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ZANU PF, MDC agree to amend constitution

Zim Online

by Jameson Mombe Tuesday 22 July 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF party and the opposition MDC agreed to
amend the country's constitution, President Robert Mugabe said on Monday.

Mugabe who was speaking after signing a memorandum of understanding for
talks with the opposition did not disclose the changes to be made to the
British-drafted constitution only saying the country's fundamental law had
to be "amended variously".

"Yesterday (on Sunday) we agreed, ZANU PF and the two MDCs, that our
constitution as it is should be amended variously," said Mugabe, who is
accused by pro-democracy activists of chopping and changing the constitution
during his 28-year rule to concentrate power in his hands.

The MDC and its breakaway faction have demanded a new constitution that
would among other key requirements ensure the holding of free and fair

The MOU signed by Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara
who heads the breakaway faction of the opposition party paves the way for
substantive talks on forming a power sharing government seen as the best way
to end their Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.

South African President Thabo Mbeki is chief facilitator of the talks but
will be assisted by a reference group comprising African Union and United
Nations representatives. - ZimOnline.

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UN's Ban cheers Zimbabwe deal, urges serious talks


Mon 21 Jul 2008, 19:29 GMT

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS, July 21 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
welcomed a deal between Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday that paves the way for talks on forming a
power-sharing government.

The preliminary agreement was signed in Harare's Rainbow Towers Hotel after
weeks of deadlock since Mugabe was re-elected on June 27 in a widely
condemned poll boycotted by Tsvangirai because of violence against his

"The Secretary-General encourages all sides to engage, in good faith, in
serious talks that would lead to a lasting solution to the political crisis
and address the urgent economic and humanitarian needs of the Zimbabwean
people people," Ban's spokeswoman, Michele Montas, said in a statement.

Monday's meeting was the first in 10 years between Mugabe and Tsvangirai,
who have long traded insults, but shook hands at the end of the ceremony,
with the opposition leader referring to Mugabe as "comrade".

"The handshake is a good sign and we hope that something will be achieved,"
French U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert told reporters. "We hope it's the
beginning of good work together between Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Mugabe."

Ripert said that any political solution had to be built on the results of
the first round of the presidential poll on March 29, which was won by
Tsvangirai who fell short of an absolute majority, and that things "seem to
be aiming in the right direction, so we're fully supportive."

France holds the rotating six-month presidency of the European Union.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai have been under heavy pressure to enter negotiations.
They have both demanded to be recognized as Zimbabwe's rightful president.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the deal justified Moscow's
decision to veto earlier this month, along with China, a Western-backed U.N.
Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

"It's very good news," Churkin said of the pact. "It shows we were right
when we said that there is potential (for) contacts between the parties in
Zimbabwe and that this should be encouraged by the international community."

The United States had been critical of Russia's actions, hinting that it
questioned Moscow's reliability as a global partner in solving serious

Zimbabwe's economic collapse under Mugabe's 28-year rule has plunged the
once prosperous country into inflation of at least 2 million percent as well
as crippling food and fuel shortages.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who mediated the deal, said the
agreement committed both sides to an intense process to try to complete
substantive negotiations as quickly as possible. (Editing by Cynthia

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Upbeat Tsvangirai looks to the future

Independent, UK

By Daniel Howden
Tuesday, 22 July 2008

It is a photograph that will seem inconceivable to most people in Zimbabwe.

Robert Mugabe, the only president the country has known since independence,
shaking hands with the man who he has done everything to destroy, Morgan
Tsvangirai. Neither man shows much emotion despite the historic import. That
role goes instead to the architect of this grip and grin, Thabo Mbeki, South
Africa's President, standing to the right of the pair and smiling broadly.
It is exactly the photo opportunity the embattled mediator needed, even if
it is a long way short of the deal he has been tasked with delivering.

It is the first time the political rivals have met in a decade. For once the
84-year-old Mugabe looks a little more his age, slightly stooped, a picture
of uncomfortable reserve. The man who said recently that only God would
remove him from office offers his hand to the man whom he has derided,
threatened and had beaten.

They have met only once before a decade ago, when Mr Mugabe was still the
liberation hero and Mr Tsvangirai a trade union leader.

Mr Mugabe - who holds a string of degrees - likes to dismiss his rival as
uneducated. But yesterday it was the son of a bricklayer who appeared the
more assured.

The younger man steps confidently forward, his famously round face stopping
short of a smile but looking far more at ease. He was sufficiently upbeat
after concluding "talks about talks" to joke with reporters that the
negotiations ahead would be between the "ruling party" and the "winning

Prising a deal out the man who has been in power for 28 years could prove a
harder task but Mr Tsvangirai, who his own supporters have long referred to
as "Mr President", looked more comfortable than the man who has shed so much
blood to hold on to that title.

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A flicker of hope

Independent, UK

Leading article:
Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Too many hopes have proved vain in Zimbabwe over the months and years for us
to set much store by the agreement signed in Harare yesterday by President
Mugabe and the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. Yet the fact that a
meeting took place at all, that an agreement was signed, and that hands were
shaken, if only for the benefit of the cameras, cannot but represent

It is only a month since despair set in, not only in Zimbabwe, but across
southern Africa as a whole, when Mr Tsvangirai decided to withdraw from a
run-off that was stacked against him. But the reason he gave for abandoning
the electoral fight was not the unfairness of the contest, but the killings
and maimings of his supporters.

Mr Mugabe's victory - which was nothing of the kind - was followed by mostly
pusillanimous condemnation from around the region. The British attempt to
impose UN sanctions failed at the last hurdle. The desperate plight of
ordinary Zimbabweans was seen primarily as an African problem demanding an
African solution. The message to the rest of the world was "hands off".

Yesterday's agreement is the first sign that perhaps an African solution
might be possible, and that South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, could
facilitate it. So far, agreement goes no further than a framework for talks.
It is not the power-sharing deal that Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change is aiming for. If, however, it heralds a co-operative
effort to find a solution to Zimbabwe's many ills, it is an advance on
anything that has happened before.

As Zimbabweans become poorer, hungrier and more desperate, time is of the
essence. The timetable must not be allowed to slip.

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Handshake that offers a tiny ray of hope for Zimbabwe

The Scotsman

Published Date: 22 July 2008
By Fred Bridgland
in Johannesburg
BITTER rivals Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe met for the first time in
a decade yesterday to sign a memorandum of understanding that provides a
framework for negotiations to tackle Zimbabwe's desperate political and
economic crises.
Negotiators for the two men will fly to Johannesburg tomorrow to launch the
difficult talks on their country's future. The biggest sticking point will
be the reluctance of either to accept a position inferior to the other.

Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), and Mr Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, sat on either side of the South
African president, Thabo Mbeki, in the Sheraton Hotel in Harare to sign the
five-page agreement. The rivals, who last met in 1998, shook hands

Mr Tsvangirai refused to have the ceremony at State House, Mr Mugabe's
official residence, as he does not recognise the legitimacy of the Zanu-PF
leader's victory in a run-off election in June.

