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Fears for safety increase for Jestina Mukoko and other activists - Amnesty International

Posted: 08 January 2009

Amnesty International calls for immediate and unconditional release of
Mukoko and other 30 activists

Amnesty International supporters have urgently appealed to the
authorities in Zimbabwe for the immediate and unconditional release of
prominent human rights defender Jestina Mukoko and her colleague Broderick
Takawira, and for 30 or so other activists - human rights and political -
who were abducted between October and December 2008 to be either charged or
immediately and unconditionally released.

Jestina Mukoko is director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) - one
of the country's leading organisations which monitors and documents human
rights violations. She is currently being held at Chikurubi Maximum Security
Prison in Harare after being left there on 23 December by her abductors, who
seized her from her home earlier in the month.

Police had previously denied arresting her and had told the High Court
in Harare that they were treating the case as a kidnapping.

Meanwhile, Broderick Takawira, a provincial coordinator of the ZPP was
abducted on 8 December 2008. Both Jestina and Broderick are considered to be
prisoners of conscience - being held in violation of their rights to freedom
of expression and association.

The 30 or so other activists who were detained between October and
December 2008 are human rights activists and Movement for Democratic Change
political activists.  They are currently being held at various detention
facilities across Harare.

An Amnesty International spokesperson said:

'This is a harrowing ordeal for Jestina, Broderick and the political
activists, which needs to be quickly resolved.

'These men and women are still being unlawfully detained as police
authorities ignore a high court order to release them.

'Given that allegations of torture have been made, then at the very
least these men and women should be granted access to a hospital in order to
receive a full and thorough medical examination.

According to the state-controlled Herald newspaper, Jestina Mukoko and
Broderick Takawira, together with eight of the detained MDC activists, are
to be charged with 'recruiting or attempting to recruit people for the
purposes of undergoing military training to overthrow the Government'. It is
not clear whether they have now been formally charged.

The accusations against the activists are widely believed to be

The abduction, unlawful arrest and detention of the human rights
workers and MDC activists is consistent with a pattern of human rights
violations documented by Amnesty International since March 2007 when 32 MDC
activists were arrested and charged with bombing police stations. The
activists were allegedly tortured and denied access to their lawyers. The
charges against the MDC activists were later dropped.

The practice of unlawful arrest and detention is one of the
established tactics employed by the Zimbabwean authorities to intimidate and
harass critics.

Amnesty International continued:

'Amnesty International considers Jestina and Broderick to be prisoners
of conscience and is calling for an immediate and unconditional release.

'We will also continue to call on the country's authorities to either
formally charge the political activists or to release them as well.

'The Zimbabwe authorities must also guarantee that no-one within their
custody will be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment in accordance with
internationally agreed standards.

Senior officials must quickly conduct a thorough investigation into
allegations of unlawful arrest, unlawful detention and reported torture of
all the detainees immediately.

'This situation not be allowed to continue a moment longer.'

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Zimbabwe court orders probe into torture claims


Thu Jan 8, 2009 5:02pm GMT

By Nelson Banya

HARARE, Jan 8 (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean court on Thursday ordered an
investigation into allegations of torture brought against the police by
opposition activists charged with plotting to topple President Robert

The seven, including a close aide of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
are charged with plotting insurrection, sabotage, banditry and terrorism.
The arrests have added to doubts over chances of a political power-sharing

The activists deny the charges against them and say they were tortured while
in police custody. Their lawyers are seeking their release, arguing that
they were abducted and not arrested properly.

"The court orders the attorney general's office to order police to
investigate complaints by the accused and report by January 23," Magistrate
Olivia Mariga said.

The activists' arrests have raised tensions in the country, dimming hopes
that a power-sharing deal signed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai last September
could be implemented. Tsvangirai has threatened to pull out of the unity
deal over the arrests.

The deal has been seen as a chance to rescue Zimbabwe from total economic

The court hearing will continue on Friday.

Defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama told the court his clients were facing
politically motivated charges.

"There is no doubt that this case is a wholly made-up case. The accused are
all MDC activists, that's what this case is about," Muchadehama said.

"Politics should be left to politicians, who should not abuse the courts for
political reasons."

In a separate case, Zimbabwe's police have charged nine other activists,
including rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko, with recruiting or attempting to
recruit people for military action against Mugabe's government.

Opposition leader Tsvangirai won more votes than Mugabe in a presidential
vote in March, but fell short of an outright win. Mugabe won a one-man
run-off after Tsvangirai pulled out citing violence against his supporters.

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Mugabe opponents: We confessed after torture

Detained members of Zimbabwe's non-ruling party deny role in bomb plot news services
updated 11:53 a.m. ET Jan. 8, 2009
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Opposition members accused of being involved in a bomb
plot in Zimbabwe told a court Thursday that they were tortured into making
false confessions.

The allegations were made a day after the seven were formally charged with
terrorism, banditry and insurgency. All pleaded not guilty. They face the
death penalty if convicted.

The seven are among a number of rights activists and opposition party
members detained in recent weeks in what the opposition calls a crackdown on

In a separate case, another group of detainees has been accused - but so far
not formally charged - of attempting to recruit fighters to train in
neighboring Botswana to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.

The arrests have raised tensions in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe and the
opposition are locked in a long dispute over allocation of cabinet posts
under the power-sharing agreement, seen as the best chance of easing a deep
economic crisis.

Morgan Tsvangirai has threatened to pull his Movement for Democratic Change
party out of negotiations over the issue. Many of the activists in custody
are MDC members and the party has said they were abducted.

Tsvangirai won the first round of voting in March elections, but fell short
of the majority needed to become president, triggering a run-off which
Mugabe won after the MDC leader pulled out, citing violent attacks on his

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Zimbabwe journalist tells court he was tortured in custody, framed

Africa News
Jan 8, 2009, 15:26 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - A Zimbabwean freelance journalist facing charges of
banditry and the bombing of police stations said Thursday he was tortured
and had his equipment seized by unknown men when he was taken into custody.

Andrison Manyere was one of eight detainees - mostly political and rights
activists - who appeared in the Harare magistrate court.

'I do not know where I was taken to for nine days,' Manyere told the court.

The state alleges that 48 rounds of ammunition had been found at the
journalist's home.

'If they indeed found them, it is them - the abductors - that placed them in
my home since after assaulting me they said they were going to my home,'
Manyere said.

'The ammunition I know is my camera, a laptop and some tapes which they took
during my absence,' he added.

The eight are among 32 rights activists known to be in police detention
after allegedly being abducted between October and December. Prominent
rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko was also being held.

Charges of banditry or recruiting for banditry and bombings have been
brought against them.

Lawyers for the group have been pushing for their release, arguing that they
were kidnapped by state agents. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the
legality of their arrest and detention. No date has been set for the

The accused say they have been tortured and are in need of medical
attention. The High Court last month ordered their release to a private
clinic, but the state insists they be treated at a prison clinic.

Mukoko, the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, was taken from her home
at dawn on December 3 by men she alleges were state agents. Her whereabouts
remained unknown until she was brought before a Harare magistrate on
December 24 to face charges.

