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Accident: Air Zimbabwe B732 at Lubumbashi on Jan 25th 2009, engine fire

By Simon Hradecky, created Sunday, Jan 25th 2009 19:13Z, last updated
Sunday, Jan 25th 2009 19:33Z
An Air Zimbabwe Boeing 737-200, scheduled passenger flight from
Lubumbashi to Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) with 50 passengers,
returned to Lubumbashi after the right engine caught fire about 15 minutes
into the flight. The crew managed a safe landing still on fire 30 minutes
after departure, all passengers and crew could be evacuated without
injuries. Emergency services extinguished the fire, the airplane however is
reported substantially damaged.

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Ping says African leaders to "conclusively" end Zimbabwe crisis

African leaders will try to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe once and for all
during their Summit in Addis Ababa later this week after a series of failed
attempts at the regional level, African Union Commission chief Jean Ping

In an exclusive interview with PANA, the AU Commission Chairperson said
African leaders were committed to finding a solution to the continuous
political crisis in Zimbabwe and would take definite steps during their
meeting on 1-3 February, to conclusively end the crisis.

"The issue of Zimbabwe would be raised during the Summit. We are committed
to finding a solution. There is an urgent need to get out of the crisis,"
Ping told PANA.

African leaders meeting six months ago in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm
El Sheikh recommended the formation of a unity government in Zimbabwe to end
a political crisis after the country's troubled presidential elections,
which the opposi t ion one in the first round.

The opposition withdrew from the second round following acts of violence and
intimidation against its supporters.

The Summit directed the Zimbabwean leaders to urgently negotiate modalities
of finding a solution to the political crisis through the formation of a
unity government, bringing on board members of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).

Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe has been reported to contemplate the
formation of a unilateral government, made up of his allies in the ruling
ZANU-PF party, against the popular wish to bring on board the MDC leadership
led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

"There are a under of meetings that have taken place in South Africa,
unfortunately, they were not conclusive," Ping said.

The AU chief spoke a day before Southern African leaders were due to hold
another round of talks in another last ditch effort to save a faltering
peace process in Zimbabwe.

Ping, who spoke on the sidelines of a pre-Summit meeting to discuss gender
issues convened by a coalition of African Women Solidarity Network, said
finding a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis was among the top issues to be
debated at the AU Summit.

He noted that the Southern African leaders were due to begin a new round of
deliberations on the Zimbabwean crisis.

Senior officials at the AU Commission hope the Summit, due in Addis Ababa,
next Sunday, could authorize a more intensive involvement of the AU on
finding a solution.

The AU delegated the South African Development Community (SADC) the task of
crafting a solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe, but after six months of
little progress, signs of impatience with the SADC-mediated talks are
growing across the African landscape.

Addis Ababa - 25/01/2009


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Mugabe leaves for emergency SADC summit on Zimbabwe crisis

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe left Harare
on Sunday for South Africa where he would attend an emergency regional
summit to discuss a four-month deadlock over the formation of a unity
government, APA learns here.

Mugabe would be joined by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Arthur Mutambara of a breakaway MDC
faction for the extraordinary summit called by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC).

Efforts by SADC to revive Zimbabwe's stalled power-sharing agreement
ended in deadlock on January 19 after Mugabe and Tsvangirai failed to agree
on the composition of a power-sharing government.

More than 12 hours of SADC-brokered talks in Harare failed to
reconcile the positions of Mugabe's ZANU PF and the MDC, forcing the SADC
mediators to call for a full summit of the 14-member group in Pretoria on

The SADC mediation team was headed by the organization's chairperson,
South Africa's President Kgalema Motlanthe, and included Mozambican
President Armando Emilio Guebuza and former South African president Thabo

This will be the fourth summit SADC has held since Mugabe and
Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing agreement in September last year.

Implementation of the agreement has stalled as the Zimbabwean
politicians haggle over control of key cabinet portfolios in the proposed
unity government.


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How Zimbabwe's power sharing talks hit deadlock before 'last chance' meeting

The green streets of Harare look lovely from the Zambezi suite on the 17th
floor of the Rainbow Towers hotel, where Zimbabwe's power sharing talks
reached a deadlock.

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 5:43PM GMT 25 Jan 2009

As President Robert Mugabe looked down from its expensive rooms last week,
he could see the squat buildings of colonial times dwarfed by gleaming
office blocks erected during the 29 years of his rule.

From that great height he and the room's other occupants - the country's
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and the presidents of two neighbouring
countries - were unable to see the city's wheel-crunching potholes fill up
with a summer downpour and mingle with untreated sewage rising from broken

Given their separation from the city's misery, it was perhaps no surprise
that they emerged after 12 hours of talks without agreement.

In a series of off-record interviews with government and opposition
insiders, The Sunday Telegraph has unlocked the painful story of the
negotiations, as Mr Tsvangirai debates signing a flawed agreement to enter a
government of national unity in Pretoria, the South African capital, on

The leaders of neighbouring countries are urging him to join an interim
government with President Mugabe, a man who has proven completely
untrustworthy, and prepare for new elections in two years time.

Some of his closest advisers, however, are counselling Mr Tsvangirai, 56, to
stall the negotiations in the hope that economic catastrophe will lead to
the collapse of the Mugabe regime.

On paper, the argument for joining the interim government appears strong: as
prime minister he would be in charge of the daily running of government and
retain control of ministries that deliver services to the people - a key
electoral asset.

But Mr Mugabe has refused to give up control of the security forces and some
key ministries, and has undermined the talks process by subjecting
opposition supporters to harassment, arrest and even abduction.

The Southern African leaders who have cajoled, wheedled and bullied the two
sides into concessions are running out of patience: they have warned
privately that they have other, equally pressing matters that demand their

If no agreement is reached on Monday, they might end their efforts.

Mr Tsvangirai, 56, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
has now described Monday's meeting as "a last chance" to resolve the
outstanding areas of dispute.

Since he won the first round of a presidential election last year, but
pulled out of a run-off vote because of Mr Mugabe's violence, the MDC leader
has struggled to translate his success at the ballot into political power.

Yet although the former trade union leader is presented as the champion of
Zimbabwe's downtrodden voters, there is a growing sense that his own
weaknesses have sabotaged any chance of a peaceful resolution.

In one crucial meeting last week, according to one insider, he appeared to
be "less than coherent", seemed unsure what was in documents prepared by his
aides and oscillated in private over whether to offer concessions.

Convinced of the righteousness of his own leadership, and contemptuous of
rivals who played lesser parts in the independence struggle, Mr Mugabe, 84,
has few reservations about dismissing the challenge of his opponents.

In contrast, the less educated Mr Tsvangirai is said to feel insecure even
in the presence of his own aides and party loyalists.

To make matters worse for Mr Tsvangirai, his relations with the southern
African leaders mediating the talks - President Kgalema Motlanthe of South
Africa, President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and the former South African
president Thabo Mbeki - have deteriorated to near dysfunction.

Their role is critical: the three men represent the only countries that
still hold sway over Mr Mugabe and his regime.

They are now pressing an "emerging consensus" document, that supposedly
addressed Mr Tsvangirai's concerns about ministry positions and the release
of opposition supporters from prison.

After meeting the mediators, Mr Tsvangirai suddenly demanded a face-to-face
meeting with Mr Mugabe - apparently in an attempt to stamp his authority on
proceedings by reminding the president who had won last year's election.

It was duly arranged, but such was Mr Mugabe's contempt for the opposition
leader that it lasted for less than five minutes, humiliating an infuriated
Mr Tsvangirai.

As tempers cooled, the mediators asked Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a
smaller opposition party, to talk to the president himself.

Nobody can be sure what was said in this meeting, but the opinions of Zanu
PF lackeys, lounging in the hotel bar, give a tantalising glimpse.

"You came second in the election", is what they believe Mr Mutambara told an
incandescent President Mugabe, who replied: "I promise you that will never
happen again".

As the politicians ordered meals of fish and chips, T-bone steaks and
chicken to fuel the 12-hour session of talks, Mr Tsvangirai's advisers
appeared bogged down in tangential issues that would yield little in terms
of actual power.

Suited delegates slipped the leftover food to policemen standing guard
outside - men who had not been paid for months because of the political

Half way through his discussions with the southern African mediators, Mr
Tsvangirai asked to be excused for a few minutes, only to return two hours
later with a document prepared by his advisers three floors below containing
a new list of demands. He then seemed unsure what was in it.

An irritated Mr Motlanthe, the South African president, chastised Mr
Tsvangirai, saying: "You speak to yourself but you don't even listen."

Mr Tsvangirai's instinct has always been to try to make the power sharing
agreement work - in the face of all evidence of Mr Mugabe's bad faith.

He appears to understand that no amount of political pressure will force the
veteran president to give up his position.

In his view, the MDC must join the interim government and use its
parliamentary majority to play for time and hope that a new opportunity to
unseat Zimbabwe's brutal leader emerges in elections in 2011.

But his aides disagree, and so far Mr Tsvangirai has been unwilling to
overrule them.

On a commuter bus, far below the plush suites of the Rainbow Towers, a
lively argument showed that the debate was not limited to the higher
echelons of power.

"If Tsvangirai cared about people he would have gone into this government
before Christmas," said a middle-aged lady angry about the collapse in
government services.

"He has shown he is only interested in himself," another woman said, in
disappointed agreement.

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Botswana's Khama to attend SADC summit on Zimbabwe

Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:58pm GMT

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Botswana's President Seretse Khama Ian
Khama, one of Robert Mugabe's toughest critics, will attend a regional
summit in South Africa to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe, a spokesman said
on Sunday.

Botswana government spokesman Jeff Ramsay confirmed Khama would be at the
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) summit, but declined to give
further details.

"Yes, he is (attending)," Ramsay told Reuters. "He may be leaving tomorrow

Khama, one of the few African leaders to publicly criticise the Zimbabwean
president, did not attend an SADC summit in August in South Africa because
Botswana does not recognise Mugabe's re-election.

Regional leaders have so far failed to break a deadlock in negotiations to
form a unity government between Mugabe and leader of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai.

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Zimbabwe police slap last-minute ban on opposition party rally in Harare


January 25, 2009

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwean police have slapped a last-minute ban on
a opposition a rally in the capital of Harare.

The ban - and its timing - prompted allegations that security forces
are acting on the orders of President Robert Mugabe's party.

It came as members of the Movement Democratic Change, the country's
largest opposition group, were already gathering for the rally on the eve of
a regional summit on Zimbabwe's political crisis.

Human rights activists say Mugabe's government has intensified its
crackdown on free speech and dissent in recent weeks.

But police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena says Sunday's rally was banned
because of the danger of violence among opposition factions.

Opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa dismissed that as "ridiculous,"
accusing police of acting on the orders of Mugabe's party.

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Police ban MDC Chitungwiza rally

January 24, 2009

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE - The police have barred a rally which the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC)   had organized for this Sunday in the town of Chitungwiza,
south of Harare.

In a letter written to the MDC on Saturday, the Officer Commanding
Chitungwiza police district, a Chief Superintendent Ngulube, claimed the
rally was a risk to ordinary Zimbabweans.

