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Zimbabwe president under pressure to share power

Washington Times

Originally published 02:56 p.m., July 22, 2008, updated 02:48 p.m., July 22,

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (AP) - Europe turned up pressure on Zimbabwe's
president to share power with the opposition, toughening sanctions Tuesday
against Robert Mugabe just as his ruling party was to begin talks with its
chief rival mediated by South Africa.

Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai met face-to-face Monday for
the first time in 10 years and agreed to formal talks about power sharing
after three months of state-sponsored electoral violence. The negotiations
were expected to start either late Tuesday or Wednesday at an undisclosed
location around the South African capital Johannesburg.

Analysts said growing international pressure coupled with Zimbabwe's
economic meltdown left Mugabe little choice but to sign the agreement with
the opposition. The central bank issued a 100 billion-dollar note this week
in the face of the world's worst inflation _ which officials estimate at 2.2
million percent annually but independent finance houses say is closer to
12.5 million percent.

"When you start to hit these kinds of figures, you know the wheels have come
off in a big way," said Richard Cornwell, researcher at the Pretoria-based
Institute for Security Studies in South Africa.

Zimbabwe's latest political crisis began in March with a presidential
election where Tsvangirai garnered the most votes _ but not enough to win

Tsvangirai pulled out of the June 27 runoff against Mugabe, citing
escalating state-sponsored violence against his supporters. His party says
more than 120 of its activists have been killed by Mugabe's police, soldiers
and party militants since the March vote. Thousands have been injured and
tens of thousands have had their homes torched or been forced to leave areas
where opposition legislators were elected.

African election monitors said the June runoff was not free and fair and
several African leaders broke ranks to declare they did not recognize him as
president of Zimbabwe.

"It is impossible to accept the second round of elections in Zimbabwe, with
children being tortured, with barbarous acts being committed, with violation
of basic democratic rules," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told
reporters Tuesday after the EU decided to expand sanctions against Mugabe.

The EU agreed to expand their sanctions blacklist of people linked to
Mugabe's government to 172 people, adding 37 individuals and four companies
believed to financially support Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party. The list
already had 131 people, including Mugabe and members of his Cabinet, under
measures passed in 2002.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said EU nations were expecting more
proof that Mugabe was willing to sign on to a transitional government with
the opposition.

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Zimbabwe talks delayed

Yahoo News

by Jean-Jacques Cornish Tue Jul 22, 12:34 PM ET

PRETORIA (AFP) - Zimbabwean crisis talks due to start in South Africa
struggled to get off the ground on Tuesday as chief negotiators had yet to
leave Harare, sources from the opposition and ruling party said.

Representatives of the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) were meant to begin negotiations towards resolving
the country's political crisis after the signing of a historic pact on

As representatives from both parties remained tied up in Zimbabwe, the
European Union sought to tighten the screw on veteran President Robert
Mugabe's regime by stepping up sanctions on Tuesday.

The long-awaited Pretoria talks, given a tight two week timeline, were now
expected to begin "in earnest" on Thursday, said Mbeki's spokesman Mukoni

Zimbabwean government sources said that Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa
and Labour Minister Nicholas Goche -- the chief negotiators for the ruling
ZANU-PF party -- had been locked in a cabinet meeting all afternoon and were
not now expected to fly until Wednesday morning.

"Ministers Chinamasa and Goche are still attending the cabinet meeting. We
are not sure what time it will finish," one official told AFP on condition
of anonymity.

"We were initially expecting them to leave in the afternoon but they should
now leave tomorrow morning."

Meanwhile a source in the larger faction of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) said its top negotiators, party chairman Lovemore
Moyo and secretary-general Tendai Biti, had also yet to leave.

"Chairman Lovemore Moyo is expected to leave tomorrow. He will connect his
flight direct from Bulawayo," the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

However a source in the smaller faction of the MDC, which is also taking
part in the talks in Pretoria, said its representative had already arrived
in South Africa.

Both sides agreed in their memorandum of understanding inked in Harare to
observe a media blackout during the course of negotiations that are expected
to conclude within a fortnight.

While commentators have warned significant obstacles remain in the path
towards forming "an inclusive government", both Tsvangirai and Mugabe tried
on Monday to draw a line under a crisis sparked by disputed elections in

At a ceremony in Harare overseen by chief mediator and South African
President Thabo Mbeki, Mugabe and Tsvangirai shook hands in their first
meeting since the opposition leader formed the MDC in 1999 -- albeit with
few signs of warmth.

Long-standing bitterness between the two hit new heights during the course
of the election run-off when Tsvangirai was detained on five separate
occasions while campaigning and Biti arrested for treason.

The MDC leader subsequently pulled out of the contest after dozens of his
party's supporters were killed in attacks that he blamed on pro-Mugabe

Ignoring widespread calls to shelve the ballot, Mugabe went ahead and staged
the poll, winning by a predictable landslide.

The vote was widely condemned in the West as a sham, with the European Union
warning that it would not deal with a government unless headed by

Despite the Harare agreement, EU foreign ministers still pushed ahead with
plans to widen sanctions against Zimbabwe on Tuesday, adding 37 more people
to a list of individuals under a visa ban and asset freeze, officials

The EU's French presidency and an EU official said that four "entities" -- 
probably major companies -- would also be added to the list of more than 130
individuals under a visa ban and whose assets are frozen.

It is the first time that business people and companies in Zimbabwe have
been targeted by EU measures.

Once seen as a post-colonial success story, the former British colony's
economy has been in meltdown since Mugabe began a land reform programme at
the turn of the decade and annual inflation now stands at some 2.2 million

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Doubts linger over Zimbabwe deal

Tuesday, 22 July 2008 14:55 UK

Robert Mugabe (L) and Morgan Tsvangirai shake hands at the signing of a deal in Harare, 21 July 2008

By Brian Hungwe

The ink that marks a possible resolution to the crisis that has dogged Zimbabwe for the last eight years may be dry, but the tears of grieving relatives are not.

Leslie Madamombe of Mashonaland Central province lost three brothers a week before the country's 27 June presidential run-off.

One was shot point-blank and the others forced to drink a lethal Chinese paraquat herbicide by militias from the ruling Zanu-PF party.

"[The agreement] should have happened long back," he says. "Nothing will ever bring my three dead brothers back."

Leslie's mother and elder brother Hilton still fear for their lives, guarded by armed police at a Harare hospital.

"I'm bitter, but I however look forward with hope," he says.

No embrace

National angst remains after President Robert Mugabe and his main political rivals, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions, signed a Memorandum of Understanding that could pave the way for a lasting political settlement.

This is not the time to outdo one another, but to think about the suffering of the ordinary people

Mudiwa, Highfields township resident

There was a handshake and a smile, but no embrace. It appears the rivals did not want to physically commit themselves that far.

The body language failed to provide a clue as to whether the ice had really been broken in the hotel where they held a brief meeting.

Mr Mutambara seemed at ease, Mr Tsvangirai disinterested, and Mr Mugabe was, as usual, self-confident.

The handshake was a temporary triumph for South African President Thabo Mbeki and his much-criticised "quiet diplomacy" policy on Zimbabwe.

At last, the rivals had come face to face.

They signed a commitment to "end polarisation, divisions, conflict and intolerance that have characterised our country's politics".

The talks are due to be completed in two weeks.

Economic collapse

With inflation at more than 2.2m%, unemployment at 80%, and basic food commodities vanishing from shelves, locals have been finding things tough, with millions forced into neighbouring countries.

It is a situation President Mugabe was finding difficult to wriggle out of.

Zimbabwe’s new Z$100bn note, 22 July 2008
Amid rampant inflation, Zimbabwe has printed a Z$100bn note

After winning the controversial run-off with an official tally of 85%, the economy became his newest challenger.

This time, he was never going to win, hence the huge climb-down for negotiations with Mr Tsvangirai - who he had previously characterised as a "puppet," "dumb" and a "frog".

For now, both rivals' loose tongues are tied by a clause in the new deal that states: "The parties shall refrain from using abusive language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred or undermine each other."

In the townships, there is some confusion.

"We wait and see, it's difficult to trust Mr Mugabe," says Caleb, 34, from Chitungwiza, a dormitory town just south of Harare.

But Mudiwa, of Highfields said: "We trust all our leaders, we hope whatever they will debate, is good for us all.

"This is not the time to outdo one another, but to think about the suffering of the ordinary people."

Around the streets of Harare, the news came as a shock to many.

It drew laughter from those who thought it was a hoax, but excitement from others.

A security officer at a local hotel said people were looking forward to making sure "people are having enough food and they are having enough medication from the hospitals".

Taxi driver Johannes Phiri said: "I am quite happy, what has been happening was very bad.

"With the agreement, everything will be all right so that we can survive and lead our normal lives again."

'Ball rolling'

A 40-year-old petrol attendant who refused to be identified said the country could return to the relative prosperity of the past.

"The ball is rolling on now. I'm sure the country is going to prosper, it is going to be a Zimbabwe like that one of the yesteryears."

Under Monday's deal, the objectives and priorities of new government are to "restore economic stability and growth", and to address the issue of sanctions and the land question.

The parties agreed to address the thorny issues of a new constitution, national healing, free political activity, the rule of law and guaranteeing security.

