July 4, 2008
Catherine Philp in Harare
Fresh from election victory, Robert Mugabe and his military backers plan to
assassinate or frame dozens of opposition MPs in an attempt to consolidate
power and take back control of Parliament.
The Zanu (PF) party of Mr Mugabe lost its grip on the legislature for the
first time since independence when the Movement for Democratic Change took
control of the Lower House and drew level in the Senate after the March
Having overturned Morgan Tsvangirai's victory in the first round of the
presidential vote with a brutal campaign of terror, President Mugabe's
henchmen believe that they can retake Parliament using violence or
trumped-up criminal charges to drive out elected opposition MPs.
Leaked minutes from a meeting of the Joint Operation Command outline a
strategy by which the MPs can be forced from office, sparking by-elections
that Zanu (PF) planned to win by force. The original plan was to overturn
the majority by challenging opposition wins through the courts, alleging
that the results had been rigged. The refusal of judges to kowtow has led
the regime to resort to tried and tested methods of violence.
Naison Nemadizwa, the newly elected MDC MP for Buhera South, was abducted in
daylight on Tuesday as he emerged from the High Court in Harare having seen
off a legal challenge by the losing Zanu (PF) candidate. Onlookers saw him
bundled into the back of a waiting car and driven away after he became
involved in an argument with a group of six men. One of his abductors was
identified as a colonel in the army.
"We are starting to see a pattern emerge," Nelson Chamisa, the MDC
spokesman, said. "This is a consistent, co-ordinated strategy." Ten
opposition MPs have been arrested in recent weeks and two remain in custody
while others are out on bail charged with a range of offences alleging their
involvement in election violence. Another, Thamsanqa Mahlangu, remains in a
coma after he was attacked by the Zanu (PF) youth militia on his way to Mr
Tsvangirai's election rally in Harare a week before the election. Mr
Tsvangirai pulled out of the election within hours of the attack, saying
that he could no longer ask supporters to take such risks.
Sources say that the regime is setting its sights on the remaining
opposition MPs, arresting those it can on trumped-up charges of assault,
theft and rape. If convicted, the MPs would lose their seats, sparking
by-elections that Zanu (PF) plans to win by employing the terror tactics
that won Mr Mugabe his sixth presidential term.
Mr Mugabe's inauguration on Sunday took place less than an hour after the
announcement of official results handing him victory with ten times the
number of votes as Mr Tsvangirai.
In contrast, Parliament has yet to be convened since the March 29 elections
gave the MDC 100 seats against Zanu (PF)'s 99, with another ten seats for
the breakaway MDC faction of Arthur Mutambara and one for an independent.
The Mutambara faction, which broke off in 2005, has promised to back Mr
Tsvangirai's group in Parliament. The Senate is evenly split between the
ruling party and the Opposition but the Constitution allows the President to
appoint a further 33 senators.
An editorial in the state-run Herald yesterday noted that Mr Tsvangirai's
party could not claim a majority in its own right without the Mutambara
faction, which "can decide to side with any of the two big parties". Sources
say that this reflects another part of the latest strategy - to buy off or
coerce the Mutambara faction into backing Zanu (PF) and forming what the
regime will claim is a government of national unity. Cracks have appeared
within the faction, with its official spokesman dismissed for attending Mr
The witch-hunt has sent scores of MDC MPs into hiding, which could debar
them from Parliament. Under Zimbabwean law, any parliamentarian can be
dismissed for failing to attend for 21 consecutive days.
International Herald Tribune
By Howard W. French Published: July 3, 2008
SHANGHAI: For a crisis involving African despotism, the decibel readings in
the West over Zimbabwe have reached almost unprecedented levels.
Beyond the din of condemnations of Robert Mugabe, that country's aging,
power-obsessed tyrant, however, a great many questions have gone unexamined.
Western governments led by London and Washington look at Mugabe's rule and
see such a clear-cut case of evil that they are at a loss to understand why
the rest of Africa - or China, for that matter, a Security Council member
with fast-deepening ties with the continent - doesn't rush to join in on
The Zimbabwe case should be more, though, than a tragedy for its own people,
for it presents an invaluable opportunity to think about how differently the
world can look from different vantage points. And far from an idle thought
exercise, this might helpfully lead to a rethinking of diplomatic strategy
in Africa and in other parts of the world.
As the second most important country in southern Africa, Zimbabwe, like that
region itself, has long functioned like a kaleidoscope, serving up
dramatically different perspectives to different viewers.
I was reminded of this fact by the recent news that a South African citizen
of Chinese ancestry, Patrick Chong, had won a lawsuit enabling him to be
legally considered black. The outcome was a triumph over a history of double
discrimination. Like other ethnic Chinese, the plaintiff, who is chairman of
the Chinese Association of South Africa, was denied many basic rights during
the apartheid era, and he had also been denied the compensation won by the
country's black majority with the demise of a system of legally enshrined
As the perverse language of apartheid would have put it, Chong has now
become an "honorary black."
What does this all have to do with Zimbabwe? Before Zimbabwe became a
majority-ruled, independent country in 1980, and during the long years of
apartheid in South Africa, both of those countries were treated with similar
perversity as honorary members of the West.
While China was building the Tazara Railroad, to connect Zambia's mines to
Tanzania's ports in order to loosen white-ruled South Africa's economic grip
on the southern half of the continent, the United States and Britain were
running diplomatic interference for apartheid rule in Pretoria.
Washington often went further, backing South African guerrilla proxies in
places like Angola, prolonging devastating wars there and elsewhere, and
staving off independence for South African-occupied Namibia in the name of
Short memories abound, but in Africa this is not yet ancient history. In
1987, while South Africa was actively pursuing a policy of sabotage against
its neighbors, devastating vital infrastructure and supporting mass killers
like the Renamo rebels in Mozambique, Washington reserved most of its
indignation for "necklacing," a small-bore terror tactic practiced by blacks
in South Africa. An amendment passed with overwhelming support in the U.S.
Senate requiring southern African countries to condemn these lynchings or
lose American aid.
Mugabe said it himself when he wrote in Foreign Affairs in 1987: "Political
and material support of desperate bandit groups, dissidents and
self-seeking, discredited individuals by a superpower like the United States
is a prescription for chaos and instability in the international political
system. Calling such a hodgepodge of individuals 'freedom fighters' does not
make them any such thing."
Looking back, it isn't hard to conclude that China was in many ways closer
to being on the right side of history in southern Africa than the United
States, for all of America's vaunted attachment to freedom, democracy and
It is anything but clear that China has maintained that position today, as
it pursues neo-mercantilist policies and abstains from pressuring Mugabe to
end the campaign of terror and economic devastation waged against his own
Still, if one pauses to consider, it is relatively easy to grasp why African
leaders might question the good faith behind the West's admirable sounding
values and abstain from the chorus of condemnations, or why the Chinese
might themselves be skeptical.
An African journalist wrote me this week, comparing the vociferous Western
response to Mugabe to the customary silence that attends atrocities,
political hijackings and despotism on the continent, especially where
critical Western interests are in play. A former U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe
had told her: "Everyone felt they had invested something in the success of
Zimbabwe, so when it all began unraveling, everyone felt personally
disappointed and let down."
This looks too easy by half, and it is hard to avoid the heretical question
whether the vociferous response, especially by Britain, isn't somehow
related to race?
Unlike most of the continent, Rhodesia, like South Africa and Kenya, were
places where whites settled and became attached.
