Notes, Witnesses Detail How Campaign Was Conceived and Executed by Leader,
By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, July 5, 2008; Page A01
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- President Robert Mugabe summoned his top security
officials to a government training center near his rural home in central
Zimbabwe on the afternoon of March 30. In a voice barely audible at first,
he informed the leaders of the state security apparatus that had enforced
his rule for 28 years that he had lost the presidential vote held the
Then Mugabe told the gathering he planned to give up power in a televised
speech to the nation the next day, according to the written notes of one
participant that were corroborated by two other people with direct knowledge
of the meeting.
But Zimbabwe's military chief, Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, responded that the
choice was not Mugabe's alone to make. According to two firsthand accounts
of the meeting, Chiwenga told Mugabe his military would take control of the
country to keep him in office or the president could contest a runoff
election, directed in the field by senior army officers supervising a
military-style campaign against the opposition.
Mugabe, the only leader this country has known since its break from white
rule nearly three decades ago, agreed to remain in the race and rely on the
army to ensure his victory. During an April 8 military planning meeting,
according to written notes and the accounts of participants, the plan was
given a code name: CIBD. The acronym, which proved apt in the fevered
campaign that unfolded over the following weeks, stood for: Coercion.
Intimidation. Beating. Displacement.
In the three months between the March 29 vote and the June 27 runoff
election, ruling-party militias under the guidance of 200 senior army
officers battered the Movement for Democratic Change, bringing the
opposition party's network of activists to the verge of oblivion. By
election day, more than 80 opposition supporters were dead, hundreds were
missing, thousands were injured and hundreds of thousands were homeless.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the party's leader, dropped out of the contest and took
refuge in the Dutch Embassy.
This account reveals previously undisclosed details of the strategy behind
the campaign as it was conceived and executed by Mugabe and his top
advisers, who from that first meeting through the final vote appeared to
hold decisive influence over the president.
The Washington Post was given access to the written record by a participant
of several private meetings attended by Mugabe in the period between the
first round of voting and the runoff election. The notes were corroborated
by witnesses to the internal debates. Many of the people interviewed,
including members of Mugabe's inner circle, spoke on the condition of
anonymity for fear of government retribution. Much of the reporting for this
article was conducted by a Zimbabwean reporter for The Post whose name is
being withheld for security reasons.
What emerges from these accounts is a ruling inner circle that debated only
in passing the consequences of the political violence on the country and on
international opinion. Mugabe and his advisers also showed little concern in
these meetings for the most basic rules of democracy that have taken hold in
some other African nations born from anti-colonial independence movements.
Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, took
power in 1980 after a protracted guerrilla war. The notes and interviews
make clear that its military supporters, who stood to lose wealth and
influence if Mugabe bowed out, were not prepared to relinquish their
authority simply because voters checked Tsvangirai's name on the ballots.
"The small piece of paper cannot take the country," Solomon Mujuru, the
former guerrilla commander who once headed Zimbabwe's military, told the
party's ruling politburo on April 4, according to notes of the meeting and
interviews with some of those who attended.
The plan's first phase unfolded the week after the high-level meeting, as
Mugabe supporters began erecting 2,000 party compounds across the country
that would serve as bases for the party militias.
At first, the beatings with whips, striking with sticks, torture and other
forms of intimidation appeared consistent with the country's past political
violence. Little of it was fatal.
That changed May 5 in the remote farming village of Chaona, located 65 miles
north of the capital, Harare. The village of dirt streets had voted for
Tsvangirai in the election's first round after decades of supporting Mugabe.
On the evening of May 5 -- three days after Mugabe's government finally
released the official results of the March 29 election -- 200 Mugabe
supporters rampaged through its streets. By the time the militia finished,
seven people were dead and the injured bore the hallmarks of a new kind of
Women were stripped and beaten so viciously that whole sections of flesh
fell away from their buttocks. Many had to lie facedown in hospital beds
during weeks of recovery. Men's genitals became targets. The official
postmortem report on Chaona opposition activist Aleck Chiriseri listed
crushed genitals among the causes of death. Other men died the same way.
At the funerals for Chiriseri and the others, opposition activists noted the
gruesome condition of the corpses. Some in the crowds believed soldiers
trained in torture were behind the killings, not the more improvisational
ruling-party youth or liberation war veterans who traditionally served as
"This is what alerted me that now we are dealing with professional killers,"
said Shepherd Mushonga, a top opposition leader for Mashonaland Central
province, which includes Chaona.
Mushonga, a lawyer whose unlined face makes him look much younger than his
48 years, won a seat in parliament in the March vote on the strength of a
village-by-village organization that Tsvangirai's party had worked hard to
assemble in rural Mashonaland.