In a short speech, Mr Mugabe said it was absolutely essential to keep
European and North American powers, who have imposed travel and personal
financial restrictions on him and his main allies, out of the negotiations.

He said the two sides had agreed on the need for the country's constitution
to be amended on various points. "We sit here in order for us to chart a new
way of political interaction," he said.

Mr Tsvangirai said it was important for both sides to work together to
achieve answers to a catastrophic situation in which mothers put children to
bed without food, inflation was touching nine million per cent and women's
life expectancy was down to 34 years. "We want to make sure that every
Zimbabwean feels safe, we want to share a common prosperity for everyone and
we want a better Zimbabwe," he said.

The memorandum requires a final settlement to be achieved by the end of the
first week of August. However, commentators say this target is impossible,
given the hostility between the two sides, the extent of their differences
and the scale of Zimbabwe's problems. The document, which will be released
publicly, does not answer the central issue of Mr Mugabe's future or go into
the details of any power-sharing arrangement.

Mr Mugabe insists he must be recognised as Zimbabwe's president. But the MDC
says he cannot be rewarded for his use of extreme violence to ensure he won
the run-off unopposed.

The MDC wants some kind of interim "transitional authority" to run the
country, while new internationally monitored elections are organised.

George Sibotshiwe, an MDC spokesman, said any progress in the negotiations
would be conditional on a complete halt to violence by Mr Mugabe's militias
and the release of some 1,500 political prisoners.

While Mr Mbeki chaired yesterday's signing ceremony, the breakthrough became
possible only last weekend, after his unsuccessful one-man, eight-year
mediation was scrapped and replaced by a four-person mediation team. Mr
Tsvangirai has accused Mr Mbeki of bias towards Mr Mugabe, and the MDC
leader only agreed to talk to his great rival after representatives of the
United Nations, the African Union and the Southern African Development
Community joined the arbitration.


. March 2008 Opposition party MDC wins parliamentary poll. Morgan Tsvangirai
wins first round of presidential poll.

. June 2008 Robert Mugabe wins presidential run-off election after Mr
Tsvangirai pulls out days before the poll, saying a free and fair election
is impossible because of violent intimidation of his supporters. Mr Mugabe
is sworn in for sixth term of office. After 28 years in power the
84-year-old declared himself president unopposed for another five years.

. July 2008 Britain and the United States spearhead international campaign
aimed at persuading Mr Mugabe to step down. Their efforts to dislodge him
suffer a setback when a proposed UN resolution to impose new sanctions on
Zimbabwe's leaders is vetoed by Russia and China. The 100-billion-dollar
banknote is introduced in response to official year-on-year inflation rate
of 2 million per cent.

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What is needed is real mediation

Mail and Guardian
CHRIS KABWATO - Jul 22 2008 00:00

In his final rally before his one-person election Robert Mugabe declared that he would go to Cairo and would dare anyone of the leaders there to point a finger at him so he could see "whose finger was clean or dirty".

It was a telling remark. It means: "I have done exactly what you motley crew of dictators and coup plotters have done, so what's the big deal?"

And he's right -- could Hosni Mubarak, Omar al-Bashir and Moammar Gadaffi challenge him, other than to give advice on how to crush dissent and hold on to power for life?

Tanzania's Jikaya Kikwete and Botswana's Ian Khama represent a new generation of leaders who do not have "dirty fingers". They tried to show the possibility of a different Africa, but got drowned by a democratically elected president at the centre of the media efforts. It was telling that South Africa lobbied hard for the African Union not to go the route of delegitimising Mugabe -- the same role as it is now playing in blocking UN sanctions against the Mugabe regime.

President Thabo Mbeki has played a less than honest role in the Zimbabwe crisis. The debate rages on about what he is playing at in Zimbabwe. His government insists talks are taking place, when nothing is happening -- "phoney talks", you could say. Prior to a major summit, he hastily meets Mugabe or Tsvangirai or their representatives and then announces "peace in our time", like Neville Chamberlain announcing that he had secured guarantees of peace from Adolf Hitler.

It is surreal to find history repeating itself so tidily. Zanu-PF's machinery bludgeoned the opposition into withdrawal from the election and the militia continues with its reign of terror, the opposition is constantly harassed and the main negotiator for the opposition faces treason charges. As this unfolds, Mugabe is "president", the opposition is vilified and we hear the same old noises about the need for peace in Zimbabwe by the same people who will not condemn the gross violation of human rights in that country.

To add insult to injury, Mbeki convened a meeting at the presidential offices in Zimbabwe when the legitimacy of the "president" was in question. Surely a poet-president would appreciate the value of symbolism? Surely a mediator would seek to meet the parties on neutral ground? At the same time, a mediator should be very unambiguous about anomalies -- Kofi Annan very critical of the violence in Kenya and went as far as calling for the prosecution of the perpetrators. And he was the chief mediator.

But the game has changed. Tsvangirai has wised up to Mbeki's game and should keep insisting that:
  • The violence has to stop and for that to happen Mugabe should dismantle the machinery of terror set up by the generals;
  • Negotiations cannot take place in a climate of intimidation where the opposition's chief negotiator is facing treason charges and was effectively shut away for the entire period the MDC needed to strategise for the planned run-off;
  • The AU should deploy a special envoy to be in Harare permanently until the resolution of the Zimbab­wean question; and
  • The mediation team should be expanded to include credible and impartial African leaders.

Unfortunately for Mbeki, unlike the sanitised observer reports of past elections, the Southern African Development Community(SADC) and Pan African Parliament observer missions' indictments cannot be wished away and neither can the graphic media reports and documented evidence of torture, maiming and killings. Mbeki cannot keep ducking the MDC charge of bias. Why doesn't Mbeki do the honourable thing and request the SADC and the AU to expand the mediation team or request a respected team of eminent people to step in and take over? If he could remove himself from mediation in Côte d'Ivoire, why can't he do it in Zimbabwe? For a president who dreamed of an Africa of good governance and economic development, when it comes to Zimbabwe, Mbeki has been hoist by his own petard.

Our people's legitimate demand is for a Constitution that guarantees the freedoms of the people of Zimbabwe and respect for the election results of March 29 2008. Of our mediator we demand that ordinary Zimbabweans be allowed to express our will freely at the ballot and in our daily lives. Given the labelling of everyone opposed to the Zimbabwean dictatorship as a puppet, I can only ask: If every "puppet" can stand for election in South Africa, why can't Zimbabwean "puppets" do the same?

Chris Kabwato is the publisher of Zimbabwe in Photos

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A small measure of weariness and a massive dose of wariness


"So, this 'MOU'.", a friend who usually isn't interested in politics asked
me today, "What exactly is it?"

"I believe its an agreement which will guide the talks all the parties will
be having", I responded (hoping I was correct).

"So these talks they've been having up until now, they were basically all
just talking about the rules of the talks they might have if they ever get
to actually talking about the talks we want them to be talking about?"

