The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Intitute for War and Peace Reporting

Mugabe Prosecution Unlikely

Experts say amnesty, not a prison cell, awaits Zimbabwe's president if he
ever leaves office.

By Emma Daly in New York (Africa Reports No 39, 29-Jul-05)

The list of human rights violations allegedly committed by Robert Mugabe,
the only ruler Zimbabwe has known since achieving majority rule in 1980, is
long. It includes the forced eviction of some 360,000 people from their
homes; the suppression of civil society, opposition political groups, and
the media; and political interference in the country's critical food supply.

But although these abuses have been chronicled in detail both by the media
and human rights organisations, the prospects that Mugabe will ever have to
stand trial for them at home or abroad are bleak, most legal experts say.

Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice program at Human
Rights Watch, said that in order to pursue a case against Mugabe in any
court, "one would need to put together a legally persuasive memo that crimes
against humanity have occurred in Zimbabwe and that the President of
Zimbabwe is very much linked to the commission of those crimes".

However, Gugulethu Moyo, a Zimbabwean lawyer who works in London for the
International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute, wants Mugabe to face
justice at the International Criminal Court, ICC, in The Hague, which is
already investigating crimes in Sudan, Uganda, the Central African Republic
and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"There is an obligation on all states to actually protect human rights and
what has happened with Zimbabwe is that it's the abuser who's being
protected," she said.

The ICC could initiate an investigation if a state that has ratified the
Rome Statute setting up the court requests it or if the United Nations
Security Council was to do so. Alternatively, the ICC prosecutor could
decide to pursue an investigation on his own.

But whether or not the ICC even has jurisdiction over crimes committed in
Zimbabwe remains an open question. Although Zimbabwe has signed the ICC's
statute, it has not ratified it.

Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association, argues
that Mugabe's failure to ratify does not necessarily protect him, and that a
new government in Harare could accept the court's jurisdiction immediately
and ask it to investigate.

"Such an investigation would give a tremendous boost to the people of
Zimbabwe," he wrote last year in the International Herald Tribune. "They
would know that although Mugabe can manipulate and evade domestic justice,
he cannot do the same under international law."

However, the prospect of Mugabe being toppled from power soon is unlikely.
With the opposition diminished by an electoral loss rubber-stamped by
African leaders, an uprising looks improbable. Mugabe shows no inclination
to step down - in part, critics say, because the presidency confers at least
some immunity from prosecution.

But even if Mugabe's rule were in jeopardy, analysts say any handover of
power will almost certainly be accompanied by a promise of amnesty.

"If he was overthrown, I think part of the deal would be that he is allowed
to retire quietly and live in peace," said Richard Dowden, director of the
Royal African Society.

Pointing out Mugabe's anti-colonial past and his success in portraying
British concern about recent abuses as the racist complaints of a former
ruling power, Dowden said, "He's a huge hero in Africa. I can't think that
anyone in Africa would allow him to be handed over Milosevic-style." Dowden
added that even that current leaders of the opposition Movement for a
Democratic Change do not want to humiliate Mugabe. "I can't see any
circumstances in which he would be handed over," he said.

Even if the ICC were to determine that it did have jurisdiction, it would
only be able to investigate serious crimes committed since July 1, 2002,
when the court went into force.

A history of torture in Zimbabwe and white-ruled Rhodesia published last
month by Redress, a London-based human rights organisation that supports the
victims of torture, documents numerous abuses that have taken place since
then, the most graphic of which is the alleged torture of an opposition
member of parliament, Job Sikhala, and his lawyer, Gabriel Shumba, arrested
in January 2003.

"Shumba was apparently tortured by a group of about fifteen men," said the

"He was periodically kicked with booted feet and slapped about his head from
the time of arrest, and tightly hooded so that breathing was extremely
difficult. He was threatened with dogs and taken hooded to what was believed
to be the CIO [Central Intelligence Organisation] underground torture
chambers at Goromonzi [east of Harare], where he could hear the sounds of
screaming in another room, and thrown against the wall before being stripped
naked and hands and feet shackled together in the fetal position.

"He was then assaulted all over his naked body with fists, booted feet and
thick planks and hung upside down and beaten on the bare soles of his feet
with wooden, rubber and metal truncheons.

"He was given severe electric shocks to the feet, ears, tongue and genitals,
and threatened with acid, crucifixion and needles thrust into the urethra.
He was covered in some unknown chemical substance.

"Having lost control of his bodily functions he was forced to drink his own
urine and lick up his blood and vomit. His torturers urinated on him, took
photographs of him being tortured, and threatened him with death."

Sikhala was also said to have been tortured.

Although these crimes could fall under the ICC's jurisdiction, the litany of
Mugabe's alleged crimes began well before the court's treaty went into

The Redress report argues that the 1979 Lancaster House agreement ending
white rule and providing amnesty for human rights violators set a pattern
for the Mugabe era.

Just as Ian Smith's Rhodesian enforcers got away with murder, so did the new

During the 1980s, Mugabe's troops were blamed for the killing of some 20,000
people in Matabeleland during the six years of civil war known as the
Gukurahundi, a Shona word meaning "the wind that sweeps away the chaff
before the rain".