After Chaona, Mushonga turned that organization into a defense force for his
own village, Kodzwa. Three dozen opposition activists, mostly men in their
20s and 30s, took shifts patrolling the village at night. The men armed
themselves with sticks, shovels and axes small enough to slip into their
pants pockets, Mushonga said.
The same militias that attacked Chaona worked their way gradually south
through the rural district of Chiweshe, hitting Jingamvura, Bobo and, in the
predawn hours of May 28, Kodzwa, where about 200 families live between two
When about 25 ruling-party militia members attempted to enter the village
along its two dirt roads, Mushonga said, his patrols blew whistles, a
prearranged signal for women, children and the elderly to flee south across
one of the rivers to the relative safety of a neighboring village.
Over the next few hours, the two rival groups moved through Kodzwa's dark
streets. Shortly after dawn, Mushonga's 46-year-old brother, Leonard, and
about 10 other opposition activists cornered five of the ruling-party
militia members. One of the militia members was armed with a bayonet,
another a traditional club known as a knobkerrie.
In the scuffle, Leonard Mushonga and his group prevailed, beating the five
intruders severely. But he said that this small, rare victory revealed
evidence that elements of the army had been deployed against them.
One of the ruling-party men, Leonard Mushonga said, carried a military
identification badge. In a police report on the incident, which led to the
arrest of 26 opposition activists, the soldier was identified as Zacks
Kanhukamwe, 47, a member of the Zimbabwe National Army. A second man, Petros
Nyguwa, 45, was listed as a sergeant in the army.
He was also listed as a member of Mugabe's presidential guard.
Terror Brings Results
The death toll mounted through May, and almost all of the fatalities were
opposition activists. Tsvangirai's personal advance man, Tonderai Ndira, 32,
was abducted and killed. Police in riot gear raided opposition headquarters
in Harare, arresting hundreds of families that had taken refuge there.
Even some of Mugabe's stalwarts grew uneasy, records of the meetings show.
Vice President Joice Mujuru, wife of former guerrilla commander Solomon
Mujuru and a woman whose ferocity during the guerrilla war of the 1970s
earned her the nickname Spill Blood, warned the ruling party's politburo in
a May 14 meeting that the violence might backfire. Notes from that and other
meetings, as well as interviews with participants, make clear that she was
overruled repeatedly by Chiwenga, the military head, and by former security
chief Emerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa, 61, earned his nickname in the mid-1980s overseeing the so-called
Gukurahundi, when a North Korea-trained army brigade slaughtered thousands
of people in a southwestern region where Mugabe was unpopular. From then on,
Mnangagwa was known as the Butcher of Matabeleland.
The ruling party turned to Mnangagwa to manage Mugabe's runoff campaign
after first-round results, delayed for five weeks, showed Tsvangirai winning
but not with the majority needed to avoid a second round.
The opposition, however, had won a clear parliamentary majority.
In private briefings to Mugabe's politburo, Mnangagwa expressed growing
confidence that the violence was doing its job, according to records of the
meetings. After Joice Mujuru raised concerns about the brutality in the May
14 meeting, Mnangagwa said only, "Next agenda item," according to written
notes and a party official who witnessed the exchange.
At a June 12 politburo meeting at party headquarters, Mnangagwa delivered
another upbeat report.
According to one participant, he told the group that growing numbers of
opposition activists in Mashonaland Central, Matabeleland North and parts of
Masvingo province had been coerced into publicly renouncing their ties with
Tsvangirai. Such events were usually held in the middle of the night, and
featured the burning of opposition party cards and other regalia.
Talk within the ruling party began predicting a landslide victory in the
runoff vote, less than three weeks away.
Mugabe's demeanor also brightened, said some of those who attended the
meeting. Before it began, he joked with both Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru.
It was the first time since the March vote, one party official recalled,
that Mugabe laughed in public.
'Nothing to Go Back To'
The opposition's resistance in Chiweshe gradually withered under
intensifying attacks by ruling-party militias. After the stalemate in
Kodzwa, the militias continued moving south in June, finally reaching
Manomano in the region's southwestern corner.
The opposition leader in Manomano was Gibbs Chironga, 44, who had won a seat
in the local council as part of Tsvangirai's first-round landslide in the
area. The Chirongas were shopkeepers with a busy store in Manomano. To
defend that store, they kept a pair of shotguns on hand.
