is nicknamed
"the son of God" for the widely-held assumption that he is Mr Mugabe's
natural successor. He is held in awe because of his former position as State
Security Minister, and is regarded as still holding influence in the
General Zvinavashe is commander of the army and
airforce, and whoever he allies himself with can be regarded as unassailable.
Military sources say that his relationship with Mr Mugabe is uneasy. They
also say that shortly before the presidential elections in March last year, a
group of senior military officers advised Mr Mugabe to retire while he could
still do so honourably. He refused.
Observers said that
the offer to remove Mr Mugabe demonstrated his rapid loss of influence, and
the evaporation of confidence in him, that came with his inept handling of
the country's economic collapse.His record of remorseless consolidation of
power suggests that the result of the resignation offer would have been
arrests, possibly on charges of treason, had it been made without his consent
and if he were fully in control. "It explains they are the ones calling the
tune," Mr Tsvangirai said.
He expressed reluctance to
negotiate with either General Zvinavashe or Mr Mnangagwa. "There are certain
individuals who, even if you use the most effective detergent, they will not
Mr Mnangagwa led the Central Intelligence
Organisation, Mr Mugabe's secret police, when it helped the army's notorious
Five Brigade to carry out genocide in the western provinces of Matabeleland
in the mid-1980s.
Both men were named in a United Nations
report last year as major beneficiaries of the illegal diamond trade in the
Democratic Republic of Congo.
Two years ago Mr Mnangagwa
was found by a High Court judge illegally to have ordered the release from
prison of the son of his former mistress, who was serving a sentence for
armed robbery. The judge's orders for further investigations were
Mr Tsvangirai said, however, that if Mr Mnangagwa
were appointed by Zanu (PF) to be its negotiator, the opposition party would
deal with him. "Everyone is desperate for a solution," he
He is open-minded on Mr Mugabe's future. "He is too
insecure to retire in Zimbabwe. Whatever way the political outcome goes I
think for a certain duration he would go outside the
"If a negotiated settlement would be achieved, part
of the deal would include his guarantees," he said. "We have reached a stage
where if Mugabe is a stumbling block to the solution, and for us to move
forward, if people are asked to make the sacrifice of giving him immunity,
let it be."
Refugees recall a different Zimbabwe By Penny
Brown January 13, 2003 ``WHAT I want people to see is that what is
happening in Zimbabwe is bordering on genocide - not only with Mugabe killing
the white farmers but also with him killing all the black people who will not
support him," says actor Chloe Traicos.
To set the record straight,
Traicos has produced a one-hour documentary, Stranger in My Homeland, which
will screen at the Perth International Arts Festival from January 31. It is
comprised of interviews with seven Zimbabweans - white and black - now living
in Perth after recently fleeing their homes.
Through their personal
stories the documentary reveals "just how bad things are" in Zimbabwe, says
"The things that people tell you, you don't read about it
anywhere; it's not on the Internet or anything. They actually give you
graphic details of how horrific things are . . . One of the people was an
eyewitness to the Matabele massacres of the early 1980s."
person interviewed by Traicos describes the climate of fear in Zimbabwe:
"Here [in Australia] if someone threatens to kill you, you at least know that
they may be afraid of the law and not do it because they don't want to go to
jail. There, the law is against you, so if someone threatens to kill you, you
just pray that they are kind enough to have mercy and not do
Traicos grew up in Zimbabwe but fled to Perth with her family - in
1998, following Robert Mugabe's edict on the seizure of white-owned
farms. Although not a farming family, her parents were alarmed by Mugabe's
stance - alarmed enough to leave their home and emigrate to
The land seizures started in March 2000, after Mugabe lost a
referendum on changing the constitution to allow for the compulsory
acquisition of land from commercial farmers. Since then, the socioeconomic
situation has deteriorated rapidly as the hundreds of thousands of rural
workers who were forced to relocate also face drought and
Although Traicos says the Zimbabwean community in Perth is
growing, she says many, newly arrived and still traumatised by their
experiences, were reluctant or afraid to speak with her.
documentary has been 12 months in the making, and carries the same name as
her first play, which was staged at Perth's Blue Room in 2000 and told the
story of a white farming family in Zimbabwe who are run off their
In this work, Traicos draws parallels between the situation in
Zimbabwe and Nazi Germany. "Hitler used the Jews, a wealthy minority group,
as a scapegoat in the same way Mugabe has used the whites. Hitler told
the starving Germans that it was the Jews' fault they were all starving.
In exactly the same way, Mugabe has blamed the starvation of the blacks on
Traicos finds it hard to reconcile the reality of
Zimbabwe today with the images of her childhood: "It was an ideal place to
grow up. There never was any racial tension there when I was growing up. It
was newly independent."
The documentary, she hopes, will show Australians
that "these people are refugees - a lot of them can't go back, they don't
have a home".