In past weeks, Zanu-PF terror squads have torched countless rural homes, forcing villagers to flee into mountains where temperatures dropped to 6C.

The terror squads or militias are now expected to disband their bases, and preach peace.

"Will they ever do that, let's wait and see, I am very sceptical," says Leslie.

"Are people now able to walk freely with their party T-shirts without risking their limbs?" he asked.

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How the Army, Police are Defying the Courts on Farms

The Zimbabwean

Tuesday, 22 July 2008 12:27


I am a Zimbabwean citizen trained in Zimbabwe as an agriculturalist. I
have worked most of my life in Zimbabwe barring seven years when I worked as
an agriculture consultant for a tobacco company traveling all over the

I have represented my country at international level as a cricketer. I
inherited a farm of 1250 ha from my father in 1999 in the district of

. In 2002 I voluntarily gave up my farm to the state as part of their
land reform Programme and moved onto my father-in-laws farm in Headlands. It
was 1200 ha and in 2003 I acquired the majority shareholding. The farm
produced tobacco, roses, cut flowers, cattle and maize turning over US$1, 5
per annum. We built a school on the farm holding 400 pupils and a
clinic which we funded.

. In 2003 the state officials demanded we give up some of our
remaining farm. We agreed to let go of 250 ha. A month later we were asked
by the District Administrator to give more. We agreed again to another 250
hectares but confirmed with the D.A. and the Governor that we were free to
remain with the rest and the matter was finalized.

. At the end of 2003 Minister Made moved into the area and allocated
our remaining portion to his relatives and we were put under pressure on the
land by him and his agents. We were served prosecution notices and taken to
court over the remaining portion despite all our prior agreements. In the
prosecution we were granted 376ha of land.

. The minister refused to accept this and his relative continued the
harassment on the ground until we had him evicted through a high court

. We then had about 2 years of trouble free farming until Brigadier
General Mujaji arrived on the farm and claimed all was his including my
crops and equipment. He produced an Offer letter signed by Minister Mutasa
and put 4 to 8 armed soldiers at my gate. My labour were harassed as was I,
and some
of my equipment was looted. We were forced to grow crops for him at
gun point. I then went to see the Acting President Msika who is chairman of
the National Lands Board. He told me to stay on the farm as I had been
allocated it by the state under the Land Programme. He ordered the Governor
to put this in writing for me.

. Mujaji said that he did not listen to Msika and carried on with his
extortion at gunpoint. I then went to the high court and got an order
against him requiring him to leave and replace what he had taken. He
appealed against this to the Supreme Court and failed.

. He refused to acknowledge the ruling of both the courts and evicted
me at gunpoint from my house whilst the police looked on. He took whatever
equipment remained on the farm. I then sought a contempt order on him and he
was found guilty and sentenced to 30 days in prison with hard labour. See
appendix 5. He was never arrested despite the order being served.

. I returned to my farm in November 2007 and built things up again. We
grew a large crop of maize 500 tons, and managed to get about 20% of our
workers back. My flowers had been destroyed as had the tobacco crop
amounting to a loss of 85% of income. As soon as we had finished reaping
Mujaji pitched up
to the farm with Militia and army staff and attacked us on the farm.
My labour was beaten up and I was barricaded in my house. I managed to
escape at night and walked 15 kilometers to the main road where I got a
lift. My key workers were chucked off the farm and Mujaji removed some of my
irrigation pipes and a trailer and stole maize. He told me he was taking my
crops including my wheat crop in the ground, my tobacco seed beds and all my
equipment. Even my house was looted. The police reacted after two weeks and
only after I took the issue to Head Quarters Police. They arrested no
one.Mujaji still commandeers the farm with his soldiers and youth. He has
prevented me from delivering any maize and all my workers have been severely
threatened should they communicate with or assist me.

. In the meantime I have again been charged by the state for being on
the land unlawfully; this was a criminal case and holds a sentence of 2
years imprisonment. I pleaded not guilty and was acquitted.

Mujaji ignored this and the local police have refused to deal with

I have got authority to be on the land from

1. The Acting President Msika and the Governor of Manicaland.
2. Two High Court Orders backed up by a Supreme Court Order.
3. A Civil Prosecution where I was allocated the Land
4. A criminal prosecution where I was acquitted thereby confirming my

In spite of all this and including the fact that I donated my own farm
to the State and 70% of my last remaining farm which really belonged to my
father in law; built a school and a clinic, I have been evicted at gun point
and my crops and equipment looted and taken by Brigadier General Mujaji.

 I have never once taken the state to court believing that they would
honour their own laws and agreements. I am currently trying to get the
Police,through their highest office, to act, to ensure the law is upheld.
Mujaji is a senior member of the Zimbabwe National Army who is openly using
Personnel to defy the Courts, Police and laws to steal a farm that he

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Zimbabwe rolls out $100-billion bill as inflation hits 2,000,000%

National Post, Canada
Posted: July 22, 2008, 1:48 PM by Chris Boutet


And to think we here at Posted were impressed by all those zeroes when Zimbabwe began circulating a $50,000,000 bank note back in April as inflation rates topped 164,900%. Ha! Turns out they were just getting the zero machine warmed up.

Yesterday, the country's central bank introduced a new, higher-value $100,000,000,000 bill in an attempt to curb inflation rates that have spiralled into the stratosphere, clocked at 2,000,000% and climbing late last week.

So what does $100,000,000,000 bill get you in Zimbabwe these days? The answer, predictably, is not much — according to Reuters, a single egg in Harare now costs $35-billion. Haggle the vendor down $5-billion, and you've got yourself three eggs in exchange for the world's largest bank note in circulation.

As bad as things are, however, Zimbabwe's economic crisis is still miles away from taking a place alongside history's worst cases of hyperinflation. As we pointed out in our April post on the economic phenomenon, that crown still belongs to post-WWII Hungary, where at its peak the rate of inflation was 4.19 quintillion percent. At that point, you might as well start paying for things with hugs.

— Chris Boutet, National Post 

Photo: A vendor arranges eggs on a new 100 billion Zimbabwean dollar note in Harare July 22, 2008. (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters) 

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Madhuku: approach taken by political parties illegitimate

By Violet Gonda
22 July 2008

Outspoken civil leader Dr Lovemore Madhuku regards the signing of the
Memorandum of Understanding by the main political parties in the country as
"illegitimate," saying it does not take an all stakeholders approach. The
leaders of ZANU PF and the two MDC formations on Monday signed an agreement
on a framework for negotiations leading towards a political settlement.

Madhuku said: "I think as civil society our reaction is very clear. We
believe that the approach taken by the political parties is illegitimate. It
is illegitimate because they believe that as political parties on their own
they have the responsibility to resolve the crisis and they are excluding
the rest of society generally, and not just civil society."

"It is simply based on an understanding that once the political parties
agree then that is all that is required," Madhuku added.

The political parties have said this is an agreement to finding solutions to
the country's political logjam, which intensified after the disputed
presidential election. One of the stumbling blocks is the fact that Robert
Mugabe is insisting on being recognised as the head of state after he 'won'
the one-man run off poll last month. However Madhuku, who is the chairman of
the National Constitutional Assembly, says the crisis in Zimbabwe is more
than what happened with the recent controversial elections.

Madhuku said life has been very difficult for Zimbabweans for the last few
years, with severe shortages of basic commodities. He said: "So it can't
just be seen as an electoral dispute. We are not here to talk about the
sharing of power. We are here to talk about how to address the enormous
problem that Zimbabwe is in. You have millions of Zimbabweans living outside
the country. Many of them left the country some four, five years ago and so
forth. Those are the kind of issues that we need to get out at the moment."

He said it is very "naïve" to say it is about an election or about who is
the head of government. He believes that because Zimbabweans have suffered
for a long time it is time to devise a long term solution that is done
properly and is inclusive.

Speaking on the agenda items in the MOU, Madhuku said; "That whole
memorandum of agreement is simply a power sharing arrangement. So if you
just pick out the so-called agenda items you can be misled into believing
that there is going to be a serious discussion of the issues there. There is
no serious discussion."

"You cannot say that you have a new government, which is what the subject
matter is, and that new government must look at the land question. And then
you have a new government and that new government must look at the issues of
sanctions. All those things are completely unrelated to the centre of our
problem - which is a governance crisis that must be resolved by Zimbabweans
agreeing to reform our political system, followed by free and fair elections
and a legitimate government that has a clear mandate to govern."