"Thousands of unarmed civilians died or were physically tortured or suffered
loss of property, most as a result of the actions of government forces and
some at the hands of dissidents," the Redress report says.

However, a peace deal in 1987 included amnesties for all involved.

Between 1998 and 2005, the report describes "widespread and systematic human
rights abuses, including torture on a scale not seen since the bitter days
of the liberation struggle in the 1970s" and more amnesties granted by

The Security Council has the authority to set up an ad hoc tribunal that
could have jurisdiction over crimes committed before July 2002. However, the
chances of the council ordering an inquiry into Zimbabwe are "vanishingly
small", said Steve Crawshaw, director of the London office of Human Rights
Watch, pointing out that even in Sudan's Darfur region, "where you have
slaughter upon slaughter", it was difficult to get the UN to act.

Gugulethu Moyo argues that scale should not be the issue. "There are those
who argue that it would be a disproportionate response, that the case of
Zimbabwe is not so serious, but I think there is an abundance of evidence
that crimes against humanity have been committed in Zimbabwe, and to say
that the situation in Zimbabwe is not as bad as in Sudan is not the point,"
she said.

Barring an ICC investigation or a UN Security Council decision to create a
special tribunal for Zimbabwe, Mugabe could potentially face justice in
another country. Several states, mostly European, have laws allowing for the
arrest of visiting foreigners accused of serious crimes in the event that a
credible complaint is made.

However, this too is an unlikely scenario. Mugabe is unlikely to travel to a
European country that has such laws, and African countries would be
reluctant to detain him.

Said one Zimbabwean who asked not to be identified, "There seems to be so
many parties interested in protecting Robert Mugabe."

Tiseke Kasambala, a Human Rights Watch researcher who recently returned from
Zimbabwe, said although Mugabe would ensure he is protected before stepping
down, the same might not hold true for his subordinates.

"Zimbabwean civil society is very strong. They will not accept just any
immunity for all the leadership and forget the past. They would look at ways
to bring the people responsible for the massacres in Matabeleland and the
more recent killings to justice," said Kasambala.

Although there have been no criminal prosecutions for torture, victims have
found some legal redress, according to one Zimbabwean activist who preferred
not to be named. Human rights groups "have instigated many civil cases
against the state for gross human rights violations, and they are mostly
winning", though often out of court. "The state is conceding these things

In August 2003, more than 70 Zimbabwean groups took part in a symposium in
Johannesburg on civil society and justice in Zimbabwe. Delegates noted that
"the culture of impunity can only be ended if perpetrators of human rights
abuses are held accountable for their abuses".

The symposium made seven recommendations, including "that the necessary
institutions be set up to deal with past and present human rights abuses and
that such institutions be empowered not only to investigate and seek the
truth but also to recommend criminal prosecution, provide for redress and
reparation for victims and lead to healing of the nation".

But while lawyers say that it would be possible to overturn the amnesties
granted in Zimbabwe, putting alleged perpetrators on trial would be a
lengthy and uncertain process. In Argentina and Chile, for instance, courts
only recently began proceedings for crimes committed in the 1970s and 1980s.

And the vital importance of holding rulers accountable is sometimes
surrendered even by the most impassioned of human rights campaigners. "The
price of peace is quite clearly transitions that involve impunity," said
one. "It's problematic for Zimbabwe because there are so many people who are
violently anti-impunity, but you can also see many situations where it's a
necessary evil to change a fairly intolerable situation."

Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch disagrees, "I think it's a fool's
price. It's not a price worth paying because the peace you buy with it is an
illusory one."

Emma Daly covered the Balkan wars and other conflicts for the London
Independent and Spain for the New York Times. She is currently a freelance
journalist based in New York.
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UN Press Release


      The Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of
Internally Displaced Persons issued the following statement today:

      The Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of
Internally Displaced Persons, Professor Walter Kälin, today called for
recognition of the evictions in Zimbabwe as a situation of massive internal

      "What has been suspected has now become clear following the report of
the Secretary-General's Special Envoy Anna Tibaijuka last Friday: in
Zimbabwe we are facing a situation of massive internal displacement", Mr.
Kälin said.

      The Envoy's report, issued last Friday, cited 92,460 homes destroyed,
within a matter of weeks, affecting an estimated 569,685 people.
"Destruction of homes and forced movement of people on such a scale comes
squarely within the definition of internal displacement, which covers people
forced to leave their homes to avoid human rights violations and other
disasters, whether human-made or natural". "What underscores the tragedy",
the Representative added, "is that this crisis has been, from the start,
entirely avoidable".

      "The Zimbabwean Government's action is incompatible with international
law in many respects", the Representative said. The UN's Guiding Principles
on Internal Displacement set forth the rights of internally displaced
persons under international law and the obligations of States. "These
Principles", the Representative stated, "are based upon and reflect human
rights obligations also accepted by Zimbabwe". They protect against
arbitrary displacement in the first place and require due process, adequate
notice, appropriate relocation and minimisation of adverse effects. They
also require appropriate provision of the necessities of life to displaced
persons, protection of their property, as well as offer voluntary choices to
displaced persons as to where they will return. "On each and every of these
points, the Government of Zimbabwe has fallen far short of its obligations".