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Court hears shocking testimony of torture

January 7, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - A Harare magistrate's court on Tuesday heard shocking testimony
relating to the severe torture administered on Emmanuel Chris Dhlamini, the
MDC director of security who is among seven alleged bombers of police
stations in Harare.

In an affidavit presented to the court by his lawyer, Alec Muchadehama,
Dhlamini, who was also present, narrates harrowing experiences in 27 days
while in the hands of his captors.

He is among 32 alleged plotters of acts of banditry in Zimbabwe, who were
seized from their different places by state security agents since October

Through his affidavit, Dhlamini says he was visited on the morning of
November 25, 2008, by a group of strangers moving in six cars while he was
at his home in Harare's Ashdown Park suburb.

During the strange visit, a police officer who refused to identify himself
but whom he later came to know as Superintendent Tenderere demanded to
search his house.

After that he invited him to one of the cars parked outside the gate and, in
a flash, Dhlamini was shoved into the back seat of a small black car. Two
people sat on either side before the car took off.

He says he was driven to Goromonzi police station, more than 50km east of

The station shares a yard with a prison complex.

Instead of being taken into a police charge office, he was driven into the
prison yard where he was immediately thrown into a cell after being made to
surrender all his valuables. He spent his first night in captivity there.

His captors only returned on the third day, on November 27, 2008.

He says they blindfolded and handcuffed him from the back and led him to a
car that was parked outside his cell.

He was ordered to lie on the back seat so that he would not be able to see
where he was being driven.

During the trip, his captors told him he was going to be fed to crocodiles.
His captors also told him they had brought with them body bags, picks and
shovels to bury his remains.

"After driving for some time," he says, "We reached what I believed was a
bushy area and I was led (blindfolded) to a field where I could hear a lot
of male and female voices.

"I was told to cooperate with them as they wanted some information
pertaining to alleged terrorists who were being trained by the MDC in
Botswana; who in the MDC was behind the alleged bombings of police stations
in Harare; and who in the army, police, central intelligence and Zanu-PF
were supplying information to the MDC.

"Before I had a chance to say anything, the torture commenced.

"I was told to lie on my stomach, with my hands now cuffed in front, and I
was severely assaulted by many individuals who took turns to beat me on my
back and all over my body non-stop.

"The soles of my feet were also beaten with hard objects, falanga style."

Dhlamini says his interrogation on alleged training of bandits continued and
was accompanied with intermittent beatings.

He was forced to say anything as, it had seemed, the beatings would ease a
bit each time he gave them information, however far-fetched. His captors
told him to say something on who was paying the bandits, how and where the
training was being conducted.

Later, they shifted the subject of the interrogation and started questioning
him on alleged bombings of police stations. Again he denied any knowledge of

"I then, still blindfolded, had my legs tied together, my hands were cuffed
behind my back, and I was suspended from a considerable height," he says.

"The first time I was hung upright and subjected to further assaults,
including further beatings on the soles of my feet.

"If I did not provide information, I would hear something like a tin with
stones in it being swung round and round making a lot of noise, before I was
assaulted with this all over my body.

"The second time I was hung upside down, and fell or was dropped from this
height to the ground, sustaining injuries on my upper forehead and below my
nose. I was bleeding profusely over my face and shirt."

After the beatings started again, Dlamini found himself naming one Ezekiel
Nkomo, a police officer he had read about in the newspaper a few years ago
as having bombed a police station, all to help his situation.

As had now become the norm, once information was given to them, the torture
ceased for some time.

"As it was around noon, it was very hot in this field and I was already weak
from not being fed for a long time," says Dhlamini.

"This, together with the severity of the assaults, led me to lose
consciousness at least twice. Each time, I was revived by a woman (I could
see a little underneath my blindfold, which had been loosened when I fell to
the ground) who would spray water on my face."

He was then taken to his cell for some time where he was left alone.

He continues, "At around 03:00 hours the next morning (possibly 28 November
2008), I was again collected from my cell, blindfolded and driven for some
time until I ended up in an office in an unknown location.

"There was a conference table there and eight people were seated there
watching me, together with a man holding a large video camera, who was
standing near me and filming me."

Dhlamini says he was told to repeat the information about the alleged
training which he had supplied when they interrogated him in the field.

He repeated the information and was in some instances told to go over some
parts of it which were not consistent with what he had said before.

Sometimes he would be told direct statements to add to his so-called
confession, while on camera including those in which he would be implicating
MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

"After I was filmed, I was hurriedly removed from the room, and heard that
the individuals were in a rush to finish the video as it had to be taken for
use at the talks (between ZANU PF and MDC) in South Africa ," he says.

He says the following day, which he believed was November 29, his captors
brought someone in his cell who was light in complexion and he was asked to
confirm if the stranger was the Ezekiel Nkomo he had referred to.

Unwilling to implicate an innocent person, Dhlamini denied it was him.

He later came to know the person as Zachariah Nkomo, who would later be one
of his co-accused persons in the bombing allegations.

Dhlamini says the following day, which he believed was November 30, he was
again blindfolded and still within the prison complex, taken to a large
outdoor cement sink.

"My blindfold was removed and a sack was placed over my head and neck," he

"I was able only to briefly see a man wearing a blue shirt with Carling Cup
written on it, who seemed to have a lot of information about the alleged

He says he was told that because he had refused to implicate the stranger
brought to his cell as the Nkomo, the bomber, he (Dhlamini) then becomes the

"When I protested, I was lifted up and my head was submerged in the sink and
held there for long periods by someone, in a mock drowning, which was
another severe form of torture (water-boarding) to which I was subjected
during my unlawful abduction and detention.

"This mock drowning went on and on, until I felt that I was on the verge of

The mock drowning went on even during times he admitted to having committed
the bombing incidents.

After those ordeals, he was returned to his cell where he remained in
solitary confinement until December 22, 2008.

Says Dhlamini, "Each day, I was given a 2-litre bottle of water which I was
told was my breakfast and lunch. Each afternoon at around 16:00 hours, I was
given a small plate of plain sadza.

"This was my routine, and some details of my intentional near-starvation,
during the time of my captivity.

"Now and then, someone would come to my cell, tell me to face the wall,
blindfold me and ask me to say my name, and they would disappear.

"Other times, I was subjected to intense interrogation again, and was also
subjected to lectures about how bad the MDC is, how good Zanu PF is and how,
if I cooperated, I could benefit from the latter's policies, including the
Look East Policy."

Later on December 22, he was taken to Hatfield Police Station where a police
officer identified as Assistant Inspector Mudarichira took custody of him
from his captors while he was still blindfolded.

The following day, he was taken to Harare Central Police's Homicide section
where a statement was recorded from him on the alleged bombing of police

The case continues next Wednesday when more evidence of torture is expected
to come out.

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Lawyers Want Charges Dropped Against Zimbabwe Activists

By Peta Thornycroft
South Africa
08 January 2009

Lawyers for seven people charged with bombing state property are demanding
charges be dropped against their clients. The seven are among 30 rights
activists and opposition party members detained in recent weeks in what the
opposition calls a crackdown on dissent.

Lawyer Alex Muchadahama went to court to claim the state has no case against
his clients and charges against them should be dropped.