"Something like that", I replied vaguely, deliberately avoiding a forensic
description of exactly what was going on because I wasn't sure I could
provide one.

"So tell me", my friend wickedly said, "When are they going to start talking
about what everyone else is talking about, and that is the fact that there
is no food in the shops anymore?"

I had no response to that, as she knew I wouldn't, and thankfully she didn't
slap me with her usual parting quip which is, ".and you wonder why I can't
be bothered with politics!"

The conversation made me think though: when the Zimbabwean crisis began
several long years ago, everyone I knew talked about politics. I couldn't be
in the company of other people without them endlessly diagnosing the ins and
outs of the politics of the moment. I still experience this when I am among
a certain group of people - other activists for example - but my experience
outside this circle is markedly different.

Social conversation now revolves around the economy: the heated discussion,
excitement, exasperation and despair previously directed towards 'politics'
is now directed towards the value of the Zim dollar, the price of fuel, and
the best place to find bread. Of course, there is a possibility that the
circle of ordinary people I mix with could be a poor sample group and
unusually ambivalent towards politics; however, I test my curiosity about
this shift by constantly asking others if they have noticed the same thing,
and the feedback in response is usually along the lines of 'people are tired',
'we have too many other worries' or 'what's the point?'.

This doesn't mean that when it comes to the moment where Zimbabweans have to
make the single most important political decision ever, that they have lost
their belief in their ability to make a difference: they will, in that
private moment, make an informed careful choice and vote for the party of
their choice. We saw this on the 29th March. We can also conclude from
this - especially because the choice they made in March was preceded by
threats and fraught with risks (real and imagined) - that the principle of
democracy matters enormously to Zimbabweans.

What's changed? An increasing burden to survive is one thing. The discourse
of survival - how to feed your children, how to pay for medication for sick
relatives - will always trump detailed political analyses. The
conversational shift among ordinary people from 'politics' to the 'economy'
also reflects an growing awareness among ordinary people that the economy is
likely to destroy the country and us with it, before the Zanu PF regime
manages get around to beating and torturing every single one of us.

I think disappointment has something to do with the shift too: elections
previously won, but the results ignored by the regional community; mass
rallies called, but either squashed before they started or weakly supported;
and of course the most crushing disappointment of all - the split in the

Then there's fear and uncertainty: people will talk about politics more
among people that they know and trust than they will in the company of
acquaintances. The initial euphoria we felt when we realised we finally had
a strong body of opposition to the Zanu PF madness, has been replaced by a
growing horror of exactly how far they will go and what they will do to stay
in power.

I can understand the shift, but I worry about its implications: in the early
days there was a strong palpable sense of unity in the streets, shops and
workplaces. Now, it is certainly still there, but more  amorphous  in daily
life: an open show of defiance expressed in a shop queue would be greeted
with a murmured cheer - not necessarily because people agree with whatever
was expressed but because the person doing it was courageous, and we like to
see courage.

I don't feel the political strength of unity in the streets as keenly now as
I did before. Now the impression is of a steely dogged determination of
individuals trying to find a way to survive the fallout from a rapidly dying

There is something about this national dogged determination to survive that
feels quite alienating and isolating. Survival is routinely described in
terms that are less about unity - 'us' - and more about the 'survival of the
fittest'; or 'each man for himself'; or 'may the best woman win' etc. My
concern is that as our economy continues to crumble, and as each person
becomes more and more absorbed in the daily detail of basic survival, that
they might also become less and less engaged with the lofty politics setting
down the terms and conditions of our futures.

I am also concerned that as our elected politicians face fewer and fewer
demands from understandably preoccupied people, that they may become
increasingly confident that they can make autonomous decisions and become
forgetful of who they were when they started and why they are where they are

For me, democracy is about a lot of things, but one of the key factors has
to be that ordinary people must believe in it (which Zimbabweans do), and
also that an ordinary person has the confidence and courage to boldly insist
on a government that is accountable and meets the demands - demands - of the
people. I hope that  Zimbabweans will regain their personal engagement with
the decisions made at higher levels. I really hope that they will seize the
right that true democracy gives them, something we have never really had,
and that is to collectively send a clear message to our leaders that, 'We
put you in there, and never forget we can also take you out!'

Today is an historic day, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been
signed and this means that talks will be proceeding. We have seen Robert
Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai together on TV making statements. Morgan
Tsvangirai looked the more confident of the two. Robert Mugabe is never
going to be the kind of guy who can wear humility well and, sure enough, he
squirmed like a worm. It might just be the clip I saw but I don't think I
have ever seen Robert Mugabe look so uncomfortable before in my life: he
looked to me like he was about to vomit.

It may be a historic day but there is no getting away from the simple blunt
fact that today was NOT what Zimbabweans had in mind when they went to the
polls on March 29th. Zimbabweans voted for Morgan Tsvangirai to be the
leader, and for a completely new government. We voted the Mugabe-led regime
out as much as we voted the democratic movement in.

There is also no getting away from the fact that Zimbabweans have a deep
antipathy towards negotiations and promises made by the Zanu PF regime,
mostly because the regime has a long history of simply ignoring every law or
rule in the book, compromising agreements and not behaving like gentlemen.
The fact that Mugabe has managed to steal himself a place at that table is
the outcome of one massive fraud (and I hope his squirming is a sign that he
knows no one buys his nonsense anymore).

As one friend said to me, "It's a big day, sure, but I can't stop thinking
about the fact that Mugabe is actually sitting at the table?! He shouldn't
be there! He should be on his way to the Hague after what he has done to
 us!" I can only imagine what must have gone through Morgan Tsvangirai's
mind today, when he had to sit down with the man who tried to murder him by
ordering thugs to throw him out of  a ten storey window; the man conjured up
a stupid treason trial which carried with it the risk of a death sentence.
You  only need to browse through the comments left on this blog to get a
measure of the sense of ordinary feeling about the MOU and these talks, and
I think its fair to say that the comments expressed here reveal very mixed
feelings indeed.

I speak for myself when I say that I look at today's signing ceremony with a
small measure of weariness and a massive dose of wariness; so I have decided
to defer hope for a little while.

Deferring hope is not the same as giving up hope, but it is an
acknowledgement that my full blown optimism has been compromised over the
years by repeated disappointments. This is psychological self-preservation:
I simply can't find it in myself to let go and get starry-eyed and hopeful
(yet) about the future that will emerge from the talks beginning with today's
MOU. Mugabe is a wily operator, and ruthless; most dangerous of all he is
immensely arrogant and unapologetically fat-headed. So I am preparing myself
for a long draw-out messy affair fraught with lies, broken promises,
back-tracking and dirty tricks: it's what the Zanu PF regime has conditioned
me to expect.

If anything, my sense of individual isolation grew a little bit deeper today
with my realisation that the ordinary people have been left at the doorstep
of the big building where the future will be re-shaped. We walked our
leaders to this point, we stood by them and gave them the mandate to chart
the future on our behalf.