Under Zimbabwe's stringent security laws, political parties are required to
clear with their local police before organising their rallies.

"The authority to hold such rally has been cancelled," Chief Superintendent
Ngulube said.

"Political tension in the country as of now is not conducive for any rally
to take place.

"The gathering will attract a large crowd such that police will be unable to
control the venue since it is in an open space and that police officers are
committed to other pressing duties.

"Basing on the above, it is our constitutional responsibility to maintain
law and order in the territory of Zimbabwe and we are not prepared to risk
our Zimbabwe citizens' lives."

He said the rally had initially been sanctioned on the basis that MDC
President Morgan Tsvangirai, party secretary general Tendai Biti and
organizing secretary, Elias Mudzuri would be the speakers.

The three were now reported to be in South Africa where another SADC
Extra-Ordinary summit has been convened for Monday to unravel the political
impasse between Zanu PF and MDC.

The MDC had intended to use to update its supporters on the state of the
ongoing talks as well as focus on other challenges facing Zimbabweans such
as massive starvation, the cholera outbreak and the collapse of basic social
services such as education and health.

MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa criticized the ban on his party's rally.

"This confirms the fact that Zanu-PF is not yet ready for democracy," said

"It shows Zanu-PF Is not yet ready to embrace the freedoms of the people. It
shows Zanu-PF is still locked in obscurantism.

"It shows we are still stuck with Zanu-PF the dictatorship being dominant
over matters of democracy."

The MDC, which accuses President Robert Mugabe's government of using the
police to block its activities, is fighting for control of the Home Affairs
ministry, which controls the police as well as the running of the country's

Under the September 15, 2008 unity deal, Zanu-PF shall control 15 ministries
with the MDC taking up 13.

The smaller faction of the MDC led by Professor Arthur Mutambara will be
allocated three.

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Daily cholera update and alerts, 24 Jan 2009

 Full_Report (pdf* format - 123 Kbytes)

* Please note that daily information collection is a challenge due to communication and staff constraints. On-going data cleaning may result in an increase or decrease in the numbers. Any change will then be explained.

** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may occasionally result

A. Highlights of the day:

- 1906 cases and 21 deaths added today (in comparison 1368cases and 59 deaths yesterday)

- 36.2% of the districts affected have reported today (21 out of 58 affected districts)

- 88.7 % of districts reported to be affected (55 districts/62)

- Chitungwiza City was reporting admitted patients only (Plan C) and they have updated their database with Outpatients cases (1001) which were not previously reported.

- Revised figures for Centenary (178 to 166), Mbire (112 to 106), Binga (1037 to 819), Chikomba (122 to 104), UMP (255 to 253), Kariba Rural (370 to 369)

- Cumulative Institutional Case Fatality Rate 2.1%

- Daily Institutional Case Fatality Rate 0.3%

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Zimbabwe formally agrees to pay civil servants in foreign currency

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) The Zimbabwe government has formally agreed to pay
civil servants foreign currency-denominated salaries with effect from this
month, the state-run The Sunday Mail reports here, officially putting to
rest speculation that the authorities were contemplating a full
dollarisation of the economy.

The paper said the move to award civil servants foreign currency salaries
was agreed during last Friday's meeting between government and civil service
worker representatives.

The chairperson of the umbrella body of the civil service staff associations
Tendai Chikowore told The Sunday Mail that details of the new packages would
now be worked out between the government and workers' representatives.

"Nothing concrete has been offered by the employer, except the acceptance in
principle of paying civil servants in foreign currency," Chikowore said.

The government would meet this week to discuss the proposal, after which
modalities of the new grading structure would be agreed.

The move to award civil servants hard currency salaries comes barely a week
after the country's largest trade union body said its members would not
accept salaries in the free-falling Zimbabwe dollars.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions last Monday said most workers were
failing to access basic services because of the dollarisation of the
economy. Dollarisation is a situation when the currency of a country is
replaced by or used in parallel to the currency of a more stable economy.

The term is not only applied to usage of the United States dollar but also
generally to the use of any foreign currency as the national currency.

Most traders and service providers have stopped accepting the Zimdollar as a
means of payment, citing the country's runaway inflation last estimated at
231 million percent in July 2008.

The central bank has since last September licensed foreign currency shops in
a move meant to improve the availability of products and cut the number of
Zimbabweans making monthly trips to neighbouring South Africa, Botswana and
Mozambique for groceries.

  JN/daj/APA 2009-01-25

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‘It Can’t Be Any Worse’

The head of Zimbabwe's reserve bank explains the policies that have led to hyperinflation.

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Report paints horrifying picture of conditions in prisons

Saturday, 24 January 2009

HARARE - The government has established a cemetery at one of its
biggest jails to bury hundreds of prisoners dying from disease and hunger,
according to a confidential report shown to The Zimbabwean on Sunday. The
report prepared by prison officials for Commissioner of Prisons Paradzai
Zimondi paints a horrifying picture of conditions in Zimbabwe's overcrowded
jails, long neglected by a government hard pressed for cash and resources
after nearly a decade of acute recession.

At one time, last month, prison officials had to contact a mass burial
of decomposing bodies of prisoners that had been kept in a room at Chikurubi
Maximum Security Prison for six moths because a mortuary at Harare Central
Prison was full, the report said in horrifying illustration of grim
conditions in jails.

Last year saw the highest number of deaths of inmates ever recorded
since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain, said the report titled "End
of year 2008 brief to the Commissioner of Prisons".

The report was handed to Zimondi on Monday this week, according to our
sources in the prison service.

Efforts to get comment on the report from either Zimondi or Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa were fruitless.

According to the report, 2008 was "the most horrific and traumatic
year" for both inmates and prison wardens.

Prisoners went for days without a meal and were occasionally supplied
with food "only meant to keep a person alive" such as the staple sadza (a
thick porridge made from maize meal) and salted, unclean water, according to
the eight-page report.

"The death impact of prisoners saw the opening of a cemetery at
Chikurubi Prison Farm. The main causes of prisoners' deaths included reduced
meals, shortage of drugs and poor health environment in our prisons," it

"Sir, we want to believe that 2008 had the highest number of
prisoners' deaths in the history of the ZPS (Zimbabwe Prisons Service). In
Mashonaland Region alone in 2008 we witnessed a total number of 900
prisoners deaths," according to the report.

A cholera epidemic that has killed close to 3 000 Zimbabweans since
August has apparently also spread to jails, killing 234 prisoners between 23
December 2008 and 10 January 2009, according to the report.

"The most challenge we faced was living with dead bodies outside
mortuaries," the grim document said. "The situation was even very bad at
Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where bodies have been kept in a room
since July 2008 up to 31 December 2008 mainly because the mortuary at Harare
Central Prison could not accommodate them."

With Mugabe's government preoccupied with trying to find money to buy
food, essential medicines, fuel, electricity and for salaries for hundreds
of thousands of its workers, prisoners are a forgotten lot.

More often than not, inmates in many of the country's jails have to
survive on a single meal per day of sadza and cabbage boiled in salted water
because there is no money to buy adequate supplies.

An outbreak of pellagra disease in 2007 killed at least 23 inmates at
the notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. Pellagra is a vitamin
deficiency disease caused by shortage of vitamin B3 and protein.

Overcrowding has only helped worsen the situation with the country's
55 jails said to be holding anything above 35 000 inmates at any given time
which is more than double their designed carrying capacity of 17 000

A parliamentary committee that toured Chikurubi and other prisons in
2006 was shocked to find inmates clad in torn, dirty uniforms and crammed
into overcrowded cells with filthy; overflowing toilets that had not been
flushed for weeks as water had been cut off due to unpaid bills.

The committee said in a report that the conditions in prisons were
inhuman. However, nothing much has been done to date to improve conditions
due to a lack of resources.

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Alleged assault by Mugabe's wife protested to Zimbabwe ambassador

25.01.09 09:28

A journalists' organization said Sunday it protested to Zimbabwe's
ambassador to China over an alleged assault by the wife of president Robert
Mugabe on a Hong Kong photographer, dpa reported.

   Richard Jones, 42, chief photographer of the Sinopix photo agency,
suffered cuts and bruises in the alleged attack 10 days ago in which he
claimed he was repeatedly punched by Zimbabwe's First Lady.

   Jones had been photographing Grace Mugabe, 43, while she was on a
shopping trip to the former British colony where her daughter Bona is a

   Police are investigating the alleged assault which reportedly took place
outside a shopping centre in a prime tourist district and was recorded on
CCTV cameras.

   Welshman Jones was taking photographs on commission for the Sunday Times
newspaper in London when he claims he was confronted first by a bodyguard
and then by Mugabe herself after taking photographs of her in the street.

   In a letter to Zimbabwe Ambassador Frederick Shava, the president of the
Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong conveyed his "deep dismay over the
disgraceful incident."

   "The Hong Kong police have opened a formal investigation into this
incident and we look forward to the widespread publication of its results,
regardless of whether any of the parties involved are protected by
diplomatic immunity," Ernst Herb wrote to Shava.

   "In a city where the rule of law prevails and media freedom is respected,
no person - no matter his or her rank or status - can expect such a matter
to be swept under the carpet."

   Mugabe returned to Zimbabwe shortly after the alleged assault and before
it was reported to police. She may be able to claim diplomatic immunity if
she returns to the city of 6.9 million.

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Robert Mugabe begs Libya, Iran, Russia and China to help Zimbabwe beat sanctions

Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, is seeking cash to beat sanctions from
Libya, Iran, Russia and China - all of which share his poor record on
democracy and human rights.

By Itai Mushekwe
Last Updated: 5:41PM GMT 25 Jan 2009

As Zimbabwe issued a new 100 trillion dollar note this month, Mr Mugabe
tried to avert economic catastrophe by making contact with Libya and Iran -
two countries with large oil reserves and a history of bad relations with
the West.

Mr Mugabe has long shown himself impervious to the suffering caused by his
country's almost total economic collapse, which was precipitated by the
seizure of white-owned farms in the late 1990s.

Yet the additional hardship caused by sanctions has struck directly at
Zimbabwe's political elite - and threatened to undermine the veteran

Now the collapse of power sharing talks between Mr Mugabe and Zimbabwe's
opposition has made his need for money all the more urgent lest Western
countries redouble their efforts to put pressure on the dictator.

In response, Mr Mugabe is courting rich countries that might prove less
amenable to Western scruples about human rights.

Earlier this month, he dispatched his foreign minister, Simbarashe
Mbengegwi, to Tripoli to deliver a begging letter to the Libyan leader
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

"Mbengegwi was sent to Tripoli on Jan 11 to canvas for an economic package
from Gaddafi," said a central committee member of the ruling Zanu PF party.
"The economy needs billions of dollars in foreign capital to halt our

"Mugabe is trying everything possible, and if we are lucky the Chinese are
soon going to chip in. Already diplomatic engagement has been made with
Beijing, and with Iran."

China's unwavering support for the dictator - despite his wanton destruction
of Zimbabwe's economy and disregard for its voters - has long irritated
Western diplomats.