His seven clients, including the Movement for Democratic Change's security
director Chris Dlamini and party leader Morgan Tsvangirai's former personal
assistant Ghandi Mudzingwa, were accused Wednesday in Harare High Court of
planting two small bombs at police stations, and one at a bridge following
elections last year.

The seven were charged with terrorism, banditry and insurgency, and could
face the death penalty if convicted.

Muchadahama told the court the charges were "ridiculous and scandalous." He
told the court the state has no credible evidence against them to warrant
them being held and said all seven were tortured when they were arrested.

These seven are the first of about 30 people who disappeared or were
abducted late last year to be charged in a court of law. There are another
10 who have made statements to the police, but still have not appeared in
court, and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said they believe at least
another 13 people are in police stations somewhere around Harare.

Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who is defending human rights campaigner Jestina
Mukoko, said she has been granted a hearing by Zimbabwe's constitutional
court Monday to determine if her client's case can be heard as an urgent

Mtetwa has argued that Mukoko's constitutional rights have been badly
abused. She said Mukuko was not arrested with a warrant, but kidnapped from
her home, and was mistreated in custody. She said her client has been denied
access to her lawyers and refused permission to be examined by her own

Mukoko was accused by police of being part of a plot to recruit people for
military training in Botswana to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.

The High Court ordered Mukoko and eight others be taken to a hospital on
Christmas Eve, but the police defied that order. The High Court also
demanded the rest of the group be released from police cells immediately,
saying their detention was illegal.

Lawyers say they believe the police have video confessions made shortly
after those being held were abducted and that those confessions were made
under duress.

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They're not terrorists... Scout's honour!



     January 08 2009 at 08:01AM

By Special Correspondent

Zimbabwe police have arrested three white men, who do adventure
training for Boy Scouts, on suspicion that they are instead training
terrorists to topple President Robert Mugabe.

About 40 people are now in custody on similar charges relating to the
alleged insurrection plot.

On Wednesday, Harare magistrate Olivia Mariga ruled that one of those
detained in connection with the alleged plot, human rights activist Jestina
Mukoko, had to remain in custody. She was abducted by alleged intelligence
agents early last month and her fate remained unknown for three weeks.

Mukoko and others have claimed police tortured them and High Court
judges have twice ordered their release to be medically examined or treated.

But authorities have defied the orders on grounds that the State is
appealing against them.

All are being held for the alleged insurrection plot though no charges
have been laid against them.

Mariga ordered that Mukoko should remain in custody pending
determination of the matters in the High Court. Meanwhile, police sources
said they had arrested "three white adult males" who run an adventure
company. Sources said they would be charged with training bandits to topple

The three run an outdoor training camp called Kudu Creek in Ruwa, 30km
from Harare.

It trains Boy Scouts, tourists and others in outdoor living and is
well known in Ruwa.

A police officer said in Harare that the three are likely to face
terrorism charges. "Police arrested three white adults after getting a
tip-off that they are training bandits ...

"The three were former Selous Scouts under Ian Smith's Rhodesia and
investigations are in progress."

But police said they had not yet laid charges against them.

Frightened residents of the area around the training camp said heavily
armed soldiers, police and intelligence officers first raided the camp last
Friday and took away the three for questioning. But they were released the
same day before being re-arrested yesterday morning.

A Ruwa resident said: "The guys who were arrested have been conducting
training for Boy Scouts in outdoor living for years and it is not even a

"They advertise their facility in the newspapers and everybody knows
about them.

"We have top government officials who live in the same area and they
are aware of what these guys are doing, but we are surprised to hear that
they are training bandits.

"Even the soldiers and police who raided the area last Friday were
laughing it off saying they had been taken for a ride by their informer.

"What shocks us is that one of them deals with government by supplying
tractors," said a neighbour.

This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on
January 08, 2009

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It is now official

Wednesday, 07 January 2009

It is now official. Zimbabwe has confirmed that its police force
kidnaps innocent civilians. This confirmation came from none other than the
head of Mugabe's much reviled spy agency, the CIO.
Didymus Mutasa confirmed to the High Court last week that state agents
had kidnapped Jestina Mukoko from her home and held her incommunicado for
three weeks while her family and lawyers desperately
searched for her at police stations throughout the country. They
feared the worst.
This is precisely why the Mugabe regime should not be allowed to
continue to control the police force under any new government of
national unity.
What is even more dastardly is that a high court judge would not
grant permission for Justina to be taken to hospital despite the fact
that she complained of having been tortured and poisoned while
in custody.
If Zimbabweans cannot seek protection from the courts against the
agents of a terrorist government, then surely the international
has a moral obligation to step in.
Lawyers for Jestina and other activists won several court applications
requiring their clients to be brought to court, to be granted medical
attention and to be granted bail. All were contemptuously ignored by
the police. Furthermore, the police initially lied to the courts -
that they did not know what had happened to Jestina, that she was
not in their custody and that they were investigating the matter as a
kidnapping. Nothing has yet happened to the policeman who misled
the judicial authorities.
It is worth noting that Jestina's kidnapping follows the same pattern
of the state-sponsored kidnapping of several other activists, most
of them MDC officials, who were later found murdered. They have
all been kidnapped by groups of armed men in plain clothes driving
unmarked vehicles.
These vehicles seem to be able to travel freely around the country,
despite numerous roadblocks at which Zimbabwean travellers are
routinely harassed. Any Zimbabwean can testify that it is not possible
to travel very far these days in a vehicle without number plates.
Once again, we deplore in the strongest of terms, the heartlessness
and cruelty of the Mugabe regime. It knows no bounds. We are
appalled that a government can torture and poison its own citizens,
and then deny them medical attention - even when ordered by its
own tame judges. We commend that judge for having the temerity to
issue such a compassionate order in the first place - perhaps there is
still a glimmer of hope for our future.
However, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara would be well
advised to steer clear of any compromise with such a government, lest
they find themselves complicit in the kidnapping, torture and denial
of justice to the citizens of Zimbabwe.

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Tsvangirai under pressure to return home to finalise power sharing deal

By KITSEPILE NYATHI, NATION CorrespondentPosted Thursday, January 8 2009 at

HARARE, Thursday

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has come under renewed
pressure to return home from Botswana to finalise the stalled power sharing
agreement with President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF and save the crisis
torn country from sliding further into anarchy.

Mr Tsvangirai is already in his third month outside the country has resisted
pressure from Mr Mugabe and a section of his Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) supporters for him to join a unity government proposed in the
September 15 pact.

The Prime Minister-designate has been ensconced in Botswana since November
last year after his temporary travel documents expired while he was outside
the country.

President Mugabe's government, which had denied Mr Tsvangirai a passport for
more than six months, was forced to issue the MDC leader the travel document
on Christmas Day after the opposition threatened to withdraw from the power
sharing arrangement.

Urgent meeting

The MDC has reportedly written to South African President Kgalema Motlanthe
asking him to convene an urgent meeting between Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai
to discuss the formation of a government.

"Everyone has been calling for Tsvangirai to return home so that the party's
principals can discuss the formation of a new government according to the
September 15 political settlement because there is no reason for a meeting
to be held outside the country," said Professor Welshman Ncube, the
spokesman of the smaller faction of the MDC.