There are mixed reactions on the latest developments in Zimbabwe. While some
analysts say the call for other stakeholders is correct, as even South
Africa had strong input from civil society during the transition from
apartheid rule, there are others who believe the signing of the agreement is
a major step as it brings a dictatorship to the negotiating table. They say
Tsvangirai had been left with no choice but to enter into negotiations after
a brutal campaign decimated his party structures, resulting in the deaths of
hundreds of people and the displacement of tens of thousands. A journalist
in Zimbabwe said: "It is a beginning. It had to start, because there was
nowhere else to go. But let's hope the change will benefit the guy on the

However Madhuku strongly disagrees with the notion that the MDC was left
with no other options. He said: "There were so many options. The options
that were available to Morgan Tsvangirai were to disengage and to continue
to lead a broader base than his political party. He had been given the
leadership of that broader grouping by the March 29th election. The purpose
of that election result was to give him a broader leadership. His weakness
is to continue to lead a smaller group of his political party."
"And that is why he would have fewer options. He would have more options if
he takes up the mandate to lead beyond the MDC and say - here I am leading a
pro- democracy movement that would want reform and this is what we want to
do, and Mugabe would be weaker that way. But Tsvangirai will always be
weaker if he is simply leading an MDC with less than an absolute majority in
parliament," Madhuku said.
Meanwhile world leaders have welcomed the agreement on the framework for
talks. Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said this was a
significant step in the right direction, which would initiate a dialogue
towards promoting peace, stability, democracy, prosperity and the
reconciliation of the Zimbabwean people.

The US government said it will be watching the talks closely and voiced
support for a negotiation process "that leads to a result that expresses the
will of the Zimbabwean people." A statement by the State department said the
Bush administration is waiting to observe "the evolution of this process"
While supporting the mediation process, the United Nations Secretary-General
Ban Ki-Moon encouraged all sides to engage in good faith and urged Zanu PF
to allow humanitarian organizations to begin their aid operations again, as
they still remain banned.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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1500 MDC officials still in jail

By Tererai Karimakwenda
July 22, 2008

State-sponsored violence is to be monitored by the Tsvangirai MDC in the
next two weeks, in order to test ZANU-PF's sincerity while talks to resolve
the country's political crisis are in progress. This is according to Luke
Tamborinyoka from the MDC information department. He said the party had
signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Monday, to show their
commitment to peaceful negotiations and the ball was now with the ruling

As the MOU was being signed by the leaders of all three rival parties, about
1500 MDC officials were still in prison on trumped up charges. Tamborinyoka
said ZANU-PF released a batch of 10 prisoners last week, but that is a small
number and the charges against them have not been dropped. Among those still
facing charges are 18 MDC MPs. The charges against them range from inciting
political violence to treason.

Many Zimbabweans who were displaced during the elections this year are still
unable to return to their home areas because of the threat of violence.
Although the incidents of violence have decreased, 27 people have been still
been killed in the past three weeks and some youth militia bases remain
operational in parts of the country.

A BBC report broadcast on Monday showed 170 opposition activists and
officials hiding in a makeshift camp in the woods just outside Harare. They
have been there for more than two weeks. The report also showed a young MDC
activist in a clinic with deep flesh wounds on his buttocks. He told the BBC
that he had been beaten with sticks a fortnight ago by dozens of ZANU-PF
militia, after he refused to join in celebrations of Robert Mugabe's runoff
election victory.

Tamborinyoka confirmed that many others are still in hiding, not trusting
that they will be safe if they return to their constituencies. He explained
that they are evaluating the situation in their individual areas, because it
is different all around the country.

There are bases still operating in Murehwa district, where Health Minister
David Parirenyatwa was implicated in organizing violence. The Gokwe area is
also still very volatile because of a parliamentary by-election that is due
there. Tamborinyoka said there is a heavy military presence in the area.
According to our correspondent Lionel Saungweme there is also a new ZANU-PF
thug named Shadreck Sayi, who is described as extremely callous and brutal
by his victims. Saungweme said Sayi beat up his own younger brother Themba
for supporting the MDC. Themba was admitted to the Avenues Clinic for

The MDC has insisted that talks cannot take place while their officials and
supporters are in prison and violence continues. With the talks reported to
have started on Tuesday, Tamborinyoka said the pressure is on ZANU-PF to
show their commitment, beyond just words. The MDC must now also show that
they are willing to stick to their demands, should the ruling party fail to
do so.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Seeking Justice for Zimbabwe: A Case for Accountability Against Robert Mugabe and Others, 1981-2008

Report Cover

Report Cover

This report was released jointly by !Enough and Impunity Watch. It came out yesterday - the same day Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara were signing their Memorandum of Understanding. It explores the “Legal options available in holding accountable President Robert Mugabe for possible international crimes”:

“This discussion paper will highlight the parameters of the legal options available to hold President Robert Mugabe accountable for various international crimes. It must be stressed that political and diplomatic options impact on the legal options. To a large degree it will be a political decision as to whether Mugabe should be held accountable, though the development of an accountability/justice model to be used, should the decision be taken to investigate Mugabe, is appropriate now.


The mandate should be prosecuting either Mugabe himself alone or those who bear the greatest responsibility for the crimes committed in Zimbabwe, to include Mugabe and selected henchmen. The facts will bear out who those possible indictees are.

The crimes committed are both international and domestic in scope. It appears the international crimes are largely crimes against humanity. Using the Rome Statute as a guide, Article 7, crimes against humanity, some charges would include persecution, imprisonment and other severe deprivation of personal liberty, as well as other inhumane acts that intentionally cause great suffering, all pursuant to a state policy.”

It can be downloaded from the !Enough website, or from the Impunity Watch site. We have also archived it on our site so it appears alongside our violence map.

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Tsvangirai should watch his back

Tue, Jul 22, 2008 by Stephen Covington

Foreign Affairs

Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai have shook hands in a public ceremony and vowed to work together to end the nation’s political crisis that has resulted in riots and violence after a disputed election.  Mugabe really had no choice, after the MDC took a convincing victory in the polls, and ZANU-PF had to work overtime stuffing the ballots to come up with a victory that still had that infamous piscesian odor.

This may look, to many observers, to be a convincing semi-victory for the MDC - when was the last time Mugabe compromised with anyone on anything?  He usually just sends a fleet of ragged Toyotas filled with AK-47-toting thugs to settle his compromises.  This must surely be a sign of progress.

Maybe - but don’t count on it.  With his pillaging ways and habit of holding onto power with an iron fist, Mugabe very literally rules a gangster state.  And what happens when a gangster like Mugabe buries the hatchet?  His next move is to knock off his opponent when he least suspects it.  Tsvangirai shouldn’t get into any cars with shifty-looking, garrote-toting guys in the back.

Below: this is what Tsvangirai looked like after he got out of jail.  Sure doesn’t look like a foreshadowing of bipartisan cooperation to me.  When will Mugabe apologize for all the destruction he’s caused?

, , , ,
This post was written by:

Stephen Covington - who has written 57 posts on Conservative Pulse.

Contact the author

  1. Emile de Ravin Says:

    I live just across the border in neighboring South Africa, and our feeling here is that the ‘agreement’ signed yesterday is yet another sham by the Vampire of Harare to stay in power for as long as possible.

    Mugabe knows, as do we, that if he should hand power over to the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, then its as good as a one way ticket for him to a nice jail cell - where his thugs tortured and murdered thousands during his 28 years of evil and corrupt rule. At least, for now, he can still live in the lap of luxury while his people still starve or are beaten up by his security forces.

    I don’t trust that terrorist, and I never will. Poor decent Tsvangirai is the latest victim to be sucked into his trap. And Thabo Mbeki is yet another one to fall prey to the vampire…

    Remember, a leopard never changes its spots. Only the spot it sits on.


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Zanu PF Chefs Transferring Millions Outside the Country

SW Radio Africa (London)

22 July 2008
Posted to the web 22 July 2008

Lance Guma

Senior figures in Mugabe's regime are transferring millions of US dollars
out of the country, amid growing fears of financial scrutiny by a possible
new government or expanded targeted sanctions if the crisis remains

According to the latest report by Africa Confidential most of the
transactions are being approved by the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono,
despite his pretensions of enforcing strict monetary rules. The report says
Zanu PF aligned politicians and businesses are using established western
banks and insurance companies to make the transfers. 'They take advantage of
the fact that several big financial institutions quote their shares on the
stock exchange in Harare, as well as those in Johannesburg and London,' the
report says.

This makes it easier for the money to be siphoned out of Zimbabwe with
little or no scrutiny. The money is then transferred to safer offshore
jurisdictions or financial centres in East Asia. Other safe destinations
include Namibia and South Africa where the ruling elite have property,
usually registered in the names of their spouses or children. But the
one-man sham election of June 27 has led to many African countries reviewing
their position on the legitimacy of Mugabe's regime. This has forced some in
Zanu PF to move their money to financial institutions in Malaysia and China,
using large trading companies or multinational banks. The report blames this
capital flight for contributing to the hyper-inflation which has destroyed
the country's economy.

Africa Confidential cited the example of exiled Zanu PF businessman James
Makamba holding accounts in Egypt, and former Guruve North MP David Butau,
who fled to the UK after transferring his money into an HSBC bank account in
the Channel Islands. Other companies are said to be exploiting government US
dollar lines of credit which are used to pay for external debts and other
current government expenditure. 'In return, they are given shares for
dual-listed companies that they can sell abroad for foreign exchange,' the
report says. Companies cited include Cargill Zimbabwe, African Banking
Corporation, Mettalon Gold, owned by South Africa's Mzi Khumalo and Vulya
Investments. All these companies were given Old Mutual shares as security
and these were eventually sold outside Zimbabwe.