Even at the height of election violence last year, when Zanu PF thugs were
roaming the countryside attacking opposition voters, China dispatched a
cargo ship, laden with weapons, to the African state.

An Asian diplomat in Harare confirmed that China was considering helping Mr
Mugabe again to protect its economic interests in the country.

"China is considering making an economic loan to Mugabe," the diplomat said.
"But this has yet to be finalised."

Iran, locked in its own acrimonious dispute with Zimbabwe's enemies, signed
a memorandum of understanding to renovate the African country's defunct oil
refinery in 2007.

Sitting on the world's second largest reserves of crude oil, the Islamic
republic is now said by Zimbabwean officials to be offering long-term fuel
supplies in return for exclusive rights to mine some "strategic" minerals in

The agreement appears to be part of a broader Zimbabwean effort to use its
natural resources as an incentive to potential patrons.

The central bank, under one of Mr Mugabe's closest lieutenants, Gideon Gono,
has reportedly made fresh overtures to Russian businessmen who have in the
past shown an interest in buying Zimbabwe's biggest coal mine.

According to Zimbabwe cabinet sources, Russian businesses would be exempt
from tough new investment rules that compel foreign companies to cede more
than half their shares to the government.

The acting information minister, Paul Mangwana, confirmed that Harare was
seeking an economic package from its would-be allies, but could not say how
much money was involved.

"Zimbabwe has friends in Southern Africa and other parts of the world who
are sympathetic with us, but we not at liberty to discuss the full details
about it," he said.

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Mugabe unlikely to face International Criminal Court

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Loopholes in international law likely to save his day

CAPE TOWN - President Robert Mugabe has survived Western sanctions,
defied a depressing economic crisis that anywhere else would bring down the
government and legal experts say the Zimbabwean leader is certain to escape
justice -- thanks to loopholes in international law.

Mugabe, turning 85 next month and the only ruler Zimbabweans have ever
known, took office at his country's 1980 independence from Britain. During
his nearly three decades in power he is accused of sanctioning the massacre
of about 20 000 people from the Ndebele ethnic group who mostly opposed his

After wining a violence-marred election in 2005, Mugabe ordered the
infamous Operation Murambatsvina, a dubious slum demolition exercise that
left 700 000 Zimbabweans without shelter or food.
The United Nations labeled the slum demolition campaign a violation of
poor people's rights and possibly international law, while it later surfaced
Mugabe ordered the exercise to pre-empt possible mass revolt against his
rule by depopulating opposition-supporting urban areas.
Mugabe -- one of the last of a dying breed of African "Big Man" rulers
from the one-party state era -- has ruthlessly clamped down on civil
society, opposition parties, the press and any other voice of dissension.
His government has also overseen the systematic denial of critical food
supplies to hungry opposition supporters.
However, legal experts insist that the Zimbabwean ruler will most
likely escape indictment at the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite
the detailed recording by the both media and human rights organizations of
human rights abuses during his long reign.

University of Cape Town (UCT) human rights lawyer Tendai
Nhenga-Chakarisa said there were inherent weaknesses in international law
that invariably make the activities of some world leaders fall beyond the
reach of international criminal law.
"If a country has not ratified, for instance, the Rome Statute (which
creates the ICC), its citizens cannot be hauled before the international
criminal court for any of the international crimes set out in the
instrument: Genocide, Crimes against Humanity, the Crime of Aggression and
War Crimes," she said.
Criminologist Emmanuel Maravanyika also of the UCT says the "first
hurdle would be to get the UN Security Council to approve of such a
prosecution. But events at the UN recently reveal that Mugabe has friends
there who can veto any suggestion or resolution."
South African Bishop Desmond Tutu in December called on the
international community to intervene militarily in Zimbabwe and indict
Mugabe for refusing to step down. He told Dutch current affairs programme
NOVA that Mugabe must be forced out of power as soon as possible.
"The point is that we should stop the suffering of so many people,"
said the 77 year old 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also urged Mugabe to
step down, citing a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 2 000
Zimbabweans since August as an example of failed government in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe nonchalantly dismissed these calls.
Although Mugabe has signed the Rome Statute, he has refused to ratify
it to insulate himself and his cronies from possible prosecution before the
international tribunal for alleged crimes against humanity.

Nhenga-Chakarisa, however, says members of Mugabe's government in
Harare can still be hauled to The Hague if the permanent members of the
Security Council, particularly China and Russia, acted with a common purpose
like they did in the Sudanese case.

Last year, the Security Council asked ICC Prosecutor Luis
Moreno-Ocampo to investigate Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's for
allegedly masterminding a campaign of genocide in Darfur in which 35 000
people were killed and 2.5 million refugees were persecuted.

Al-Bashir is the most senior figure pursued by the court since it was
set up in 2002. The ICC is also investigating situations in Uganda, the
Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nhenga-Chakarisa said that Mugabe could also be indicted if a new
government came to power in Harare and immediately ratified the Rome Statute
and hands him over to the ICC, thereby giving the institution jurisdiction
to prosecute him.
Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice program at Human
Rights Watch, recently said that in order to pursue a case against Mugabe in
any court, "one would need to put together a legally persuasive memo that
crimes against humanity have occurred in Zimbabwe and that the President of
Zimbabwe is very much linked to the commission of those crimes".
Maravanyika concurred with this argument, adding that the Zimbabwean
government can argue that it only detained people whom it suspected of
engineering subversive acts against the government.

"There was prima facie evidence to link these events to the arrested
suspects, despite no convictions following the trials. How then can the
alleged acts of torture by state agents be addressed? Prosecuting Mugabe
under the ICC Statute will most likely not address the issue. A more
domestic (regional) solution may be required for that,"  said Maravanyika.
According to Rome Statute, crimes against humanity are odious offences
that constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a
degradation of one or more human beings.

The crimes should not be isolated or sporadic events, but should be
part of either a government policy (although the perpetrators need not
identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities
tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority.
However, murder, extermination, torture, rape, political, racial, or
religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes
against humanity only if they are part of a "widespread or systematic

Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave
infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war
crimes, but may fall short of falling into the category of crimes against
Maravanyika adds that a number of government policies in Zimbabwe have
been more "ad hoc than consistent" in their nature thereby removing an
element of planned and systematic practice. Operation Murambatsvina is one
such ad hoc exercise by the Harare administration.
"However, looking at it from another perspective, a genuine government
objective was at the heart of the policy, one may argue. The operation was
conducted to address the issue of illegal or unauthorised dwellings that had
mushroomed around the city," said Maravanyika.

He added: "Many houses had not met standard engineering criteria, and
were a ticking time bomb in terms of health and safety regulations.
"One would argue .. the operation was a cleanup operation of certain
suburbs long renowned for harbouring criminals and proceeds of crime.
Unregulated and illegitimate trades often occurred in these areas, and
therefore they may be seen as another legitimate aim."

However, Nhenga-Chakarisa says dictators, even those who had not
ratified international treaties, could be prosecuted in the ICC if the Rome
Statute is now deemed to have acquired customary international law status
thus making it binding on all states regardless of their membership or
otherwise of the instrument.

Some 101 states have ratified the Rome Statute reflecting a generality
of practice and acceptance of the instrument as opinio juris - states
recognising the instrument as binding.  If the statute crystallises into
customary international law, like the Genocide, Slavery and Torture
Conventions, nobody will be exempt from prosecution.

However, the Rome Statute does not provide for retroactive
investigations or trials for incidents that occurred before its inception in
July 2002, placing the Ndebele massacres beyond the ICC's jurisdiction.

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Violet Gonda speaks to Frank Donaghue

26 January 2009

SW Radio Africa Transcript

HOT SEAT interview: Journalist Violet Gonda interviews Physicians for Human
Rights CEO Frank Donaghue who says Mugabe is now a global threat.

Broadcast 16 January 2009

Violet Gonda: International medical rights organisation, Physicians for
Human Rights recently released a report on how the collapse of Zimbabwe's
public health system has caused the devastating cholera epidemic. The
organisation also labelled Zimbabwe's health crisis a crime that should be
the subject of an investigation by the International Criminal Court. The
group CEO, Frank Donaghue is my guest on the programme Hot Seat. Welcome on
the programme Frank.

Frank Donaghue: Thanks a lot, it's great to be here Violet.

VG: You were part of the emergency delegation that went to investigate the
collapse of health care in Zimbabwe in December and you said, this week,
that this is the first Human Rights evaluation on Zimbabwe by international
health professions, can you start by telling us your findings?

FD: Sure. This is my third or fourth trip to Zimbabwe in the last year and
on November 18 when hospitals were basically shut down and after Mr Mugabe
attacked health care workers that were protesting in order to get medicine
and water for their patients; I spoke to one of the medical students. I told
him that I was so sorry and I wished we could do more and he said "Frank you
are doing all you can by being our voice and telling our story." And I said
"How are you doing?" and he said "We have no water. We are just waiting to

And I think this is was what prompted us within two months to be in Zimbabwe
and do this research and to have this report issued, both in Johannesburg
and in the United Nations. What we found was absolutely startling. You know
people talk about the cholera epidemic and I think the statistics of cholera
speak for themselves, in most countries in war-torn countries, about 1% of
people who contract cholera die. In Zimbabwe it is over 5% and in some
regions in Zimbabwe it has been as high as 34, 35%.

So 35% of the people that are getting cholera in some places in Zimbabwe are
dying. Coincidentally they are of course in regions where the MDC is more
popular than Mr Mugabe's regime.

So that was the first thing and then we visited regions in rural areas.
There is no public health system. We all know that, it is gone. Mr Mugabe
has completely destroyed that basically because of his incredibly poor bad
economic policies and the collapse of the economy. There is no water and
sanitation. I mean we saw kids drinking out of the sewer. Turn on someone's
spigot for those people who do have water and see what comes out - and so
you have the water collapse which is obviously part of the cholera epidemic.

But even more enlightening to me, I spent half a day meeting with some women
who had the HIV disease. They basically have no food, they are getting any
retro viral drugs sporadically and they're changing their drugs on a regular
basis. So they might get for about one month, they might only get a two
weeks supply. So we're creating drug resistant HIV disease. There is no TB
monitoring so we're creating drug resistant TB. We know that there's no
obstetric care. If a woman wants or needs a C section in Zimbabwe, and
obviously there are private hospitals, a C section in the Avenues Hospital
costs $3000. Who can afford that? And so the solution, I asked a doctor what
happens if you don't have the $3000 and she said "You die".

VG: And this $3000, this is $3000 US dollars?

FD: US dollars in a private hospital. And so we went out to some of the
mission hospitals, and thank God there are mission hospitals, but as you
know they are primarily out in rural regions. And now people that have some
money can afford to get to a rural hospital like Howard and get treatment. A
C-section there costs US $15 but there are very few people that have the
US$15 or the money to transport themselves out to the hospital to get there.
And yet the hospital is overflowing with people.