"Tsvangirai has been asking for a passport and he got it. He should come
back, we should go ahead and implement the agreement without further delay."

In the past few days, the State media has been reporting about alleged
divisions in the MDC over whether to join the unity government.

A Constitutional Amendment Bill giving effect to the unity government will
be tabled in parliament on January 20.

The MDC can choose to vote against the Bill if its demands for an equitable
sharing of key ministries are not met. But Mr Mugabe has threatened to form
a government alone if the other parties are not interested and call fresh
elections within a year.

"These next few days before parliament convenes are very crucial and this
means that Mr Tsvangirai should be back home directing the party," a senior
member of the MDC executive said.

"He is playing into Zanu PF's hands by remaining outside the country for so
long, now Mr Mugabe's people are coming up with all kinds of conspiracies
that there are power struggles in the MDC."

An online publication on Thursday quoted a senior MDC official saying Mr
Tsvangirai had put back plans to return to Zimbabwe until after the weekend.

This was after he spent two days in South Africa consulting his lieutenants
on the way forward.

Zimbabweans have pinned their hopes on the success of the unity government
to end the country's deadly economic decline, poverty and disease.

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MDC denies reports of internal rift

January 8, 2009

By Mxolisi Ncube

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party has denied reports of an alleged rift within its ranks, saying that
the alleged power struggles were a creation of the state-controlled media in

In a statement released Thursday, the MDC, which defeated both President
Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party in the country's harmonised elections,
held on March 29 last year, also accused the state-controlled daily
newspaper - The Herald, of engaging in cheap propaganda "about the so-called
divisions within the top ranks of the ruling party".

"Zimbabweans will not be hoodwinked by shrill propaganda from a discredited
newspaper that has since lost its credibility," read the MDC statement.

"Since Saturday, the allegations have ranged from false stories that the MDC
secretary-general, Hon Tendai Biti, is plotting to oust President Morgan
Tsvangirai to laughable claims that the MDC President has summoned the top
leadership of the party to South Africa to mend non-existent rifts within
the top hierarchy of the party.

"Zimbabweans know that the only political divisions that exist are in
Zanu-PF where contrived accidents and succession disputes and factionalism
are a reality and not fiction. The Herald has obviously mistaken the MDC for
Zanu-PF where internecine succession battles have wrought deep rifts,
mistrust and suspicion across the length and breadth of the dying party,"
added the MDC.

The party said that Tsvangirai, Biti and all members of its standing
committee, including Biti, were elected to five-year terms at the MDC
Congress on March 19, 2006 and that their terms would expire in 2011.

"There is no reason why the MDC secretary-general, himself a lawyer of
unquestioned repute and a key figure in the drafting of the MDC
Constitution, would wish for an illegal Congress in February 2009".

"Anyone with a cursory knowledge of the MDC would know that Hon Eddie Cross
is the policy coordinator-general, and not the party's financial advisor, as
peddled by the Herald. The lies are too threadbare, indeed too naked to be
taken seriously by the discerning people of Zimbabwe who overwhelmingly
voted for the MDC on March 29, 2008," added the opposition party.

The MDC added that several resolutions by the MDC national council had
reiterated that all outstanding issues have to be resolved before the party
can become part of the inclusive government.

The party also insinuated that the Herald was publishing falsehoods in a bid
to divert attention from "the waning political fortunes of Zanu-PF".

"No amount of malice, hate language and distortions will be able to
transplant divisions and factionalism from their home in Zanu-PF to the MDC.
No amount of fiction will change the fact that Zimbabweans see their only
hope in the MDC and its leadership as expressed by the people's vote on 29
March," said the party.

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Cholera death toll still rising

By Alex Bell
08 January 2009

The official death toll as a result of the cholera outbreak has continued to
rise, and in less than a week the figure has increased by more than a 100
reported deaths.

Last Friday, the World Health Organisation said the death toll had reached
almost 1600, but by Monday the number had increased to 1732. By Wednesday
the figure had jumped again and officially the death toll now stands at
1778, with almost 36 000 reported infections countrywide.

The UN has previously warned that up to 60 000 people could face infection
in the coming weeks as the rainy season, which is expected to peak between
February and March, is set to spread the disease further and trigger more
outbreaks. But the unofficial infection rate is already believed to be
reaching the 60 000 mark, and the unreported death toll is feared to be well
over 3000.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries have remained on high alert
because of the disease spreading across their borders. The critical lack of
treatment facilities in Zimbabwe has seen thousands of people leaving their
homes in desperate attempts to receive medical care, resulting in the
disease making its mark in other countries. 13 people have died from cholera
in South Africa and doctors in the country's border town Musina, are still
treating hundreds of sick people in cholera camps there. At the same time,
authorities in the central province Gauteng, have been trying to allay fears
of a serious outbreak there, after three deaths and 21 confirmed cases in
and around Johannesburg.

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"It is all just misery, death and pain"

Photo: IRIN
A child lies unattended in the Intensive Care Unit at Harare Central Hospital
HARARE, 8 January 2009 (PlusNews) - Tongai Chinamano*, 35, of Hopley Farm on the outskirts of the capital, Harare describes being HIV positive in Zimbabwe as a death sentence.

Chinamano was diagnosed with Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of skin cancer common in people living with HIV, in June 2008. The doctor who attended to him recommended that he immediately begin radiotherapy to treat the large painful lesions on his legs, but he has yet to receive any treatment.

Chinamano visited Parirenyatwa hospital — one of the country’s largest referral hospitals and the only public hospital in the country that offers radiotherapy — shortly after being diagnosed, only to be told that all 18 of the hospital's radiotherapy machines were broken.

He returned to the hospital every week for three months, but the machines were still not repaired.

“I spent a lot of my pension money on transport to Parirenyatwa with the hope that I would one day receive good news," Chinamano told IRIN/PlusNews. "The cancer is eating into my leg bit by bit and the pain is unbearable."

By October, Chinamano was unable to walk without a walking stick. Desperate for treatment, he went to Parirenyatwa hospital once again. This time he was told that although one of the machines had been repaired, there was no one to attend to him as the doctors and nurses were on strike. Chinamano says he slumped against a tree outside the hospital and wept uncontrollably while his wife looked on helplessly.

“I cried with no shame that day because I was hurting inside," he recalled. "All I wanted to do that day was to just die; I felt I had suffered enough.”

Chinamano’s story resonates with many people in Zimbabwe who, confronted with illness and the high cost of medical care in the private sector, are struggling to get even the most basic services through the country’s collapsed public health sector.

''Our hospitals have become death traps''
The health worker strike led to the virtual closure of three hospitals in the Harare area - Harare Central, Chitungwiza and Parirenyatwa - all of which have clinics that dispense anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and treatment for HIV-related opportunistic infections.

The health workers argue that it is futile for them to return to work just to “watch patients die” because there are no drugs, no medicines and essential medical equipment is not functioning.

“As health workers we greatly sympathise with the suffering of the people but even if we opened the hospitals, in the state that they are in we wouldn’t be able to do much for [patients]," said President of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, Dr Amon Siveregi. "Our hospitals have become death traps."