But this is the point where we have to let go now and trust that they will
do the right thing, for us and for our country.

We're standing at the foot of the steps waving a handful of our elected
leaders through the door, final encouragement as they move towards talks
with an individual who has an incredible capacity for violence, and no
qualms about stealing and lying his way to the negotiating table. I can't
help but feel apprehensive and nervous.

I have this picture in my mind of an exhausted, ragged mixed-bag of
Zimbabweans: some rich, most poor; some elderly, a few young; black and
white people together; some healthy, others hurt and on crutches; all of us
deeply wounded in some way by the events of the previous years. I hope this
picture is in the minds of our leaders too and that it stays with them
through all the negotiations.

Each of us today will be reviewing where we've been the last few years - the
endless days of worry and anxiety; the sleepless nights filled with
uncertainty and despair. Given the difficulty of the recent years, the
mockery of the Zanu / Zapu agreement in the 1980s, the waves of sequential
disappointments, I feel sure that each of us will be willing our leaders on
with every fibre of our beings as we wave them through that door. We'll be
praying for them to be strong. I am reasonably sure that, as well as willing
them on, a large number of us will also be thinking, "Please, don't cock it

This entry was written by Hope on Monday, July 21st, 2008 at 9:33 pm.

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The crisis in Zimbabwe and prospects for resolution

United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Date: 15 Jul 2008

Testimony of Katherine Almquist
USAID Assistant Administrator for Africa

Subcommittee on African Affairs
Committee on Foreign Relations
United States Senate

Thank you for inviting me to speak about USAID's support for US foreign
policy goals in Zimbabwe. We appreciate the strong bipartisan support in
Congress for this deeply troubled country.

Since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, USAID has worked with the people of
Zimbabwe to overcome many obstacles on the path to progress. Our commitment
to this goal remains strong. Today, our programs provide critical support
for the people of Zimbabwe's desire for peaceful democratic change, while
sustaining crucial legal, medical, health, food and other humanitarian
assistance to the millions of innocent victims of the regime's violence and
mismanagement. In the midst of the current, most severe crisis facing the
people and friends of Zimbabwe, we remain optimistic about the country's
long-term potential and its prospects for positive change. When genuine
reform does occur, our mission and partners stand ready to work with this
Committee to assist the new government and people in ensuring the country's
successful transformation to its former status as a constructive and
prosperous member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
Africa and the greater international community.

Current Situation

Many difficult challenges confront Zimbabwe. The country faces what experts
call the worst harvest in decades due primarily to government mismanagement.
As a result, the survival of as many as four million people - more than a
third of Zimbabwe's population - will depend on imported food aid this year.
At present, the following year looks equally bleak as agricultural inputs
are scarce and farmers have little incentive to cultivate their land.

State-sponsored violence and torture continue as ruling party militants try
to eliminate the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and anyone
else not bowing to the autocratic demands of the Mugabe regime. According to
human rights monitors, more than 100 MDC activists have been killed and
thousands more have been seriously injured since the March 29 elections.
Emergency care for many of these victims of beatings and torture is provided
by brave doctors and nurses who are often beaten themselves for performing
this critical medical work.

The violence has forced tens of thousands of Zimbabweans to flee their homes
and villages. Most of these internally displaced persons (IDPs) have found
temporary shelter with relatives and friends in towns and cities. Some IDPs
have sought refuge in so-called "safe areas," supposedly protected by
negotiated security arrangements with government and United Nations (U.N.)
agencies. However, state-sponsored militias are now even attacking these
"safe havens," sending victims running for their lives once again. With no
one to turn to and no place to go, many Zimbabweans are opting to join the
millions of their countrymen who have fled to an uncertain fate in
neighboring lands.

Compounding the humanitarian crisis, the Government of Zimbabwe suspended
the operations of humanitarian NGOs in early June. Rigidly enforced by local
government authorities, military and militias, this suspension means that
NGO staff cannot even leave offices to assess the conditions and needs in
most parts of the country. Actual aid provision is nearly impossible. Even
churches and faith-based organizations are afraid to provide aid and
sanctuary to IDPs because of intimidation and fear of violent reprisals.

In short, Mugabe's regime has unleashed organized brutality on an enormous
scale, and largely prevented humanitarian aid from reaching the bloodied,
hungry, terrorized, and displaced people of the country.

USAID Program Responses

USAID has aggressively responded to the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe
through both humanitarian assistance as well as our on-going democracy and
governance initiatives.

Humanitarian Assistance

USAID's Food for Peace program provided 175, 000 metric tons of food worth
$171 million to millions of the country's most vulnerable people in the past
year. About half of this food was distributed through a consortium of NGOs
known as C-SAFE, consisting of World Vision, CARE, and Catholic Relief
Services. The other half was distributed by the U.N. World Food Program. In
total, the U.S. Government contributed 72 percent of all food assistance
given to Zimbabwe last year. Over half of all the food distributed by the
U.N. World Food Program was given by USAID.

About $115 million is already in the food assistance pipeline for this next
hungry season. More is on the way, but we need GOZ assurances that our
partners will have access to freely distribute this food to the most
vulnerable communities. Since the beginning of the country's deterioration
in 2000, the U.S. has provided well over 1 million metric tons of food
assistance to this troubled country.

USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has also provided $5.9 million
in FY 08 through several partner organizations including Mercy Corps, World
Vision, OXFAM, FAO, OCHA, and IOM for non-food relief items such as
blankets, feeding utensils, and personal hygiene supplies, water and
sanitation improvements, emergency medical supplies, logistics support, and
protection and coordination mechanisms. We are prepared to rapidly respond
with more assistance if the situation deteriorates further.

As part of its on-going humanitarian effort, USAID also implements a $26.9
million, HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment program to help Zimbabwe
fight one of the most severe HIV and AIDS epidemics in the world. Even as
the general health of the population declines progress is being made, as HIV
prevalence has declined from 24 percent in 2001 to 15.6 percent in 2007.
Implemented through a variety of partner organizations, USAID's program
elements include:

- Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission.
- Behavior Change Promotion.
- Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) Services.
- Commodity Logistics and Drug Procurement.
- Testing and Counseling.
- Palliative Care.
- Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children.

USAID efforts confront not only a huge disease burden, but also a badly
deteriorated public health system. Thus, our programs are designed with
intentional spill-over effects to shore up overall systems within the public
health sector, while we address specific HIV/AIDS-related needs.

Our NGO partners are the real heroes in the humanitarian sphere, as they
struggle to maintain assistance in spite of severe constraints. We want to
express our deep appreciation and admiration for their excellent, unstinting
efforts in meeting the critical needs of Zimbabweans, often at great risk of
personal peril.

The restrictions on aid agency operations are prohibiting us from responding
in typical ways. To create the "humanitarian space" necessary for aid
operations, we are working with other donors to encourage the U.N. to
strengthen its efforts to press the Government of Zimbabwe to put a stop to
the violence and open up humanitarian access. Without permission to access
displaced and vulnerable populations, the humanitarian organizations are
handicapped. We hope these U.N. interventions - on behalf of the donor and
humanitarian community - will soon bear fruit.