And so the poorest of the poor of the poor have no healthcare in Zimbabwe.
Mr Mugabe and his regime have signed onto a number of international
covenants and commitments with the United Nations and other civil societies
to protect the life of his citizens. He is in gross violation of those
covenants and therefore we're saying the United Nations has the
responsibility to step in and we're suggesting the United Nations through
its power, and they have that power, to take over the health system, the
sanitation system and anything that relates to the health of the people -
put together a consortium of non-profit organisations and non-government
organisations to take care of those until the rightful government is put in
place in Zimbabwe. And we know the rightful government was elected in March.

VG: We'll talk a bit more about that, but I just wanted to go back to the
statistics that were in your report and you say that at least 400 people are
dying daily from HIV Aids, now are these people who have been diagnosed HIV
positive or is this just based on clinical assessments because as you said
earlier on, there are no facilities to test people because of the breakdown
of the health system?

FD: There are about 200 000 people on anti-retrovirals in Zimbabwe -
primarily thanks to governments like Britain and the United States by the
way, who Mr Mugabe calls the enemies. And those people are getting
treatment. However we know of about 800 000 people who should be on
anti-retrovirals in Zimbabwe but there's no way, the health system has
totally collapsed so there's no way to put new people on these rolls. So
increasingly people are dying because they're not getting treatment.

So these are people we know who have HIV, but as the women told me that
afternoon, they know other women - obviously sex workers have increased
because people are just hoping to survive, feed their families - who think
they might have HIV and need to get tested and they can't get tested because
there's no hospital to test them. So HIV will continue to spread as will the
other diseases because there's no way for prevention even.

VG: So how many people would you say from your investigations are dying
daily because you said 400 are dying daily from Aids, now have you factored
in all those people who are dying from cholera and of course those people
who are not accessing health services and who are dying in their homes and
remote areas?

FD: Well what is also so sad is the collapse of any surveillance or data
collection so you really don't know how many are dying. Let's take cholera
itself - they say that there are 2000 people who have died of cholera. Now
you know in five days that many people die of Aids - but there are 2000
people who have died of cholera, presumably. But since there's no health
system how many people are dying at home because there's nowhere to go to
die of cholera? Noone knows. Everyone believes that the 2000 is far
under-estimate of what is really happening. That there's no data collection.
There's one person now working in TB surveillance in all of Zimbabwe. You
can imagine. So no one knows how many people are dying or even contracting
TB and there are no places for them to go for treatment.

One of the most startling things we saw was utter starvation. In some of the
regions we visited, we actually went down roads and stopped at peoples'
homes and asked if we could see the food supply which they had. And people
would readily open their food storage areas of which they might have had a
week or two of grain left to eat for weeks. You know it is the rainy season
so the chances of getting more, people are dying. Now more than half the
population in Zimbabwe need food subsistence in order to sustain their life.
This is a country that was once one of the world's bread baskets and now
half the people don't have enough food to eat. That's sort of telling. So to
answer your question directly there really aren't adequate statistics.

VG: So you wouldn't have independent estimates?

FD: Well we don't. Let's take childbirth, the maternal mortality. Ten years
ago, twelve years ago the maternal mortality rate in Zimbabwe was about 138
to 100 000 births. In 2005 that number had risen to 1100 out of 100 000
births. If you can imagine, 1100. Who knows what has happened in the last
three or four years since that statistic has been developed by the World
Health Organisation.

So the problem is, based on the regime, so many things have collapsed, there
is no real adequate data collection and of course there is total denial by
the government that any of these issues exist. I mean the life expectancy of
an individual in Zimbabwe today is about 34 years old, where 15 years ago it
was mid-60s. And Mr Mugabe would not admit that people are dying of
starvation, he told regional health ministers not to report cholera. We
interviewed 92 people by the way - patients, doctors, people in government,
NGOs, water and sanitation people, students, people on the street - we had
92 intensive interviews and the facts we gathered are unquestionably true
because they were collaborated in all our interviews.

VG: Now some have said that the death toll is way more than anywhere else in
the world, especially as people in Zimbabwe are dying of preventable
diseases, now has the group Physicians for Human Rights, have you seen
anything like this anywhere else in the world?

FD: Well I think when people say 'there are people dying in Sudan, there's
people dying in northern Uganda and why are we worried about Zimbabwe?' I
think first of all, you should not compare one country to another. People
are dying in Zimbabwe and that is the issue and people all round the world
should care about Zimbabwe as we care about other areas. But number two,
other countries that we are pointing to - like Sudan and northern Uganda -
never had the health system that Zimbabwe has lost. And that's the most
tragic point is that compared to what this country was before Mr Mugabe
ruined it, it had the best health system in southern Africa, it now has the

VG: You mentioned that you actually interviewed people in government, how
were you received by the Mugabe regime?

FD: Well obviously everybody we interviewed was anonymous and did not want
to be identified - except one man interestingly, one man who was a
councillor for the MDC. We visited him as we visited some other people that
had been tortured and beaten up by the government in a hospital, and we went
and saw his wife and him - who had been badly, badly beaten up the weekend
before we arrived. Their bodies were beaten with clubs for four or five
hours, simply because they went to the funeral of a family member who had
died of cholera coincidentally, and they realised he was a councillor of the
MDC and they beat him and his wife brutally. And he said please tell
everybody my name because it must be stopped. I said we won't do that.

So the people that we interviewed, it was all done, all our informants were
done anonymously, so I can't say of the official people we met with how they
treated us. I have to say this however - on our exit to Zimbabwe, we were
tipped off at the airport that the CIO were waiting for us behind Security.
They had our full itinerary including every place we ate and that the CIO
and the police were there to arrest us. Within hours, moments later we were
surrounded by Zim television and sticking a camera in my colleague's face
saying "is it true you are a spy for Britain and the United States? You are
here to overthrow the government." We were immediately picked up and taken
into safe houses by very brave people who put their lives at risk to protect

Within another hour, Mr Mugabe reported that we were already detained and
arrested for being spies from Britain and the United States. Coincidentally,
there were four of us, three were from the United States and one was from
South Africa, there were no Brits in the group. And we, thank God, through
again some really brave people, got out of the country by land into another
country and finally out after a pretty harrowing drive, hoping to get out
because the Embassy said to us, since he has already said you were arrested
they're going to be very embarrassed if they don't arrest you so you need
get out quickly.

VG: So you were forced to leave before you had actually concluded your

FD: No, we were on our way to the airport so we had finished our work, but
the sad thing is, when you have doctors coming in to do a health assessment
to see how the government and how health workers can provide better health
to your people and the government calls you a spy because they don't want
people to really know the truth, that sort of says it all doesn't it?

VG: Some observers have said that this is a great report but the question
is; how are you going to take this further, do you have some sort of
pressure point?

FD: Well I think the fact that Mary Robinson, the former High Commissioner
of Human Rights for the United Nations, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the
chief prosecutor for the Bosnian war crimes, Richard Goldstone a South
African, have all signed on to this. Mary Robinson actually released this
report in New York, the day that I released it in Zimbabwe.

The United Nations has already called on us to come and discuss our five
recommendations including a receivership taking over the health system,
including putting pressure on the International Criminal Court to continue
to gather evidence against Mr Mugabe for crimes against humanity. And so
yes, we are getting lots, we had over one hundred worldwide interviews. You
know one of the arguments is that governments should stay out of this, this
is Zimbabwe's problem and sovereignty and we have no right. The truth is
this is no longer a Zimbabwe problem. Cholera drug resistant, HIV drug
resistant, TB, all these diseases are now spreading beyond Zimbabwe and Mr
Mugabe is responsible for that. It is no longer an issue of sovereignty; it
is an issue of security to the health and well being of all of Southern
Africa and in fact beyond. People who travel into Zimbabwe and leave and
take an aeroplane to Chicago or to London, could be carrying the very drug
resistant diseases that Mr Mugabe has allowed to continue. He is actually a
global threat and he should be stopped.

VG: The fact that you are pushing for the ICC to get involved, is this
something that your group has ever recommended and also can the ICC actually
intervene in this crisis if Zimbabwe is not a member or a signatory to the
ICC statutes.

FD: Absolutely and to answer both of your questions, first of all the United
Nations does have the authority through Article 41.

VG: No, the ICC, the International Criminal Court.

FD: Yes, but the United Nations has the authority to call on the ICC even
though Mr Mugabe may not have signed on to the Rome Treaty because of the
threat to the regional security, because of the regional threat. What we're
suggesting is that the UN must call on the ICC to investigate and continue
to gather evidence against Mr Mugabe.

Has our organisation done this before? Let me say this, and Mr Mugabe should
take careful recognition of this; Physicians for Human Rights, although we
are small, are very well respected in our recommendations. We are the first
organisation, human rights organisation, which called Sudan - genocide, and
look what is happening to the President of Sudan today. We are one of the
first organisations that talked about what happened in Srebrenica and that
crimes against humanity should be levelled against its leaders in Bosnia -
and look what's happened to them.

It's that kind of work that won us the Nobel Peace Prize. And I personally
and my colleagues will not stop till justice is done to Mr Mugabe and that
the people of Zimbabwe are allowed the access they have to the very human
right to health.

VG: You said earlier on that the United Nations has the responsibility to
protect and should actually step in. Now it's reported that the UN has
agreed to bail out Zimbabwe's failed health ministry by funding the payment
of health workers in foreign currency. Now do you know how this will
actually work?

FD: Well I understand that governments have offered to top up salaries but
Mr Mugabe, as I understand it and the Health Minister there, who I guess is
so busy building his huge home along with the head of the Reserve Bank, I
understand he's building a 42 room suite. He is too busy and Mr Mugabe is on
vacation, so they are too busy to deal with the reality of the situation.

But Mr Mugabe and his regime have said they're not going to allow outsiders
to top off salaries to the level they want to because they will not be able
to sustain that long term. Let's hope that Mr Mugabe and his regime are not
there long term to have to sustain it. But the truth is you can't have a
doctor in any country in the world making 32 cents a month - and I saw pay
stubs for doctors - 32 cents a month and expect them and their family to

So I believe the United Nations will do more and I think has the power and
authority to do more than just to get donor governments to top off salaries.
They do have the authority to set up some type of receivership over the very
health system and make Mr Mugabe yield control of his health system.

VG: On the other hand, some have said that the flow of humanitarian aid
actually keeps dictators in power and that in Zimbabwe's case the Mugabe
regime has completely failed and that the humanitarian organisations are now
picking up the pieces. What are your views on this?

FD: Well our fifth recommendation in our report and your listeners can get
it on our website, completely the whole report on . Our fifth recommendation is that donor
countries must continue to provide and live up to their commitment to
provide adequate food to the people of Zimbabwe. But, but, we cannot allow
the Mugabe regime to do what he has done to politicise food and make sure
that the supporters of Zanu-PF get food and the people that support the MDC
starve. And so there needs to be some monitoring that he's not allowed to
obstruct food supply and medical supply just to the people he wants to get
it. And so donor countries not only need to give money but they need to
demand accountability of how that food is used. And it's a very difficult
thing for the United Nations and other organisations because they somewhat
work at the will of the government, they can't go in and say to the
government we want to go to Bulawayo and deliver this because they just
the government won't let them do that, the government has to authorise it.
But we need to put restraints on it and say there will be no delivery of
food until we have access to deliver to all the people that need it, not
controlled by the Zanu-PF

VG: Now power sharing negotiations have actually stalled although the MDC
leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai has said he is still committed to forming a new
inclusive government with Robert Mugabe. From what you observed on the
ground, is it a realistic assumption that if the political crisis is
unlocked then all else will fall in to place?