      The Representative called on the Government of Zimbabwe and the United
Nations presence in Zimbabwe to respond urgently to the needs of the
internally displaced. "What has already happened cannot be undone. What is
now critical is that swift action be taken to protect the rights of the
displaced - they are entitled to proper shelter, food, water and health
care, and equal access to education for their children. They also have the
right under international law to compensation for the loss of lawful
possessions, and to freely choose their future place of residence". The
Representative was confident that with rapid action on the part of the
United Nations in conjunction with the Government of Zimbabwe, "ongoing
violations of human rights on the massive scale we have witnessed can be
quickly brought to an end, and the task of putting people's lives back
together again can begin. The half-million displaced deserve, and are under
law entitled to, no less than that".
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NGOs Seek Louder Voice in New U.N. Rights Body
Haider Rizvi

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 29 (IPS) - When U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
proposed establishing a new Human Rights Council in March, many civil
society groups immediately voiced support, hoping it would enable the world
body to protect human rights worldwide in a more effective and meaningful

But more than three months later, many non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
are not only losing enthusiasm, but appear to be increasingly concerned
about their role in future deliberations leading to the formation of the
proposed Council and its work.

The president of the U.N. General Assembly released a draft document last
week suggesting that arrangements for consultations with NGOs under the
current system would continue to apply to the Human Rights Council.

But NGOs closely working with the world body on human rights protection
expressed reservations about the language used in the document, which
defines the role of civil society in the creation and functioning of the
proposed Council.

"To ensure the credibility and values of the continued reform process, it is
imperative that civil society actors be granted the opportunity to
participate throughout the process," said the Vienna-based International
Federation for Human Rights in a statement soon after the release of the

Aaron Rhodes, chairman of the NGO Committee on Human Rights, an umbrella
organisation representing an array of national and international human right
groups, expressed similar views.

"A broad range of national and international NGOs harbour particular concern
over the opportunities to be given to civil society groups to participate in
the work of the proposed Human Rights Council," he said in an open letter to
the special representatives to the U.N.

The 35-page outcome document will be presented to the General Assembly
meeting in mid-September for its consideration of the idea of a new Human
Rights Council. The meeting, which will assess progress on the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs), is to be attended by heads of state from all over
the world.

The MDGs include a 50 percent reduction in poverty and hunger; universal
primary education; reduction of child mortality by two-thirds; cutbacks in
maternal mortality by three-quarters; the promotion of gender equality; and
the reversal of the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, all by

The document envisages the new Council as a subsidiary body of the General
Assembly to be based in Geneva, which would replace the 53-member Commission
on Human Rights. If a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly approves
the idea, the Council will comprise between 30-50 members, each serving for
a period of three years.

Annan proposed the establishment of Human Rights Council as a result of
growing criticism of the Human Rights Commission, which was established in
1946 as a subsidiary body of the 54-member Economic and Social Council.

"The upgrading of the Commission would raise human rights to the priority
accorded to it in the Charter," said the secretary-general in an explanatory
note on his proposal in April. "The Commission has been undermined by the
politicisation of its sessions and the selectivity of its work."

Hoping that a new Council would help overcome the problems of "perception"
associated with the current Commission in addressing human right concerns,
Annan said those elected to the Council "should undertake to abide by the
highest human right standards."

His emphasis on "higher standards" has been perceived by many as an indirect
endorsement of criticisms by the U.S. and some human rights groups of
nations that served on the Commission despite having poor human rights
records at home, such as Libya, Sudan, Zimbabwe and others.

But critics note that seen from another perspective, the U.S. could also
fail to qualify for the Council membership because of its record in Iraq,
Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

Though in agreement with Annan on the need for reforms, some NGOs say his
failure to provide details about his vision on the modalities, functions,
procedures, and working methods make it difficult to determine how to
address the "credibility deficit" of the Commission.

"Kicking the Commission on Human Rights upstairs is easier than establishing
a credible and effective Human Rights Council," observed Suhas Chakma,
director of the New Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights, in a policy
paper titled "Illusions, Realities and Kofi Annan's Search for Legacy."

"The devil is in the details but the secretary-general has provided only
sketchy ideas about the proposed Council," he noted.

Since Annan has left the details of the Council for member nations to decide
after the September meeting, NGOs are concerned that they may be left out of
the deliberations.

James Paul, executive director of the Global Policy Forum, who closely
monitors the internal workings of the U.N., suggests that not all NGOs
involved in the U.N. work on human rights should be worrying. "I think the
bigger NGOs will continue to play their role in consultations. It's the
smaller one who will face difficulties," he said.

Last month, when Jean Ping, president of the General Assembly, invited over
200 NGOs to present their view on U.N. reforms, many NGOs from the South
complained about the selection process.

"There are the groups that have been working on the basis of our document
for five years -- they are not here," Esmeralda Brown of the Southern Caucus
of NGOs for sustainable Development recently told IPS.