Democracy and Governance Initiatives

The U.S. Government seeks the restoration of truly representative democracy
and responsible governance for Zimbabwe. To that end, USAID programs have
focused on restoring the rule of law, protecting human rights, fostering
good governance, enhancing citizen participation and consensus-building,
expanding media communication, strengthening civil society and democratic
institutions, promoting transparent elections and supporting citizen
oversight of the electoral process.

USAID partners and programs provide technical assistance and other support
to boost the capacity of non-governmental actors and citizens to more
actively participate in the debate on the future directions of the country.
Within an extremely restrictive environment, these civil society actors are
working to shape and strengthen democratic institutions in an effort to make
them more responsive and accountable to Zimbabwean society.

Although sometimes overshadowed by the country's continuing turmoil, USAID
programs have made significant gains with civil society and the forces of
democracy in Zimbabwe. Pro-democracy groups mobilized millions of
Zimbabweans to "get out the vote", leading to an historic victory for MDC
candidates in the March 2008 elections and an MDC majority leadership in
Parliament. Zimbabweans were inspired and empowered by the electoral defeat
of Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF. The ruling party was not able to rig the
elections outright, as usual, in part due to a USAID-funded "parallel vote
tabulation" (PVT) that released results of sample-based counting in a rapid
and transparent manner. Despite the difficult country conditions, this
initiative was one of the most successful such undertakings of this PVT
technology practiced anywhere to date.

Legal and medical support to victims of state oppression, made possible
largely through USAID assistance, has encouraged activists to continue
pressing for democratic change. In addition, USAID supports programs that
document human rights abuses, torture, and other crimes for future
accountability and reconciliation.

Initiatives to inform and mobilize regional and international media and
civil society groups have resulted in increasing condemnation and isolation
of the discredited Mugabe regime. This pressure has garnered increased room
for engagement with SADC and the African Union, and increased prospects for
a negotiated solution to the crisis. These gains need to be protected and
advanced with continued USG support.

USAID's Contingency Planning

USAID stands ready with other donors to re-engage in substantial development
assistance in Zimbabwe once conditions permit. Such assistance would be
premised on a new government which respects and shows progress on the
following common donor principles:

- Full and equal access to humanitarian assistance
- " Commitment to macroeconomic stabilization in accordance with guidance
from relevant international agencies.
- Restoration of the Rule of Law, including enforcement of contracts, an
independent judiciary, and respect for property rights.
- Commitment to the democratic process and respect for internationally
accepted human rights standards, including a commitment to freedom of
expression, freedom of print and broadcast media, freedom of assembly, and
freedom of association.
- A commitment to timely elections held in accordance with international
standards, and in the presence of international election observers

With Congress' support, we would seek to invest significantly in Zimbabwe
upon the return of democracy, so that it can begin its process of
stabilization and recovery. Our staff and partners are ready to engage with
a new, reform-minded government and other donors to build a comprehensive
reconstruction program. A Multi-Donor Trust Fund, administered by the World
Bank, is already completing analyses on various social and economic sectors
to give us a collective, coordinated roadmap for reconstruction to discuss
with a new democratic government.

As an integral part of a reconstruction program, our humanitarian assistance
will help provide a "social safety net" to help ease the pain of
market-based stabilization measures and support livelihoods as the economy
recovers. We anticipate renewed support to the agricultural sector and a
strong emphasis on the renewal of the once-thriving private sector. We are
ready to work closely with the International Financial Institutions in
support of timely and effective macroeconomic stabilization and reform.
Based upon our current successful programs, we will expand our HIV/AIDS
program commensurate with the demands of the 16 percent prevalence rate, and
broaden our assistance to bolster the failing health system, including an
emphasis on child and maternal health, TB and malaria.

USAID has a long and successful history of working with Zimbabwe's civil
society, democratic political parties, the Parliament and local government.
We are looking immediately at ways to exploit the democratic spaces that
have opened up after the March 29 elections. We have a parliament that
reflects the will of the people and, together with our partners, we are
working to strengthen its capacity in dealing with the political and social
challenges the country faces. The newly elected urban city councils present
another excellent opportunity for our partners to provide people-centered
programs focused on effective service delivery through social mobilization.
Our assistance to a free media and access to reliable information continues
in partnership with the Voice of America and local media-focused NGOs. With
a new government in place, we will expand current programs to include
assistance for constitutional reform, and reform of the judiciary and the
security sector.

However, if the violence does not stop, if aid organizations are not allowed
to resume life-saving assistance, if widespread fighting escalates and
forces mass population displacement, then the international community will
be faced with a potential humanitarian disaster on a much larger scale than
the serious situation which we already face.

With our partners and donors, USAID is simultaneously working to prevent
this worst case scenario, while preparing to respond to it. We don't know
which turn Zimbabwe will take in its tumultuous journey out of tyranny, but
USAID stands ready to support Zimbabweans in realizing their rightful
aspirations for liberation from the current brutal and despotic regime and
in the transition to a new, more just and prosperous society.

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SA welcomes signing of agreement in Zimbabwe


July 21, 2008, 21:15

South Africa has welcomed the signing of the memorandum of understanding
between Zimbabwe's opposing parties in Harare. President Robert Mugabe and
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara signed the deal, which paves the way for fully-fledged

The ceremony was overseen by main facilitator South African President Thabo
Mbeki. The South African government says the signing represents a positive
step forward in ongoing dialogue among the parties.

Mbeki says the deal commits negotiating parties to an intense programme to
finalise negotiations as quickly as possible.

Zimbabwe's political leaders are optimistic that a political settlement
could be reached within two weeks.

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Crackdown in Zimbabwe forces activists into hiding

Monday, July 21, 2008

By Shashank Bengali | McClatchy Newspapers

SUNNYSIDE, South Africa - They'd struggled for so long to bring Zimbabwe to
this point: a vibrant, generally free election in which President Robert
Mugabe suffered his first defeat in 28 years in power.

That was in March. But Zimbabwe's pro-democracy activists didn't bank on
Mugabe's response: deploying government militias to kill and terrorize
opponents before last month's second-round vote, forcing his election rival
to withdraw and prolonging his grip on a suffering country.

Defeated and demoralized, with scores of their ranks dead or missing,
Zimbabwe's legions of activists have gone into hiding at home and abroad. As
Mugabe consolidates his power, many of the activists who've fled to
neighboring South Africa say they don't know when it will be safe to return.

"Everyone is underground. The democracy movement is totally on hold," said
Ishmael Kauzani, 33, a longtime activist who was kidnapped and beaten nearly
to death by government militias in April. He now lives in a safe house in
Sunnyside, a suburb of South Africa's capital, Pretoria, with three other
activists in exile.