FD: I think that as Mr Tsvangirai has said - no deal is better than a bad
deal, and to trust that Mr Mugabe is going to share power. I mean on
December 19th, the day when we were almost forced out of the country, Mr
Mugabe said Zimbabwe, quote "Zimbabwe is mine and I will never, never, never
surrender." Zimbabwe is not his, it belongs to the people, the people who
voted in March and any deal, a bad deal is not going to cut it and Mr
Tsvangirai and everyone else should stick to their commitment that unless
there is a fair resolution of the political impasse then they cannot deal at
all with Mr Mugabe. And I think Mr Mugabe has proven that he is both
incapable and too cruel to run a government and it is time for the world to
step in and there should be no deal with a man, with a criminal.

VG: The Mugabe regime accuses your organisation of being biased and merely
following part of the West's regime change agenda. How do you respond to

FD: The largest donors, the biggest infusion of money into Zimbabwe, is from
(1) the United States government, number two the British government. The
biggest donors to food aid to HIV drugs to a variety of support in
humanitarian relief, so if we're the biggest obstacle in Zimbabwe, he should
stop taking the money that he freely takes. It's absolutely a farce that Mr
Mugabe would say that.

No-one is trying to step in and take over the legitimacy of a country or the
sovereignty of a nation. The blatant mismanagement and disregard for his
people and now the spread of disease because of him, is no threat of
countries outside of Zimbabwe, the biggest threat to Zimbabwe is Mr Mugabe.

VG: And finally, what do you see happening in Zimbabwe?

FD: Well first of all I want to let listeners from Zimbabwe let them know
that Physicians for Human Rights will continue to tell their story and their
struggle until others listen and intercede, so they can count on us. Number
two I think ultimately I do think that the response we've got from the world
media and governments, we've met with government officials from South
Africa, there is great interest, much greater interest in the threat that
Mugabe is now playing to the region. And I think that the world will not
tolerate this much longer.

VG: Frank Donaghue, thank you very much for participating on the programme
Hot Seat.

FD: Violet, thank you so much.

Feedback can be emailed to

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HK activist wants Mugabe daughter deported



Jan. 25: A human rights activist on Sunday urged Hong Kong to deport the
daughter of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe if it is confirmed she is
studying at a local university and the Zimbabwean President is funding her

Hong Kong Human Rights monitor director Law Yuk-kai said the government
should confirm a newspaper report that Ms Bona Mugabe is studying at the
University of Hong Kong, and if it is accurate, examine her finances.

"If the money she is spending was siphoned off the ordinary people, there is
a problem," Ms Law said. "Just like other members of the international
community, Hong Kong should do its part in imposing sanctions."

The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on Mr Mugabe's
ruling clique, including asset freezes and travel bans. Australia has also
banned the children of members of Mr Mugabe's administration from studying

The South China Morning Post reported on Sunday the 20-year-old daughter of
the Zimbabwean President is enrolled under an alias, but gave no more

The University of Hong Kong's media manager didn't immediately respond to a
reporter's email seeking comment. Ms Bona didn't immediately respond to a
message sent to her on the social networking website Facebook.

Mr Mugabe, 84, has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in
1980. He has been accused of overseeing the country's economic collapse,
which has led to a cholera outbreak that has killed at least 2,773 and left
millions of Zimbabweans dependent on international food aid.

The Hong Kong government said in a statement Sunday it had no comment.

A freelance photographer for the British newspaper the Sunday Times said
last week that Mr Mugabe's wife, Grace, repeatedly hit him in the face when
he tried to take pictures of her outside a luxury hotel in Hong Kong on
January 15.


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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 24th January 2009

The prospect of yet another SADC meeting on Zimbabwe did nothing to keep us warm. It was impossible to find anyone at another crowded Vigil who had any faith in the pompous, hypocritical, self-serving, blustering, craven half-wits at the SADC Summit.  It was felt that if SADC was serious about saving the region from a contagious failed state it would hand back its mandate to the AU with a recommendation that new elections be held under UN supervision. 


We at the Vigil are resigned to SADC admiring the new 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollar notes, blaming the donor nations for Zimbabwe’s inflation rate of 6.5 quindecillion novemdecillion percent . . . . and recognizing Mugabe as President despite the conclusion of SADC’s own observers that last year’s elections were not free and fair.  Many passers-by stopped to sign our petitions, particularly the one demanding action against SADC countries because of their failure to uphold their obligations to Zimbabweans. The Vigil wants the European Union to stop handing over billions of Euros in aid to SADC countries who support Mugabe. We want this money to be used instead to finance refugee camps for Zimbabweans in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique where our people can seek refuge and find things no longer available in Zimbabwe such as food, shelter, health care and education. 


Given the global economic recession we expect growing support for any moves to cut aid to Mugabe’s regional cronies. 


A few points:

·   Apologies that Patson Muzuwa and his Umbane troupe did not appear today.  There was a misunderstanding and they say they will be coming next week. Some people apparently came specifically to hear them (we know of someone who was emailed by a contact in Australia about it). Despite Patson’s absence we had some wonderful singing and dancing led by Jenatry Muranganwa and Dumi Tutani which made up for the absence of Umbane.

·   Highlight of the day was the ‘Tweed Bicycle Ride’. To our astonishment hundreds of cyclists rode past wearing tweed clothes.

·   We phoned Luka of the Vigil management team who is still in detention in Dover.  The phone was passed to Jenatry at the centre of the Vigil who led a song for him. The phone was then passed around to many of his friends so he could talk to them all. Apparently the Archbishop of York’s Office contacted the Zimbabwe Association and wrote to Phil Woolas, MP, Minister of State (Borders & Immigration) Home Office on behalf of Luka. Luka’s bail hearing is on Wednesday and we hope he will be released then.

·   It was good to hear from Patrick Dzimba, Co-ordinator of the Glasgow Zimbabwe Vigil. He reports that the first Glasgow Vigil of 2009 on 17th January was well-attended and was followed by their AGM.

·   WOZA Solidarity have been in touch with us.  They plan to hold a demonstration ahead of the Vigil from 12 to 2 pm on Saturday, 14th February.  They are awaiting the outcome of the trial of Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu before deciding the theme of their protest.  We will keep you informed. 

·   We have been contacted by the Reverend Bill Crews of the Exodus Foundation ( He is a friend of Sekai Holland and his organisation helped her to escape from Zimbabwe after her appalling treatment in March 2007.  He is looking for ways to help Zimbabwe post-Mugabe and asked us for contacts to work with.


For latest Vigil pictures check:


FOR THE RECORD: 235 signed the register.



·   ROHR Manchester General Meeting. Saturday 31 January 2009 at Salvation Army Citadel, 71 Grosvenor Street, Manchester M13 9UB from 1330 – 1730hrs. Contact Moses Nyagodzi 07778547971, Mike Kanyepi 07500696527 or Mr Madzonganyika 07747141835. 

·   ROHR Wakefield Members Meeting. Saturday 31 January 2009 at 4 Celandine Close, Carlton Glen, Pontefract, Wakefield, WF8 2SL. Contact Mugoni 07748828913, B Sikosana 07940181761, P Karuwa 07908075149. 

·   ROHR Brighton General Meeting. Saturday, 31 January 2009. Venue and time to be announced. Contact Siniki Dube 07824668763 or Phyllis Chibanguza  07908406069

·   Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday 24th January, 2 – 6 pm. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137, Tafadzwa Musemwa 07954 344 123 and Roggers Fatiya 07769 632 687

·   ‘The Agony of Zimbabwe, What Chance for Change?’ Monday 9th February, 6.45 – 8.45 pm.  Talk by Christina Lamb Foreign Affairs Correspondent for the Sunday Times. Hosted by Friends of Le Monde diplomatique. Venue: the Gallery, 70/77 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ (near Farringdon Tube station).  For more information check:

·   WOZA Solidarity Protest. Saturday, 14th February, 12 – 2 pm, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR.     

·   Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).


Vigil Co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.



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Hunger in Rushinga

Reports from people in the Rushinga area in Mt Darwin are that the
starvation is taking a deadly grip on the area. Mealie meal can be purchased
in limited amounts for US$15 for 10 kgs.

People in urban areas struggle to withdraw Zimbabwean dollars from the
banks, so you can imagine how hard it is to get cash in the rural areas!
Nobody in the rural areas has access to our redundant Zimbabwe dollars;
foreign currency is even rarer. The result is many are trying to live off
vegetables they are struggling to grow . One resident from that area said
that his family had not eaten sadza for over five weeks.

The salaries paid to many who are lucky enough to have jobs don't begin to
remotely meet the cost of living. It's especially bad for those  paid by the
government; for example, a middle-ranking prison officer's January salary,
on the day it was paid in in Zimbabwe dollars, translated in forex to the
equivalent of US$3, or one fifth of the price of a 10kg bag of maize meal.

In the meanwhile, heavy rains have been falling on Harare and its surrounds.

This is wonderful for the urban maize crops and wonderful for the people who
have managed to find vegetable seed to grow a little food in the rural
areas. It is also very good news for the millions of people who rely on
rainwater run-off from their roofs for drinking, cooking and washing water.
It is wonderful for Harare Central and Remand prisons who sometimes go
without water for weeks at a time.

Sadly, the very bad news is that that demon called cholera , carving a
swathe of illness in Zimbabwe, is reliant on downpours just like this to
spread its deadly network.

 This entry was written by Harare activists on Sunday, January 25th, 2009 at
11:48 am.

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PEACE WATCH of 24th January [Peace, Justice and the Rule of Law]


[24th January 2009]

Peace and Justice and the Rule of Law

Peace Watch has been chronicling the story of the enforced disappearances and subsequent developments for several weeks now.  We have done this not only because the victims include three workers for peace in Zimbabwe, but also because it is axiomatic that without justice and due observance of the rule of law there can be no true and lasting peace in our country. 

Jestina Mukoko – taken to hospital in leg irons

Last week the Chief Justice, after he had seen a doctor’s affidavit stressing the inadequacy of the prison hospital and the necessity for getting Jestina medical attention in a hospital with proper facilities, directed that she should receive “appropriate medical attention as a matter of urgency”.  Over a week later Jestina was taken in leg irons and under armed escort to the Avenues Clinic.  There she was examined by doctors and, still in leg irons, was sent for X-rays and an ultra-sound scan to assess her injuries.  [Jestina has testified that she had been subjected to torture].  She was put on a drip and admitted for treatment.  But the escorting prison warders refused to allow her to remain and against her will, still on the drip, took her back to Chikurubi.  The doctors refused to sign her discharge papers as she was removed against their professional medical advice.  In Chikurubi Jestina is being attended to by a doctor brought in by the prison service.  She was at least moved to a makeshift side-ward [a matron’s office] in the males-only prison hospital.  Initially, she was kept in leg-irons and even expected to sleep with them in place. 