On June 20, a week before the runoff election, Mugabe's militias arrived in
Manomano with an arsenal that had grown increasingly advanced as the vote
Some carried AK-47 assault rifles, which are standard issue for Zimbabwe's
army. For the attack on Manomano, witnesses counted six of the weapons.
About 150 militia members, some carrying the rifles, circled the Chironga
family home. Gibbs Chironga fired warning shots from his shotgun, relatives
and other witnesses recalled. Yet the militiamen kept coming. They broke
open the ceiling with a barrage of rocks, then used hammers to batter down
When Gibbs Chironga emerged, a militia member shot him with an AK-47, said
Hilton Chironga, his 41-year-old brother, who was wounded by gunfire. Gibbs
died soon after.
His brother, sister and mother were beaten, then handcuffed and forced to
drink a herbicide that burned their mouths and faces, relatives said.
Both Hilton Chironga and his 76-year-old mother, Nelia Chironga, were taken
to the hospital in Harare, barely able to eat or speak. The whereabouts of
Gibbs Chironga's sister remain unknown. The family home was burned to the
"There's nothing to go back to at home," Hilton Chironga said softly, a
bandage covering the wounds on his face and a pair of feeding tubes snaking
into his nostrils.
"Even if I go back, they'll finish me off. That is what they want," he said.
Two days later, as Mugabe's militias intensified their attacks, Tsvangirai
dropped out of the race.
Groups of ruling-party youths took over a field on the western edge of
downtown Harare where he was attempting to have a rally, and soon after, he
announced that the government's campaign of violence had made it impossible
for him to continue. Privately, opposition officials said the party
organization had been so damaged that they had no hope of winning the runoff
On election day, Mugabe's militias drove voters to the polls and tracked
through ballot serial numbers those who refused to vote or who cast ballots
for Tsvangirai despite his boycott.
The 84-year-old leader took the oath of office two days later, for a sixth
time. He waved a Bible in the air and exchanged congratulatory handshakes
with Chiwenga, whose reelection plan he had adopted more than two months
before, and the rest of his military leaders.
About the same time, a 29-year-old survivor of the first assault in Chaona,
Patrick Mapondera, emerged from the hospital. His wife, who had also been
badly beaten, was recovering from skin grafts to her buttocks. She could sit
Mapondera had been the opposition chairman for Chaona and several
surrounding villages. If and when the couple returns home, he said, he does
not expect to take up his job again.
"They've destroyed everything," he said.
July 5, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe on Friday launched a blistering attack
against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and regional observer missions that
have condemned his fraudulent re-election.
Speaking to a crowd apparently commandeered to the Harare International
Airport soon after his return from the African Union summit in Sharm
el-Sheikh, Egypt , Mugabe boasted that his re-election had been endorsed by
the majority of African leaders.
"It was just four countries that said we will not accept the results of our
June 27 election," Mugabe said. "SADC made an unequivocal statement that
they accept our results. These four countries were saying they would only
accept results from the March 29 elections. I told them that will never,
never, ever happen."
Wearing a three-piece suit, he addressed 8,000 subdued supporters at a
carefully staged rally at the airport comprising mainly vendors who had been
dragooned from Mbare Msika.
His speech will have done little to stem the growing campaign to impose
United Nations sanctions against his regime, amid reports the UN Security
Council was meeting next week to ratify the decision.
Mugabe's grandstanding also did little to alleviate worldwide concerns over
the atrocities being reported from his country.
To chants of "Down with the British" and "Down with the whites", Mugabe
turned on Britain and its Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
He accused Britain of bankrolling regional observer missions that condemned
his re-election as fraudulent. He did not categorically state which missions
he was referring to, but both the SADC and the Pan African Parliament
observer missions have described the June 27 poll as flawed.
"Some observer missions had been given money from Western countries to
rubbish our elections," Mugabe said. "Even though we know we held free and
free elections, they rejected them as flawed in an attempt to placate their
handlers. The polling was largely peaceful even though we accept that there
were isolated incidents of violence here and there in the run up to the
Mugabe paid tribute to SADC leaders for standing by him and said he hoped
the regional bloc continues to mediate over the crisis in Zimbabwe .
Mugabe said the British and US governments had decided to take him on
through the MDC. He alleged that Tsvangirai only returned to Zimbabwe from
self-imposed exile after receiving instructions from the US ambassador James
"He came back running from self-imposed exile after he was recalled by his
baas, the US ambassador," Mugabe said. "Soon after his return, we heard that
he had fled his home, leaving his wife behind, to go and take refuge in the
Dutch embassy. Why did he do that? He was running away from his shadow.