Mugabe and political opponent Morgan Tsvangirai agreed Monday to begin talks
on resolving the political crisis. But experts think that the 84-year-old
president, who vowed during the election that "only God" could force him
from office, is unlikely to cede any real power.

Mugabe's crackdown has targeted college students, grass-roots organizers and
community-based members of Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic
Change, who have close ties with voters, analysts and activists say. It
suggests a concerted effort to cut down the youngest and most dedicated foot
soldiers of a diverse coalition of pro-democracy groups that have agitated
for more than a decade for an end to the Mugabe era.

The crackdown's swiftness and lethality have even hardened campaigners
wondering how the movement will reconstitute itself. Opposition party
officials say that more than 100 members have been killed and at least 1,000
imprisoned. Other civic groups say that tally doesn't include many of their
members who've been murdered or tortured.

"As a strategy to destroy us, it was good," said Wiseman Mayengeza, 26, who
left his wife and young daughter behind when he fled a government raid on an
opposition safe house in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, in April.

Human rights groups say that civilians are still being beaten and denied
medical treatment.

"It's a terrible disaster for the democracy movement," said Elinor Sisulu, a
veteran Zimbabwean human-rights campaigner who lives in South Africa. "And
it's particularly distressing that all this is happening at a time when the
two sides are supposed to be in negotiations . . . and on the other hand
people are in hiding and running for their lives."

Marlene Chiedza Gadzirayi, 21, said she began receiving threats last year
after she was elected to the board of Zimbabwe's national union of
university students, an outspoken group that frequently criticizes the
government. Phone calls came at odd hours and anonymous voices warned, "We
want to deal with you," or threatened to rape her and infect her with HIV,
the virus that causes AIDS.

After the March election, ruling-party militias started turning up at her
family's home, asking for her. At that point, Gadzirayi, an accounting
student, was helping to manage the finances of a leading activist group, the
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. She was among the few people in the country
who knew where such groups were getting funding.

"That's why I had to come to South Africa," she said recently at the group's
offices in Johannesburg, less than a week after she arrived. "They would
have wanted me to expose all the organizations that were assisting (the
opposition). Anyone could have ended up dead."

Kauzani and Mayengeza were active in the National Constitutional Assembly, a
consortium of student, labor and religious groups that formed in 1997 to
campaign for a new constitution. Kauzani was also among the first members of
the opposition party when it began in 1999.

Both said they were on government watch lists for organizing demonstrations
throughout the country. Each has been jailed multiple times.

Three weeks after the March election, Kauzani said, a group of thugs clad in
ruling-party regalia abducted him and a friend in Harare. They were driven
about 100 miles away, dumped on the side of the road and pounded repeatedly
with stones and sticks, until Kauzani's ribs were in pieces and he fell

"They left us for dead," he recalled.

They regained consciousness and managed to get back to Harare, where they
checked into Avenues, a private clinic. Two weeks later they were
discharged. Kauzani set off for South Africa, but his friend, Better
Chokururama, his leg still in a cast, drove to his family's village first to
see his mother.

While Chokururama was en route with three other passengers, people in two
unmarked trucks ambushed his car. His body and those of two others,
including Kauzani's older brother, later were found mutilated or strangled
to death. The fourth passenger is thought to have survived, but hasn't been
heard from.

Now Kauzani is holed up with Mayengeza and two other young activists in a
two-room apartment on an unassuming suburban street, 300 miles from the
Zimbabwean border. The National Constitutional Assembly has rented the place
for $650 a month, but there's no money for furniture, so for weeks the men
slept in the same room on polyester blankets.

A few days ago, someone delivered a twin mattress, which two of the men now

With so many campaigners lost and scattered, and government militias roaming
freely in Zimbabwe, no one can say when the democracy movement will regain
its footing.

"It's one of the big challenges we have now," Sisulu said ruefully. "I wish
I had an answer for that."

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'I felt no hatred and I did not fear death'

The Times
July 22, 2008

Last month, just before the Zimbabwean election, this farmer wrote a
dramatic article in The Times describing President Mugabe's intimidation
campaign. Here he recalls what happened afterwards
Ben Freeth
As I drove around the corner to my parents-in-law's house I was greeted by a
gun pointing straight at my head. They had arrived already. The farmworkers
had overheard that they were coming. It was two days after the June 27
election. We knew trouble was being organised. Some nuns had arrived in our
home town of Chegutu, southwest of Harare, saying that the Minister of
Policy Implementation was behind it, and we wrote to the Commissioner of
Police asking for protection.

I ducked to avoid the bullets and swerved, hitting a tree. Almost instantly
militiamen smashed the driver's-side window with a rock. The impact stunned
me and I was dragged out and beaten over the head and back with rifle butts.

After a time they tied me up and dragged me to my parents-in-law. Mike
Campbell, my father-in-law, was groaning on the ground, his head bruised.
His wife Angela said that her arm was broken and her head bruised from her
hair being pulled out and being beaten with sticks. One of them urinated on

Over the next eight and a half hours, I lapsed in and out of consciousness.
I remember lots of shooting. The men, supporters of President Mugabe's Zanu
(PF) shot all the wheels on my vehicle and put us on the floor of my
father-in-law's vehicle, having looted the house.

We went to the next-door farm, where they shot the dogs. My head and back
were bouncing on the floor as the vehicle reached 150km/h (93mph) as it
chased Bruce, my brother-in-law. I had a 12cm fracture in my skull and
broken ribs. Between us we had a dozen broken bones.

It was like a gangster film. They were shooting out of the windows as we
screamed along. Between them they had more than 20 guns. I found out later
that two bullets had passed within a few centimetres of Bruce's headrest as
he tried to follow us and waited outside another farm. Fourteen bullets
lodged in his car. They even shot at passing traffic.

Police were told that we had been beaten and abducted but there was no will
to rescue us. For hours they did not even leave the police station.

Kelly, one of Mike and Angela's dogs, arrived panting at our house where my
wife, Laura, was. Laura knew something was wrong. She got the children and
the dogs in the Ford Laser. It's 20 years old and low for the bush but it
was evident from the shooting that she had to go that way.

When they got to the northern fence line she did not have wirecutters. They
said a prayer and out of the bush, almost like an angel, walked a man with a
dog. Laura explained the situation and he pulled out some wirecutters from
his pocket and cut the fence for her. She got through to safety.

Trussed up in the back of the car, the hours passed until it was dark. We
ended up deep in the bush where there was a large camp of militiamen and
some fires. They stripped me except for my shorts and a thin shirt that they
had ripped the buttons off. They poured buckets of cold water over us, sang
anti-white war songs and kept talking of killing us. Guns were waved over us
and the bare soles of my feet beaten. They burnt Angela's lips with a
burning stick stuck into her mouth.

Fear and hatred did not play a part in what was going through my head. I was
not afraid of death. Angela felt abandoned at one point but looked up and a
flooding sense of God came through her as she saw the stars burning down.