She said in the lead-up to the Millennium Summit of the world leaders in
2000, she had brought more than 1,300 NGOs from the developing world, but
many of them were not invited this year. "How can we have a follow-up
without them?"

Sharing NGOs' concerns, Chakma says the U.N. "can proudly claim that the
General Assembly has consulted the NGOs prior to its session in September.
But in reality the president of the Assembly had already finalised the draft
document on Jun. 3 and circulated it for negotiations by the member states."

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Running on Empty
Sekai Ngara

HARARE, Jul 29 (IPS) - The sight of cars caked with dust, lined up outside
filling stations, has become a common one in Zimbabwe. Some of the vehicles
have been there for days, even weeks, as motorists grapple with what many
view as the worst episode yet in the country's recurrent fuel crisis.

When Zimbabwe's petrol stations started running dry a few days after the
Mar. 31 general election, car owners at first thought it was part of the "on
again, off again" cycle that has characterized the fuel supply since late

But, almost four months later, the situation has not improved -- and
indications are that what many refer to as the "fuel blues" may be with
Zimbabweans for a while yet.

In the first throes of the latest fuel shortages, people like John Mbedzi
spent the night in their cars, hoping supplies would arrive.

"I spent three nights in a row in my car guarding it, waiting for fuel that
did not come. Now, I've decided to park the car at home until the situation
normalizes," he says. Others simply abandon their vehicles in queues,
presumably to return when petrol or diesel becomes available.

But, when a filling station does receive fuel, even first place in the queue
is no guarantee of a full tank. Thanks to the popularity of mobile phones,
word gets around so quickly that the whole city often appears to descend on
the station in question. Scenes of near riots and fisticuffs have been
reported as people struggle to buy fuel; on occasion, the police have been
called to restore order.

"Sometimes queues snake about for almost four kilometres," says filling
station attendant Tawanda Banda. Those unlucky enough to be at the tail end
stand little chance of buying petrol or diesel, but grimly maintain their
places nonetheless.

After the relatively normal fuel supply in the months leading up to
elections, the latest, abrupt shortages took many Zimbabweans by surprise.
Others believed government had simply broken the bank to appease voters
ahead of the poll. "Now we are paying the price," said economist Tony

Officials themselves have remained largely silent about the shortages,
although Energy Minister Michael Nyambuya eventually admitted the flow of
petroleum products into the country had been reduced to a trickle because of
foreign currency shortages.

"The country's fuel bill has doubled because the price of crude has doubled
from 27 U.S. dollars to 60 U.S. dollars in the past twelve months," he said.

In a bid to defuse the crisis, government last week relaxed import
regulations on fuel, to allow individuals to import petrol and diesel from
neighboring countries for their own use or for sale, if they had the funds.

But, while private importers are supposed to sell any supplies they bring in
at the official price, not too many are heeding this instruction. Petrol is
changing hands at as much as ten times the pump price of about 60 U.S. cents
per litre.

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has also said that government will allow
those with U.S. dollars to use them to buy fuel at designated filling
stations, perhaps a tacit admission that Harare's 'Homelink' scheme was not
living up to expectations.

Under the initiative, a favourable exchange rate is offered to Zimbabweans
working abroad to encourage repatriation of their earnings through official
channels. As the rate is about half what the black market is offering,
however, few people have made use of the facility (the so-called "diaspora
rate" is currently pegged at 17,500 Zimbabwe dollars to one U.S. dollar).

The dismissal of Homelink notwithstanding, Gono's proposal was greeted with
suspicion by Zimbabweans, with some seeing it as a trap for people who are
flouting exchange regulations. "I would not go anywhere near such a filling
station even if I had the U.S. dollar," said one of the sceptics, Mercy
Moyo. "What will stop them (officials) from noting my car number and asking
me to tell them where I got the money from?"

Energy Minister Nyambuya has said the shortages are worsened by black
marketers who are buying what little fuel is in the country, to sell it at
inflated prices. He also complained that fuel was being smuggled to other
states from Zimbabwe, as the country had the cheapest supplies in the

Such claims have been used by government to defend its recent campaign
against informal settlements in urban areas: the much maligned Operation
Restore Order. Officials claimed the targeted settlements were being used
for black market trading in scarce commodities, such as petrol and diesel.

However, the executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements
Programme, Anna Tibaijuka, has condemned the campaign after investigating
its consequences at the request of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Following a two-week visit to Zimbabwe, Tibaijuka issued a report earlier
this month which stated that "Operation Restore Order, while purporting
to...clamp down on alleged illicit activities, was carried out in an
indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human

According to the report, about 700,000 people are believed to have lost
their homes, or source of income, or both in the campaign. And, while some
fuel has been seized during the demolition of informal settlements, the
shortages continue.

Minibus operators who augment the almost non-existent public transport
system are charging more than government-set fares, pointing to the fact
that they source fuel at black market prices.

The hours people spend in fuel queues and waiting for transport to get to
and from work are also taking their toll on production.