Ivory Coast, another erstwhile showcase, was allowed to cycle through stolen
elections, coups, ethnic cleansing and civil war, registering scarcely a
ripple on the global agenda.
But telling Africans they will be judged by how they line up on Zimbabwe is
counterproductive for other reasons, too. The West's constant search for
African leaders to anoint or vilify is resented on the continent, and its
track record, moreover, is riddled with spots.
Paranoid African dictators look at the calls to denounce Mugabe and worry
they might be next. The more democratically inclined know better. They see
Washington's embrace of dictators in places like Equatorial Guinea, or even
former enemies, like the robber baron former Marxists who run Angola, and
see a pattern of highly selective outrage. Might the fact that these
countries - to name but two - are swimming in oil have something to do with
escaping the Mugabe treatment?
China looks at this inconsistency, too, and naturally suspects it is being
discriminated against. The only African country that has drawn more Western
critical fire than Zimbabwe recently is Sudan, for its genocidal campaign in
Darfur. It's an emerging oil power, too, but unlike so many African
kleptocracies, its product flows east, not west.
By Blessing Zulu
03 July 2008
Top African Union officials will travel to Harare shortly seeking a
breakthrough in the crisis in Zimbabwe which has also put a spotlight on the
Diplomatic sources said A.U. chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete
and A.U. Commission Chairman Jean Ping will engage ZANU-PF and opposition
officials in the coming days and will also confer with South African
President Thabo Mbeki during that swing.
A.U. sources said the African leadership is seriously considering opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai's request that the mediation process be broadened,
and that a time frame be set for agreement. The Southern African Development
Community is divided with Botswana and Zambia questioning Mr. Mbeki's
ability to achieve a resolution to the festering crisis.
Nigeria, Swaziland, Liberia, Sierra Leon, Botswana and Kenya are threatening
to cut ties with the government of President Robert Mugabe. Italy on Monday
became the first European nation to sever diplomatic ties with Zimbabwe,
recalling Ambassador Mario Bologna. Fifteen other EU countries are expected
to follow suit, reports said.
Canada announced additional sanctions against Harare, barring
Zimbabwean-registered aircraft from landing in or flying over its territory,
and hinting that it might sever diplomatic ties. Britain and U.S are pushing
the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he met with African and European diplomats
Thursday to brief them on his preference for a transitional government
rather than a government of national unity.
The key difference would be that a transitional government would be slated
to give way to a new round of elections after two years, whereas a
government of national unity would continue for the full five-year term of
Mr. Mugabe's disputed presidential office.
By Agency Reporter
Published: Thursday, 3 Jul 2008
Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Botswana have said they will not
recognise President Robert Mugabe as the president of Zimbabwe.
The countries took the stand before the end of the African Union's two-day
summit at Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt on Wednesday, adding that Nigeria and
others were likely to have drawn the ire of Mugabe die-hards in their
But Reuters reported on Wednesday that their views were not in keeping with
AU's tradition, which is characterised by consensus.
The AU has suggested a government of national unity as a way of resolving
the crisis. However both Mugabe and opposition leader, Mr. Morgan
Tsvangirai, have rejected the suggestion.
Meanwhile, the South African government said it was satisfied with the
"As a member country, we are a part of that resolution," Mbeki's
spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said.
"We wil continue to work with the Zimbabweans and we are convinced the
challenges of Zimbabwe will be resolved."
However, he declined to put a time-frame on it.
Mugabe appeared less satisfied with the outcome and the closing session
during which he came in for heavy criticism.
He and his entourage of bodyguards stormed out of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit
centre some 30 minutes before the two-day meeting came to a close, missing
the traditional group photo.
A number of countries, SADC nations among them, had harshly condemned the
actions of his party in recent weeks.
In a surprise move, Botswana broke ranks with the SADC negotiation team by
telling the AU that they must refuse to recognise Mugabe as president of
During the closed door session, Vice-President Mompati Merafhe said for all
the reasons outlined in the recent reports of the observer missions of SADC,
the AU and the Pan African Parliament, "the elections do not confer
legitimacy on the government of President Mugabe."
By Raymond Mhaka ⋅ © zimbabwemetro.com ⋅ July 3, 2008 ⋅ Email This Post ⋅
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Yahya Jammeh the President of Gambia who took control of the country in
military coup in 1994 has endorsed Mugabe’s discredited re-election.
Speaking to reporters after returning from the AU summit he echoed Mugabe’s
line that the MDC is an epindege of the west.
“Zimbabwe’s election is valid”. he said and branded the leader of the MDC,
as a “blue-eyed boy” and “puppet” of the West.
Jammeh a muslim ’s election by the coup on October 18, 2001 was declared not
free and by all observers in the small impoverished country of 1 million.The
opposition led by Ousainou Darboe’s United Democratic Party boycotted the
elections citing massive intimidation and gross irregularities.
Like Mugabe Jammeh has embraced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad making
a three-day visit to Iran last year.
Jammeh has been accused of restricting freedom of the press. Harsh new press
laws were followed by the unsolved killing of a reporters who had been
critical of them, one of them Deyda Hydara.
In April 2004 he called on journalists to echo the government line “or go to
hell”. In June 2005 he stated on radio and television that he has allowed
“too much expression” in the country.
Jammeh was involved in the 2004 massacre of 44 Ghanaian migrants and 10
Like Mugabe they both share a dislike of homosexuals. On May 15, 2008,
Jammeh announced that his government would introduce legislation that would
set rules against homosexuals that would be “stricter than those in Iran”,
and that he would “cut off the head” of any gay or lesbian person discovered
in the country.
In January 2007, Jammeh claimed he could cure HIV/AIDS with natural herbs.
Fadzai Gwaradzimba a Zimbabwean, the country representative of the United
Nations Development Programme in The Gambia, was told to leave the country
after she expressed doubts about the claims and said the remedy might
encourage risky behaviour.
The Analyst (Monrovia)
3 July 2008
Posted to the web 3 July 2008
Recalling her own background of persistent political struggles with fiendish
dictatorships, the Liberian leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has voiced her
disdain over the apparent indifference of many of her male African leaders
to outrightly denounce Zimbabwean tyrant Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe, who fought the British to secure liberation for his country, has
vowed to remain put as the compensation for his sacrifices to oust the
The despot, who has ruled from independence in 1980, few days ago hijacked
democracy through sheer use of thuggery and widespread brutality against the
opposition to be declared, as expected by the rubber-stamp electoral body,
as winner of an election that he was the only presidential candidate, though
he had secured 43 percent to the MDC's Morgan Tsvangara's 47 percent nearly
two months back.
Now, Africa's first democratically elected female president has struck a
note of distinct aversion with the male comradeship that she gauges as the
continental reaction to the daylight democratic robbery in Zimbabwe.
Her call for the denouncing of Bob Mugabe, is a tough stance that political
analysts perceive as an acrid water that many of her colleagues will not
stomach, in preference of solidarity with the tradition of Old Africa.
The Analyst draws parallels that may work against the denunciatory position.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has converted a close door session at the
summit of AU heads of states and government to squarely call for the
denouncing of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
The Liberian leader maintained that Mugabe's handling of the concluded
elections must be repudiated by AU leaders through rejection of the June
27th elections as not credible and the results as unacceptable. According to
her, it is through such decisive actions by the continental leaders that the
Union can maintain any semblance of credibility.
The President spoke yesterday during the 13th Ordinary Session of the
African Union in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, during a closed session of AU
leaders. She further suggested that the international community should work
with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to find a lasting
solution to the situation in Zimbabwe.