"There was no threat whatsoever. The next thing we heard was that he was
staying there permanently and he doesn't want to go back home. Why did he
flee to whites? Why didn't he go to African embassies? It clearly shows who
his handlers are."
Mugabe's half-hour speech at the airport was peppered with racial insults
directed at Tsvangirai, whom he oft accused of being a British stooge.
"Tsvangirai has decided he must be white," he said. "How can we have blacks
who masquerade as whites? We went to war; we went to prison; we have
suffered over the years but we are not afraid of the struggle. We will not
run away. You can count on us to fight."
Mugabe said it was incumbent on the MDC to open channels of communication
"But said they must first shake off their western puppet leash," he said.
"We are in a state of political war. We are in a war to defend our rights
and the interests of our people."
Mugabe's Government is facing the worst diplomatic crisis in its relations
with the developed world since Zimbabwe achieved independence in 1980.
July 5, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - Zimbabwe's central bank has dismissed the halt in shipments of
paper used to print bank notes by a German firm, saying the action will have
no serious impact on the economy.
The central bank's assertions were immediately rubbished by economists, who
accused the Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, of putting up a brave face
amid serious problems that could shatter Zimbabwe's economy.
Boasting that the Zimbabwe government was an expert in sanctions busting,
Gono said there was no need to panic. He said proactive and appropriate
measures and strategies had already been put in place.
"Following the widely publicised termination of bank note paper supplies to
Fidelity Printers (Pvt) Ltd, by Giesecke & Devrient of Germany, the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe wishes to advise and assure the nation that this
development will not disrupt the smooth flow of business," Gono said in a
statement to The Zimbabwe Times.
"To this end, therefore, the banking and transacting public should go about
their business in the usual manner, as the above-mentioned development will
not have any impact on the economy."
But leading economist, Eric Bloch said the action had the potential for
"critical consequences" for the RBZ, despite spirited denials by Gono.
Bloch, who sits on the RBZ advisory board, said the major suppliers of
banknote paper were countries hostile to Zimbabwe, that is, Germany,
Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"I don't see them doing business with us," he said. "It means we will have
to use sub-standard paper.
"The problem is that, it will be vulnerable to counterfeit and this has
devastating economic consequences."
The German firm, which has supplied bank note paper to the RBZ subsidiary,
Fidelity Printers for the past 40 years, announced on Tuesday that it was
stopping deliveries of bank note paper to the RBZ with immediate effect.
It said the decision had been taken in response to an official request from
the German government and calls for international sanctions by the European
Union and United Nations.
"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," chief executive Karsten Ottenberg said in a statement.
Demand for cash in Zimbabwe is far outstripping supply, as a ruined economy
drives skyrocketing hyperinflation.
Prices rose 165,000 percent in February, according to government figures,
but independent experts say the real inflation rate is closer to 9 million
Gono insisted that the termination of supplies would not disrupt the smooth
operation of business, as hundreds of desperate depositors jostled for cash
in banking halls across the city.
"This certainly has critical consequences no matter how much we might want
to downplay it," Bloch said.
July 05, 2008, 07:30
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is expected to hold
demonstrations at the Beit Bridge border post between South Africa and
Zimbabwe in protest against President Robert Mugabe's government.
Union spokesperson Jan Tsiane says the demonstration and border blockading
is part of showing solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe.
Cosatu wants the African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community
(SADC) and the international community to condemn the human rights
violations in Zimbabwe, the illegitimate presidential run-off election and
the censorship of the media.
Amnesty International (AI)
Date: 04 Jul 2008
On Saturday 12 July 2008, following a call by CIVICUS: World Alliance For
Citizen Participation, Amnesty International and the Global Call for Action
Against Poverty (GCAP), citizens of Africa will unite to express their
solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe who are suffering persistent
violations of their rights. Saturday represents the launch of a Pan-African
Campaign of Solidarity for Zimbabwe, and will be followed by events
The widespread killings, torture and intimidation of the political
opposition that characterised the presidential election run-off on June 27
cannot be condoned under any circumstances. 'By flagrantly and consistently
violating the values upon which present day Africa is premised, Mr Mugabe
has done great disservice to the people of Zimbabwe and the continent. We
believe it is the responsibility of all Africans to urgently put a stop to
Mr Mugabe's anti-democratic activities' said Kumi Naidoo Honorary President
'The widespread killings, torture and assault of perceived opposition
supporters must come to an end in Zimbabwe. Concrete action is long overdue
and African leaders must end their silent acquiescence,' said Irene Khan,
Secretary General of Amnesty International.