“All we want is just to make things right, we do not enjoy the situation," he added. "We are very disappointed that government is not taking the health crisis seriously.”

For many Zimbabweans, getting medical treatment now depends on having a relative who is a nurse or doctor or on having enough foreign currency to access treatment through the private sector. Patients can expect to pay as much as US$200 for a consultation and a prescription at a private clinic, an amount that few people can afford in a country with runaway inflation and 80 percent unemployment.

AIDS activist, Sebastian Chinhaire called on the Zimbabwean government to admit its failures and request assistance from the international donor community to resuscitate the country's health delivery system.

"While other African countries with better performing economies are rejoicing at the advent of life-saving ARVs and a better life for their HIV-positive populations, we have nothing here to celebrate," he told IRIN/PlusNews. "It is all just misery, death and pain.”

Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa said that government was doing its best “under the circumstances”.

Read more:
 Health system in crisis
 Cholera outbreak eclipsing AIDS crisis
 Government declares a national emergency
 Doctors' strike adds to country's pain
“We are trying to talk to the donor community about bailing us out in the health sector," he told IRIN/PlusNews. "It’s not that we have no concern.”

For a number of years, health service delivery at many of Zimbabwe's government hospitals has been in decline due to under-funding and poor health worker salaries that have seen many experienced health professionals leave the country for greener pastures.

*Not his real name


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Rights body urges SA to stop deporting Zimbabweans


Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday urged South Africa to stop deporting
Zimbabweans fleeing the humanitarian disaster in their country and grant
them temporary shelter instead.

"To avoid deportation from South Africa, Zimbabweans currently have no
option but to claim asylum, placing even greater pressure on a system
already struggling to process refugee claims according to international
standards," HRW said in a statement.

It is estimated that about 25 000 to 30 000 Zimbabweans applied for asylum
in of Musina during the last five months of 2008, the rights body said.

The figure is close to double the total Zimbabwean asylum applications
lodged in South Africa last year, HRW said.

The figure is also more than half of the total number of asylum claims made
by all nationalities in the same year, it added, saying that South Africa's
asylum system had more than 100 000 unresolved cases.

Gerry Simpson, HRW refugee researcher said the country's "buckling asylum
system" was not working to meet the needs of more than a million Zimbabweans
in South Africa.

"To effectively protect Zimbabweans and to stop violating international law,
the government needs to halt deportations and to grant Zimbabweans temporary

A 2008 HRW report said that the "often-unlawful" deportation of more than
250 000 Zimbabweans per year meant that South Africa violated the most basic
principle of refugee law, the right not to be forcibly returned to

Zimbabwe is currently battling a deadly cholera epidemic that haskilled more
than 1 700 people, hyper-inflation, severe food shortages and chronic
political instability. -- Sapa-AFP

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South Africans express shame at their government's refusal to isolate Zimbabwe's Mugabe

  By DONNA BRYSON | Associated Press Writer
  10:08 AM EST, January 8, 2009
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - South Africans pressing for change in
Zimbabwe plan a hunger strike and other protests in an effort to force their
government to isolate President Robert Mugabe.

Methodist Bishop Paul Verryn said Thursday that South Africans needed to
live up to the legacy of the struggle against apartheid, when Zimbabweans
supported them. Verryn has made his Johannesburg church a shelter for
hundreds of Zimbabweans who have fled their country's turmoil and collapse.

"What are we doing in this country to bring hope to the hopeless?" Verryn
asked at a news conference at which activists outlined their plans. "It
seems as if we have forgotten so quickly what it really feels like to be
vulnerable. "

Kumi Naidoo, like Verryn a veteran of the anti-apartheid campaign, traveled
to Zimbabwe Christmas week. He said Zimbabweans asked him again and again
why South Africa was betraying them, citing in particular South Africa's
efforts to block the U.N. Security Council from censuring Mugabe.

"I felt a deep sense of shame as a South African," Naidoo said.

The South African government has argued that confronting Mugabe could
backfire. It says the solution lies in a September power-sharing agreement
under which Mugabe would remain president and opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai would get the new post of prime minister.

But with the agreement stalled in a dispute over distributing Cabinet posts
and Zimbabwean security forces stepping up harassment of Mugabe's opponents,
there have been increasing calls for Mugabe to step down.

Mugabe, 84, is accused of trampling on his people's democratic rights and
overseeing an economic collapse.

Naidoo said he would go on a hunger strike at Verryn's church for a month to
draw attention to Zimbabwe's crisis. The start of the strike has not been
determined. He said Desmond Tutu, the retired Anglican archbishop of Cape
Town, will support him by fasting one day a week. A spokeswoman said Tutu
was ill with the flu Thursday and would have no immediate comment.

The activists said they would also "name and shame" South African companies
doing business in Zimbabwe, possibly leading to boycotts.

Naidoo said one aim was to raise awareness among South Africans, who have
taken to the streets in recent days to protest Israeli strikes in Gaza, but
have remained largely quiet about neighboring Zimbabwe.

Verryn traced that in part to suspicion of foreigners, particularly those
competing for jobs and housing with the poorest South Africans. South Africa
saw an eruption of xenophobic violence earlier this year that left scores of
Zimbabweans and other immigrants dead.

Elinor Sisulu, a Zimbabwean who has married into one of South Africa's most
prominent political families, said many South Africans may not understand
the situation in Zimbabwe because of reporting restrictions imposed by
Mugabe's government.

Sisulu compared the detentions, harassment and torture meted out to Mugabe's
opponents in Zimbabwe to the experiences of her in-laws under apartheid. Her
late father-in-law, Walter Sisulu, was a leading member of the African
National Congress, which is now South Africa's governing party.

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Zimbabweans appeal on film to South African leaders for urgent, decisive action

Source: CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Date: 08 Jan 2009

JOHANNESBURG: Citizens of Zimbabwe have issued an urgent appeal to the South
African leaders to alleviate their misery. Their anguished voices have been
caught on film by a three-member team from CIVICUS: World Alliance for
Citizen Participation, which visited Zimbabwe over the Christmas period
(19-26 December, 2008).

CIVICUS is an alliance of international civil society organisations with
members in 109 countries including many across Africa. The mission aimed to
express solidarity with civil society in Zimbabwe which is subjected to
severe repression, and to authenticate reports of breakdown of the rule of
law and governance structures in the country.

A key observation during the trip was the disillusionment with the mediation
efforts of the South African government and Southern African Development
Community (SADC). The team discovered a pervasive feeling that SADC and the
South African government have not done enough to pressure the 'government'
in Zimbabwe to restore democracy and constitutional order.

These and other sentiments of the people in Zimbabwe are part of a film
'Time 2 Act' which will be distributed to the Presidents of South Africa,
the SADC, the AU and the ANC. The film contains interviews with church
leaders, trade union representatives, community workers, human rights
lawyers, NGO activists and ordinary men, women and children in Bulawayo,
Harareand Gweru.