She presented a lesson of Liberian history by saying that the 1985 elections
overseen by the slain, former Liberian leader, Samuel K. Doe was endorsed by
Africa and the world.
According to her the global endorsement of a rigged process frustrated the
true will of the people and this caused the fourteen years civil war that
left over two hundred thousand persons dead.
The Liberian leader called on the African Union to be courageous in saying
'all is not well in Zimbabwe' and that the request by SADC for a
postponement of the June 27 Zimbabwean elections should be heeded.
The President also supported conclusive statements of the African Union
Observer Mission that observed the elections in Zimbabwe on June 27th that
the process fell short of the accepted AU standards.
She said similar positions have been taken by the Pan African Parliament;
the United Nations Security Council has questioned the credibility of the
elections while several elder statesmen of Africa have in various ways
questioned the legitimacy of the election results.
In light of these calls, the Liberian leader said African leaders must
equally denounce the Zimbabwean elections, saying: 'These persons and
institutions cannot all be wrong, cannot all be conspiratorial as we may be
made to believe'.
President Johnson-Sirleaf also emphasized that the call for a peacekeeping
mission in Zimbabwe is unrealistic.
She added that it may be necessary for SADC in concert with the African
Union Peace and Security Council, to put in place some civilian peace
monitors who duty it could be to conduct early warning assessments of
Zimbabwe in order to monitor and prevent any escalation of the crisis. She
finally called on the AU to be consistent in the promotion of standards it
The 13th AU Summit ended yesterday with the Chairman and President Jakaya
Kikwete Tanzania giving a summary of what the leaders had achieved during
their two-day deliberations.
President Kikwete said the leaders of Africa demonstrated what he referred
to as 'the cause of Africa,' saying they discussed the pivotal issues of
water and sanitation.
According to him, the leaders agreed on measures to proceed with the
management of scarce resources. He also said the global food crisis was
discussed with multilateral organizations making commitments on ways they
are going to assist the continent in the alleviating the food crisis.
The AU Chairman added that the Union discussed the Millennium Development
Goals and launched a landmark consensus report on how to achieve the MDG in
Africa. He said the report states that Africa is now only half-way in
achieving the MDG by 2015.
President Kikwete also revealed that the leaders had a lengthy discussion on
the way forward towards a Union Government of Africa, adding that
implementation of the process could commence by the next summit in Addis
Ababa in January 2009.
He said the AU looked at its conflict areas on the continent and commended
the AU for its work in restoring peace in Kenya. President Kikwete also said
the leaders had discussed what he referred to as 'a way forward on Zimbabwe'
as well as the progress made with regards the New Partnership for Africa's
The AU Chairman then characterized the Sharm El-Sheikh gathering as a
landmark summit and declared its adjournment.
President Johnson-Sirleaf has left Egypt at the end of the AU Summit for the
United States for a private visit. She is scheduled to return to Liberia
By John Githongo and William Gumede
Published: July 1 2008 03:00 | Last updated: July 1 2008 03:00
T here are leadership failures across Africa. The meltdown in Zimbabwe has
focused the world's attention on just one. Robert Mugabe's efforts to
prolong his rule have provoked an unusually strong African reaction. This
may be because Africans are beginning to recognise that there are no
"national" crises. The deepening social and economic interdependence of
their countries mean that Zimbabwe's problems are regional and truly
African. Across the continent people are demanding more from very limited
democracies. They want jobs, economic opportunities, access to justice and
equity. Yet most governments have failed to deliver these things and have
been indifferent to the expectations of their citizens.
The real danger is that Africans will lose confidence in the limited
democratic institutions available to them. Nigerians shrugged away the
travesty of a poll there last year with alarming cynicism. True feelings
will emerge later. Citizens will increasingly find refuge in tribalism,
violence or religious fundamentalism. Many, too, will give up and migrate.
On paper, many African economies are booming. Yet higher economic growth has
not led to political stability. Indeed, the reverse appears to be unfolding
as the fruits of the commodity boom underpinning higher growth are
distributed unequally in countries that are governed poorly. Compounding a
growing gulf between rich and poor are rising food prices. These are
affecting some of the fastest growing cities in the world, packed with well
informed, underemployed, angry and malleable young men between the ages of
16 and 24. It is likely that we will see more social implosions across the
continent, especially around elections.
Because these are continental problems, the most appropriate tool available
is the African Union. The African principle of non-interference in the
affairs of neighbours was shaken by the Rwanda genocide. It still partially
informs the AU, which has been reluctant to intervene forcefully in
misgoverned nations. The unravelling of Zimbabwe is changing that. The
crisis in Zimbabwe must also change another cardinal African principle - the
inviolability of colonially inherited borders. Migration, urbanisation and
the free flow of information mean that borders are increasingly meaningless.
South Af-rica, for example, cannot easily get rid of 3m Zimbabwean refugees:
Zimbab-we's problems are South Africa's now. They are also Africa's. The
same applies to east Africa: if Kenya catches a fever, so too do Uganda,
Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo.
To make the AU more relevant, Africans must set minimum requirements of
democracy and good economic governance for membership. Now, gangsters sit
alongside leaders with serious democratic aspirations. Repressive laws in
member countries will have to be scrapped. Member countries must establish
credible democratic institutions, especially judiciaries and electoral
commissions. There need to be effective pan-African institutions, such as a
continent-wide supreme court and a constitutional court. These courts should
be independent and have jurisdiction over prescribed areas in member states,
so that when tyrants like Mr Mugabe emerge, they can no longer depend on the
support of fellow rogues.
The AU's charter must be changed from protecting the sovereignty of
individual countries to protecting Africans themselves. A citizen from a
member country must have recourse to the AU if he or she is brutalised or
discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity, creed or gender.
There will have to be a transparent procedure to impeach leaders who begin
as democrats but become tyrants.
Those countries that make the grade must be rewarded; at present, some
donors pour money into regimes that are orchestrating democratic reversals.
As the Group of Eight leading industrial nations prepares to discuss aid to
Africa, along with health and education, let them invest in an empowered AU
Unless we act now, Africa may never catch up with the fast growing economies
of the east and west. This is perhaps our best chance since independence to
reorganise, consolidate and move to the next level. The democratic recession
across Africa can cause us despondency or force us into action.
John Githongo is a senior associate member of St Antony's College at Oxford
university. William Gumede is the author of Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for
the Soul of the ANC. He is senior associate and programme director of the
Africa-Asia Centre at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London
Al Ahram Weekly, Cairo
3 - 9 July 2008
Issue No. 904
It is a sad day for rights and democratic aspirations when Zimbabwe's Mugabe
is welcomed in the African Union summit, writes Ayman El-Amir*
After three days of hand wringing and inconclusive backroom consultations,
the leaders of the African Union (AU) left the Zimbabwean presidential
crisis unresolved. It all began when Robert Mugabe re-elected himself
president of Zimbabwe for a sixth term in a one- man election runoff that
left the world in shock and outrage. Before the election, nearly five
million Zimbabweans had fled the country out of starvation or to avoid the
prospect of being bludgeoned by Mugabe's thugs -- code-named war veterans --
for supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Those
who remained behind were bullied into marching to polling stations to
re-elect the man who ruined what was once one of Africa's most prosperous
and most promising newly independent countries.
Mugabe's opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, whose MDC party won the parliamentary
elections a month ago, fearing for his life, took refugee in the Dutch
embassy until the election was over, calling it "an exercise in mass
intimidation". The UN Security Council condemned the violence and murder
committed against the opposition by Mugabe's government and
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon first called for the postponement of the
runoff and later declared that the results "do not represent the will of the
Zimbabwean people". While Mugabe won the elections by what his Electoral
Commission called a majority, the UN Security Council is considering
sanctions against him and his government. He may have gotten away with
election fraud for the time being, but Africa has lost its grace.