In this hour of crisis, the people of Africa stand together with the people
of Zimbabwe. 'We urge African leaders to call for space to be opened up so
that civil society can play a role in tackling Zimbabwe's current crisis -
we are needed now more than ever as millions of people face hunger through
growing food insecurity brought on by mis-governance.' said Adelaide Sosseh,
GCAP Co-chair based in The Gambia.
Saturday's Pan-African events will express the concern of people
continent-wide for the situation in Zimbabwe, and demonstrate the unity with
which Africans stand against the violations committed against Zimbabwe's
people. It represents the beginning of an Africa-wide campaign at the
grassroots level, allowing African voices to speak out about injustice in
Note to Editors:
There are a growing number of African voices speaking out against the
suffering in Zimbabwe and demanding action from the African Union, the
Southern African Development Community and individual African governments.
The types of action that they are calling for include:
Appointment of an independent commission of inquiry to look into the recent
human rights violations and abuses
Posting of human rights monitors to report on the current situation
Urge a solution to the present political crisis and deep divisions amongst
the people of Zimbabwe in the spirit of reconciliation and dialogue
Restoration of the independence of the judiciary and accountability of
security forces and law enforcement agencies
There will be a range of activities taking place across the African
continent on Saturday 12 July 2008, organised by local civil society
organisations and concerned citizens. The expressions of solidarity that
they will be making include:
Organising vigils outside the Zimbabwean embassies
Assembling outside government buildings or Houses of Parliament urging
national governments to play a more active role on Zimbabwe
Meetings with heads of state, parliamentarians or local governments to urge
action on Zimbabwe
Publishing articles or letters in the national or local press on violations
of human and people's rights in Zimbabwe Organising press conferences with
civil society representatives, government representatives and other experts
on Zimbabwe Issuing a press releases urging action on Zimbabwe
Directing people to sign a petition or take an e-action
Presenting memorandums or submissions to the African Union, Southern African
Development Community and national governments
CIVICUS statement on Zimbabwe:
Amnesty International statement on Zimbabwe:
GCAP statement on Zimbabwe:
For further information, please contact:
+27 11 833 5959 ext. 107
For media queries:
+27 73 266 0493
For Amnesty International:
On Call Press Officer
+ 44 0777 847 2126
Africa News, Netherlands
Posted on Saturday 5 July 2008 - 08:20
Mugadza Munyaradzi, AfricaNews reporter in Harare, Zimbabwe
Former Ethiopian leader Haile Mengistu breathed a sigh of relief last
Friday after president Robert Mugabe was declared winner in the presidential
election which the opposition MDC withdrew from the discredited elections.
The "Butcher of Ethiopia" as he is affectionately known was sentenced to
death by his country's Supreme Court in May for crimes against humanity.
The former dictator has enjoyed a comfortable life in Zimbabwe under
President Mugabe's powers since he fled from the Ethiopian capital Addis
Ababa in 1991 following ouster.
President Mugabe and his troops said before the presidential run off that
the former dictator would remain a special guest to Zimbabwe if they win the
historic presidential run off on June 27.
The opposition MDC however had said if the people of Zimbabwe were allowed
to exercise their right to vote in a free and fair election and won the
presidential election, Mengistu would be extradited to his country and faces
the full wrath of the law.
The MDC said then that dictators such as Mengistu were not welcome to
Zimbabwe adding that they want justice to be delivered to the victims and to
the perpetrators so that there is restoration.
The death sentence was delivered after the prosecution appealed against a
life term imposed on Mengistu in January last year after he was found guilty
of genocide during his 17year term in office.
Mengistu and his senior members were found guilty after a 12 year trial
which ruled that Mengistu's government was responsible for the deaths of 2
000 people and the torture of at least 2 400.
Mengistu's future had been hinched on Zimbabwe's presidential runoff.
Tsvangirai's win in the March 29 presidential election had spelt disaster
for him but later smiled at President Mugabe's bloody campaign which gave
him the illegitimate victory in the June 27 elections.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
By John J. Metzler, Special to The China Post
THE HAGUE -- Comrade Robert Mugabe has been re-anointed as President of
Zimbabwe amid the preposterous charade of an election marred by violence,
intimidation and fraud. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the harassed
opposition, took refuge in the Netherlands Embassy in Harare, and the
international community, including many democratic African states, are
rightly aghast over this ludicrous political sham in Zimbabwe. Now what?
The United Nations Security Council issued a presidential statement, but not
a resolution, condemning the "election," the Organization of African Union
(OAU) chided Zimbabwe, and human rights organizations remain outraged at
this unfolding disaster. Speaking at an OAU Summit, the U.N.'s
Under-secretary General Rose Migiro stated "This is a moment of truth for
regional leaders. . .the secretary-general urges your excellencies to
mobilize support for a negotiated solution." She stressed "This is the
single greatest challenge to regional stability in southern Africa." Ms.