News of the other Zimbabwe Peace Project Staff

Broderick Takawira:  Broderick is still in solitary confinement at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.  At his last appearance in the magistrates court, the magistrate granted his lawyers’ application for the constitutional aspects of his case to be referred to the Supreme Court.  This referral parallels the referral granted a few days earlier in Jestina’s case [see below], and the Supreme Court is likely to hear the two cases together. 

Pascal Gonzo:  Although both a High Court Judge and a magistrate ordered Pascal’s release before the end of last year, the State blocked his release and he continued in solitary confinement in Chikurubi Maximum Security prison.  Another application for his release will be heard by a High Court judge early next week.

One abductee released

On 23 January Tawanda Bvumo was released from Chikurubi two days after a Judge ordered his release, saying that if the State wish to press charges against him they should do so by way of summons.  He had been in State custody for 84 days, since the end of October. 

No date yet for Supreme Court hearing for Jestina Mukoko

Jestina Mukoko’s case has been referred to the Supreme Court by the magistrate’s court at her lawyers’ request, as they are arguing that the State cannot prosecute her until the numerous infringements of her constitutional rights have been properly redressed – unlawful deprivation of liberty, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment while detained, denial of pre-trial rights [no reason given for arrest, no access to lawyers or relatives], denial of protection of the law [the report of her abduction not investigated by police, and her abductors not prosecuted].  As this is a constitutional case, it will be heard by five Supreme Court judges.  The hearing will be open to the public, but the date has still not been fixed although the Chief Justice has already ruled the case is urgent.

Other forthcoming court hearings

Monday 26 January:  Chris Dhlamini, Gandi Mudzingwa, Mapfumo Garutsa, Andrison Manyere, Regis Mujeyi, Zacharia Nkomo and Chinoto Zulu [the "Dhlamini group"], who have been remanded in custody on charges of insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism [bombing of police station and railway line], will appear at the magistrates court for further remand.  [They were remanded on the 9th, and because an accused person cannot be remanded for more than 14 days at a time, their remand hearing should have occurred on Friday 23rd January; but they were not brought to court by the prison authorities, so the proceedings were postponed.]  The Attorney-General’s office is also due to report back to the court on its investigation into the group’s complaints of torture while in State custody [this report back is already overdue].  There is also an application pending in the High Court to set aside the charges and release them, but no date has yet been set for this.

Wednesday 28 JanuaryConcillia Chinanzvavana, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, Fidelis Chiramba, Pieta Kaseke, Violet Mupfuranhehwe and Collen Mutemagau [their little boy Nigel was eventually released] will appear in the magistrates court for further remand proceedings.

Friday 30 January:  Jestina Mukoko will appear at the magistrates court for continuation of her postponed remand proceedings.  Further postponement is likely, depending on developments in the Supreme Court on her complaint of violations of her constitutional rights [see above].

Background to these Events

It was only a few months ago that the horrendous phenomenon of enforced disappearance became widespread, starting with the abduction and disappearance of 14 MDC-T office-bearers and members in Mashonaland West at the beginning of November and continuing until well into December with the abduction of  Zimbabwe Peace Project [ZPP] director Jestina Mukoko and Broderick Takawira and Pascal Gonzo [ZPP staff members] and several others [see Peace Watch of 28th December for lists of names and Peace Watch of 9th December for commentary on enforced disappearance].  Because of the number of cases [32] and the high profile of the ZPP staff these disappearances have raised huge concern in Zimbabwe and world wide.  Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights [ZLHR] have been working almost day and night to find out what happened [see Peace Watch of 16th January] and taking action to protect their safely and legal rights.

In other countries, notably Latin American countries, where enforced disappearances have taken place they have been a tool of a repressive government fighting against activists promoting more freedom of political choice and working against state violence.  In Zimbabwe the recent spate of disappearances have taken place at a time when critical negotiations between political parties are taking place.  On 19th December Mr Tsvangirai stated that MDC-T would not continue with the negotiations for an inclusive government unless all the “disappeared” civil society and MDC-T cadres were released or charged in a court of law by January 1st 2009.

On 23rd December some of the 32 persons listed by ZLHR as having disappeared were located by lawyers looking for them.  On the 24th December, 9 of them were produced in the magistrates court, and at 9 p.m. a High Court judge granted an order for (1) the release of Jestina Mukoko, Broderick Takawira and the Dhlamini group to the Avenues Clinic for medical examination and treatment under police guard, and (2) the outright release of the other 23 on the ZLHR list [none of which has been done].

Key Developments Since 24 December

Note: for full day by day details of events please see ZLHR reports available from

On Christmas Day:  The High Court judge’s order to take Jestina Mukoko and others alleging torture to the Avenues Clinic for medical treatment was defied and all were removed to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.  Also flouted was the judge's order for the release of the other 23 persons listed as disappeared.

On 29 December:  A further 9 of the disappeared were produced and brought to the magistrates court to be placed on remand [the Dhlamini group plus Pascal Gonzo and Tawanda Bvumo].

[This still left 14 on the ZLHR list unaccounted for – but believed to be in State custody - later developments regarding these 14 were covered in Peace Watch of 16 January].

On 30 December:  Lawyers again asked for the abductees who had made affidavits of torture to be transferred to the Avenues Clinic.  In spite of the public prosecutor’s resistance, the magistrate eventually ordered medical examination by doctors of their own choice, but that these were to be done in prison.  The abductees were examined by doctors of their own choice at Chikurubi Prison Hospital who noted evidence of torture.  

On 31 December:  Lawyers lodged an urgent High Court application on behalf of Jestina Mukoko for an order compelling the police to disclose the identities of  those responsible for her abduction and detention.  Minister of State Security Didymus Mutasa filed an affidavit confirming State security involvement in her seizure and detention, but claimed that divulging the information sought would prejudice national security. 

On 2 January:  A High Court judge upheld the Minister’s objection to disclosure of information about responsibility for Jestina Mukoko’s abduction and detention, but ordered that she be taken to Avenues Clinic for examination.  

On 15 January:  It was discovered that the State is holding three of the original abductees in “police protective custody” as State witnesses. 

On 20 January:  Lawyers succeeded in getting Jestina’s case referred to the Supreme Court for an order to grant redress for numerous breaches of her constitutional rights by the State.

The cases are still continuing:  Basically, the State has continued to press for all 18 abductees so far brought to court to be placed on remand on various criminal charges related to insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism [see Peace Watch of 16 January].  The defence lawyers have strenuously resisted these applications, arguing that the grave infringements of the abductees’ constitutional rights [abduction, secret detention, torture, refusal to investigate and prosecute the abductors, etc.] mean they are not properly brought before the court [the State has “dirty hands”] and they should be released.  In addition they have argued that the State’s allegations do not establish a reasonable suspicion of commission of the offences charged. 

For dates of forthcoming hearings see above.

Issues of Great Concern to the Public

·    Constant delays have thwarted the delivery of justice – Judges and magistrates not making themselves available or turning up hours late, police or prison officials not producing detainees in court, court orders being ignored,and delays in typing up of court records needed for cases to be taken to a higher court, have resulted in months of delays since the “disappearances”.

·    The State’s resistance to divulging of information about abductees' detention has hampered proper investigation, could be a cover up for illegalities and torture on the part of State agents, and will foster an ongoing culture of impunity.

·    The frustration of lawyers' attempts to get abductees proper medical treatment is a gross denial of prisoners rights and a violation of our Constitution and  international conventions and could be a cover up when there are allegations of torture.

Zimbabwe’s Legal Resources Foundation Trustees have issued a statement on the general departure from the rule of law and the State's disregard of court orders [available from ]

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.

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ANALYSIS: Little hope for progress on deadlock at Zimbabwe summit

Africa News
Jan 25, 2009, 14:05 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - Southern African heads of state are to meet on Monday
in Pretoria, the South African capital, in yet another attempt to eke
compromise out of Zimbabwe's two key political rivals, in the fast dimming
hope that a power sharing agreement between the two can be set in motion.

But with President Robert Mugabe, ruler for the last 28 years who is
determined to stay there indefinitely, and pro-democracy leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, regarded as the winner of national elections last March, both
entrenched in their positions, analysts are forecasting that this fourth
summit of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) will
again end in failure.

But they say impetus for progress may come from South Africa, the
continent's most powerful nation which currently holds the chairmanship of
the SADC. Pressure is growing for President Kgalema Motlanthe to get tough
with 84-year-old Mugabe, as leading voices in South Africa accuse the
regional body of being responsible for the stalemate, and all the problems
that it holds.

Once Africa's second most prosperous and developed country after South
Africa, Zimbabwe is in the closing stages of economic collapse, with
millions of migrants pouring into neighbouring states, and in the midst of a
cholera epidemic that has also crossed the border with the migrants.

On Monday last week, the presidents of South Africa and of Mozambique tried
to mediate between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, but the 12-hour meeting ended

The two men signed an agreement to share power in a government of national
unity on September 15 after three months of negotiations, but there has been
no progress to toward implementing the agreement since then.

Mugabe's first step after the signing was to allocate portfolios, taking the
most important ones, including defence, home affairs which includes police
and state security, and justice, which has control over the country's

Later he went on to appoint provincial governors and a new attorney-general
from the ranks of his ZANU(PF) party and since October his secret police
have arrested nearly 30 activists from the Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party and civil society groups, holding them
illegally for weeks and torturing many of them.

All the steps were in violation of the treaty, the MDC said.

Tsvangirai, who secured the most votes in the presidential elections and is
head of the MDC which in March won parliamentary elections, has refused to
take up his agreed position as prime minister under Mugabe as president
until cabinet posts are equitably distributed, the gubernatorial and
attorney-general posts are reversed and the detained activists are released.

Mugabe has turned an implacable deaf ear to the demands. And so Monday's
meeting will begin after a statement by Patrick Chinamasa, Mugabe's
spokesman on the negotiations, saying at the weekend that 'our position is
that we will not meet any new demands made by the MDC.'

MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said in a statement on Saturday that the
party was 'committed to the ... agreement, subject to the resolution of our
demands.' These, he said, were 'a logical platform for any government of
national unity,' and the MDC would 'not allow ZANU(PF) to trap us in the cul
de sac of their sterile process.'

SADC appears to be equally locked into a position, made late last year, that
the agreement should be implemented 'forthwith' and that the MDC should
settle its grievances afterwards. Mugabe is anxious that Monday's meeting
endorses this, and is reported to be pressing for SADC to give him the go
ahead to implement the power-sharing agreement without the MDC.

But a growing number of powerful voices in South Africa are now raised for
its government to force Mugabe to incorporate the MDC's demands or face
recriminations, such as the shutting its borders.

One of these voices is Graca Machel, wife of South Africa's revered
ex-president Nelson Mandela and a member of the Elders, the informal group
of globally respected figures, who late last week declared that Mugabe had
'lost completely any kind of legitimacy' after the last nine years of
violent repression.

Thousands of lives could have been saved if SADC had not allowed itself to
be bullied by Mugabe, she said. 'We trusted too long,' she said.