"I get people reporting for work at lunch time and there is little I can do
about it," the owner of a panel beating shop told IPS. "I had to use a taxi
to get to work myself for some time as I could not get fuel."

For the past five years, Zimbabwe has been gripped by an economic crisis,
ascribed by certain analysts to the country's controversial farm seizure
programme, and its costly involvement in the Congolese civil war -- amongst
other factors.

It has also suffered political turmoil: violence and allegations of vote
rigging have marred Zimbabwe's last three elections. (END/2005)

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No new Zimbabwean demolitions reported-UN
      29 Jul 2005 20:28:20 GMT

      Source: Reuters

By Irwin Arieff

UNITED NATIONS, July 29 (Reuters) - The United Nations is seeking to verify
Zimbabwe's announcement it has stopped bulldozing shantytowns but has heard
of no new demolitions since Tuesday, U.N. officials said on Friday.

"We are obviously concerned by reports that these demolitions are ongoing,"
said chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric. "Our team on the ground continues to

In Harare, U.N. resident coordinator Agostinho Zacarias has had no word of
any demolitions since Tuesday, according to a statement issued at U.N.
headquarters in New York.

Zimbabwe declared an end on Thursday to its controversial campaign to "clean
up" urban areas by bulldozing thousands of illegal structures.

Earlier such announcements proved premature when police continued the
campaign despite a rising international outcry.

The latest government statement fell a day after Anna Tibaijuka,
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy, briefed the Security Council
on her inquiry into Zimbabwe's "Operation Restore Order."

Her strongly worded report, issued last Friday, said the campaign had
destroyed the homes or jobs of at least 700,000 people and affected the
lives of 2.4 million.

The crackdown was being carried out "in an indiscriminate and unjustified
manner, with indifference to human suffering," it said.

Zimbabwe, estranged from Western countries mainly over its controversial
land reform program and accusations it has rigged elections since 2000,
called the report biased and unfair.

Tibaijuka, who also heads U.N. Habitat, the world body's Nairobi-based urban
settlements arm, was able to brief the council only after Britain insisted
she be allowed to speak.

Britain's demand forced a rare procedural vote, which it won 9-5 with Brazil

China, Russia and African nations Algeria, Benin and Tibaijuka's home
country of Tanzania were opposed to hearing the report, calling it an
interference in Zimbabwe's internal affairs. The United States, France,
Denmark, Romania, Greece, Japan, Argentina and the Philippines joined
Britain in asking Tibaijuka to speak.
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The Telegraph

'I make no apologies for being white'
By Tom Leonard
(Filed: 28/07/2005)

Live8 will merely finance 'Mercs for jerks', says Roy Bennett, the former farmer thrown into a filthy prison by Mugabe for pushing a fellow Zimbabwean MP. Tom Leonard meets him

If Bob Geldof was casting around for an African hero, a true exemplar of courage in adversity in that troubled continent, he probably wouldn't spare Roy Bennett a second glance. White, middle-class, articulate and well-nourished, he hardly fits the bill as an embodiment of the starving, huddled masses.

Zimbabwean at heart: Roy Bennett

And yet to his fellow Zimbabweans - black and white - the 48-year-old former coffee farmer is the sort of man who should have been soaking up the applause on the Live8 stage.

At home in the Chimanimani region of south-east Zimbabwe, where subsistence farmers eke out a living on the border with Mozambique, local people call him "Pachedu" ("one of us"). As many of his fellow white farmers gave up and left, Mr Bennett and his wife, Heather, stayed on at the request of their black countrymen to fight the Mugabe regime. It was a decision that led to years of intimidation and harassment, the Bennetts' ordeal providing one of the most shocking stories to emerge about the misrule of their country.

A month ago today, a very different looking Roy Bennett - long-haired, bearded and four stone lighter - was released from Chikurubi Prison, after eight months' hard labour in conditions he describes as "how I imagined hell". His offence - other than to defy the regime and be the only white farmer MP - was to have pushed Mugabe's justice minister, in a heated exchange in the Zimbabwe parliament.

Today, Mr Bennett is in London, recuperating with Heather, 43, who is half-Scottish - on holiday but also anxious to highlight the crisis in his country. "I'm a Zimbabwean. I have no other country," he says. "I make no apologies for being white. I can't be held for any injustices in the past, but I can play a part in the future - to bring transparent and honest representation to the people."

In 1999, Roy Bennett, a third-generation Zimbabwean, was just a coffee farmer. A fluent Shona speaker, he set up various community projects and advised subsistence farmers, prompting local chiefs to persuade him to run for Parliament. After unsuccessfully applying to be a candidate for Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, he stood successfully for the newly formed opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the 2000 elections.

Two months later, while he was away in Harare, so-called Zanu-PF "war veterans" descended on his farm and claimed it as their own. They beat up Mr Bennett's workers and when Heather intervened, they turned on her. Although four months pregnant, she had a macheté held at her throat and was made to dance and sing Zanu-PF songs in the rain. Two workers were killed in front of her. When she finally escaped, she had miscarried.

Bennett with his wife Heather, upon his release

The government stole everything they owned, including their 7,000- acre farm, 800 cattle and 107 tons of coffee. He left farming and started a panel-beating business in Harare.