Despite the controversy, Mugabe arrived in Cairo and was received with the
full honours of a legitimate head of state to participate in the AU's summit
meeting in the lavish seaside resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. Most influential
African leaders hid behind the cloak of calling Zimbabwe's sham election
runoff an "internal affair", or muttered half-hearted statements of regret.
But more outspoken participants considered that the elections "did not meet
the standards of the African Union" while UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha
Rosa Migirio called for the election of Mugabe to be suspended until he
allowed the AU to organise free and fair elections.
By allowing his participation in the summit, the AU bestowed legitimacy on
President Mugabe's charade. Egypt, the host, could have rallied a consensus
that would have forced Mugabe to absent himself from the summit until the
situation in his country was resolved in a democratic manner. But by
participating in the meeting, Mugabe rubbed his fraudulent re-election into
the nose of every participating African leader. As they already have their
plates full with intractable problems, African leaders found the Kenyan
model of hijacking a presidential election and compensating the opposition
with some cabinet posts as a safe exit, despite the strong opposition of
Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga, himself the victim of a stolen
election. Odinga called for the suspension of Mugabe from the AU. Whether
this compromise will satisfy the MDC and the rest of the world is a
difficult bet. Whatever the outcome, it is unlikely to cleanse Africa's
tarnished image or calm international outrage and the threat of sanctions
against impoverished Zimbabwe.
Africa's dilemma is twofold: first, it is mostly dominated by like-minded
dictatorial regimes that maintain their rule by a combination of brutality
and subtle repression. Second, African leaders have overrun the extent to
which they can blame past colonial rule for their own failures. Like
brotherly military juntas, they have strong bonds with each other in what
appears an unholy fraternity. Autocratic rulers aside, the weak, almost
protective reaction of South African President Thabo Mbeki raised eyebrows.
This was unbecoming of a country that came into the community of nations on
the back of a long and bitter struggle against apartheid, achieved
democratic majority rule, proceeded in national reconciliation and achieved
a great measure of pluralism. The thick shadow of disappointment Mbeki's
position cast over South Africa was only dispelled by Africa's honorary
statesman, Nelson Mandela. Old and frail, but never lacking political
acumen, Mandela told a small gathering in his honour there was "a tragic
failure of leadership in Zimbabwe". No African leader could usually
withstand this condemnation from such a venerated figure, but self-elected
Mugabe and his associates did.
No one questions the historical fact that for four centuries Western
colonial rule plundered, retarded and ruined Africa. But its indelible crime
is that it never cultivated the political culture of democratic self-
government that it swore was the ultimate purpose of its centuries of
"discovery", invasion and exploitation. The "white man's burden" was a
legacy of oppression and manipulation that, in most African countries,
turned into a convenient mask with the label of "nationalist leadership",
"revolutionary government" or "liberators". After decades of independence,
and many dismal failures, this was finessed into sham elections won by
leaders in power, or regime change by military adventurers who hoisted the
banner of "revolutionary legitimacy". No wonder that in some African
countries that have been independent for decades, some colonial-era laws
remain on the books, such as emergency laws and other tools of repressive
Most oppressive regimes in Africa put the label of "internal affairs" on
their repressive practices, even when they grossly violate provisions of
universal human rights that they once solemnly committed themselves to. In
Africa, notorious regimes refrain from criticising each other and work hard
to build disgraceful alliances in international forums to protect their kin.
Conventional wisdom is that you do not throw stones on someone else's house
when yours is made of glass. This has undermined respect for human rights
and individual freedoms, regressed good governance and entrenched autocratic
regimes. That is why South Africa's opposition to UN Security Council moves
to sanction the government of Zimbabwe is all the more baffling.
Leaders of the member-states of the AU who met in Sharm El-Sheikh overlooked
some important historical lessons. When, in 1946, India raised the issue of
apartheid laws in South Africa before the UN General Assembly, as they
discriminated against its coloured population, the South African government
simply dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the UN had no
jurisdiction over its "internal affairs" as a sovereign member-state. In
1999, NATO, with no authorisation from the Security Council, went on a
massive bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia)
to force then President Slobodan Miloöevi¾ to loosen his grip on Kosovo
where his government was accused of committing genocide. Kofi Anan, then UN
secretary-general, justified the controversial campaign as "humanitarian
intervention", telling the General Assembly that no country that commits
mass persecution of its population can do so with impunity, hiding behind
the pretext of non-interference in internal affairs. It is not that African
leaders are unaware of such developments, but that most of them do not want
to be held accountable for bad governance, fraudulent elections or
violations of human rights.
Self-elected President Mugabe, like several other African leaders, has many
failures. But the greatest of them all is that for 28 years in power he
failed to achieve the historic national reconciliation between Zimbabwe's
black and white populations, as South Africa did. If anything, he deepened
divisions by expropriating the property of white farmers in 1998, without
compensation, in vengeful retaliation for their opposition in parliament to
some amendments that would grant him totalitarian powers. The dismal
conditions under which Zimbabweans live speak volumes of Mugabe's failed
policies in every aspect of the country's life. His readily available
scapegoat is to heap blame on Anglo-American colonialism and to incite a
handful of beneficiary followers.
African leaders are not doing their countries, or their continent, a favour
by saving Mugabe from the wrath of his people. It is a short-sighted
strategy that will trigger yet another civil war in Africa and eventually
backfire on southern Africa. With all good intentions, Egypt is trying to
regain the role of big brother it once enjoyed in Africa -- a role of
mediation, conciliation and crisis resolution. In the case of Zimbabwe's
fraudulent elections, it has done Africa a disservice.
* The writer is former Al-Ahram correspondent in Washington, DC. He also
served as director of United Nations Radio and Television in New York.
Published: July 3 2008 20:06 | Last updated: July 3 2008 20:06
Much of the world's attention during the recent summit of African leaders in
Egypt, was focused on how African leaders would respond to the ongoing
crisis in Zimbabwe. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda was busy winning backing
for an African Union resolution that would prevent the principle of
universal jurisdiction being extended across the AU's 53 member states. This
follows a series of indictments of Rwandan officials in European courts.
William Wallis, FT Africa editor was at the AU summit and with a reporter
from Bloomberg news agency spoke to Mr Kagame about the resolution, about
the Zimbabwe crisis and its bearing on Africa's relations with the outside
world, and on Rwanda, 14 years after the genocide.
Q: What is Rwanda's position on what you think should happen in Zimbabwe?
PK: Rwanda's position seems to be irrelevant in a way. I can say what I
think. But we are not short of what people think. What we are short of is
what people are doing to actually resolve the problem. Things went wrong. I
agree with that. I would also agree with what some (African leaders) are
saying that there is bring the two sides together. It is too late and it is
not even possible to talk about a winner...given such a background.
Therefore the sides must be brought together to stop the violence and bring
some semblance of peace in Zimbabwe.
Q: Do the events in Zimbabwe and the pressure that has been brought to bear
on African governments to do something about it, tell us something
fundamental about Africa's relations with the outside world?
PK: I think it is so many things. There are weaknesses on our continent that
we have to come together to face, whether they are institutional or
otherwise. Part of it is historical. There has been a relationship where the
outside world, meaning the west really, always wants to dictate things in
Africa. When things are going well they want to be seen to be the one
responsible for things going well. When things are going wrong they want to
be the ones responsible for putting them right. That gives room for people
to justify themselves when they are not right. There is a tendency to say
this problem is actually one created by outsiders even when it is not.