'It's time to tell our leaders we lay the lives of all those who passed on
... in the hands of the SADC leaders because they took responsibility to
stop the mess there.'

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Solution will come after SADC abdicates

January 25, 2009
Tanonoka Whande

IT IS now quite clear to all and sundry that Zimbabwe needs not only help
but action. Real action.

The tragedy in Zimbabwe long ceased to be a Zimbabwean problem.

I am no longer clear as to what exactly the world wants to see happening
before they can come to the assistance of the long-suffering innocents in

I wish we had oil too!

Reports and pictures of dying mothers are always being circulated on the
Internet and in newspapers; pictures of incarcerated toddlers are available
accompanied by reports on how a two-year old tot spent weeks in jail, with
its mother in a different cell, in a notorious maximum security prison in

Countless non-governmental organisations have chronicled the suffering of
people, deliberately caused by an illegitimate government bent on meting out
revenge for its rejection at the polls.

Indeed, the world has been provided with ample evidence that genocide is
silently being perpetrated in Zimbabwe.

Early this week, Phandu Skelemani, Botswana's Minister of Foreign Affairs,
did admit that, indeed, what is happening in Zimbabwe is genocide.

A few days earlier Graca Machel had complained that the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) had been dragging its feet for too long in
solving the crisis in Zimbabwe.

"I have been part of those who trusted and waited that our leaders knew what
they were doing, that they would find a solution," she said. "Somehow one
has to accept we stood and waited for too long."

But still, we see no solution in sight. No movement from anywhere except
press releases condemning Robert Mugabe.

Having read SADC's impotence well, Mugabe continues to thumb his nose at the
embattled organisation.

I still have to come across a country in the region that benefited from
existence or a regional country that took orders from SADC and applied them
with the urgency of respect.

Amid criticism from its member states and from prominent citizens who are
fed up with its ineptitude and who should be praising it, SADC's beleaguered
Secretary General, Tomaz Salomão, has hastily arranged yet another
extra-ordinary summit in South Africa this coming week to deal with the
Zimbabwean issue but unashamedly threatened the region by saying if the
talks failed once more, SADC would drop the Zimbabwean issue and hand it
over to the African Union.

Apparently, the Secretary General has his muzzle so deep in the feeding
trough that he can't see that the so-called African union is a more
embarrassing failure than SADC. At least SADC achieved disaster, what has
the AU ever achieved?

Another last chance for SADC to redeem itself? Don't count on it. How many
chances were presented to them and how many were used? How many chances did
SADC itself create only to sit back and enjoy tea and biscuits without
dealing effectively with the issues that had brought them on the junkets?

Are they going to spend thousands they do not have so that they gather and
instruct adversaries to run a ministry together simultaneously?

Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change gave SADC a lot of

The MDC was very patient with Dictator Mugabe and, indeed, with SADC.

I recall the assault on Tsvangirai by Mugabe's goons, when he was shown on
international television with his face grotesquely disfigured. Among other
excuses, that sad battered figure of Tsvangirai should have given the likes
of Salomao a little fuel to, at least, say something.

Apparently, SADC pays its people to keep quiet and Salomao excels on this.

How and why did SADC fail to see to it that a settlement "negotiated" under
its auspices is implemented?

As the MDC's position paper correctly points out, the key challenge to the
agreement has been its implementation.

"The implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding and the Global
Political Agreement required honesty, good faith and goodwill to be
displayed by the parties to the agreement."

And SADC could not enforce that.just that.

As everybody, including SADC could see, after the signing of the agreement,
that Zanu-PF "acted in a manner that is contrary to the spirit of the
agreement and displayed duplicity and bad faith in regard to the
implementation of various aspects of the agreement".

SADC knew about it and saw it but did nothing. These are the same people who
wasted millions as they attended a "summit" at which they came up with the
so-called "SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections" in
2004, a few months before Zimbabwe's 2005 elections at which mayhem reigned.

I do not think Prega Ramsamy, Salomao's predecessor (2001-2005), let alone
Salomao even knew, saw or bothered with that document after they all left

I don't think they knew or cared how many people ended up being killed by
Mugabe during that voting exercise. I can almost guarantee that Salomao and
his SADC never said anything to Mugabe about it.

For years, SADC has insisted that in Zimbabwe, the will of the people should
be ignored to please a murderous dictator.

SADC did not succeed in Zimbabwe because it was insisting on reversing an
electoral process.

They were trying, and, surprisingly, are still trying to lay the foundation
of democracy on deceit. Like Tony Leon said, you cannot use flawed electoral
outcomes as the basis for a post-settlement government of national unity.

But SADC says they can.

I applaud SADC's intention to drop the Zimbabwean issue from their agenda.
Had they done that a long time ago, we might have been freed then. But they
should also drop their salaries.

We cannot have these over-paid non-performers choosing what crisis to deal
with and which one not to.

We could respect them more if they just disbanded because they are of no use
and my heart bleeds to see the big beautiful, expensive building nearing
completion in Gaborone and being prepared to be occupied by such a troop of

SADC, after contributing to the deaths and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe
through its inaction and blindness, now wants to wash its hands of the
Zimbabwe problem. They might as well; they accomplished their mission:
thousands were killed and many more died because SADC did not do anything
and even prevented assistance from reaching the needy in Zimbabwe.

We could never have been more unfortunate than being put in the hands of
SADC and Thabo Mbeki. It was a double catastrophe; we could not have
survived and, indeed, we lost thousands because of these two. Their synergy
in partiality, indecisiveness, bias and unfairness is unequalled. Their mere
existence nurtures dictatorships.

If anyone is serious about solving the Zimbabwean quagmire, they must start
by removing Mbeki. He never mediated anything but always tried to cheat the
Zimbabwean rank and file to protect his master. Those nascent dictatorial
tendencies and political chicanery inadvertently backed up into his daily
presidential routine in South Africa and it cost him his job.

Isn't he ashamed that South Africans can do to him what Zimbabweans can't do
to his mentor, Mugabe? Now he has become an instant has-been and he will not
rise from that dump of history where he threw himself because of his
admiration for a murderous tyrant.

Good riddance!

From the very beginning, SADC failed to enforce its own guidelines on its
own members in the whole region.

The fact that member states can indulge in the murder and abuse of SADC
citizens while SADC watches and does nothing about it is a terrible
indictment against SADC's continued existence.

SADC must, therefore, carry out their threat of removing Zimbabwe from their
agenda. That could open the doors to the eventual emancipation of Zimbabwe
and it would be good riddance, too!

Otherwise, much as we might fear and dislike the idea, it really is time to
think and talk about other options.

Too much frustration is building up.

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Torturous time for freedom fighters

From The Sunday Independent (SA), 25 January

Daniel Howden

It is the visit all Zimbabweans dread. For Jestina Mukoko, it came at 5
o'clock on the morning of December 3. Six men and a woman appeared at her
house in Norton, a short drive from the capital, Harare. They told her to
come with them immediately but refused to say who they were or where she was
being taken. The director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) and a
forthright campaigner for human rights, she realised she was being abducted
and that this was no ordinary arrest. "I was not wearing anything other than
a nightdress," she says in a sworn affidavit, the contents of which The
Sunday Independent can reveal. "I had no undergarments and other personal
and medical requirements." When she asked for time to dress and fetch her
glasses, two of the men grabbed her and pushed her out of the front door and
into the back of an unmarked car where she was made to lie on the back seat.
"Immediately, a woollen jersey was put across my face, covering my eyes,
nose and mouth, as a result I had problems breathing and almost suffocated."

It was the beginning of an ordeal that has become commonplace for anyone who
dares to criticise the leadership in Zimbabwe. Scores of opposition members
and rights activists have been abducted, tortured and in many cases
murdered. The difference in this case was Mukoko's high international
profile and the volume of the response to her brazen abduction and
disappearance. The Mugabe regime had diverted from its usual tactic of
targeting low-profile, mid-ranking opponents and provided a human focal
point for outrage at the epidemic of disappearances. World leaders from
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to Condoleezza Rice, the United States
secretary of state, duly demanded Mukoko's release.

She was driven for a little over half an hour in what she thinks was the
direction of Harare, then arrived at a building. Inside she was taken to a
side room and given plastic sandals. She could not see anything through the
windows and was forced to wear a blindfold while going to the toilet. Soon,
she was taken to what she took to be an interrogation room. She was
questioned by six people, who again did not give their names. They asked her
a barrage of questions about the ZPP. Then the questions switched to
allegations that she was recruiting youths for military training with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change. And the torture began. "First, I
was assaulted underneath my feet with a rubber-like object which was at
least one metre long . Later, I was informed to raise my feet on to a table,
and the other people in the room started to assault me underneath my feet.
This assault lasted for at least five to six minutes. They took a break and
then continued again with the beatings."

The interrogation continued into the night with a break of a few hours after
which her questioners returned drunk and started the beatings again.
Beatings with rubber truncheons have been a favourite torture tactic for the
regime in Zimbabwe because they leave no marks likely to be visible at later
court appearances. After three days of this, during which she was questioned
in detail over dates of meetings and individuals, she was blindfolded again.
"We drove for about two hours. I do not know where we went but I had been
warned that since I refused to co-operate they were going to hand me over to
some people and they could not protect me." Her new interrogators, all 10 of
them, claimed they were "law and order" officials but gave no further
explanation. "One of the interrogators said I was going to suffer, and I
will have to make a choice of either becoming a witness to these alleged
cases of military training or I become extinct as no prosecutions were to be

As the days passed, she became aware that Broderick Takawira and Pascal
Gonzo, two of her ZPP colleagues, were being held in cells near hers. She
was also inadvertently made aware of the clamour for her release in the
outside world, with her torturers complaining that "I seem to drive a huge
organisation and carried so much influence as there had been so much noise
about my whereabouts". The government in Harare denied any knowledge of her
whereabouts and an order from Zimbabwe's High Court for her to be found and
released was ignored by the police who insisted they did not know where she
was. Mukoko, back in her clandestine detention centre on December 13, was
pushed to sign a statement that she had recruited an ex-policeman into the
military plot. When she refused to "confess", gravel was spread over the
floor of the room and she was made to kneel on it. The interrogations
continued for hours with her in this position.

By the next day her medical condition had deteriorated dramatically. She
demanded the right to see a doctor and was given a brief visit from a man
who identified himself as Dr Chigumira. "Upon seeing me, he expressed shock
on his face," she says. She was finally given medicine to treat serious
allergies. The next day she was made to read her earlier statements to
camera, and repeatedly pushed to admit links to an ex-policemen called
Fidelis Mudimu. Three days before Christmas, the blindfold came on again and
she was again bundled into a vehicle. After a few minutes of driving,
turning, reversing and parking she was told that she and another abductee,
whom she later identified as a colleague, Broderick Takawira, were in police
custody. They were not allowed to remove their blindfolds. For two days she
was shuffled from one police station to another. She accompanied police on
searches of her home and office, where items were seized with no inventory

Finally, after 21 days, she was able briefly, in the presence of police, to
see her family. On Christmas Eve, and without legal consultation, she was
made to appear in court. Alongside her in the dock were seven others who had
been abducted, some held for up to 76 days, including a 72-year-old man and
a two-year-old boy. The boy, who his mother claims was held in a separate
cell and beaten with a fan belt when he cried out for her, was released last
week. He has been handed over to strangers because his mother, Violet
Mupfuranhehwe, and father, Collen Mutemagawo, remain in detention. Mukoko,
along with a dozen other activists, is still being held, accused of a plot
to overthrow the Mugabe government. In a court appearance last week, she
wept on the stand as she recounted her ordeal. The authorities, who denied
abducting and detaining her, now deny torturing her.