In parliament, he remained a thorn in the government's side. Last year, during a debate on the controversial land reform programme, Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister, branded Mr Bennett's father and grandfather "thieves and murderers", prompting him to storm across the chamber and push him to the floor.

Flouting its own rules, parliament sentenced him to eight months in jail without a proper trial. He spent his sentence in three prisons, where conditions in the cells he shared with as many as 49 others were "absolutely horrific".

On his arrival at Harare Central jail on October 28, he was forced to strip naked and dress in prison clothes, before being taken to the cell. "As we got to the door, they told me to strip off the clean clothes they had given me and they threw me filthy, torn prison garments with excreta and lice on them," he says. When his lawyers came to see him two days later, the authorities tried to make him take off the old clothes and put on the new ones, but he refused.

In jail, prisoners slept on concrete floors with just one dirty, lice-infested blanket. They were given nothing to wash with and the food was three cups of gruel and vegetable soup a day. Roy Bennett didn't see meat for three months.

Although, in private, some tried to help him and allowed his wife to bring in supplies, in public, the guards did their best to break him. He was forced to kneel for long periods and given back-breaking labour. A favourite punishment was to make him run 200 metres to and from the river carrying two four-gallon cans of water for the vegetable garden.

Beatings were routine. Prisoners, mostly just petty thieves, were escorted into a cell out of sight, and beaten on the soles of their feet so the marks would not be visible. Some were crippled. "They would force you to lie on your stomach, lift your feet up and beat you on the soles," says Mr Bennett. "I refused to go into a cell, so they would have had to beat me publicly.

"As most prisoners had no visitors to bring them fruit, soap or toothpaste, they had to obtain them by prostituting themselves to the long-sentence prisoners." And yet some still offered their meagre supplies to Mr Bennett. "It was very touching. They did it because they felt I had sacrificed everything for them."

Prison made Roy Bennett more determined than ever to oust Mugabe. It also confirmed his Christian beliefs. Adversity brings out the best in people, he says. "It taught me that you don't build a country on racism, hatred, vengeance. You build it on reconciliation, love and gentleness: all the good things. The last thing I felt for those who persecuted me was bitterness and vengeance. All I had to do was picture them with their hatred and the spittle coming out of their mouths. I pray for those idiots. When you're that full of hate, you must have a terrible life."

His wife, who led the campaign for his release, ran his business affairs and even stood in his place in the general election, has been "absolutely amazing", he says. "She stood for parliament and did things she thought she'd never do. She's a very shy and gentle person but she drew from inner depths."

Addressing a Movement for Democratic Change rally

They have a son and a daughter - Charles, 20, who is studying at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, and Casey, 18 - but the loss of their unborn child has affected both of them. Although they had planned to have two more children, Roy Bennett immediately had a vasectomy.

"Under the circumstances, we'll never be able to give children the attention we should be giving them. We've got far greater commitments to the country and the people around us." He adds: "I'd have loved to have had more children." No longer an MP (his wife lost because the vote was rigged, he says), he is keen to get back into politics.

As Zimbabwe heads into meltdown, he is optimistic that Mugabe's days are numbered, and that the truth - that his land reforms had nothing to do with colonialism and everything to do with racial hatred - is finally getting through to other African leaders.

"I believe we are heading towards a free and fair election in Zimbabwe, and democracy." Zimbabwe will "implode" unless Mugabe negotiates, he insists. "He's totally propped up by the military. If they cannot access salaries, if the whole country grinds to a halt and there's no food or fuel, they'll turn on him. I don't think he's that stupid that he doesn't realise that will happen."

But why, at a time when the West happily brings down tyrannical regimes elsewhere, is it taking so long in Zimbabwe? The other African nations "are living in a colonial past and use that as an excuse", he says, but adds quickly that the developed world is just as much to blame. "One of the most racist things you can do is to refer to Africa as the Third World, to make excuses for despots to get away with tyranny because of a colonial past.

"This whole racial bullshit is a thing of the past. We are people moving ahead in a global village where we are accountable for our actions and accountable to our people."

As for Live8, the concept is commendable but misconceived, he says. "The aid you're pumping in through those corrupt governments never gets through. It's gobbled up. It's Mercs for jerks."

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Mercenary pilots in Zim to be freed

Fri, 29 Jul 2005
Two South African pilots who flew a planeload of suspected mercenaries to
Harare, allegedly en route to oil-rich Equatorial Guinea to stage a coup,
are to be released from jail on Saturday, their lawyer said.

Yaap Steyl and Hamman Jacobus were among the 70 men arrested in March 2004
when the plane landed in Harare to pick up weapons that Zimbabwean
authorities say were to be used to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema
in Malabo.

"They are definitely leaving for South Africa tomorrow at three," lawyer
Jonathan Samkange said on Friday.

"I have spoken to prison authorities and they confirmed they will be
released on Saturday," said Samkange, adding that they planned to fly back
to South Africa.

Steyl and Jacobus were convicted of violating Zimbabwe''s aviation and
immigration laws and sentenced to 16 months in jail.