Some of the key figures implicated in the 'cash flight' include former army
general Solomon Mujuru and former Metropolitan Bank CEO Enock Kamushinda,
who is now thought to be running Mugabe's business portfolio from Malaysia.
Controversial British property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten was also
named. Meanwhile the Central Bank is said to have availed US$2 million to
AMG Global Nominees, a brief case company that is being used by Mugabe to
try and take control of London-listed Africa Resources Limited. Businessman
Mutumwa Mawere who owns ARL told Newsreel the report by Africa Confidential
served to highlight the dirty deals being done by people in government and
yet the same individuals were at the forefront of victimizing other
businessmen accused of lesser crimes.

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EU hits Zimbabwe with enhanced sanctions package

Times Online
July 22, 2008

Rory Watson in Brussels
The European Union stepped up sanctions against Zimbabwe today in an effort
to increase pressure on Robert Mugabe following his pact to enter
power-sharing talks with the opposition.

The new embargo identified 37 supporters of the regime whose assets will be
frozen and who will be subject to a visa ban, preventing them from entering
EU territory.

For the first time, the sanctions will also affect four Zimbabwean companies
and aim to close loopholes which have enabled Mr Mugabe to come to Europe
almost at will despite already being subject to a ban.

Announcing the measures, in protest at June's widely condemned presidential
election run-off, Bernard Kouchner, French Foreign Minister, said: "It is
impossible to accept the result of the second elections when children are
being tortured and basic democratic rules are being violated. Sanctions have
an effect. They are not for fun."

The decision to add new names to the 130 which are already the target of EU
sanctions was taken despite the signing on Monday of a deal between Mr
Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, on a framework for talks.

The discussions, which were due to start in South Africa today, got off to a
far from auspicious start after the chief representatives for both parties
failed to leave Harare. They are now unlikely to begin serious negotiations
in Pretoria before Thursday.

David Miliband, British Foreign Secretary, said: "The sanctions are designed
very much to reinforce the drive for the transition government to reflect
the democratic will of the Zimbabwean people."

The decision, which was implemented immediately, has extended the sanctions
to four Harare-based companies. They included Zidco Holdings and Jongwe
Printing and Publishing Company (PVT) Ltd, which carries out printing and
publishing for Zanu-PF.

Also on the list is Cold Comfort Farm Trust Cooperative, which is considered
a front for investments outside Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

The individuals added to the visa ban come largely from the business sector
and the military. They include Gideon Gono, the governor of the central
bank, Joyce Kazembe, the vice-president of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
and Peter Chingoka, the head of the country's cricket federation who is
accused of publicly supporting the terror campaign before and during the
elections. For the first time, two journalists have also been included:
Munyaradzi Huni and Caesar Zvayi, both of whom work for the state-run

Foreign Ministers made clear tonight that the sanctions could be extended to
further individuals and organisations. In the coming weeks, the EU will
"examine the measures which might be taken against others responsible for
violence, and other bodies linked to them," they said.

Aware that sanctions did not prevent Mugabe from attending an EU-Africa
meeting in Lisbon last year, or a more recent UN Food and Agricultural
Organisation (FAO) gathering in Rome, the ministers tightened existing

In future, it will be possible for just one country to oppose and prevent
the visit to Europe by anyone on the banned list, unless the entry visa is
for "absolutely necessary on urgent humanitarian grounds".

While it has less influence over meetings in Europe involving UN agencies,
the EU has also imposed further restrictions.

In future, it will only give visas for the persons directly concerned by the
event. "So, if there is the funeral of a Pope or an FAO meeting, nothing
will prevent Mugabe from attending. What will change is that he will not be
allowed to have a delegation or be accompanied by his wife so she can go
shopping," explained one official.

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US still weighing Zimbabwe sanctions: White House

Yahoo News

Tue Jul 22, 11:16 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States is closely watching political
developments in Zimbabwe but still may impose fresh sanctions on Zimbabwe's
Robert Mugabe and his top aides, the White House said Tuesday.

"We're still looking into it, as we monitor the situation on the ground," US
National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said after the European
Union widened its sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Brussels took action despite a deal between Mugabe and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai aimed at ending the political crisis.

EU foreign ministers, at a meeting in Brussels, added 37 more people to a
list of individuals under a visa ban and whose assets have been frozen, as
well as four "legal entities," or companies.

The list -- which had already included Mugabe, his wife and other senior
officials -- now totals 168 people and four companies, and sees the EU for
the first time target business people and companies in Zimbabwe.

The new names were not immediately released so as not to alert those
concerned and allow them to transfer their assets to safety.

The move came despite the signing Monday of a deal between the veteran
president and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Tsvangirai on a
framework for talks on a future government.

Mugabe was re-elected in a run-off last month after Tsvangirai pulled out,
citing a campaign of intimidation and violence against his supporters that
had killed dozens and injured thousands.

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SADC tribunal rules Zimbabwe government has violated its orders

Earth Times

Posted : Tue, 22 Jul 2008 18:23:07 GMT
Author : DPA

Windhoek - The Zimbabwean government will have to answer to an
upcoming SADC summit for violating an injunction granted by the tribunal of
the Southern Afican Development Community to stop harassing Zimbabwean
farmers until their case was decided by the regional court. "The applicants
have adduced abundant material to show that the existence of the failure on
the part of the respondent and its agents to comply with the decisions of
the Tribunal has been established," the five-judge bench said in its ruling
released Tuesday.

"Consequently, pursuant to Article 32(5) of the Protocol on Tribunal,
the Tribunal will report its finding to the summit for the latter to take
appropriate action," it ruled.

The SADC tribunal, which is based in Namibia, had ordered the Zimbabwe
government not to interfere with Mike Campbell or 77 other white farmers
pending the outcome of their case, in which they are challenging their
eviction under President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reform

In recent weeks, however, militia allied to Mugabe's Zanu-PF party
have invaded several of the farms. Campbell, the first of the farmers to
turn to the SADC tribunal last year, in a last-ditch bid to remain on the
land, was badly beaten along with his wife and son-in-law during an attack
on his farm.

Last week the court also heard submissions from the farmers and the
Zimbabwean government on one part of the farmers' case dealing with a
Zimbabwean law that bars them from contesting their evictions through the

The farmers say the law violates the SADC treaty, to which Zimbabwe
and 13 other countries in the region are signatories. Judgement on that
appeal has not yet been passed.

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Mugabe must be given safe exit - Kenya's Odinga


Tue 22 Jul 2008, 15:15 GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - Negotiations between the Zimbabwean opposition and ruling
party should work towards ensuring a safe exit from office for President
Robert Mugabe, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on Tuesday.

Odinga, one of Mugabe's most outspoken critics among African leaders, said
the deal signed between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on
Monday opened "a window of hope".

Speaking in London, he said Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) should enter negotiations knowing it has the upper hand, given it had
won a first round of elections, which he said was the only poll accepted

"Therefore Mr Mugabe is not president, therefore they should not negotiate
with Mr Mugabe from a position of weakness," Odinga said at an event at the
Houses of Parliament, hosted by the London-based think-tank, the Royal
Institute of International Affairs.

"Then be flexible enough to reach a compromise which will give Mr Mugabe a
place to exit... For the sake of the people in Zimbabwe, we must give Mr
Mugabe a safe exit," he added.

Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai have demanded to be recognised as Zimbabwe's
rightful president. Tsvangirai refused to take part in the run-off election,
citing attacks on his supporters. Mugabe was declared the victor.

Despite the recent crisis in Kenya, Odinga stressed the differences between
Zimbabwe and his country -- in political, economic and military terms.

Kenya's own presidential election, in December 2007, was disputed and led to
two months of violence in which about 1,500 people were killed and more than
300,000 made homeless. Peace was restored with the formation of a coalition
government between President Mwai Kibaki and Odinga's former opposition

Odinga said Kenya did not provide a blueprint for the way forward in
Zimbabwe "except on the need to open dialogue."

Odinga, who is also attending an investment conference in London, said his
country was back on its feet after the period of violence and urged
investors and tourists to return.

"We have been to hell and back and never again in our history will we return
to those times," he said. "Our nation is back on its feet. Kenya is up and

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Zimbabwe's rhinos terrorised by poachers

The Australian

Jon Swain in Harare | July 21, 2008

THE game scouts looking for a black rhinoceros wounded by poachers in
Zimbabwe's Save Valley Conservancy could hear her snoring but could not see
her through the long grass.

Eventually, by making a lot of noise, they forced the rhino to stand up and
were greeted by a sight so appalling that it took them a few moments to
realise what they were looking at.

The whole face of the 16-month-old calf had been removed, including her
eyes, in an attempt by the poachers to take off her small horns.

The "snoring" was coming through a hole in the nasal bone. She was very weak
and lay down again. One of the scouts crept forward and darted her with M99
tranquillising agent, but the dart bounced off her hide and she did not get
a full dose.

She was so dehydrated that the wound on her face was not even bleeding. The
decision was taken to give her another dose of M99 in the hope she would
succumb. After a short while, she died.

A closer inspection showed that there was a snare wound on her left lower
leg and a deep infected cut above it. There were also cut marks from a panga
on her back.

The nature of the wounds to her face suggested that the poachers had thought
the young rhino was dead and proceeded to remove the horns when she suddenly
revived. Perhaps that was when they slashed her with the pangas. In any
case, another of Zimbabwe's black rhinos had fallen victim to poaching.