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Barack Obama cannot save Zimbabwe!

January 24, 2009

By Allen Masomere

Much has been made of Barack Obama's inaugural speech reference to
clench-fisted, corrupt despots who stifle dissent and blame their failures
on the West. It was suggested, by some in the media, that these words were
intended for Robert Mugabe's ears. I doubt it, but even if that was the
case, one should not attempt to overstate the intensity with which President
Obama will pay attention to the Zimbabwean problem.

For one thing, Obama assumes the presidency at a critical phase in the
history of the world: his hands, plate and mouth are full. America faces an
unprecedented economic melt down driven by loss of confidence in the US
government itself and in the financial institutions that are the bedrock of
the world economy. Job losses across the country are approaching pre-World
War 2 levels. One of every ten mortgaged houses in the US is facing

Abroad, the US is engaged in two costly wars and a seemingly endless
campaign against an increasingly amorphous Al Qaeda network. The beat goes

The way I see it, if Obama had a thousand things to accomplish over the next
four or eight years, Zimbabwe might not show up on his list. I hope I am
wrong about this of course, but I would be thoroughly surprised if US policy
towards Robert Mugabe were to radically shift under Obama.

Now, let's indulge in a bit of wishful thinking and imagine Obama as our
knight in shining armour. What could he possibly do? Invading Zimbabwe is
neither desirable nor feasible and out of the question, for reasons too many
to enumerate here.

Full-scale economic sanctions are unlikely, given the entrenched interests
of the business community in the West and in Zimbabwe itself. For how else
can we make sense of claims that sanctions hurt only the poor as if the
Zimbabwean poor could be any worse off than they already are? Besides, the
only sanctions likely to bite would have to be coordinated with the regional
powerhouse, South Africa, and receive the support of Mozambique and perhaps,
Namibia.  At this stage, the threat of comprehensive US unilateral sanctions
does not look like a probability.

George Bush made a lot of noise about Mugabe's misrule but he failed to take
even the slightest step to demonstrate his sincerity. Victims of Mugabe's
policies who sought American help were shipped across the border to Canada.
Obama may not be able to do much about the Zimbabwean situation beyond
continuing Bush's so-called targeted sanctions and use of the bully pulpit.
But Obama can, at the very least, show US sincerity by putting US law where
his mouth is and provide some form of protection for victims of the
unfolding tragedy in Zimbabwe who happen to be on US territory. To its
credit, the Labour government in the UK appears to be seeing the light in
the way it treats Zimbabwean victims of Mugabe's policies.

Obama can also apply real pressure on African countries neighbouring
Zimbabwe, particularly the South Africans, who can end the Zimbabwean
problem at the stroke of a pen. It will not be enough to simply beg them to
do something, which is pretty much all that Bush did in eight years. His
options will probably be few, but he will have more goodwill than Bush. And
he will have plenty of allies in a post-Thabo Mbeki South Africa.

Assuming that Obama was sending a message to Mugabe in his inaugural speech,
one would have to say that Obama was actually offering Mugabe an olive
branch. That would be a radical departure from Bush's policies; an "about
turn" of sorts under which Mugabe could expect a US-backed resolution of the
Zimbabwean problem which may not require Mugabe to be punished for his
crimes against the people of Zimbabwe. That might be the stuff around which
great political dramas are constructed, but it would be a new Zimbabwean and
African tragedy co-authored by Barack Obama himself. Better far for the US
government to look the other way and let the people of Zimbabwe take care of
Mugabe any which way they can.

To conclude, even if there is a special place in Barack Obama's heart for
the people of Zimbabwe (and that may well be the case), he does not have a
whole range of tools in his box that he can use to unlock the puzzle.
Indeed, it would be unfair to expect any more from Obama than one would
expect from Mugabe's fellow African leaders like Kgalema Motlanthe and Thabo
Mbeki, unless one actually buys the Republican line that Obama is "the magic

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The price of happiness

How the economy is wrecking the marriage market

The great institutions of Zimbabwe continue to crumble into dust. The latest
is education, as the government fails to open the schools for a new term.
But despite this and everything else, I am continually surprised by the way
normal life struggles on. A particular struggle is one in which my friend
Gumbo finds himself embroiled this week.

Gumbo is a man in love. His fiancee is Judith, 25. Judith is quite a catch -
good looking and kind, with a degree in economics, a science much neglected
in our impoverished state. She'd make any young man an excellent wife.

With that in view, last Friday Gumbo travelled to Plumtree, in Matabeleland
south province, to visit Judith's parents. The object of the visit was to
settle the matter of Lobolo - the bride price.

Lobolo, for western readers, is a traditional Zimbabwean custom. The Bride
Price is exactly what it says. The intention behind it is to cement
relations between the two families. In normal times it is not exorbitant.

But these are not normal times. Gumbo arrived at Judith's home. Ten minutes
later he was leaving, in a state of humiliation, bewilderment and despair.
Through saving and scrimping he had accumulated a sum of 2000 South African
rand. About US$200. He thought it would be sufficient. He thought wrong.

Judith's parents demanded the equivalent of US$3,200.

Thoughtfully they had itemised the total for poor Gumbo. It went something
like this:

Fee for entry to in-laws' house      US$100

Introduction fee                               US$150

Fee for status as son-in-law          US$550

Six head of cattle                           US$1,200

Education compensation fee        US$200

Added to these amounts was a fee for "damage". Yes, as many readers will
know, this term refers to the undeniable fact that Judith is four months
pregnant. The fee - US$900.

And the additional US$100 still not accounted for? Judith's parents request
a designer suit for the father and a designer dress for the mother.  Oh
yes - and three blankets.

Normally lobolo payment is staggered over the years. Judith's parents want
the lot now. And they want money for Judith's upkeep, for her maternity
bills, for...

Gumbo is a defeated man. He has no hope of finding the money. Is he a victim
of the economic breakdown in Zimbabwe? Perhaps, yes. But then again, ask
yourself this: would you sell your daughter for a designer suit, a designer
dress, and three blankets?

Posted on Sunday, 25 January 2009 at 12:01

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It's easy to Fall for Africa-a-a-a-a
How to mix natural wonder with white water rafting..and a 350ft bungee jump
SAFARI: Ross on his hols
SAFARI: Ross on his hols
LEAP OF FAITH: 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . bungee!
LEAP OF FAITH: 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . bungee!
WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT: White-water rafting
WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT: White-water rafting
MIND THE GAP: Bridge over Zambezi
MIND THE GAP: Bridge over Zambezi
THE first sight — and sound — of the cascading, thunderous waters of Victoria Falls takes your breath away.

It’s one of the most astonishing natural wonders of the world which rates highly on any traveller’s must- see destinations.

And with more than 50 activities crammed into the small surrounding Vic Falls town, it’s easily the adventure capital of Africa — an oasis of fun completely removed from the problems facing the rest of Zimbabwe.

Having just arrived from a week-long safari I thought I would ease into the country slowly before tackling the daredevil sports on offer. The Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke That Thunders) may not be the highest or widest falls in the world, but based on its width of 1.7 kilometers and height of 108 meters it forms the largest sheet of falling water.


The spray rises to more than 400 metres and, amazingly, is visible from up to 40 kilometers away.

To get close to the magnificent sight, you need to buy a ticket into the national park. But you should also go on the guided tour for $30 (£20).

Many of Africa’s animals and birds are to be found in the area and the range of river fish is plentiful in the Zambezi, so you can combine wildlife viewing and sport fishing with sightseeing.

After the tranquil tour of the Falls, it was time for some hardcore action, so I signed up for some white-water rafting — aka a Dance With The Mighty Zambezi.

After a trek to the riverside we boarded the boats and were given the all-important safety talk. No problems, so far.

But what comes next didn’t feel so much like a dance with the Zambezi as a 12-round battering from Joe Calzaghe.

Rapid One is only a Grade Three we’re told (they go from One to Six, One being easy and Six, well, avoid if you can). So this one should be no problem, I kid myself as I watch huge waves crashing into each other. As we tear down the river the adrenalin kicks in and we’re paddling like fury . . . until, that is, the first big wave we reach smacks into us full-on like a steam train.

That’s it for me — I’m overboard, hitting my head on a paddle and taking in gallons of river water in the process.

As I swirl around waiting to surface, I wonder if the raft was completely toppled by that almighty wall of water. Surely everyone else would — like me — be floating powerlessly downstream.

But to my surprise, and complete embarrassment, I’m the only one who thinks it’s a better idea to swim the rapids rather than stay afloat. I learn my lesson after that — the guide warned that clinging to the ropes, closing your eyes and hoping for the best is the only way down.


The following morning, having survived that trip with only a few minor scrapes and bruises, it was time for the ultimate challenge.

We walked out to the middle of a bridge which joins Zimbabwe with Zambia. Standing 111 metres above the unforgiving Zambezi, I’m faced with what will either be the most exciting thing I’ll ever do, or the last thing I’ll ever do.

Adrenalin junkies were queuing by the dozen to leap into the vast gorge, their only lifeline a bungie cord tied around their ankles. Before I knew it, the countdown had begun and it was too late to change my mind.

3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . BUNGEE!

Defying every instinct of my mind and body I jumped out, arms stretched, and prayed the cord would hold.

It takes just four seconds to reach the bottom before you’re flung back up on what is essentially a huge elastic band, but that fall seems to take a lifetime.

What surprised me is the sudden silence that fills the air. There’s fear, excitement, and a thousand thoughts that rush through your mind — but bizarrely, it all seems so quiet. The bounce back up and the following climb onto the bridge are all a blur now — all that remains is the memory of the fall.

During my visit to the area, I stayed at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge which opened in 1994 and has been voted the best safari lodge in Zimbabwe by the local tourism industry every year since.

It’s easy to see why. It fits in perfectly with the surroundings and overlooks a watering hole visited every day by elephant, buffalo, giraffe and antelope.

There are loads of eating places in Victoria Falls town but the best by far is the Boma Place of Eating. For $40 (£26) each you can eat as much as you want and there’s so much to choose from.

The Boma serves up a unique cultural experience that bombards diners with the tastes, sounds and smells of Africa.

I tried all their speciality Zimbabwean dishes including warthog, ostrich and buffalo. But I had to draw the line at one local delicacy, mopani worms.

Rafting the most feared river in the world? No probs. Jumping off a bridge with a rope tied to my ankles? Easy. But munching on some worms . . . I’m afraid I had to wriggle out of that one.

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