The release of the two men left Briton Simmon Mann, founder of the defunct
mercenary outfit Executive Outcomes and the suspected mastermind of the
alleged coup, as the last remaining member of the group behind bars.

Mann was slapped with a seven-year jail term later reduced to four years on
more serious charges of breaching firearms legislation.

Most of the suspected mercenaries - 62 men who all held South African
passports - were released in May after serving 12 months in prison for
violating Zimbabwe's immigration laws.

British businessman Mark Thatcher was accused of partly financing the
alleged plot to install opposition leader Severo Moto in Malabo and pleaded
guilty in South Africa to violating its anti-mercenary law in January.

The son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher paid a R3-million
(?380 000, $505 000) fine and has steadfastly denied that he knowingly took
part in the conspiracy.


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Australia urged to help on Zimbabwe crisis
Staff and agencies
29 July, 2005

AUSTRALIA is being urged to use its authority in Africa and its influence on
the international stage to help avert a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

The UN has been told that 700,000 people have been displaced as Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe's regime destroys urban slums and drives citizens
out of the nation's biggest cities.
More than two million others have also been affected by the forced evictions
and demolitions, which some suspect have begun to spread beyond urban areas.

David Coltart, the justice spokesman from Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change party, believes Australian pressure may be able to stem
the tragedy threatening the once prosperous African nation.

"We have four million Zimbabweans facing starvation," Mr Coltart said.

"Mugabe is deliberately blocking humanitarian aid efforts."

Mr Coltart met Justice Minister Chris Ellison and foreign affairs
parliamentary secretary Bruce Billson during an Australian visit but was
unable to meet Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who is overseas.

He was unable secure support for a cricketing ban against Zimbabwe but hopes
Australia may use its influence in other ways.

Prime Minister John Howard rejected the idea of a cricket ban last week,
believing sporting stars should not suffer because of actions of the
Zimbabwe Government.

Mr Coltart said he understood Mr Howard's rationale but Mr Mugabe's standing
as the nation's cricketing patron means sport and politics were already

"I cannot imagine that Australia would play cricket against a country which
for example had (Adolf) Hitler or Idi Amin as its patron," Mr Coltart said.

Mr Coltart is using his visit to try to publicise the problems facing what
he calls "the forgotten continent" of Africa, which struggles to gain the
kind of attention given to a bomb blast in London.

"In Zimbabwe, 4000 a week are dying of AIDS and malnutrition," he said.

"In the Congo, something like two million people have died in the conflict
in recent years."

This was further compounded by Africa's lack of strategic value to First
World nations, he said.

It was not oil rich, not on an important route, and did not have a
significant Muslim community, making it a potential breeding ground for
terrorist groups.

"It's a human rights issue, it's not a strategic issue," Mr Coltart said.

One of the first things Mr Coltart would like to see Australia do is bypass
official channels to get aid to the starving masses.

"(The Australian Government must find) ways and means to get humanitarian
relief in," Mr Coltart said.

"They should divert resources directly, to help the churches, to help human
rights organisations that are trying to hold the line against this regime
and provide humanitarian assistance to people.

"It needs to be done urgently."

Mr Coltart also wants Australia to use its unique position on the
international stage to influence African nations to take a stand against Mr

His other aim is for Australia to lobby members of the UN Security Council
to have the Mugabe regime tried for crimes against humanity.

"(Australia) was at the very vanguard of the fight against apartheid - that
gives it enormous moral authority in Africa," he said.

"It (also) enjoys a close relationship with the US and Europe (and) has a
unique role to play in rallying international support to bring pressure to
bear on this regime."

For example, Mr Downer could travel to southern Africa and lobby nations
such as South Africa and Mozambique about the unacceptability of what is
happening in Zimbabwe, Mr Coltart said.

"It doesn't matter what you say in Canberra, African leaders will just
disregard it," he said.

"You've got to go there and demonstrate to them that this is an issue of
great concern."

Key to bringing about change was influencing some of the more junior members
of Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF party, Mr Coltart said.

"You'll never change the thinking of Robert Mugabe, but there is a second
tier of leadership that is divided about what is going on, that is feeling
vulnerable, and they need to be told in no uncertain terms that they will be
held accountable for what's taking place," he said.

In particular, members of the Mugabe regime had to know they could face
sanctions in the International Criminal Court (ICC) if there enough pressure
was placed on the UN to authorise such prosecutions, Mr Coltart said.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd, who met Mr Coltart this
week, is backing a push for diplomatic efforts by Australia to bring the
Mugabe regime to justice.

"The Australian Government must use all its diplomatic offices worldwide to
bring Mugabe to justice before the ICC," he said.

"As one of the driving forces in the original drafting and conclusion of the
Rome Statute, Australia has an international legal and moral obligation to
lead this charge.

"This matter must assume its proper place as a major foreign policy priority
for the year ahead."

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Zim Online

FEATURE: Young victims of Mugabe's clean-up operation cry out for attention
Sat 30 July 2005

      MUTARE - Ten-year old Taurai Mangezi does not have the slightest hint
who Anna Tibaijuka is. Neither is he aware of a damning report the United
Nations (UN) envoy penned on Zimbabwe's controversial clean-up exercise.