At independence in 1980, Zimbabwe had 2000, one of the largest groups in
Africa. But a wave of poaching driven by demand for their horns in Asia and
the Arab world has drastically reduced the population. In Asia, the horns
are desired as a traditional Chinese medicine for fevers and as a sexual
stimulant. In fact, they are composed of tightly pressed hair fibres and
have no medicinal properties. In Yemen, they are fashioned into highly
prized ornamental dagger handles.

By 1993, poaching had left only 370 black rhinos in Zimbabwe and it was a
critically endangered species. To save the few remaining animals, a national
conservation strategy was launched in which some members of the surviving
population were captured and taken to national game parks and conservancies.

The Save Valley Conservancy became a primary breeding area, and today the
Zimbabwean population is believed to be about 530, mostly in conservancies
in the Lowveld, in the south of the country.

Raoul du Toit, manager of the World Wide Fund for Nature's rhino
conservation project in the Lowveld, emphasised that this was a "very, very
precarious success" that could easily be reversed by poaching, which has
been rife since so-called war veterans and ZANU-PF sympathisers invaded
white-owned farms eight years ago, supported by Robert Mugabe's government.
The chaotic land invasions precipitated the economic decline and lawlessness
that culminated in the widespread violence that swept the country before and
after the June 27 presidential election run-off.

Fourteen black rhinos have been killed by poachers in just a few months.
Last October, three were shot dead by members of the army, armed with AK-47
rifles and dressed in camouflage, on Imire, one of the country's last
remaining game ranches, which lies east of Harare. Each rhino had a guard
with it but they were beaten and tied up.

The shootings were senseless: all the rhinos had been dehorned so that they
did not have any value to poachers.

The killing of the calf at the beginning of this month was another grim
setback, although du Toit insisted that conserving the black rhino in
Zimbabwe was not a lost cause.

Most rhino poaching, he said, was being "sporadically and opportunistically"
carried out by locals, who knew where they were and killed them from
economic necessity. But some were linked to corrupt officials.

Johnny Rodrigues, the head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, a
wildlife advocacy group, said a new law being considered to nationalise the
country's remaining private game ranches could be the final blow. However,
in a notable reversal of fortune, the authorities stopped war veterans
seizing the Imire game ranch and expelling its white owners.

Rhino poaching is only one part of a grim picture of the destruction of
Zimbabwe's wildlife. The country had one of the largest elephant populations
in the world. That, too, is plummeting as thousands are snared by poachers
or shot illegally.

To help protect Africa's elephant herds from poaching, a worldwide ban on
the ivory trade remains in force. However, the ban does not extend to
killing elephants for meat, and this has allowed the Zimbabwean authorities
to increase elephant hunting without attracting international censure.

Some Mugabe loyalists have profited from the land seizures to allocate
themselves hunting concessions around national parks. They have allowed
professional hunters to bring in clients to shoot game without applying
proper conservation rules. Even lion hunting for meat was being offered by a
prominent professional hunter in a recent advertisement, although it is
illegal to shoot lions for meat.

Happyton Bonyongwe, Zimbabwe's spy chief, is one high-ranking official
allegedly involved in the illegal game-hunting business. Informed sources
said he received $2000 from a professional hunter for every elephant shot on
a concession bordering a national park. Hundreds were being shot.

Bonyongwe is blacklisted by the US and Britain. He is on the sanctions list
barring him and other Zimbabwean officials from travelling to the EU and the
US and freezing their assets.

Last week, posing as a middleman seeking to buy a rhino horn for an Arab
sheik, I was able in just a day of telephone calls in Harare to have a
specimen delivered. Hidden in a black plastic bag in a blue holdall, the
horn was brought to my room for inspection.

A rhino horn is worth as much as $120,000 in the Middle East and China. I
was told I could buy it for between $20,000 and $40,000. I was also told how
easy it would be to smuggle it out of Zimbabwe disguised in a consignment of
car parts.

Further investigation revealed that the horn had come from the rhino horn
store of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management, which
holds thousands of horns, none of which is allowed to be sold. The seller
had tried to erase the store's identifying stamp to disguise its origins,
but I could still faintly make it out on one side.

Two days later, after more phone calls and surreptitious meetings in a
private house in a residential area of Harare, I was offered two pairs of
tusks, each weighing 20kg, from two illegally shot elephants. The seller
said that, for a fee, he could easily arrange the paperwork to export them.

I said I would get back to both sellers. It seemed strangely easy to buy
horns and ivory, but behind their sale is a sickening tale of wildlife
abuse, as the appalling killing of the rhino calf in Save Valley Conservancy

The Sunday Times

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Robert Mugabe wins, democracy loses in any Zimbabwe power-sharing deal

The Telegraph

Scores of his supporters have been murdered and thousands tortured in the
cause of ridding Zimbabwe of President Robert Mugabe, yet Morgan Tsvangirai,
once the opposition leader, shook the old dictator's hand.

Analysis by David Blair, Diplomatic Editor
Last Updated: 9:43AM BST 22 Jul 2008

If a power-sharing deal emerges from the talks that will now open, Mr
Tsvangirai will join the president in a "government of national unity".

At a stroke, Mr Mugabe will neutralise his leading opponent, cripple what
remains of the opposition, win international recognition - at least in
Africa - and break the wall of isolation that presently surrounds him.

This would be no mean achievement. Less than two weeks ago, Mr Mugabe was
threatened with a United Nations resolution that would have subjected him to
a global travel ban and asset freeze.

If he reaches a deal with his opponents, Mr Mugabe will vault from pariah to
elder statesman, certainly among his African neighbours. In short, he will
have succeeded in guaranteeing his grip on power until, in his own good
time, he chooses dignified retirement.

African autocrats follow one iron rule - either kill your opponents or buy
them off. Mr Mugabe's great innovation was to do both. First he murdered Mr
Tsvangirai's followers, now he will do his utmost to buy off his leading
opponent. There is still a chance that Mr Tsvangirai will resist the
pressure and refuse to join a coalition government under Mr Mugabe. But the
former opposition leader is not very good at resisting pressure.

If so, Mr Tsvangirai and his followers will be compensated with cabinet
jobs, official residences and smart cars. Mr Mugabe will ensure, however,
that real power rests with him.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa will claim vindication for his long
years of much derided diplomacy.

The creation of a "government of national unity" will be described as the
classic African solution to political impasse.

But the result of the only contested round of Zimbabwe's presidential
election - which Mr Tsvangirai won - will be forgotten. Everyone will be in
the government, whether they won or lost the election.

The people's verdict will be ignored. For as long as that outcome is
tolerated, democracy in Africa is lost.

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Bishop expresses fear and a 'little bit of hope' on Mugabe / Tsvangirai talks

Date 22/07/08

The Bishop of Harare has expressed fears and a 'little bit of hope'
following the announcement that Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai are to
hold talks which could lead to the formation of a power-sharing government
in Zimbabwe.

The Rt Revd Sebastian Bakare told reporters at the Lambeth Conference in
Canterbury that the Church in Zimbabwe continues to endure persecution and
is denied the right to worship in their own buildings. He told reporters
that Zimbabwe was 'at a crossroad' following the run-off election, 'not
knowing where to go or which direction to take.'

But he added: 'Having received some news this morning that the two fighting
parties have agreed to go into some discussion has sort of given us a little
bit of hope on what is likely to happen.

'It is too early to say what the chances of a sustainable solution are. For
the ordinary person on the street the most urgent issues that need to be
addressed are to live in a peaceful environment with a deep sense of
security and without fear for one's life; to make basic necessities of life
available and affordable, especially food and medicine; to live in a country
where the rule of law is observed and human dignity respected.'

He added: 'With the memorandum of understanding we are very fearful. The
other memorandum of understanding which was entered into by Robert Mugabe
and Joshua Nkomo ended up swallowing another party; and Mugabe emerged to
this day.

'I want to believe that those on the opposition side are aware of the fact
that Mugabe is not there just to hand in power.'

He spoke movingly and passionately about operating as a church under Mugabe's
regime; where Christians are routinely intimidated and prevented from

He said: 'We have been living under a system that has been so oppressive and
denied people their human rights, including religious freedom. As I speak
now, my diocese, the Anglican Diocese of Harare, continues to suffer
persecution and is denied freedom to worship as enshrined in our

'We have not been allowed to worship in our church buildings every Sunday
since November last year. Police surround our churches every morning to
refuse us to enter into our buildings. Our buildings are locked up and we
have to look for alternative places to have our services every Sunday.

'This is the context in which the church has to bear witness to the Gospel:
Where people are denied to worship freely, preaching the Good News becomes a
challenge because of the instruments of intimidation.

'I don't want to tell you how long I have been ordained. I never, never was
so conscious about the importance of peace and justice as proclaimed in the
Gospels. But today in Zimbabwe I can not stand up in front of a congregation
without referring my sermon to peace and justice.'

But the Bishop, who received warm and prolonged applause from the assembled
journalists as he left the press conference, said the experience had only
served to strengthen the church in Zimbabwe. He said: 'It is in this context
I feel that many people are beginning to see the centrality of the Gospel.