Migiro, herself a Tanzanian, expressed the U.N.'s regret that the election
had been allowed to go ahead despite the violence. France's Foreign Minister
Bernard Kouchner called the election a "farce."
Widespread Western criticism of the sham vote was rebutted by one of
Mugabe's thugs saying the West "Can go hang a thousand times." The dictator
and his cronies have long lambasted the West, especially Britain, the former
colonial power, for its continuing concerns over the political and human
rights situation in Zimbabwe. Last autumn, I witnessed Mugabe deliver a
ranting diatribe before the U.N. General Assembly blasting both the British
and the United States.
Back in March, Zimbabwean presidential and parliamentary elections saw
longtime dictator Mugabe facing Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). Despite his best efforts at electoral fraud,
Mugabe's Patriotic Front party narrowly lost to the opposition. So Comrade
President simply annulled the results and set a re-match. Due to violent
intimidation of MDC voters (beatings, burnings, killings) the opposition
boycotted the contest and Mugabe won a tainted "landslide" and his sixth
term as President.
Having ruled this once prosperous land formerly known as Rhodesia, Comrade
President Mugabe can point to a number of achievements; he has turned an
agricultural breadbasket country into a pitiful basket case and Third World
thugracy. Starvation is rife, millions live on U.N. food aid, and farms have
been seized by government goon squads. HIV/AIDS stalks the land. More than
600,000 people have been bulldozed from their homes. Unemployment is over 80
percent, inflation has gone from over a million percent earlier this year to
two million percent!! Oh, for the days just a year ago when inflation was a
mere 6,000 percent.
Exports are booming though. Over two million Zimbabweans and more likely
three million have fled to neighboring countries, especially South Africa,
to escape the Mugabe-made-catastrophe. The situation evokes Josef Conrad's
novel "The Heart of Darkness."
Western talk about economic sanctions is meaningless for many reasons. Such
moves would only impoverish the impoverished even more. So-called targeted
sanctions on regime bigwigs or weapons are marginally better, but again will
not bring major change. The threat to Mugabe (now 84) and his goons coming
before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague for crimes
against humanity, is a looming shadow.
Still, the real answer lies in South Africa, the regional powerhouse which
borders Zimbabwe to the south and remains its major conduit for supplies and
trade. Though the Pretoria government has been very equivocal in its
criticism and pressure on Mugabe, South Africa must realize that it is in
its own national interest not to have a failed state on its frontier. The
refugee flow has already caused serious domestic problems in South Africa,
and ongoing political instability will only cause more negative impacts.
Despite the usual polite palaver about African solidarity, Pretoria must
squarely see the Mugabe regime not as an erring brother African state, but
as a malignant political and economic cancer to the African subcontinent
with its effects spreading to neighboring countries such as Botswana and
For the world community the best sanctions on Zimbabwe must be focused
political ostracism of an odious regime which so craves legitimacy. Since
gaining power in 1980, Mugabe has poised himself as a socialist "liberation
hero." Being barred from the international community, starting with the
European Union, the United Nations, and international sporting events will
have an effect too.
Zimbabwe's rulers have chosen a path into the heart of darkness; they must
expect the consequences of their earned isolation.
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and
defense issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is Hertfordshire
By Suruchi Sharma
A TEAM of Zimbabwean journalists based in Hertsmere have pledged to continue
their fight to send news to people in their homeland after the re- election
of Robert Mugabe.
SW Radio Africa has broadcasted from a studio in the borough to Zimbabwe
over short-wave transmission and the internet since December 2001.
It is the only such radio station in this country transmitting to the
Mr Mugabe, 84, was sworn in as president for a sixth term on Sunday, after
months of speculation over the election result, which has sparked violence
in the country.
He has in the past made it increasingly difficult for the station to
broadcast by jamming radio transmission into major cities, including the
But in an effort to continue offering a full news service to the people of
Zimbabwe, in March 2007, the station launched a text messaging news delivery
service via the mobile phone network.
The station's founder, Gerry Jackson, was born in Kent but spent most of her
life living in Africa.
She said: "We'll just keep on doing what we do best - making sure
Zimbabweans have access to news and information, despite Mugabe's
determination to block the media."
Ms Jackson believes she would have been able to return to the country if
opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai had been elected.
She said: "He appears to be committed to creating a free media environment
and when the opposition won the March elections, we had a brief moment of
hope that we would be returning home.