      But away in Ngarura, a remote village in eastern Zimbabwe, Mangezi has
been condemned to a life of poverty, deprivation and squalor as a direct
result of President Robert Mugabe's controversial clean-up operation.

      Seven weeks ago, Mangezi was a Grade 5 pupil at Sakubva Primary
School, in Mutare, Zimbabwe's fourth biggest city. Teachers there told
ZimOnline that despite a poor background, Mangezi was one of their brightest
pupils with a very promising future.

      Today, all he does is wake up in the morning to bask in the sun and
herd cattle in the fields of Ngarura.

      "Deep in my heart, I wish I was at school. I know that I deserve a
better future than herding cattle," he says with conviction.

      With a maturity well beyond his years, Mangezi says if there is
anything that he could ask the world, it is the chance to go back to school.

      Two months ago, Mangezi's family watched in horror as gun wielding
police stormed and demolished the backyard cottage they were staying in
Mutare's poor Sakubva suburb.

      With nowhere to stay in the city, they had to trek back to their rural
home as the government arrogantly ordered everybody "to go back where you
came from."

      According to the UN report, at least 700 000 people were rendered
homeless in the clean-up operation with another 2.4 million being directly
affected by the callous operation condemned by Western governments as a
violation of the rights of the poor.

      But Mugabe has defended the clean-up saying it was meant to smash
crime and restore the beauty of cities and towns. A UN report on the
clean-up released last week has called for the prosecution of the brains
behind the operation for committing serious crimes against humanity. Now
with the world engrossed in the report, thousands of young Zimbabwean school
children driven out of school by the operation seem lost and forgotten.

      They are silent victims of a callous government operation which
disregarded their concerns.

      According to figures compiled by the government and teachers' groups,
over 300 000 children under the age of 13 were forced out of school as a
direct result of the clean-up exercise.

      "We are happy that the UN has condemned this operation. But it seems
no one is taking notice of the children who have dropped out of school,
especially those in the rural areas," says Raymond Majongwe, the secretary
general of the Progressive Teachers Union.

      But for Mangezi, the world appears to have literally ended.

      "The schools here refused to take me saying classes were already full.
And my mother told me that even if I had got the place, she would not have
afforded the school fees," he says, eyes swelling with tears.

      Mangezi's mother is one of the millions of Zimbabweans, the poorest of
the poor, who were feeding their families and paying for education from
proceeds of the informal sector that was also destroyed in the blitz.

      A priest with a local evangelical church, Thomas Matador agrees that
the fate of children forced out of urban schools to rural areas had remained

      "There is a generation of brilliant future doctors and engineers that
we will all lose because they are now stuck in the rural areas without any
education as a result of the clean-up operation," he said.

      Nelson Chamisa, the youth chairman for the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change party said the government was unconcerned about the
younger generation.

      "Robert Mugabe's government is made up of greedy graying monsters who
only care about fattening their pockets and maintaining their grip on power.
Where else in the world would you find a government that forces children out
of school and completely ignores them thereafter?"

      But his counterpart from the ruling ZANU PF party Absalom Sikhosana
said: "This government has a solid record of building schools. They (evicted
children) can get education in the rural areas."

      But as the world continues to debate whether the international
community should punish Mugabe for the mass demolitions, children like
Mangezi are crying out loud for world attention and care. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

100 000 transport workers on forced leave as Zimbabwe fuel crisis continues
Sat 30 July 2005

      BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) on Friday said
more than 100 000 drivers and bus crews from both the formal and informal
transport sectors were on forced leave as a six-year fuel crisis that
worsened in recent months continues unabated.

      ZCTU chairman Lovemore Matombo told ZimOnline that about 40 percent of
the transport industry was grounded, adding some jobs could be lost
permanently in a country already struggling with more than 70 percent

      Matombo said: "About 40 percent of the transport sector has been
adversely affected and we cannot see the situation improving at the moment .
over 112 000 drivers from long distance transporters and from the informal
sector (kombis) have been made to go on forced leave."

      Zimbabwe has approached South Africa, China and several other
countries still enjoying friendly relations with President Robert Mugabe and
his isolated government, for hard cash loans to buy fuel and food both in
critical short supply in the country.

      Both Beijing and Pretoria have publicly indicated they are willing to
consider bailing out Harare but to date none has released the US$1 billion
Zimbabwe badly needs to avert total economic collapse.

      Besides fuel and food, medical drugs, electricity, hard cash and other
basic commodities are also in short supply in Zimbabwe grappling a six-year
economic crisis described this week by the World Bank as unprecedented in a
country not at war.

      Critics blame Zimbabwe's economic crisis on repression and wrong
policies by Mugabe such as his seizure of productive farmland from whites
which plunged the country into food shortages because the 81-year old leader
did not give inputs support and skills training to black villagers he
resettled on former white farms.

      Mugabe denies ruining Zimbabwe, blaming the country's problems on
economic sabotage by Western governments opposed to his land reforms. -

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