Things are never straightforward.
Q: Do you think it was reasonable of the outside world to expect an
organization as complex as the African Union with 53 member states to reach
a consensus on the internal affairs of another state?
PK: The size and different criss-crossing external and internal interests
poses huge problems that we will have to contend with for a long time.
Q: Given all the attention focussed on Zimbabwe, do you find it striking how
little was paid to Rwanda 14 years ago?
PK: The message is clear. Things are never straightforward whether with the
international community or indeed with anybody. There is so much fuss and
noise about Zimbabwe. The other day it was Kenya. Rwanda it was silence. The
only thing you get from Rwanda is always what is wrong, not what is right.
We were talking about the huge change that has taken place in Rwanda mainly
between 2004 and 2008 which is visible for anyone to see. But outsiders will
not be interested in talking about this. They continue talking about the
ugly history which we have had for sure. But this ugly history we have had
is not entirely the responsibility of Rwandese alone. It is also the same
outsiders who contributed largely to that, because the genocide has its
origins in colonial history.
Look at what is happening in Rwanda today: the recovery whether it is
reconciliation, in national unity or in economic and social development,
governance issues, democracy at work. Rwanda at this point is much better
off than it has ever been in its entire history. But of course you will
always have outsiders who highlight what they blame Rwanda for. They want to
indict people who stopped the genocide. They are entertaining people who
committed the genocide in their own capitals. You have Spanish, French
judges indicting people. They are not indicting people who committed the
genocide. They are indicting people who stopped the genocide!
Q: From what you are saying the spirit of new relations at the EU Africa
summit in Lisbon last year, which seemed in part a European response to the
threat to its sphere of influence from Asia, is bogus. All that historical
baggage is still there?
PK: Yes it is still there. And we need to handle it whether bilaterally or
multilaterally. We need to talk about it and address it. It is a serious
matter. Things will remain where they are for years to come unless countries
are able to stand up to this either by themselves or collectively work
together in the African Union
Q: Do you think the African Union as an institution is strengthening in its
capacity to respond or is it weakened by the fact that a majority of leaders
still lack democratic credentials?
PK: There are still weaknesses.
Q: I understand your government is due to make public a report on the
involvement of France in the genocide. What can you say about the content of
PK: I can't tell you what is in it before it is out.
Q: In summary?
PK: The work was done professionally. They went investigating; they went
into details, criss-crossed the world talking to people, they went to many
places in Europe and Africa. At the UN they collected a lot information.
There are facts about what happened, about instances, about people, about
Q: So it will name names?
PK: Yes. And hopefully our judges will enjoy indicting some of those people.
There is no justice for Europe and justice for Africa that are different.
And if they are to be different it cannot just be Europe extending its
jurisdiction into other countries Africa if it is to be universal.
Q: So you will launch some indictments on the basis of the report?
PK: I don't rule that out unless there is progress on these issues.
Q: What needs to happen for Rwanda to normalize relations with France?
PK: I think the French need to come clean on their involvement in the
genocide. France like others needs to respect other people. In Africa and in
Rwanda we are not there because they wish us to be there. We are there
because we have the right to be there.
Q: They have not apologized yet.
PK: Doing that would have been helpful. But I am not even demanding that
they apologize. It is not up to me to tell the French what to do.
Q: To an outsider it seems like the political tensions between Rwanda and
France are being exercised through the legal system?
PK: Legal systems are systems of government. No one will believe the French
when they say it is the judge we are not concerned. Judges don't make laws
they only carry out their duties based on the laws of the country. There are
problems relating to that between us and France and Spain. And probably
there would be problems between us and any other country that would want to
come up with this. First of all there is no basis in terms of fact and no
basis in terms of process. It is hugely questionable what is meant by
universal jurisdiction when it comes to basing things on their own law and
extending it to other territories. One would have expected there to be an
international regulatory mechanism, otherwise you will not avoid chaos.
Everyone will be indicting everyone else.
Q: Is there anything approaching an African regulatory mechanism by the
adoption of these points at the AU summit?
PK: Yes. In fact they have also appointed judges for a court to address
human rights issues.
Q: Do you think Africa could go further by creating an African Supreme court
or an African constitutional court that could; regulate issues such as
legitimacy in the aftermath of flawed elections?
PK: Yes. It is possible. Absolutely. That is what we are driving at.
Q: What are Rwanda's prospects in next few years?
PK: Let me first give the background. For the last seven years Rwanda has
registered on average seven percent growth in its economy consecutively. The
foundations are laid of bringing stability, stabilisation settling people
and creating institutions. The next years what we are working hard on is to
focus on a number of things. On infrastructure development, that is energy,
roads. We have projects of a railway to Dar es Salaam.
Q: To reduce dependency on Kenya?
PK: Yes so we have alternative routes. We have plans under way to develop an
oil pipeline to extend the existing one from Mombassa to Eldoret. And many
Q: Is the fact that you are promoting this railway project a sign you are
concerned about Kenya's future stability or did the events in Kenya give you
PK: In fact we were already talking about this railway many years before
these problems in Kenya. The more options we have the better. We are
actually looking at another route along Lake Tanganyika connecting with
Southern areas for a rail line. We are also thinking of another route
through Congo, possibly to Matadi if ever if it is stable enough.
Q: Are you expecting growth to continue at 7 percent given oil and food
PK: Food prices are high but they are giving high returns to us too because
we are investing heavily in our agriculture. For example this time around we
haven't had ourselves any food shortages as have been experienced elsewhere
in the region. And so our farmers ought to be able to get a little money for
themselves. On the one hand globally it is a problem. But it is also an
opportunity for ourselves.
We have also invested heavily in telecommunications and IT projects not only
in the capital but have also extended fibre optics to the districts. That
lays the ground for our country to become a hub for IT and financial
services. Then we are creating an airport for the region. They are private
companies we are working with and public private partnerships. The
challenges are still there and there are no grounds for complacency at all.
But we are thinking we can continue with that growth and even higher growth
particularly if we solve our energy problems. We are investing in methane
gas we have under Lake Kivu. We are converting that and making use of that
to produce electricity.
Q: Presumably the day Rwanda will really take off will be when you truly
have stability and growth in your neighbour, Congo?
PK: Yes that would be of tremendous benefit. The situation has largely
improved. It is much better now than it has been in the last 14 years. There
are still outstanding problems but they have not stopped us continuing to
Q: Does Rwanda retain the option to send its troops back into the eastern
PK: Well I would not want to see that as headlines given all the good things
we have talked about. I would say as we make these investments for our
development we also make investments for protecting those investments.
Always at the back of my mind is how we protect our gains?
Q: Do you think the world has come on at all in responding to man made
disasters in Africa since the genocide?
PK: Not much.
Q: You must be bitterly disappointed that the AU force in Darfur that Rwanda
was involved in, was not better equipped and funded?
PK: Unfortunately it hasn't been sufficiently supported to deal with what it
was committed for and you can't fault the Africans for trying, but you can
blame Africans for the fact that Darfur is in Africa and that it is a
Q: Rwanda has reduced deaths by malaria by two thirds. What has been the key
in turning the tide? And can it be sustained?