'Having been forbidden, or disallowed, to worship in our churches, the
preaching of the Gospel of Good News has now become the responsibility of
every Christian in my diocese because they are not allowed to meet.

'Wherever they meet they express their anger. Wherever they meet they pray.
Wherever they meet they share some hope that one day our churches will be
opened once more.

'That has also given our lay people a sense of ownership of their church. It
is their church they are fighting for. Our people have stood in front of
riot police with their guns. That is the courage our people have developed
since last November.

'It is not very easy for some people to pray when the other eye is looking
for the police to come in. They have done it on many occasions: to barge in
to our congregations; even pulling out people from the communion rail,
driving them out. So our people are now used to pray and look out for the
police to come in and interfere with their services.

'But this has not intimidated our people. They seem to have been encouraged
to meet and meet as people who are prepared to carry the cross.

'What then is Good News to the nation of Zimbabwe? How does the church
promise a sense of hope where people are hungry, no food on the shelves,
where people are dying with no medication, where people's homes have been
destroyed, where 80 per cent of our people are unemployed, where there is no
money anymore. What is the Good News?

'The Good News we preach, or I preach, is that earthly powers come and go
but people remain.

'And this is what we are saying to our people: pray that God may intervene,
may take charge of his own creation and redeem, liberate the people of

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Zimbabweans hail 'historic' deal

Tuesday, 22 July 2008 10:26 UK

Zimbabweans have warmly welcomed a deal setting a framework for talks on the country's political crisis.

Residents in Harare and Bulawayo told the BBC they were excited at news of the agreement, saying they hoped it would allow a return to normal life.

The deal says power-sharing talks between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC should be completed within two weeks.

South African officials say the talks would begin immediately.

The signing ceremony, which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai described as "historic", was the first time he had met Mr Mugabe in a decade.

The talks, to be held in South Africa, are expected to focus on a possible power-sharing agreement, how to revive Zimbabwe's devastated economy and ending the political violence.

But the BBC's Jonah Fisher in Johannesburg says the deal has not settled any of key issues, such as how two parties work together and - crucially - what happens to Mr Mugabe.

New sanctions

Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai have been locked in a bitter dispute over this year's presidential election.

Mr Tsvangirai, who leads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), won the first round of presidential elections at the end of March, but official results gave him less than the 50% needed for outright victory.

We should make sure people have enough food and enough medicines in hospital
Harare resident

Mr Mugabe won the second round after Mr Tsvangirai withdrew, complaining of a campaign of violence against his supporters.

The poll was widely criticised by Western powers and by a small group of African countries.

On Tuesday, EU officials said they were extending sanctions against Zimbabwe, adding 37 names to the list of people subject to a travel ban and assets freeze.

Zimbabweans expressed hope that Monday's deal would bring an end to the political unrest.

One resident in the capital, Harare, said Zimbabweans were "looking forward to peace and development".

"We should make sure people have enough food and enough medicines in hospital," said another.

In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, journalist Themba Nkosi said both government and opposition supporters were desperate for a return to normal life, wanting schools that had closed during the post-election violence to reopen.

Zimbabwean exiles in South Africa were more sceptical.

Solomon "Sox" Chikohwero, Vice-Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum, told the BBC there would only be cause to celebrate once a power-sharing deal was signed.

South African presidential spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said the talks would begin at an undisclosed location in Pretoria on Tuesday afternoon.

However, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the party's lead negotiator, Secretary-General Tendai Biti, remained in Harare.

The MDC says at least 120 of its supporters have been killed, about 5,000 abducted and 200,000 forced from their homes since the first round of the elections, in a campaign of violence by pro-Mugabe militias and the army.

Cabinet ministers and military officials have denied the charges.

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'Sign now and negotiate later'


    July 22 2008 at 07:29PM

By Fiona Forde

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change lost bargaining power at a critical moment when they failed to rush through three amendments to the Memo of Understanding (MOU) at the eleventh hour.

As Morgan Tsvangirai, President Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara sat with President Thabo Mbeki on the 17th floor of the Rainbow Towers in Harare on Monday, waiting to put their names to the five-page document, the parties' negotiators sat a few floors down, arguing over the fine details.

Tsvangirai leads the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change and Mutambara heads a breakaway MDC faction.

The third clause asked that each party's two-man team of negotiators be expanded to five
It is understood that the MDC attempted to rush through three clauses just minutes before it was due to be signed.

The first called for recognition of the right of the people of Zimbabwe to elect a government of their choice.

The second appealed for each party's negotiators to have the right to liaise with the recently appointed Reference Group and report all progress on the dialogue, or lack thereof.

The third clause asked that each party's two-man team of negotiators be expanded to five.

However, they failed to secure agreement on any one of the three, their counterparts saying that Monday afternoon was not the time to stall dialogue, particularly with Mugabe and Tsvangirai waiting for more than an hour upstairs to sign the historic agreement in which they finally recognised each other as political opponents.

'Mugabe has finally acknowledged Tsvangirai as a player, and a significant player at that'
The MDC was advised to sign on Monday and negotiate later.

However, an MDC sympathiser close to the talks argued that yesterday's setback should be not be viewed as a defeat.

"Mugabe has finally acknowledged Tsvangirai as a player, and a significant player at that, in the opposition. He has publicly recognised that Morgan is needed to have a political settlement in the country.

"And he is indirectly telling the world that without Morgan, you can't move the country forward. You must also view it as an acknowledgment by Mbeki, by the SADC and by the local political leadership, that Morgan must be counted."

The source referred to Friday's appointment of the Reference Group, when Mbeki appointed diplomats from the Southern African Development Community, African Union and UN as a support mechanism for all future negotiations.

"That was a key development," he says, "having oversight in the negotiations, especially from such an open-minded group as the Reference Group."

The main points of the MOU signed by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara are:

  • Parties agree to commit themselves to dialogue towards creating a permanent and sustainable solution to the crisis.

  • Parties acknowledge the ultimate goal of forming an inclusive government.

  • The agenda is to include the objectives of a new government, economic stability and growth, sanctions and land reforms.

  • The agenda is to include discussions on a new constitution, promotion of national unity, external interference, free political activity and the rule of law.

  • Parties agree to condemn violence, to ensure the law is applied fairly to everyone irrespective of political affiliation.

  • Parties will refrain from hate speech that may incite political intolerance and ethnic hatred.

  • Parties to discuss the time framework of a new government.

  • The dialogue should be accomplished over two weeks.

  • During dialogue, the parties shall not take any decisions that will affect the talks, such as convening parliament or forming a new government.

  • The implementation of the global political agreements that the parties will conclude, shall be underwritten and guaranteed by the facilitator, SADC, and the AU.

  • Parties will not communicate the substance of talks directly or indirectly to the media.

    For a copy of the MOU see

    This article was originally published on page 9 of Cape Argus on July 22, 2008

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    Zimbabwe's Makoni 'saddened' by talks exclusion



    Simba Makoni, the third-placed candidate in Zimbabwe's first round
    presidential vote in March, hit out on Tuesday at his exclusion from talks
    aimed at ending the country's crisis.

    Makoni, who was previously seen as a possible bridge between President
    Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was notably absent
    from a ceremony on Monday to sign a deal to begin two weeks of intensive

    "I cannot explain my absence from that signing ceremony," the former finance
    minister told South African public radio, saying "many Zimbabweans" believed
    his movement should have a role in both the current talks and the future of
    the country.

    "I feel it is sad that we are not involved at this stage. But this is only
    the beginning, there is more to come and we believe that we will make our
    contribution in that more to come."

    Despite his exclusion, Makoni described the memorandum of understanding
    signed in Harare as "a promising start."

    "I think the key factor here is how serious, honest and genuine are people
    at solving the country's problems together. We hope that they genuinely mean
    they wish to work together," he said.

    Makoni infuriated Mugabe when he decided to run as an independent in the
    first round of voting on March 29.

    He trailed in third with around eight percent of votes and was not a
    candidate in a second round last month which saw Mugabe re-elected after
    Tsvangirai withdrew in protest at attacks on his supporters.

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    Makoni not offended by exclusion in peace pact


    July 22, 2008, 09:45

    Zimbabwe's independent candidate, Simba Makoni, who came third in the first
    round of the presidential elections, says he does not feel offended at his
    exclusion from the agreement signed yesterday.

    President Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement Democratic Change (MDC)
    leader Morgan Tsvangirai have committed themselves to negotiate an end to
    the country's political crisis in the next two weeks. South African
    President Thabo Mbeki facilitated the signing of the deal in Harare

    Makoni declined to be drawn on the possibility of an alliance with either
    the ruling Zanu-PF or the MDC.

    Meanwhile, South Africa's foreign affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa says
    his country remains committed to assisting Zimbabwe on the road to political
    and economic recovery.

    African Union (AU) commission Chief Jean Ping says it marks a significant
    step in overcoming the crisis facing Zimbabwe.

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    Britain must continue to support change in Zimbabwe - Davey

    Liberal Democrats, UK

    22 July 2008

    Commenting on Robert Mugabe's and Morgan Tsvangarai's signing of a deal
    outlining a framework for talks on Zimbabwe's political situation, Liberal
    Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary, Edward Davey said:

    "Given that the MDC won the elections fairly, nobody wants to see Mugabe and
    his thugs rewarded with part of a government of national unity.