"Every Zimbabwean is very disappointed and de-pressed because the situation
on the ground is so incredibly serious. At least half of the population
faces death by starvation.
"Most people in the country have seen a member of their family tortured or
beaten and the whole population is very, very frightened."
Ms Jackson said because of the radio station's busy schedule, its staff were
working every day, including weekends and public holidays.
She said: "We are fielding an absolute mass of information that is coming
through about the crisis.
"The violence has been very disturbing, but it's all detailed and we know
the names of those who are responsible.
"We do our best to make sure this information is spread as widely as
"One day we hope these people will be standing in front of the International
"What is certain is that this is the end game for Mugabe. The ruling party
is imploding and there is much in-fighting. It all depends how long it
takes, but we aren't going anywhere and will continue to expose the bad
people and make sure Zimbabweans are informed."
5th July 2008
If any of us thought the violence in Zimbabwe would cease with the bogus
election on June 17th then General Notice 85A/2008 Clemency Order No.1
should have disabused us. The sight of bands of thugs roaming the streets of
Harare and other cities had earlier aroused my suspicions. These youngsters
did not look like the fanatical Gezi boys we have become accustomed to;
true, they were young like the Gezi boys but they looked more like criminal
gangs, undisciplined, ragged and thin. Then the light dawned and I
remembered that the newly installed Robert Mugabe could once again use his
presidential powers to grant an amnesty to prisoners, releasing them from
their stinking and overcrowded cells. It is traditional following a
presidential election we are told and the very next day after his
inauguration came General Notice 85A/2008.
Picture the scene; you are suddenly released into the sunlight again;
freedom has come - but freedom to do what? Inflation is running at over a
million %; you have no money, no food and no job. You do not even have the
bus fare to take you home. As the prison gates close behind you, there is a
certain 'someone' waiting who offers you what seems an absolute fortune to
roam the streets and do exactly what you did before: make a lot of noise,
beat up any passer-by but particularly known MDC activists and sympathizers.
In normal times such behaviour would get you arrested and back behind bars
but now you are under the Presidential amnesty; you are doing his work for
him. What choice do you have? It is not because you care about one party or
the other; the politics of the stomach is all you understand. Morality is a
luxury in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. You see the ruling party's election posters
proclaiming 'This is the final battle for control' and the presidential
clenched fist tells you how this control will be maintained. Not through
justice and honest negotiation but through rigged elections and violence
which you are expected to carry out.
The Notice covers those people arrested between March 29 and June 16 2008,
ie. from the first election which the MDC won and right through to the day
before the sham election which Mugabe claims to have won. 886 prisoners have
already been released and a further 4998 are due for release this weekend. A
prison official stated that no MDC prisoners would be released. 'They do not
qualify' he says. Unelected Minister for Justice, Patrick Chinamasa,
however, denies that it is only Zanu PF prisoners to be released but we all
know, the world knows, that violence is the only weapon Zanu PF has left and
the Amnesty will provide them with the foot soldiers they need to carry out
the 'Final Battle'. The aim is nothing less than the total destruction of
all opposition forces in the country.
These are indeed desperate times in Zimbabwe. The pathetic AU raps Mugabe on
the knuckles and tells him to go home and form a government of national
unity. His spokesman George Charamba rages at foreign journalists who dare
to question Mugabe's legitimacy accusing them of taking advantage of their
white skins(!) and the Old Man himself, looking for all the world like a
cornered rat, says he is as legitimate as Gordon Brown. He talks about the
demon in Downing Street - well, it takes one to know one I guess!
Back at home, we see the heartbreaking images of Mugabe's victims: the
crumpled face of a beautiful black baby with both her legs in plaster; an
elderly white woman her face covered in bruises, both arms shattered. They
dragged her along by her hair she says. She saw the man holding a great
chunk of her hair in his hand and in a final act of humiliation he urinated
on her head. What had she done, the old woman to deserve this? She and her
husband and her son-in-law were all beaten not for breaking any law but
because they had dared to contest Mugabe's right to take their farm. As to
what the beautiful African child had done, she has done nothing: her father
is an MDC activist. Like thousand of others, that little child will bear the
scars for the rest of her life.
What can Zimbabweans do to stop this madness? We have tried the democratic
route and that failed. Mugabe saw to that. He is not going to give in to
such trifles as crosses on ballot papers; to him the gun is mightier than
the vote. Not even the condemnation of fellow African leaders will stop him.
Only God can remove him he says and in front of the whole world he swears
his oath of allegiance. With his hand on the christian holy bible in a
ceremony presided over by his puppet Chief Justice, Mugabe promises to
'serve the Zimbabwean people well and truly'.