Observing the total governance and economic collapse in the country, Kumi
Naidoo, Honorary President of CIVICUS and co-chair, Global Call to Action
Against Poverty, a member of the team that visited Zimbabwe, noted that,
"The situation in Zimbabwe is much worse than what is believed by Africans
and citizens around the world alike. It has been a bleak Christmas,
characterised by despair, desperation and destitution with a particularly
devastating impact for women and children." This includes not only the
escalating health crisis with the spread of cholera and mass starvation, but
the crackdown on basic freedoms and the breakdown of governance structures
in the country - exemplified by the abductions and intimidation tactics
targeting civil society and political activists, including Jestina Mukoko
and her colleagues from the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

The CIVICUS film documents how the courage and zeal of Zimbabwean civil
society remains alive, at great peril to the lives of the men and women who
work and volunteer with civil society organisations. Ingrid Srinath,
Secretary General of CIVICUS warns, "The failure of Southern Africa's
leaders to fulfil their political and ethical responsibilities is
exacerbating the humanitarian crisis and the total breakdown of state
structures and governance in Zimbabwe. Through their inertia they are
complicit in the systemic abuse of human and democratic rights of the people
of Zimbabwe, and will, if unaddressed, cause widespread instability across
the region."

CIVICUS joins the voices of civil society in Zimbabwe in urging the South
African Government, SADC and African civil society to immediately step up
pressure to restore democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. On 7 January,
CIVICUS convened a meeting of civil society representatives including
Zimbabwean groups and South African groups who have been working on
Zimbabwean issues, to agree on coordinated action.

"This report from the Zimbabwe mission raises issues of utmost concern, and
it is clear that there must be a new political impetus to break the current
deadlock," said Mary Robinson, former UN Commissioner for Human Rights and a
member of The Elders. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is among the prominent civil
society leaders who have pledged their active support to the initiative. In
a message to CIVICUS, he said, "As the world's eye turns to the mass
killings in Gaza, we must not ignore the ongoing deaths in Zimbabwe -- not
with bombs, but with starvation, disease and apathy. These deaths are no
less deliberate than those perpetuated with arms."

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Chiwenga, Kaukonde escape death at Zanu conference

Wednesday, 07 January 2009
It is the night of the long knives for Zanu (PF) as Mugabe's henchmen
jockey for position. Like vultures circling their prey, senior party
officials are well aware that Mugabe is not well. He is becoming frail,
incoherent and increasingly irrational.
Evidence of increasing internecine warfare among them came to light
around the recent party congress. According to unconfirmed reports from
usually reliable sources, the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces,
General Constantine Chiwenga, and former Governor of Mashonaland East, Ray
Kaukonde, escaped death by a whisker in Bindura.

We are reliably informed that a junior CIO operative planted a grenade
under the seat of Chiwenga's official luxury Mercedes. As he drove away,
another CIO agent phoned and tipped him off. He immediately stopped the car
and spotted a grenade under the driver's seat.

Kaukonde, who has been critical of Mugabe's failed policies, was
tipped off by some friendly CIO agents to avoid using his personal car as
there was a plot to eliminate him.

He sneaked out of Bindura, but, unaware that he had left in another
vehicle, some CIO operatives pursued what they believed to be his car and
allegedly shot dead the driver, who has not been named.

The attempted assassinations came barely a month after some
unidentified gunman made an attempt on the life of Air Marshal Perence

Ballistic experts have traced the cartridge found at the scene of the
Shiri shooting to a Zimbabwe National Army gun.

The government claimed the shooting was an assassination attempt and
part of a broader effort to destabilize the country, while a senior MDC
official said he believed that it had grown out of a battle within Zanu (PF)
over who will succeed Mugabe.

Our source said the marksmen who attempted to assassinate Shiri were
sloppy because they should have used an unregistered gun to avoid discovery.

"The whole mystery is unravelling as we speak and the ballistic
experts have established the full details of the air chief's assassination
attempt," he said. "However, the inquiry is continuing."

The MDC has angrily rejected charges that it was involved in any of
the bombings or shooting of Shiri, saying it remained committed to
democratic change.

Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary general, said he was worried that
Mugabe intended to use the shooting of Air Marshal Shiri and the general
environment of conflict and fear to go after the MDC, as well as various
factions in Zanu (PF).

"Mugabe can kill two birds with one stone," he said. "He can use it as
a way of attacking us, and then attacking whatever faction of Zanu (PF) he
wants to decimate."

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In Zimbabwe, a Cancer Called Mugabe

By Chris Beyrer and Frank Donaghue
Thursday, January 8, 2009; Page A15

Physicians for Human Rights sent a team to Zimbabwe last month to
investigate the cholera epidemic that has ravaged lives there since August.
As part of that team, we found something much more disturbing even than
cholera: a people facing an array of health threats in a country where the
most basic functions of the state -- clean water, sanitation and health-care
delivery -- have collapsed.

One could date the collapse to November, when the government closed the
public hospitals in the capital, Harare. On Nov. 18, President Robert
Mugabe's police, wielding batons, attacked doctors, nurses and medical
students from the teaching hospital. But given that cholera has killed more
than 1,600 people and sickened some 33,000 others, we might date the
collapse to August, when the public hospitals lost running water. Imagine a
hospital without running water for three months -- with no functioning
toilets, no soap, an empty pharmacy, and not enough food for patients or

To be fair, not all hospitals are closed. Decent health care is available -- 
for the few who can pay in American cash. Despite Mugabe's vilification of
the West, his policies have made this once-prosperous country dependent on
the dollar. In Harare's private clinics, a physician consultation costs
$200; admission, $500; a Caesarean section, at least $3,200. Those without
dollars make their way to stretched, but still open, mission hospitals, or
they go to South Africa, as some 4 million Zimbabweans have already done,
making this nation's collapse a regional issue.

This tragedy has many terrible features, but chief among them is that this
catastrophe is entirely man-made. The Mugabe regime has destroyed the
health-care system, as it has devastated virtually every other sector of
public life, with its ruinous mix of corruption, mismanagement, violence and
human rights violations. Zimbabwe once was not only prosperous and a major
agricultural exporter but also a leader in health care and in medical and
nursing education. Sadly, in November, the medical school in Harare closed.
It canceled exams, we were told, because it had no paper and ink to print

The cholera epidemic has its origins in politics, too. Mugabe's ZANU-PF
regime nationalized municipal water supplies in 2006 after the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, controlled
some 80 percent of seats nationwide following successes in municipal
elections. Mugabe's government seized the water authorities to deny the MDC
revenue and to control the lucrative contracts for repair of the broken
system. The result was mayhem: Graft and corruption further undermined
repairs, water went untreated and raw sewage was pumped into Harare's main
reservoir. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city, was spared this fate.
Mugabe's regime had calculated that taking over the water authority there
would drive residents to vote for the MDC. Tellingly, Bulawayo suffered no
cholera deaths last week, while Harare's case fatality rate for the same
week was 19 percent, some 20 times higher than the 1 percent fatality rate
the World Health Organization estimates for cholera when proper treatment is

Since Mugabe's defeat in the March general election, and his violent refusal
to step down, economic and social collapse has been precipitous. Diseases of
hunger such as pellagra have returned. Anthrax resurfaced as people resorted
to eating carrion. Health worker salaries were worthless by the time cholera
struck. The Harare morgue has lost power, so the dead rot. Nurses who have
worked without pay for months told us of having no medication for pain,
hypertension, epilepsy and infections. That many are still struggling to
provide care is a testament to the Zimbabwean people. They deserve better.