    "A clear test for these talks must therefore be the level of authority and
    influence accorded to Morgan Tsvangirai and his team.

    "Britain must continue to support those voices in South Africa that are
    supportive of change in Zimbabwe."

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    Serious talk?

    Jul 22nd 2008 | JOHANNESBURG

    How seriously, or not, to take talks between Zimbabwe's rival claimants to
    the presidency

    NEARLY four months after the first round of a presidential election in
    Zimbabwe, in March, which precipitated a frenzy of violence by
    pro-government militias and general political turmoil, President Robert
    Mugabe and the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, are about to start
    talking. On Monday July 21st, reportedly for the first time in a decade or
    so, the two men met face-to-face and even shook hands. Along with the leader
    of a smaller opposition party, Arthur Mutambara, they signed an agreement
    paving the way for negotiations over the country's political future.

    The ruling party lost its majority in parliament for the first time since
    independence and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) came
    first in the presidential poll on March 29th, but following months of
    orchestrated state-sponsored violence Mr Tsvangirai withdrew from the runoff
    in June.

    Since then a variety of outsiders, including South Africa's president, Thabo
    Mbeki, the African Union, the United Nations and the Southern African
    Development Community (SADC), have attempted to encourage some sort of
    compromise. Mr Mbeki is still the chief mediator under a SADC mandate, but
    the appointment a few days ago of a "reference group" of senior
    representatives from the three organisations was a breakthrough. The MDC
    said that Mr Mbeki is biased in favour of Mr Mugabe and demanded other
    mediators. The opposition still insists that there will be no progress
    without an end to political violence, the release of political prisoners and
    a resumption of humanitarian aid.

    The initial agreement calls on all sides to condemn and stop political
    violence and make it possible for thousands of families displaced by the
    violence to return home. It also proposes a two-week timeframe for talks to
    happen. It is unlikely that any power-sharing agreement could be reached
    within that tight schedule, but it could be extended if progress is made.
    Negotiations are expected to kick off this week in South Africa. While these
    are under way no new government is to be appointed and parliament may not be

    Compromise may yet prove to be impossible-previous attempts to negotiate all
    failed when Mr Mugabe simply turned his back on them. Mr Mugabe insists that
    he won the election in June and must be recognised as president. Security
    chiefs who, de facto, run the country, would also not tolerate any change of
    political power that would leave them vulnerable, for example to
    prosecution. Mr Tsvangirai says that the only legitimate poll was the first
    round, in March, which the MDC won.

    One possible outcome would mimic the government of national unity created
    earlier this year in Kenya after disputed elections there. In that case the
    defeated president kept his job and the winner got the (not particularly
    important) post of prime minister. Mr Tsvangirai, for obvious reasons, says
    that such a solution is unacceptable. He wants to see a transitional
    authority based on the results of the March election that would pave the way
    for fresh elections.

    Nor will talks be easy given the ongoing repression in Zimbabwe. In the past
    few months alone over 120 opposition activists have been killed and
    thousands arrested. The opposition says that 200,000 people have fled the
    violence. The lead negotiator for Mr Tsvangirai's side, Tendai Biti, is
    facing treason charges and is out on bail. Mr Tsvangirai has been denied a
    new passport, so cannot travel. Mr Mutambara is also on bail-arrested and
    charged for daring to write an editorial that was critical of Mr Mugabe.

    Previous attempts to negotiate ended in failure as Mr Mugabe's ruling
    ZANU-PF reneged on its commitments. Negotiations meant to ensure a free and
    fair election began last year and went on for months, but collapsed in
    February this year when Mr Mugabe set a date for the poll before a new
    constitution was in place. The opposition must also worry about the last
    time a unity government was formed in Zimbabwe. In the 1980s a rival
    liberation movement ZAPU was absorbed into a unity government and eventually
    into ZANU-PF itself, following a ruthless campaign of violence that left
    many thousands dead in Matabeleland. Mr Mugabe, of course, stayed securely
    in office.

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    Who will be president of Zim?


        July 22 2008 at 09:35AM

    By Susan Njanji

    Deep mistrust between Robert Mugabe and arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai
    will remain a major obstacle to rapid progress in ending Zimbabwe's crisis,
    despite an agreement to sit down and talk.

    While there is a common sense of urgency for the two sides to bury
    their differences as Zimbabwe's economy lurches from bad to worse, observers
    say neither Mugabe nor opposition leader Tsvangirai is about to give up his
    claim to be the country's rightful leader.

    And while South African President Thabo Mbeki may have pulled off
    something of a coup on Monday by persuading the pair to sign a memorandum of
    understanding on full-scale talks, Tsvangirai's pointed refusal to refer to
    Mugabe as president of anything more than his Zanu-PF party hardly boded

    According to Joseph Kurebga, a political scientist at the University
    of Zimbabwe, the talks could proceed "very fast and to the satisfaction of
    all parties" - but only if and when the main sticking point is resolved.

    "President Mugabe will want to be recognised legitimately, while
    Tsvangirai would also want to be recognised as the leader or winner of the

    Mugabe was predictably re-elected late in June in a one-man poll that
    was boycotted by Tsvangirai.

    Tsvangirai, who pushed Mugabe into second place in the first round of
    voting on March 29, has refused to acknowledge Mugabe's victory and insists
    he has the right to the biggest slice of cake in any power-sharing

    In a speech a week after the June 27 second-round vote, Mugabe warned
    that for any talks to even begin, all sides had to recognise him as head of

    While Mugabe may have given some ground then in agreeing to at least
    speak to Tsvangirai, Lovemore Madhuku, a pro-opposition analyst, says that
    should not be interpreted as a sign of the 84-year-old's weakening resolve.

    "Mugabe still wants to be an executive leader of this country and he
    will remain the executive leader - there's no illusion on that," said

    "The major issue is where to place Tsvangirai, and whether Tsvangirai
    will accept the position he will be offered or not."

    If Mugabe has slightly softened his line, Tsvangirai has also had to
    temper some of his demands such as on the make-up of the mediation team.

    He has called for Mbeki to be sacked from the position that was handed
    to him by the Southern African Development Community in March 2007.

    Although Mbeki has now set up a new body which would allow input from
    the AU and UN, he remains the chief mediator - a point reinforced by his
    presence at Monday's signing.

    Mbeki has come in for heavy flak over his refusal to publicly
    criticise Mugabe. Eldred Masunungure, a Harare-based commentator, said
    Mugabe was indebted to Mbeki - especially as he was instrumental in ensuring
    that an attempt to introduce a new package of sanctions failed at the UN
    Security Council earlier in July.

    This article was originally published on page 7 of The Mercury on July
    22, 2008

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    MISA calls for media freedom & inclusion in unity talks

    By Alex Bell
    22 July 2008

    Media freedom organisation, MISA Zimbabwe, said on Tuesday that the two week
    negotiation period following Monday's signing of the Memorandum of
    Understanding should have been preceded by an "unequivocal and explicit
    guarantee to the right of freedom of expression, access to information and
    freedom of the media", and called for the immediate inclusion of civil
    society in the unity talks.

    The MOU between ZanuPF and the two MDC formations excludes involving the
    media during the two week negotiating period, stating that "none of the
    parties shall, during the dialogue period, directly or indirectly
    communicate the substance of the discussion with the media".

    MISA Zimbabwe's chairman Loughty Dube, told Newsreel on Tuesday that he was
    "cautiously optimistic" about the MOU as a potential way forward but
    emphasised that the issue of the media is "a critical one". He said that if
    the parties involved are "sincere in solving the crisis" they need to
    "remain true to the need for a transitional process that carries the people's
    confidence". Dube added that this can only be achieved "in an environment
    that allows Zimbabweans to enjoy their fundamental right to freedom of
    expression, access to information and media freedom".

    Dube said this environment can be achieved if the ongoing arrests,
    harassment and torture of journalists are stopped, and if all media houses,
    both foreign and Zimbabwean, are given permission to cover the political
    situation as it unfolds. He added that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
    needs to be immediately transformed into a "truly independent public
    broadcaster" to serve the will of the people.

    Dube said the influence of the Minister of Information needs to be "urgently
    reduced" to transform the ZBC from a state run broadcaster into "the people's
    voice". He said the Minister's influence is the only reason why the ZBC has
    become "a party megaphone" and that a board "excluding political
     roleplayers" needs to be appointed by parliament to ensure the
    transformation has the will of the people in mind.

    Dube added that the negotiations between the MDC formations and ZanuPF
    should not be the "exclusive realm and prerogative of political parties
    alone", despite the parties going ahead with talks on Tuesday.

    Dube said the process needs to be one that "embraces the inclusion of civil
    society, as opposed to the exclusionary nature of the MOU", and called for
    the immediate involvement of civil society organisations and the media in
    the unity talks.

    SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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    Villagers Wary of Police Presence

    CHIMANIMANI, July 22 2008 - While police here say they have started
    investigating cases of political violence perpetrated against members of the
    opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) by Zanu (PF) militias almost
    a month after the June 27 one-man presidential election, villagers still
    remain wary of their presence.