As I prayed: "Jesus!" "Jesus!" "Jesus!" out loud I felt the words of Jesus
where he said: "Love your enemies" and "Bless those who curse you" come into
my heart. I reached out to someone's leg and said: "May the Lord Jesus bless
you" and I said the same to another and another.

Mike wasn't conscious most of the time and his finger was broken so they got
Angela to sign a document saying that we would not continue with the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal case that we had
initiated on the land issue.

They loaded us into the vehicle and we bumped along a dirt track for another
30km. At about midnight we were untied and dumped by a road. Mike and Angela
couldn't walk, so I stumbled to a light. I climbed through a hedge and woke
the occupants. Miraculously I could remember telephone numbers and I got
through to Laura. Within half an hour we were on our way to hospital. They
got a drip into Mike before his veins collapsed. They put a pin through
Angela's arm and stitched me up. After five days the neurosurgeon performed
a two-and-a-half-hour operation and cut a 4cm hole in my skull to release
the blood clots. As I awoke, the first question I asked was: "Will I be
allowed to go to our SADC case in 11 days' time?"

I got out of hospital and went back to the farm. Arrests have finally
started and some of those involved in attacking us have been put behind
bars, I understand. There seems to be a change of atmosphere. Although many
opposition people are still in hiding and many have been severely
brutalised, the police are starting to protect lives and prosecute party
militia. I believe that Gilbert Moyo, who led so many attacks and looting,
is in prison. I hope I'm not imagining it but there is an air of hope

The workers almost bounced with excitement that I was alive. I felt the
tears welling up, I was so moved. I was then put on the plane in a
wheelchair and we were on our way to Windhoek, Namibia, for the SADC
tribunal. Sadly Mike, the main applicant, was too badly injured to come.

The case is a significant one for the rule of law in southern Africa. The
judges come from Mozambique, Botswana, Angola, Malawi and Mauritius. It the
first time that southern Africa has had an international tribunal to which
people within the SADC can appeal. President Mugabe is cited as the
respondent in the case. It is the first time that his representatives have
to appear before an international court.

The case looks at whether Zimbabwe law denies the right of protection by
expressly preventing people access to the courts; whether there has been
discrimination in the taking of land from white people, and whether it is
acceptable to take someone's home and livelihood without compensation. It
also looks at if the Zimbabwean Government is in contempt of protection
orders granted by the tribunal.

On the second day, after a dramatic walkout by the Zimbabwean Government's
representatives, the judge said: "We are building a house of justice."
Jeremy Gauntlett, our advocate, pointed out that Zimbabwe meant "house of
stone". In the days ahead, through the "house of justice", we want to
rebuild the "house of stone" that has collapsed so fast. We ask for your
prayers of support.

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Zimbabwe Ruling Party Militia Demand Cash For Mugabe Victory Fetes


By Jonga Kandemiiri
21 July 2008

Members of the militia controlled by the ruling ZANU-PF party of President
Robert Mugabe have been pressuring citizens to fund celebrations of Mr.
Mugabe's election in the June 27 run-off election that was internationally
condemned as illegitimate, according to sources in several provinces around
the country.

Sources in Gokwe, Midlands province, said ZANU-PF militia and war veterans
have been pressuring residents to donate Z$300 billion (US$4) apiece and
livestock for a celebration of President Mugabe's victory in the run-off in
which he was the only active candidate.

Opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew on June 22 over political
violence that had claimed the lives of about 100 members of his Movement for
Democratic Change.

Sources said villagers in Matabeleland are being forced to donate Z$200
billion in cash and five kilograms of maize meal for ward-based victory
celebrations. Rural teachers are called upon to donate Z$200 billion
although they only earn around Z$150 billion a month.

Sources in Mashonaland East province said villagers there are also being
forced to contribute in cash and kind toward local celebrations.

Gokwe resident and MDC activist Jonah Muzira told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri
of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that those who do not raise the Z$300 billion
demanded by the militia are being threatened with eviction from their homes.

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The nine lives of Mugabe

The Tide, Nigeria

. Monday, Jul 21, 2008
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is something of a maverick. The
self-independent despot has defied all sanctions by Western nations to
unleash mayhem on his country's men and women. His I-don't-care posture
confounds even those nations that have condemned his actions widely and
advocated stiff sanctions against his regime.

Mugabe has kept many in the dark as to the source of his strength and
confidence. Recent developments in Africa show that the Zimbabwean despot
has been enjoying the support of some African countries. Many had expected
that the Zimbabwe president would get the bashing of his life at the just
concluded African Union (AU) summit in Egypt on July 1. They were
disappointed, instead of the desired condemnation of the country's June 27
presidential run-off election, the AU summiteers allowed the embattled
president to walk away with what appears to be the first diplomatic victory
he needed to consolidate his hold on power.

The unwillingness of the AU to break out of its reticence on the Zimbabwean
question has raised more questions than answers. Why has the AU refused to
act in the face of growing isolation of Mugabe by the global community? It
had been hoped that the Union would muster the political will to condemn his
re-elections and provide the international community the needed platform to
ease him out of power. The admonition by the African body to both Mugabe and
Morgan Tsvangirai, the presidential candidate of Movement for Democratic
Change, MDC, to initiate dialogue is a show of weakness, to say the least.
If African leaders knew what was good for the situation, they ought to have
joined their Western counterparts to call for severe sanction against the
unpopular regime.

The AU glove-in-hand treatment has emboldened Mugabe to ridicule his
detractors and dare the Western world. The Zimbabwean strongman has always
boasted that the West can hang itself and that it has no basis and a claim
on Zimbabwe politics. I do not understand why African leaders are commending
what goes on in that country. Zimbabwe has always claimed that it receives
the support of Gabon and Eritrea. Not only that, it also maintained that it
also gets the support of African political leaders. It is then clear that a
divided Africa on Zimbabwe crisis cannot proffer solution to the reign of
oppression in that nation.

Whether Mugabe gets the support of majority of African countries or not, the
truth is that the despot lost the general election. And so the outcome of
the run-off election does not confer legitimacy on his government. I am glad
that some African countries opposed to his re-election are determined to see
him out of power. Many of them have already called for his suspension from
the AU and SADC at the AU summit. These African countries like Botswana,
Senegal and Sierra Leone, among others, have to make their stance relevant
by mobilising other African countries to put pressure on Mugabe to quit
office. If the run-off election results are allowed to stand, they would
bring shame to the entire Africa.

The people of Zimbabwe have been denied their democratic rights, and we
should in no uncertain terms condemn what has happened. It is my view,
therefore, that the AU has to wake from its slumber and engage both parties
to form a transitional government that would prepare Zimbabwe for fresh
elections. Although there are indications that Mugabe may not like the
power-sharing arrangement, the proposal should be made. The efficacy of the
power-sharing arrangement has already been seen in Kenya. If it worked in
Kenya, I think it can work in Zimbabwe.