Deal readied to urge Mugabe to
resign The Associated Press The Associated Press Monday, January
HARARE, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe would resign
and a new power-sharing government would be formed under a deal that has
been discussed by Zimbabwe's governing party and opposition officials,
mediators said Sunday. . The offer was made by two of the governing
party's most powerful figures - the Parliament speaker, Emmerson Mnangagwa
and the armed forces chief of staff, General Vitalis Zvinavashe - in an
effort to help Zimbabwe regain international legitimacy, renewed aid and
investment during a period of transitional rule, the mediators
said. . The mediators, fearing allegations of treason if the deal
collapses, said assurances Mugabe would step down were conveyed to the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC. . Mugabe, who led
the nation to independence in 1980, won a new six-year term in elections last
March that independent observers said were deeply flawed. . The MDC, along
with Britain, the European Union and the United States, has refused to accept
results, saying voting was rigged and influenced by violence and
intimidation. . The early retirement of Mugabe has long seemed
inconceivable. . The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, confirmed receiving
the offer and, in a departure from recent opposition policy, said his party's
lawmakers were ready to vote with the governing party for a constitutional
amendment allowing the creation of a caretaker government once Mugabe stepped
down. . Any agreement would include guarantees of immunity for Mugabe, 78,
from prosecution over alleged misrule and human rights violations during his
23 years in power, Tsvangirai said. . Officials of the governing party
were unavailable for comment Sunday. . There has been no word on an offer
from Mugabe himself, who was scheduled to head home from a two-week vacation
that included a trip to Thailand. He is expected to return to his office
Monday. . His absence as the nation faced food and gasoline shortages has
fanned harsh criticism at home. . The MDC has repeatedly called for
Mugabe to go on trial.
AS the Zanu PF government ponders what to do with the
donated maize from Tanzania which has been condemned by the Grain Marketing
Board, fears abound that the consignment may have brought into the country,
the deadly Larger grain borer pest which is notorious for the damage it has
wreaked to grain reserves in East Africa.
The pest which was
accidentally introduced into Tanzania in the early 80s, has since proved
dangerous to grain reserves and has the potential to cause tremendous storage
Agricultural experts say the Larger grain borer, which
feeds on dried maize can cause up to 40% of loss in a period ranging from
three to six months, making it an undesirable addition to any agro-based
In separate interviews with The Standard, agricultural
experts said the Zanu PF government had become so desperate for a solution to
the food crisis that it had willingly accepted maize even from poor Tanzania
without making all the necessary safety checks.
agricultural know-how is aware that the larger grain borer causes havoc in
Tanzania and Togo and it beats me why the Zanu PF government was prepared to
accept maize so easily from that country," said an agricultural and extension
Renson Gasela, the shadow minister for Lands and
Agriculture in the Movement for Democratic Change, yesterday expressed
outrage at the way Zanu PF had handled the issue of the Tanzania
"The government should have queried the standards of the
donation before accepting it and because it has now imported a deadly pest-we
are headed for a serious problem. The pest is known throughout East Africa
and is a perennial headache for farmers in that region," he
Made, who could not be reached for a comment yesterday had
officiated at a colourful ceremony in Victoria Falls last week to mark the
arrival of the grain.
Tanzanian officials could not be reached
for comment either.
The illegitimate regime of Robert Gabriel Mugabe continues to
tighten its death grip on the country and the people of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe
is currently suspended from the Commonwealth due to the massive rigging of
the 2002 elections.
The greatest enemy of a regime, which has
institutionalised human rights abuses as an instrument of state policy and
means to cling on to power, is a free press and a free flow of
The attempts of the illegitimate Mugabe regime restrict the
free flow of information are well documented and the publishers and
journalists who continue to attempt to publish the truth about the situation
in Zimbabwe are brave people and true heroes who will be acknowledged
for their courage once the people of Zimbabwe have been freed from
the state sponsored terror inflicted upon them by this murderous
The free flow of information within Zimbabwe is now at
greater risk than ever before. First, the fixing of the price of newspapers
in a hyperinflationary climate will soon lead to the closure of
the independent and opposition publications. Secondly, it is noted
that the regime is buying controlling interests in these
independent publications as a means to controlling the flow of news. The
above two factors together with the banning of foreign correspondents and
the forced state registration of local journalists presents a clear
and present danger to the free flow of information both in and out
of Zimbabwe and between Zimbabweans at home.
It is vital that an
alternative means of keeping Zimbabweans informed both at home and in
diaspora about what is happening in the Zimbabwe. This information flow will
complement the short-wave radio broadcasts from overseas.
information flow will be achieved through mass email and fax transmissions of
news bulletins. The bulletins can then be Xeroxed (photocopied) and
distributed on the streets.
It is important that recipients of these
bulletins are not targeted by Mugabe's CIO thugs and as such the mailing list
must be as comprehensive as possible and certainly include Zanu-PF members
and supporters and all government departments. No bulletins will
be transmitted until the list is large enough and the recipients
diverse enough so as to not allow individuals to be targeted for
victimisation by agents of the state.
So as to compile a large list of
email and fax recipients you are asked to submit as many as possible,
including those friendly to the regime, to the following address:
free but faxes are not. Once established an appeal will go out to those
residing in a safe location that have access to a fax and the means to meet
the cost of as many faxes as they can afford. Your country needs
This is an initiative by Zimbabweans for Zimbabweans towards a new
and finally free Zimbabwe -- free at last from the
psychological strangleholds of the Mugabe and Smith regimes.