PK: We have been very successful and that figure is just for one year. There
are a couple of reasons. One we have got good support from the international
community and institutions. But in terms of strategy it was to do with the
spraying, use of mosquito nets. Many other countries have tried that but
they have not had the same success. The additional thing I would say for
sure is that in Rwanda it has not been like in other places where people are
given mosquito nets and they go and use them for other things, they use them
for fishing or they keep them in their houses and they don't use them.
Others they find their way across borders and it becomes another form of
trade. In our case that has not happened and for the reason, we have other
institutional mechanisms we have put to good use like for example the
decentralization that has taken place in Rwanda has been very effective. We
have performance contracts: the mayors, the councillors and different
leaders at different levels all have signed performance contract. In other
words every quarter everybody is evaluated for what they have done. Under
this arrangement these leaders have assured that they have gone to families,
and sensitized and not only that but they follow up to assure that mosquito
nets are used. And it has certainly brought this wonderful result.
So you are saying can we sustain it? I think we can. There are other things.
Mosquitoes have breeding areas, and even because of sanitation and other
arrangements we have had for cleaning up have been adding. All these things
are growing as a culture in the way we handle the disease.
Q: In another couple of years there will be an election. Are you going to
run for a second elected term?
PK: I have two years to think about it.
Q: I was talking with the foreign minister of Senegal, and he was saying
that when there is a very narrow election, Africans do not have enough faith
in institutions to accept results.
PK: My view is there. It is written on the wall.
Q: You were elected with around 80 percent?
PK: People are at different stages. What would they have imagined to have an
election in Rwanda just nine years after the genocide. The consideration of
what people want is different from what people in other countries would
worry about. In 2003 when people voted they were voting for peace, for
security, for national unity and for social and economic development. Those
were their worries. It could even have been 100 percent. I wish you would
also consider the turnout. It was 96 percent and the efficiency with which
they voted was 100 percent. People on sickbeds in hospital, mothers who had
just given birth were walking to polling stations. Ten years after, fifteen
years after this changes. There will be a big difference.
In the west some countries will go to vote and they have 30 percent turnout.
People are not interested and you get some small percentage of that. And as
a result the west wants to make this the standard. So they say how can you
get 80 percent. I don't buy this. It doesn't make sense. You cannot take
things out of context.
Q: You made a statement during the Kenyan crisis earlier this year
suggesting the Kenyan military needed to step in. Parts of your government
said it was misconstrued. Were you calling for a coup?
PK: People were making all sorts of interpretations of what I said. What I
said was that there seemed to be no single institution in Kenya that would
protect people. I was only seeing the military as the only institution in
place to protect people. For me I was seeing protecting people and stopping
violence and stopping death as priority number one. Then people can go into
debates and negotiations and all sorts of things about what they have as a
form of government. My statement has not changed. I would repeat it a
I don't mind that people misunderstood it because I think it helped the
Q: Coming from you President Kagame I think people took it rather seriously,
given that you have a record of projecting military muscle in the region.
PK: That is why I am saying I don't mind. Probably even the mere mention of
it brought some good results. The heart of the matter for me was who was
going to stop this violence? I was thinking about the Kenyans. I wasn't
thinking about Raila Odinga or president Kibaki. These fellows could one day
go the airport and disappear. I was saying somebody needs to take care of
this. In fact if the Kenyans had said help us. "send people to work with us
to do it," we would have considered it certainly and mainly in the interests
of these people who were being killed.
Thursday, Jul. 03, 2008 By SAMANTHA POWER
On June 27, Robert Mugabe stole an election. He did so in plain view of
journalists, aid workers, diplomats and heads of state. His brutality before
the vote resulted in the deaths of about 100 Zimbabweans, the detention of
some 2,000, injury to 10,000 and the displacement of more than 200,000. His
regime systematically burned down homes and tortured people who had the
nerve to suggest they might choose a new President of Zimbabwe. Under
Mugabe, life expectancy has dropped to 36 years.
The ruthlessness and savagery of Mugabe have given rise to two basic
reactions in Africa and around the world: fruitless hand-wringing by
committed multilateralists who want to solve the problem through
"constructive engagement," and consequence-blind militarism by zealous
moralists who call for regime change by force. Neither approach offers
realistic hope for the people of Zimbabwe. Ending the Mugabe nightmare is
still possible, but it will require a more radical diplomatic strategy than
the world has tried so far.
The positions of both the multilateralists and the moralists start from
flawed assumptions. The multilateralist camp claims to be disappointed that
South African President Thabo Mbeki has failed to mediate a resolution to
the crisis. But Mbeki is not a mediator; he is an ally to a dictator. And
yet Western countries--aware that their criticisms of human rights abuses in
the developing world have a neoimperialist ring to them--don't call out
Mbeki on his partisanship. Instead, they confine their ritual condemnations
to Mugabe, who cares more about staying in power than anybody else cares
about removing him.
The moralists, for their part, have begun demanding the military overthrow
of Mugabe. Many of them are neoconservatives motivated largely by the desire
to ridicule multilateralism and resuscitate the so-called Bush Doctrine.
Such voices conveniently forget that the Bush Doctrine has never actually
been tried in practice. The war in Iraq was fought over alleged weapons of
mass destruction, a contrived link to 9/11, oil, a father's unfinished
legacy--but not as a humanitarian intervention.
The bigger problem with those who call for forcible regime change in
Zimbabwe is not their faulty history; it is their utter indifference to
consequences. Even if one could find a country prepared to invade Zimbabwe,
such a war would probably cause Mugabe's bloodstained security forces
(estimated to number 100,000) to butcher unarmed opposition politicians and
their defenseless supporters and cause several million to flee to
neighboring countries. It would also exacerbate the suspicions between
countries in the north and those in the south, making it even more likely
that developing countries (which account for the majority of U.N. member
states) will dig in their heels in support of human rights abusers in
Zimbabwe and beyond.
So what can be done? To start, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should
appoint his predecessor, Kofi Annan, fresh from brokering a power-sharing
deal for Kenya, as the U.N.'s envoy to Zimbabwe. One by one, those African
and Western leaders who claim to be disgusted with Mugabe should announce
that they bilaterally recognize the validity of the March 29 first-round
election results, which showed the opposition winning 48% to 43%, though the
margin was almost surely larger. The countries which do would make up the
new "March 29 bloc" within the U.N. and would declare Morgan Tsvangirai the
new President of Zimbabwe. They would then announce that Mugabe and the 130
leading cronies who have already been sanctioned by the West will not be
permitted entry to their airports.
Tsvangirai and his senior aides should do as South Africa's African National
Congress did throughout the 1960s and '70s: set up a government-in-exile and
appoint ambassadors abroad--including to the U.N. That ambassador should be
given forums for rebutting the ludicrous claims of the Zimbabwean and South
If "the U.N." is disaggregated into its component parts, Mugabe's friends
will be exposed. "June 27" countries will be those who favor electoral
theft, while "March 29" countries will be those who believe that the
Zimbabweans aren't the only ones who should stand up and be counted. This
can be a recipe for gridlock in international institutions--but the gridlock
won't get broken by lamenting its existence. It will get broken when the
heads of state who back Mugabe are forced out into the open and when
constructive engagement of the new President of Zimbabwe begins.
Published: 4 Jul 08 - 0:00
Zimbabwe's power utility says it has recommissioned Unit Three of the Hwange
thermal power station with help from Namibian utility NamPower, nine months
after it broke down.
The reactivation of Unit Three brings the number of operational units to
three, still a far cry from the station's full requirement of six
operational units at a time for optimum power production.
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) CEO Brian Rwafemoyo says the
utility, which has failed to meet the country's soaring power demand for
four years in a row, is aiming to have at least four operational units at
any given time.