If Mugabe rejects the offer as he is wont to do, the international community
should consider imposing stiffer sanctions on his country. Such sanction
should be targeted at the officials of his regime. The time has come for the
international community to act strongly against the Zimbabwean strongman. I
expect the United States of America, (USA), that is in the forefront of
Western campaign against the current regime in the country, to articulate
and consult on measures that might be taken. And it would make sense to deny
the government of Zimbabwe the means to conduct violence on its own people.

Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, Mugabe has survived several
sanctions and isolation, including his suspension by the Commonwealth. But
as opposition mounts against his regime, it is doubtful if he can pull

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Where only words are cheap

The Guardian,
Tuesday July 22, 2008

Yesterday's first meeting for 10 years between Robert Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai took place on the day when the Bank of Zimbabwe started issuing
banknotes for 100bn dollars - not enough to buy a loaf of bread - and on
which fresh allegations surfaced of murder and violence against opposition
supporters. This deepening national disintegration is a far more potent
reality for ordinary Zimbabweans than anything that the political
adversaries have yet been able to muster. The onus is therefore on those who
promoted yesterday's deal to show they are not building a house made of

As this paper reported yesterday, millions of Zimbabweans have been reduced
to a scorched earth existence merely to survive. Harvest failure, brought on
in part by mishandled land redistribution schemes, has forced many to sell
precious livestock to survive and driven tens of thousands from the land to
the towns and from Zimbabwe to South Africa. Inside Zimbabwe, with its
debauched currency, true survival is only possible for the Zanu-PF
kleptocracy around Mr Mugabe. According to the United Nations, 5 million
people need urgent food aid that Mr Mugabe denies them on the grounds it is
all a colonialist plot. One in three Zimbabweans is malnourished. Food
shortages and inequalities threaten health and livelihood on a scale that
the regime is neither capable of nor interested in combating.

If their needs are to be meaningfully addressed, Zimbabweans will need more
than two men's signatures on a piece of paper - especially when one of those
belongs to Mr Mugabe. This is not to deny that yesterday's meeting is a sign
that the status quo - economically, socially and in the shape of Mr Mugabe's
shamelessly dishonest re-election - is now indefensible. Mr Mugabe and Mr
Tsvangirai would not have met at all if the crisis had still been
subcontracted to South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki. International
pressure from Africa and beyond has combined with mounting domestic
instability to force yesterday's show of joint action. Yesterday's meeting
and agreement, though, are little more than symbols of a preparedness to
talk about a situation that is out of control. It is not a real answer to
the country's needs.

Mr Mugabe's real intentions remain hugely suspect, while even Mr Tsvangirai
dubbed yesterday's meeting merely tentative. That is why the crucial
questions remain those about Mr Mugabe, his network and his regime. They are
the fundamental cause of Zimbabwe's problem and they cannot be part of its
solution except on terms at odds with their own instincts and self-interest.
Until those issues are confronted not ducked, Mr Mugabe's commitment to
change will be as worthless as one of his banknotes.

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New plan for Zim refugees


    July 21 2008 at 07:13AM

By Angela Quintal

Zimbabweans seeking refuge in South Africa could soon be spared mass
deportation, with Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula likely to
approve a special dispensation for those who are in the country illegally.

This is in line with a call from the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees, António Guterres, who wrote to Mapisa-Nqakula urging Pretoria
to stop the mass deportation of Zimbabwean migrants and to allow them a
temporary legal status to remain in South Africa.

"I cannot continue blindly to behave as though nothing is happening
across the Limpopo," Mapisa-Nqakula said on Sunday. She told the Cape Times
she was giving the UNHCR's call "very, very serious consideration" and had
asked her officials to report to her by tomorrow on how this could best be

n an interview in Durban after a two-day meeting of regional security,
defence and home affairs ministers, Mapisa-Nqakula acknowledged that
Zimbabweans crossing the border into South Africa were not only economic
migrants seeking "bucks", but were fleeing that country's violence and
political turmoil.

"I am not dumb. We can all appreciate the political and economic
situation in Zimbabwe . I mean, we have seen pictures of people who have
been beaten up, women who have been burnt.

"I don't want to attribute the violence to a particular group of
people, or the state . there could be intra-party violence. It doesn't
matter, but the point is, there is clear violence," she said.

The UNHCR has warned of "disturbing developments" with the pattern of
displacement from Zimbabwe following the March general election and the June
27 presidential run-off, which was boycotted by the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

"Previously, most Zimbabweans crossing the border were single men
(about 90 percent) or women seeking work," UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer
Pagonis said earlier this month.

"We are now seeing, however, an increasing number of families arriving
as a result of political violence, with several people showing signs of
beatings or torture," Pagonis said.

The UNHCR reported more than a week ago that during a period of 40
days, South Africa deported about 17 000 Zimbabweans, some of whom could
have been asylum seekers fleeing violence and political persecution. There
are thousands of undocumented migrants in South Africa, including
Zimbabweans, with the government unable to provide official statistics.

Smarting from criticism that she had little compassion for the plight
of Zimbabweans, Mapisa-Nqakula said: "How could anyone believe that I would
be happy to deport people to a country where there is violence and unrest?
It is not as though we are insensitive to what is happening on the ground."

However, any decision to grant a special dispensation had implications
and needed to be thoroughly planned for.

The minister was speaking ahead of her talks on Sunday in Johannesburg
with her Zimbabwean counterpart, where she intended to be frank and to play
open cards.

"I don't think the Zimbabweans will feel comfortable when they hear .
for instance, that we will stop mass deportations of Zimbabweans, because it
will say something about them. They need to understand that we are under
pressure to do things, because of what they are not doing right."

She also hoped that Monday's expected signing of a memorandum of
understanding by all the Zimbabwean parties, that will signal the start of
power-sharing talks and a possible end to violence there, would also see a
return to that country of displaced migrants.

However, given that past "breakthroughs" had been met with setbacks,
she was not about to hinge her decision on the possibility that negotiations
might succeed. Given that such a decision would have serious implications,
her department had to plan properly, including how to distinguish who was,
in fact, a Zimbabwean.

"I have asked my officials to give me a report (by tomorrow) on how
best to do this." She acknowledged that to try to isolate Zimbabweans from
other migrants from Africa would be "extremely tricky".

"I must have a test to declare who are Zimbabweans. If I am going to
give exemption certificates, I need a test ..."

Language could not be the sole proof, Mapisa-Nqakula said. "The truth
of the matter is that you do find Malawians, Zambians and South Africans who
share the same culture."

A government official noted, however, that Zimbabweans, unlike
citizens of other countries on the continent, had good documentation,
including passports and other ID documents.

The test would also probably be based on language and geography and
would not be as difficult to implement if one was dealing with citizens, for
example, from Burundi or Somalia.

Mapisa-Nqakula acknowledged it would probably be less complicated to
offer a special dispensation to SADC migrants in general, given that it
would be easier to distinguish people within the region from those in West
or North Africa.

However, such a decision would have huge implications for the delivery
of government services unrelated to Home Affairs, such as housing, health,
education and welfare, and had been met with opposition in the past.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Cape Times on July
21, 2008

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