What can the world do to help? Humanitarian assistance is flowing in, and
groups and agencies such as Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF are saving
many lives. But Zimbabwe's agonies are not humanitarian in nature; they
result from a political crime -- the refusal of Mugabe and his cronies to
accept electoral defeat. A September power-sharing agreement is all but
dead, and there is little hope for the people of Zimbabwe as long as these
criminals remain in charge.

Last month, Mugabe declared, "I will never, never, never surrender . . .
Zimbabwe is mine," and he has reportedly started to form a new government -- 
without the MDC. This would amount to getting away with the murder of a
country. Zimbabwe's neighbors, led by South Africa, must do much more to
push for change. At the United Nations, there is a key opportunity for
China, long a Mugabe enabler, to show, by not hobbling the Security Council,
that it is capable of mature diplomacy in Africa. And Uganda, which has just
arrived as a rotating member of the council, must be pressured to reconsider
its pledge to follow the "hands off" policy that has allowed Mugabe to stay
in power.

Barack Obama will face many crises once he takes office, but the devastation
of Zimbabwe by its own rulers cannot be ignored. If there is a
"responsibility to protect," as the United Nations has pledged, the world
has that responsibility in Zimbabwe.

Chris Beyrer directs the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Frank Donaghue is chief
executive of Physicians for Human Rights.

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Authorities confiscate Mealie meal bought by Zimbabwean businessman

January 8, 2009

Authorities at Kariba border post in Siavonga District have intercepted and
impounded a truck carrying twenty eight  by twenty five kilogram (28X 25 KG)
bags of mealie - meal destined for sale in Zimbabwe.

The meal mealie is said  to have been  bought in Zambia .

Siavonga District Commissioner Emily Striedl told ZANIS in Siavonga today
that the canter truck that was carrying G.M roller meal bags was impounded
at the border yesterday.

Striedl disclosed that all the 28 bags of roller meal belonged to a
Zimbabwean business individual who crossed into the neighboring border town
of Siavonga to buy the commodity.

She said the confiscated bags have since been stored at Siavonga police
station waiting to be disposed off by the courts of law.

The District Commissioner stated that the confiscation of the bags follows a
resolution that was arrived at during a stakeholders meeting held on Monday.

She said the district has noted  the  recent increase in the number of
Zimbabweans that were crossing into Zambia on a daily basis and were buying
bags of mealie meal in bulk forcing a serious shortage of the commodity in
the district.

She stated that during the meeting that was attended by border officials
from Zambia Revenue Authority( ZRA), Immigration, police, mealie- meal
dealers, local based milling outlets as well as marketeers observed that
Siavonga Township has been hit with increasing cases of mealie meal

Mrs. Striedl added that the district has recorded a sharp increase in the
number of individuals from Zimbabwean that were buying the commodity which
they later resell on the black market in their country.

She said the meeting resolved that authorities at Kariba border post border
would only allow passage of not more than two bags of mealie- meal on each

A snap survey at Kariba border post this morning found scores of Zimbabweans
carrying a bag of either breakfast or roller meal bag bought from Micho and
Siavonga main markets.

Meanwhile the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has sent about 500 bags of maize to
Siavonga district for sale to people in the district.

District Commissioner Emily Striedl told ZANIS that the bags have been sent
to the district , which  will  cushion the mealie-meal prices.

Striedl said the maize would be sold to members of the public at a price of
K55, 000 per 50 kg bag.

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Weather experts issue flood alert for eastern Zimbabwe

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe's Meteorological Service Department officials
have warned of a high risk of flooding in the eastern part of the country
amid fears of heavy rains until 12 January, the weather experts have said

The weathermen on Wednesday said there was a higher chance that areas in
eastern Zimbabwe, covering parts of Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands
Provinces, would experience above normal rainfall between Thursday and
Sunday, resulting in flash flooding.

Flooding has already caused havoc in neighbouring Mozambique where at least
10 people have been killed, they said.

Relentless rain also caused severe flooding in many areas of northeastern
Zimbabwe last year, leaving severe destruction and affecting some 10,000

Many crops were washed away while several households were left homeless and
dependent on monthly food aid from the UN World Food Programme.

  JN/nm/APA 2009-01-08

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My hopes and expectations in the MDC are waning


The years 2007 and 2008 were saturated with talks between political parties
in Zimbabwe.
Nothing came out of those talks.
People continue to die and to disappear.
The country has no government. There are food shortages and hunger. The
people continue to suffer.

This is 2009 and the MDC's addiction to talks and negotiations continues.
The MDC leadership is, once again, in South Africa for some kind of talks,
but this time amongst themselves.
They are congregating to decide what to do; they want to decide what to talk
about with Robert Mugabe, if they decide to continue talking to him and join
him in a government of national unity.
The MDC has become synonymous with talks, negotiations and agreements that
have led to nowhere in the last two years and more.
The other alternative is for the MDC to walk away and refuse to be part of
Mug Abe's government.

It really does not appear to me as if the MDC has any other alternatives at
all. They rely on talks, talks and more talks.
I, like so many people I have talked to, feel that the MDC has now doused my
expectations and I am now slowly beginning to lose faith in the MDC.
Is this their best strategy?
Is this the way they intend to run the country?
The MDC leadership and their presidential advisors are mediocre, failing to
advise their leader and unable to offer the Zimbabwean people meaningful
I am getting disenchanted now; my spirits are low.
This can't be all that we have been waiting for through deaths, disease,
hunger, kidnappings, rape and murder.
Did people get killed for supporting the MDC so that the survivors would end
up with only two choices: join Mugabe in government or walk away from him?

A frequent reader of my blog and fervent listener to my SWRadioAfrica
broadcasts wrote to me and said: "I have decided that there is no point in
inchoate anger and words used against parties that do not listen and who do
not care and are not affected by the anger. I don't know why the media keeps
on urging the MDC to reach an agreement with Zanu-PF. Mugabe is the true
political Helen Keller of Africa. Blind, deaf, dumb - and, unlike Ms Keller,
with no sense of touch or pain. Why talk to someone who is deaf, write to
someone who is blind, listen for responses from someone who is dumb, why
poke someone who can't feel?"
The MDC should offer the people more. They should be much more resourceful
than they have been to date.
They frequently fall into traps of their own making and it is always
difficult for them to extricate themselves. When they finally do, they will
have lost a sizable number of followers.

Meanwhile, the opportunist Arthur Mutambara is shamelessly lapping up Mugabe's
verbal vomit and regurgitating it to the media like a man possessed.
No one owes him anything yet he desperately wants something from us. His
pathetic behavior is testimony to his lack of leadership qualities.
He is mudding the waters because he has nothing to lose, except his
president Robert Mugabe. And he is playing his part to prevent that from
Zimbabwean politicians are cursed with mediocrity.

In December, I attended a news conference by Mr Tsvangirai in Gaborone at
which he shoved himself into a corner by giving Mugabe an ultimatum that if
the kidnapped activists were not released by January 1, 2009, the MDC would
consider pulling out of talks on forming a government of national unity.
Yet there have not been any talks to pull out of for months; the MDC,
instead, embarked on "a diplomatic offensive" to gunner support and to
agitate for more pressure to be applied on Mugabe.