    The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) says it has deployed police in
    violence-torn areas such as Biriiri, Mhakwe, Honde Valley in Manicaland to
    investigate cases of violence during the period leading to (and after) the
    controversial run-off.  Ironical, though, the villagers say the police
    officers are stationed at torture bases that were used by militias to maim
    and torture members of the opposition.

    "We are suspicious about the purposes of these investigations. Why
    didn't the police come to our rescue when we were being beaten and when our
    shops and homesteads were being looted in broad day light," said Zvenhamo
    Mapaike, whose shop was looted by militia a few days before the run off.

    Mapaike vowed not to co-operate with the police investigations
    because, he said, he believed the operation to root out the perpetrators of
    violence was just another cover up by the ZRP

    "Considering that most of the youths who were committing these crimes
    were bused from outside the district, it is not fair for the police to
    expect me to identify the youths who took away my two goats on the 21st of
    June," he said.

    Added another villager in Biriiri, Zondai Mushanguri: "The Manicaland
    Development Association (MDA) offices where the police are based is to us a
    haunted place because it is where a lot of people were killed and maimed by
    the youths."

    Police in Chimanimani on Monday defended their late action saying the
    operation to arrest the perpetrators of violence was delayed because of lack
    of manpower.

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    Tsvangirai's open letter on the memorandum of understanding


    Morgan Tsvangirai
    22 July 2008

    As issued by the Movement for Democratic Change President July 22 2008

    Open Letter from the President of the Movement for Democratic Change,Mr.
    Morgan Tsvangirai, on the Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, July22

    My fellow Zimbabweans,

    Yesterday I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mr.Robert Mugabe and
    Prof. Arthur Mutambara. This document commits our threeparties to a
    framework of negotiations that will take place over the next twoweeks.

    I know that in signing this Memorandum of Understanding, Irepresent the
    hopes and aspirations of millions of Zimbabweans to end thiscrisis as soon
    as possible. Honest, hardworking Zimbabweans who want nothingmore than a
    life that offers peace, security, economic opportunity, democracyand social
    and personal development. This is a responsibility that the Movementfor
    Democratic Change and I take with the utmost seriousness.

    This Memorandum offers the most tangible opportunity in thepast ten years to
    improve the lives of our fellow citizens. But, our signaturesalone do not
    guarantee that we will be able to make the most of thisopportunity. Our
    signatures on this document must be accompanied byacknowledging some very
    basic truths:

    We are Zimbabweans who want only what is best for our countryand our
    citizens. Our shared goal  isbest achieved in a climate of tolerance and
    stability, not divisiveness andanger. We believe that wanting a more
    democratic future or expressing analternate political opinion should be
    viewed as a right and not as adeclaration of war. No one has a monopoly on

    We believe that the will of the people is the fundamentalbasis on which to
    ground our negotiations.

    We acknowledge that these negotiations can only proceed andsucceed if the
    rule of law is restored, if people are able to go about theirbusiness in
    safety, if the public media refrain from using hate speech topolarize the
    community, if the persecution of MDC MPs, members and supportersceases, and
    if humanitarian organizations are allowed once again to provide aidto the
    millions of Zimbabweans in need of assistance.

    For my part, I call on all Zimbabweans who believe in theideals of democracy
    as espoused by the MDC, to continue to abide by the rule oflaw, to live in a
    spirit of tolerance and inclusiveness in the knowledge thatif we work
    together in this spirit, a better future lies ahead and justice willprevail.

    Yesterday, we committed ourselves to a process that presentsthe framework in
    which we can strive to find a solution to the Zimbabwecrisis. This is just
    the first step on a journey whose duration and success isdependent on the
    sincerity and good faith of all parties involved.

    In the spirit of a shared vision to heal our nation, I callupon my fellow
    signatories to join me in putting aside our differences andacknowledging
    that we have a responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe to showtrue
    leadership and to find agreement that will bring an end to the
    violence,polarisation, poverty and fear in which we have all been living for
    too long.Our fellow countrymen and women look to us to find common ground
    that willallow us, as a nation, to chart a democratic path forward.

    We must acknowledge that the outcome of these negotiationswill not be
    acceptable until it has been endorsed by Zimbabwean civil society,the trade
    unions and the people themselves. We are not here to form an elitistpact,
    but rather to represent the hopes and aspirations of each citizen andevery
    stakeholder. This is my commitment to our partners who have struggledwith us
    for a more democratic form of government.

    To the people of Zimbabwe I say, have courage, bestrong, better days lie

    The heart of the entire world is broken by what has happenedin our country,
    and your bravery is praised among all peoples everywhere.  The world stands
    ready to join us inrebuilding our nation and restoring what has been lost,
    once our peace andfreedom are re-established.

    May God bless Zimbabwe.

    Morgan Tsvangirai
    President MDC

    Statement issued by theMovement for Democratic Change July 22 2008

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    Karadzic arrest puts spotlight on new tribunals

    Associated Press

    By ARTHUR MAX - 33 minutes ago

    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - The former president of Liberia is on trial. A
    vice president of Congo is in custody. The former leaders of Cambodia are in
    the dock. And a key figure in the Bosnia war is now in custody.

    It all seemed impossible 15 years ago, when the creation of the first war
    crimes tribunal since World War II was being discussed.

    The arrest Monday of Radovan Karadzic, the alleged architect of Bosnia's
    bloody 1992-95 war and of Europe's first genocide since the Holocaust,
    highlights the long path to create a system of international justice, with
    its successes and its many teething problems.

    Karadzic, the leader of Bosnian Serbs during the war, evaded arrest for 13
    years after he was indicted for the massacre of 8,000 Muslims in the
    U.N.-declared safe zone of Srebrenica in 1995 and other alleged atrocities.

    Since the creation in 1993 of the International Criminal Tribunal for the
    former Yugoslavia, an array of war crimes courts have sprung up, all with
    the declared purpose of punishing the leaders, instigators and planners of
    mass crime in times of conflict.

    Dozens of people, mainly ethnic Serbs from the former Yugoslavia and Hutus
    from Rwanda, have been convicted.

    In the process, the courts have refined international law.

    Heads of state are no longer immune. General amnesties are no longer
    accepted unquestioned. Using children in war is outlawed. Rape has been
    defined as a weapon of war, and abusing women or forcing them into marriage
    are punishable crimes. Looting and plunder - the age-old prize for
    warriors - adds prison time.

    "The cornerstone has been laid for another 100 years worth of jurisprudence,
    which has faced down this beast of impunity that has nibbled on the edges of
    civilization for a century," said David Crane, a law professor at Syracuse
    University and the then-U.N. prosecutor who indicted former Liberian
    President Charles Taylor for his role in West Africa's upheavals.

    The threat of prosecution also is meant to deter others. That goal has been
    met, with measured success.

    Michael Scharf was working for the State Department during the debate over
    creation of the Yugoslav tribunal by the U.N. Security Council. He says most
    of his colleagues believed it would be a symbolic court that pursued only
    low-ranking officials and soldiers.

    "People are really beginning to think of these tribunals as an effective
    deterrent. That is just now happening," said Scharf, director of the
    Frederick K. Cox International Law Center at Case Western Reserve

    Ethnic slaughter still rages in Sudan's Darfur region and Congo, and
    conflicts continue in a dozen other places - from Iraq to Sri Lanka to
    Colombia to the Middle East.

    But both Scharf and Crane believe the risk of prosecution was a factor that
    prompted a settlement in Kenya's election crisis this year and in the
    promise by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to end a campaign of violence
    against his political opponents.

    "Mugabe is hearing the footsteps behind him," said Crane.

    The tribunals are still in development.

    Judges presiding at the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan
    Milosevic allowed him to manipulate and delay the proceedings - until he
    dropped dead in his jail cell of a heart attack in his trial's fifth year in

    The case against former Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, the first to go
    before the new International Criminal Court, was on the verge of collapse
    because of contradicting rules that let the prosecutor keep some evidence
    confidential while also requiring that he turn over all material that could
    help the defense. The judges are working on a compromise that will allow the
    trial to begin.

    But the most serious flaw in the tribunals is outside the courtroom: They
    may be instruments of justice, but they are creatures of politics.

    The long delay in arresting Karadzic and his top military commander, Gen.
    Ratko Mladic, who is still a fugitive, is largely seen as a deliberate
    political act by the Serbian government.

    "There is a change of political will" in Belgrade, said Florence Hartmann,
    the longtime aide of former Yugoslav tribunal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte.

    Karadzic's arrest came only after the previous government was ousted in
    elections. "Europe has changed its mind and convinced Belgrade that it was
    the best way to go, and I think together they have made a big step,"
    Hartmann said.

    Africa provides more illustrations. Leaders on the continent barely
    criticized the killings and beatings during Zimbabwe's disputed elections
    and refused to call Mugabe to account. Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir was
    defended by his peers after the chief prosecutor of the International
    Criminal Court linked him to genocide in Darfur and asked for his arrest.

    "It always boils down to politics," Crane said. "The legal aspects may be
    relatively clear, but turning over senior government officials or a head of
    state is purely a political decision."

    Associated Press writer Gaelle Faure in Paris contributed to this report.

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