The addition of Unit Three will help improve power generation, although most
the power from the rejuvenated units will be exported to Namibia as
repayment for the $10-million NamPower loan used to fund the repair of the
Rwafemoyo is also optimistic that Zesa will improve its power generation
capacity through deals with private companies that wish to help fund the
resuscitation of its infrastructure, most of which has broken down and
endured many years of neglect.
"Under one such deal, the Zimbabwe Iron Mining & Smelting Company will fund
the second stage of the revamping of generator units when stage one, which
is covered by the Zesa-NamPower deal, is over."
Apart from generation problems, Rwafe-moyo says the power authority is also
concerned about the rise in cable theft.
He says thieves are targeting not only copper cables, but also transformer
oil, which, like copper, has a ready market in Zimbabwe's underworld
"Government should move in and ban the trade in copper products. "The
country's copper mines closed a long time ago and one wonders where the
existing copper dealerships are getting theirs," says Rwafemoyo.
by Patricia Mpofu Friday 04 July 2008
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's government on Thursday accused Gordon
Brown of habouring "intentions to re-colonise Zimbabwe" after the British
Premier suggested that the international community could send peacekeepers
to stabilise the southern African country.
Brown, who has led international criticism against the Harare
administration, said consensus was building within the international
community for more drastic action against Mugabe after the Zimbabwean leader
ignored calls not to go ahead with last week's presidential run-off
Mugabe went ahead with the run-off election despite calls by African
leaders, the United Nations Security Council and Western nations urging him
to postpone it because widespread political violence and gross human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe made a free and fair vote impossible.
Information Minister and government spokesman Sikhanyiso Ndlovu accused
Brown of "colonial hangover and of constantly poking his nose into
"Why should they send peacekeepers here? Zimbabwe is not a threat to world
peace," said Ndlovu. "Those peace keepers should go to Darfur and Iraq where
there is civil strive and war, not here. We have no crisis here."
Brown earlier in the day told a British parliamentary committee that the
June 27 run-off election in which Mugabe was sole candidate after opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out because of political violence was a
"travesty of justice and during that election the regime has blood on its
hands for what has happened".
The Prime Minister said there was growing pressure from African Union
countries and from among the United Nations community for change in
Zimbabwe. The pressure remained political including toughening of sanctions
against Mugabe's government, Brown said.
But he added: "There has been some discussion of an international
peacekeeping force and that is an option that is obviously on the table."
Several African observers including those from the African Union (AU)
condemned Zimbabwe's run-off election as undemocratic.
But the AU has resisted calls by Western nations for sanctions against
Mugabe and instead used its just-ended summit in Egypt to urge the
Zimbabwean leader to open negotiations with the opposition for a government
of national unity.
However Tsvangirai on Wednesday rejected the call to form a government of
national unity with Mugabe saying such a government would not end Zimbabwe's
political and economic crisis.
The United States is pushing for tougher UN-backed sanctions against
Zimbabwe's leadership but Security Council permanent members Russia and
China that are friendly to Mugabe are expected to block sanctions against
the Zimbabwean leader.
South Africa, which is not a permanent member of the council, is also
expected to oppose any drastic action being taken against its troubled
Meanwhile leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations are
expected to consider toughening sanctions against Zimbabwe at a summit in
Japan next week.
Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, is in the grip of a severe economic
crisis which critics blame on wrong polices by Mugabe such as his haphazard
fast-track land reform exercise that displaced established white commercial
farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded
The economic crisis that the World Bank has described as the worst in the
world outside a war zone is seen in the world's highest inflation rate that
analysts estimate at more than 2 000 000 percent, severe shortages of food
and every basic survival commodity. - ZimOnline
by Wayne Mafaro Friday 04 July 2008
HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
said on Thursday that two more of its members had been murdered in political
violence, while the fate of one of its legislators remained unknown after he
was abducted by a group of armed men in army uniform.
The latest political murders were reported as a group of about 300 members
of the MDC sought refuge at the United States (US) embassy in Harare.
The MDC said in statement that an activist, Francis Phiri, from the mining
town of Mashava was beaten to death, while Daniel Ngundo, who was secretary
for the opposition party for ward 19 in Gokwe rural district, was also
murdered by suspected ruling ZANU PF party militia.
The deaths bring to 12 the number of MDC supporters killed in political
violence since the controversial June 27 presidential election run-off won
by President Robert Mugabe.
The opposition party said the whereabouts of its Member of Parliament (MP)
for Buhera South constituency, Naison Nemadziwa, remained unknown after he
was abducted from the eastern Mutare city by a group of armed men who
wearing Zimbabwe National Army uniforms.
"As the MP was coming out of the court (Mutare magistrate's court) at around
midday, five armed men forced him into a parked Toyota twin cab truck that
had no number plates and drove off at high speed. One of the abductors was
identified as ZNA colonel Morgan Mzilikazi," the MDC said.
The party reported the abduction to police in Mutare but was told that
Nemadziwa had been taken to Muzokomba police station more than 100km south
of the city. However MDC officials who visited Muzokomba were told that the
parliamentarian was not detained at the police station.
The MDC says overall, at least 90 of its members have been killed and more
than 25 000 displaced by political violence since the combined presidential
and parliamentary elections in March that were won by the opposition party.
Political violence has persisted even after Mugabe's re-election last week
in a run-off vote in which he was the only candidate after MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai pulled out saying the violent attacks against his supporters made
a free and fair vote impossible.
US embassy official Paul Engelstad said the mission would try to assist the
MDC members that gathered in front of the embassy building seeking refuge
"These nearly 300 people who are gathered in front of the embassy seeking
refuge from violence are part of the more than 30 000 that have been
displaced (by violence)," Engelstad said. "We will use all available
resources at our disposal to take care of them."
There were also riot police at the US embassy keeping an eye on the MDC
A group of about 300 MDC members who sought refuge at the South African
embassy in Harare last week were eventually removed by the police and taken
to a holding centre at Ruwa, just outside Harare.
The removals took place in the presence of Zimbabwe social welfare director
Sydney Mhishi, South African ambassador Mlungisi Makhalima and United
Nations (UN) country representative Agostinho Zacarias.
Tsvangirai on Wednesday rejected calls by African leaders for negotiations
with Mugabe to form a government of national unity saying the Zimbabwean
leader should first free jailed MDC members, end political violence and
disband torture camps set up by ZANU PF militia before talks could take
place. - ZimOnline
by Own Correspondent Friday 04 July 2008
PRETORIA - South African President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday said attacks on
foreign nationals that left more than 60 people dead in the "dark days of
May" were not xenophobia but "naked criminal activity".
Addressing a gathering at the City Hall in Pretoria to mark the day of
national mourning in solidarity with the victims of the attacks Mbeki said,
"What happened during those days was not inspired by possessed nationalism,
or extreme chauvinism, resulting in our communities violently expressing the
hitherto unknown sentiments of mass and mindless hatred of foreigners -
The violent attacks started on May 12 in Johannesburg's Alexandra township
of the poor before spreading to other townships in Diepsloot, Hillbrow,
Jeppe, Cleveland, Thokoza, Tembisa and provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, North
West, Mpumalanga and Western Cape leaving thousands of African immigrants
without shelter or food after their homes were looted and burnt down.
Rampaging mobs of South African men armed with machetes, axes, spears and
guns attacked and killed immigrants looting their property in an
unprecedented two-week wave of xenophobic violence that shocked a nation,
which prides itself as among the most tolerant societies in the world.