The MDC is also shopping for a mediator who is a little more sympathetic to
their cause. They don't want Thabo Mbeki because of being a little
sympathetic to Mugabe's cause.
Additionally, I wonder, however, if the MDC ever stopped and thought about
what is meant by "government of national unity".
Can they pull it off, 'uniting' with a person who holds them in such
contempt and who continues to find ways of tripping them, kidnapping,
arresting and beating up MDC supporters?

At the same news conference, Mr Tsvangirai also said he could not return
home because he had no passport. That was one thing he could do without a
passport, if he had wanted to.
As if Zimbabwe does not have an embassy in Gaborone, Tsvangirai's passport
was, instead, hand-delivered to him by the South African High Commissioner
to Botswana on Christmas Day, of all days.
Is there something to be read in this act? An ambassador delivering a
passport on a holiday; there must have been some urgency. What was it?

However, 2009 is more than a week old now and the MDC activists are still in
custody, prompting this MDC meeting in South Africa (not in Zimbabwe).
As of today, at least 30 of the 42 political detainees that Tsvangirai had
demanded that be produced before New Year's Day had been brought to court
but all still remain in custody, with the twelve others still being held
incommunicado at unknown locations.
In effect, Mugabe has not responded to the ultimatum.

The MDC loves too much talk.
It's too much of a familiar pattern now and it's becoming rather irritating
that this is all they can do for the people who are under siege for
supporting them.
The MDC should be thinking on our behalf, offering alternatives instead of
relying on getting Mugabe to sit down and talk to them.
Even if he agreed to talk, they would still hope he keeps any promise he
There is just too much talk. And MDC strategy relies too heavily on Mugabe.

Meanwhile, Mr Tsvangirai is desperately pushing South African President
Kgalema Motlanthe to arrange a one-on-one meeting with Mugabe for him. The
winner wants to talk to the loser.
Talks and more talks!
It's all too familiar and it has never produced any results.

They say familiarity breeds contempt.
Some say a prophet is without honour in his own country, this might happen
to Mr Tsvangirai sooner than people realize.
Yes, familiarity does breed contempt. And familiarity, as some zoo keepers
have found out, is dangerous.
No person or animal should be taken for granted.
Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC leadership better sit up and take note. The people
of Zimbabwe have been patient with them for a long time and yet nothing has
come their way except these unproductive talks which the MDC appears to want
to be using again in 2009.

The MDC is being outfoxed by Mugabe and ZANU-PF and are better advised to
offer people another alternative than these endless and expensive talks
which, clearly, the participants enjoy tremendously.
I fear some enterprising politician might read the situation and the people
clearer than the MDC does and form another party, capitalizing on
dissatisfied MDC supporters, much like the MDC itself capitalized on
disgruntled ZANU-PF supporters.
And that is one thing that Zimbabweans do not need right now and yet the MDC
is clearly leaving a void uncovered. A leadership void.
Granted, the MDC has shown a lot of patience with Mugabe and ZANU-PF but the
MDC should work much harder for the mantle given it by the people. If at all
they are trying, they have to try harder.

The heart of the matter is that the MDC should not expect the people of
Zimbabwe to give them another year of pursuing these futile negotiations;
another year of always reacting to Mugabe and not seizing the initiative;
always being defensive and not being on the offensive; and always carefully
picking their way around Mugabe's carefully laid traps.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande saying that the MDC must discard of political
mediocrity and come up with something better for the nation this year
otherwise the MDC will find itself being considered the stumbling block in
the battle for the emancipation of the people.
And that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today January 8, 2009.

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'Cops stood by during xenophobic violence'

    January 08 2009 at 12:01PM

By Vivian Attwood, Slindile Maluleka and Dasen Thathiah

Members of the Broad Street SA Police Services in Durban stood by
while three terrified people fell to their deaths in Sunday night's
xenophobic violence. This accusation has been levelled by a series of
independent witnesses.

While the sound of breaking glass and high-pitched screams could be
clearly heard by residents in flats across the road, no response to the
crisis came from the Broad Street police station, just two doors down from
the Venture Africa apartment complex in Durban.

The mob passed the police station twice, and still no response came.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu said
he was unaware of the tardy police response, but would investigate the

Hassan Bakari, a Kenyan national, said he watched an armed mob,
allegedly comprising members of the Albert Park Community Policing Forum,
march down St George's Street at around 10.40pm, pass the police station and
enter the apartment block.

"They were making a lot of noise, which is what drew my attention,"
Bakari said.

"They blew vuvuzelas and were singing songs and shouting 'shaya
amakwerekwere' (hit the foreigners). They were all carrying weapons, but the
police did not question what they were up to.

"They entered the building, and then the screams started. I could see
and hear windows being shattered. People were even fleeing across the roof
of the police station. When their business was done, they marched back up St
George's Street without being stopped. Only then did the police

A night registrar in the employ of Omar Osman, who owns the apartment
block, said that she attempted to get police assistance twice, but no-one
from the station put in an appearance. This was corroborated by the
building's manager. Both asked for their identity to be protected.

Mngomezulu invited anyone with information to come forward "so that I
can gain clarity on the matter".

"If the police were negligent in their duty then we need to know all
the details. If they were aware that the mob was dangerous then protocol
would have dictated that they call for backup.

"At the moment the information in my possession does not indicate that
it was a xenophobic attack. That assessment might change if more people come
forward with contrasting information."

Following a volatile meeting he convened with stakeholders at his
offices on Wednesday, area councillor Vusi Khoza dispelled suggestions that
he had been part of the mob that attacked the foreigners on Sunday. Khoza
lives in a flat in the building between Venture Africa and the Broad Street
police station.

"On Friday night there was a standoff in St George's Street, and I was
called in by the police to mediate. On Saturday, the same thing happened at
the apartment block. I intervened, and the crowd dispersed. I was not
present on Sunday night," he said.

Khoza said he had been at home and heard the noise from Venture
Africa, which prompted him to go out on to his balcony.

"I was in my flat when the mob attacked at 10 o'clock at night. I
heard noises as my flat is right next door, but I did not give it much
attention and I stayed indoors.

"As the noise continued, I later stepped out to see what was going on
in the opposite flat.

"To my surprise I saw people running and jumping down out from the
sixth floor. Other residents were pointing down at the dead people. I then
phoned the police and when they arrived, they witnessed the dead bodies and
called the ambulance," he said.

Khoza said he did not condone the use of weapons by the area Community
Policing Forum and after seeing the CCTV footage, he said that it painted
the wrong picture of the CPF on a "war venture"'.

During the meeting which preceded his comments to the Daily News,
Khoza lambasted Osman, owner of the building where the men died, and
eventually demanded that he leave the gathering.

The meeting had been convened so that representatives of the foreign
nationals, CPF and community members, SAPS and metro police officers could
discuss the issues around Sunday night's attack.

The councillor stressed repeatedly during the meeting that the attacks
were about criminality and not xenophobia.

This article was originally published on page 12 of The Star on
January 08, 2009

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