Mbeki said contrary to popular pronouncements labelling the attacks
xenophobic he was convinced that South Africans would never hate immigrants
let alone attack them because they were foreigners.
"I heard it said insistently that my people have turned or become xenophobic
. . . I wondered what the accusers knew about my people, which I did not
know. And this I must also say - none in our society has any right to
encourage or incite xenophobia by trying to explain naked criminal activity
by cloaking it in the garb of xenophobia."
He said it would take time before a better life for all was achieved, adding
that no one was happy or satisfied with that reality.
It is estimated that more than 30 000 foreign nationals mostly from
Zimbabwe, Mozambique and other African countries fled xenophobic attacks in
poor South African townships and sought refuge in police stations, churches
and public buildings.
Government later set up temporary shelters for the homeless foreign
nationals and has been seeking to reintegrate displaced people back into
Mbeki called on the gathering to bow its head in shame because South
Africans had acted in a manner that suggested that the values of ubuntu were
dead and lay in the graves of those killed.
"On behalf of our people, I humbly convey . . . our apologies that we
allowed criminals in our midst to inflict terrible pain and damage to many
in our society, including, and particularly, our foreign guests.
"We will do everything possible and necessary to ensure that we have no need
in future to proffer this humble apology which is inspired by genuine
remorse," he said adding that those responsible for the crime should face
the full wrath of the law. - ZimOnline
In 2004, the activist group Zvakwana/Sokwanele got into hot soup for using
an unconventional method that the powers-that-be deemed provocative and
mercenary, to convey a political message.
Thwarted at the time by the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), the pressure group
attached its logo and the message, "Get up, Stand up" (the pun is risqué) to
about 700 000 condoms before distributing them. Predictably, government
propagandists were not amused and reacted venomously.
They accused the pressure group of being agents of the American government,
which plotted to achieve regime change in Zimbabwe through those condoms!
Personally I found the whole thing hilarious. After AIPPA and POSA had
closed all normal avenues of communication and peaceful protest, I thought
the pressure group's humorous creativity should have caused the government
to review the draconically restrictive AIPPA and POSA.
Defeated by these two notorious pieces of legislation, the activist group
probably thought it was justified to think of ways of disseminating its
message without breaking the law.
At about that time I read an article in an international magazine describing
how Moslem women equally at their wits' end, had resorted to denying their
husbands conjugal rights to draw attention to their unheeded calls for peace
during the civil war in Sudan.
These women, like Zvakwana/Sokwanele, must have been convinced that
extraordinary situations call for extraordinary measures.
I recall these events because some of the lighter, but unusual and profound
elements in the reports of the observer missions that were in Zimbabwe for
the June 27 presidential run-off have to do with the creativity of
frustrated voters who believed they had been denied the right to properly
express their will.
These voters must have felt "robbed" following the withdrawal from the race
of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) contender, Morgan Tsvangirai.
This made the poll a one-man race featuring President Robert Mugabe, which,
according to the state media, he won with a landslide. But if Zimbabwe is a
democracy as it claims to be, it cannot be denied that the degeneration of
the run-off into a one-sided contest disenfranchised a big segment of the
electorate that voted for the MDC leader in March, giving him almost 48
percent of the vote against President Mugabe's almost 44 percent.
Considering that no discernible change had occurred between March 29 and
June 27 to improve their lot, it is safe to say nothing would have caused a
swing against Tsvangirai by those who voted for him in March and they still
But they must have found themselves in the no-win situation of being forced
to go out to vote when the right to make a genuine choice between candidates
did not exist. The SADC Observer Mission reported how such voters used
ballot papers to vent their frustrations.
The observers, who declared that the poll did not conform to the SADC
principles and guidelines on the conducting of elections in a democracy,
reported an aspect that had not been seen during Zimbabwean elections
before: spoilt ballots conveying anguished cries to be heard. It was like
sending a message in a bottle in the hope that someone will stumble upon it.
It was a desperate SOS.
The observer mission said it had come to the conclusion that the run-off did
not represent a free and fair election because of the violence, intimidation
and coercion that marred the build-up to June 27. Some of this violence and
coercion must have outraged and traumatized voters who resorted to the
unusual act of expressing their sentiments on the ballots, which naturally
were then regarded as spoilt papers.
Some of the feelings vented through this unusual method included: "No to
dictatorship", "Let there be free and fair elections" and "God bless this
country." Analysts usually express concern over a high number of spoilt
papers (said to be more than 130 000 on June 27) in an election or a high
rate of apathy. People usually stay away from polling stations because they
feel their interests are not served by the electoral process. They may feel
the government does not respond to their felt needs and hopes and therefore
it is not worth the trouble to cast their ballots because nothing will
Zimbabwean electoral authorities may not like to hear this, but the
expression of heartfelt sentiments on ballot papers is an indictment of the
process they oversee and should be a cause for serious self-introspection.
One observer mission during the June 27 run-off lamented the deafening
silence from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) amid reports of
violence, killings, abductions and displacements of voters in the period
leading up to the run-off. Will ZEC, which is supposed to be autonomous,
look into these anomalies so as to come up with policies and procedures that
genuinely serve the interests of the electorate?
The sentiments expressed on spoilt ballots represent muffled voices whose
message may be more potent than that conveyed by the disputed and condemned
poll result. These voters may, like Zvakwana/Sokwanele, have decided that an
extraordinary situation called for extraordinary measures.
. . . as RBZ increases withdrawal limits
THE country lurched into a fresh cash crunch this week, despite the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) increasing the daily withdrawal limit to $100 billion
with effect from yesterday.
The move, which was expected to help the banking public, which had contended
with the problem of the $25 billion withdrawal limit that had been severely
eroded by inflation, only triggered fresh pressure in banking halls, which
realised a huge influx of crowds resulting from high demand for cash.
Some banks are reported, to have run out of cash after complying with the
new withdrawal thresholds, leaving thousands of bank customers desperately
queuing for additional allocations from the RBZ.
Many people were forced to flock to retail outlets to buy using debit cards,
but the point of sale terminals experienced bouts of failure because of
overwhelming demand, which jammed the systems.
At a supermarket in Queensdale, about five kilometres east of Harare's
central business district, customers were dejected after being told they
could no longer transact on the point of sale terminals because of a system
The majority of the customers were buying using cards rather than cash.
"I'm disappointed with this," a man who left his grocery basket in the shop
because he did not have cash said. "Even if the system is restored tomorrow,
the prices would have also increased."
Most banks had long winding queues, with a number of them reporting a severe
shortage of cash.
Bankers said the situation had been compounded by a "temporary hitch" on the
Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) facility on Wednesday.
However, most bankers said the majority of people were transacting using the
RTGS system because they could not get their cash from banks.
The latest cash crisis came as Germany said last week it had asked a
Munich-based firm, Giesecke and Devrient to stop supplying Zimbabwe with
paper used for banknotes because of concerns it was helping prop up
President Robert Mugabe's administration.
President Mugabe, controversially sworn in on Sunday after winning a
presidential election ru-noff in which, his only challenger Morgan
Tsvangirai had pulled out, has been strongly condemned by the European Union
and the US who accuse his government of lacking legitimacy.
Giesecke & Devrient later said on Tuesday it had stopped delivering banknote
paper to the RBZ with immediate effect.
"Our decision is a reaction to the political tension in Zimbabwe, which is
mounting significantly rather than easing as expected, and takes account of
the critical evaluation by the international community, German government
and general public," said Karsten Ottenberg, chairperson of Giesecke &