And what do Zimbabweans do? They shrug their shoulders and ask Toita sei?
What can we do? Hapana zvokuita, Nothing to do! But there is! The hundreds
of courageous MDC activists have proved it with their blood; the Woza women
have proved it and suffered the consequences of their courageous stand.
Released finally after six weeks in gaol, Jenni Williams and Magodonga
Mhlangu are examples to us all of the resiliance of the human spirit. They
will not surrender to their own oppression and neither should the Zimbabwean
people. Only they can reclaim their country, no one else will do it for
Yours in the (continuing ) struggle. PH
Mail and Guardian
MANDY ROSSOUW AND JASON MOYO - Jul 05 2008 06:00
A transitional government in Zimbabwe should be given two years to let the
dust settle before another round of elections can be held, the Angolan
government has advised the African Union (AU).
This week saw African leaders take a tougher stance on Zimbabwean dictator
Robert Mugabe, who was sworn in as the self-styled president after African
observers refused to certify his election as free and fair.
Discussion about Zimbabwe arose at the AU summit in Egypt's Sharm- El-Sheik
after a heated debate about the concept of a single pan-African government.
"The mood was tense enough after the discussion about the union government;
Zimbabwe just added to the drama," said an official who attended the
Leaders from Nigeria, Liberia and Botswana refused to let Mugabe off the
hook and did not mince their words.
Said the source: "They said to him: 'This is not even just bad, the
situation is utterly grave and unacceptable.' They told him: 'You have
Mugabe counter attacked by branding his critics "Western stooges", but the
African leaders would have none of it.
"'With your imperialist rhetoric you are not doing justice to the will of
the Zimbabwean people,' he was told. But he didn't get the point," the
Leaders decided to break ranks with Mugabe because of the threat of a split
in AU ranks. "Some states, like Botswana, are saying suspend Mugabe, others
are encouraging him to sit down and talk."
The AU communiqué after the summit called on Mugabe and the Movement for
Democratic Change to enter talks to establish a government of national
Mugabe's long-standing ally, Angola, also urged him to pursue a unity
government, but warned the summit that new elections could take place only
in two years.
The AU resolved that President Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts should
continue, but that the facilitation team should work in Harare full time.
But in Zimbabwe positions are becoming entrenched and the rhetoric is
escalating, creating doubt that a unity government will ever be formed.
Officials on both sides see the issue of who will lead a coalition
government as the biggest obstacle. They doubt talks will take off in the
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai seemed willing to parley earlier in the week,
with a party spokesperson saying he was ready for negotiation.
But the MDC leader told reporters that the AU had failed to recognise his
first-round win. He appeared emboldened by a statement on Tuesday by the
European Union saying it would back a unity government led only by him. The
EU pledged €250-million to a new government, one report said.
"Any talks must be held on the basis of that [March] election," Tsvangirai
Zanu-PF, wary of damaging what little African solidarity remains, has
officially stuck to the line that it remains open to dialogue. But a senior
Mugabe loyalist told the Mail & Guardian: "It is Tsvangirai who is desperate
to talk, not us. Mugabe is in power, Tsvangirai is not."
Mugabe appeared conciliatory ahead of the AU talks. Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga, deputy secretary general of the other MDC faction,
said she had received two calls on Sunday -- from Mugabe's office and
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa -- inviting her party to Mugabe's
Mugabe also invited Tsvangirai, but both factions rebuffed him. In his
inauguration speech Mugabe said he was ready for "serious discussions" with
The M&G was also told that Tsvangirai had, through senior adviser Elton
Mangoma, sought to establish contact with Zanu-PF.
Some support for talks remains in opposition ranks. Welshman Ncube, key to
the Mbeki negotiations, called for "an urgent meeting with all political
players" this week to set a dialogue agenda.
And Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson for Tsvangirai's party, said on Wednesday:
"We are open to a negotiated settlement."
But MDC treasurer general Roy Bennett said at a meeting in Johannesburg this
week that the MDC's conditions for talks centred on the deployment of
peacekeepers to disband Zanu-PF's torture and re-education camps.
In a heated statement on Tuesday Tendai Biti, Tsvangirai's secretary
general, angrily dared Mugabe to form a government on his own.
"It is now the firm view of the MDC that those who claim they have got a
mandate to govern should govern," he said.
Chinamasa, Zanu-PF's chief negotiator, said before any agenda could be
agreed for the dialogue Tsvangirai should first publicly denounce all
Western sanctions and declare that land reform was irreversible.
"He must talk to us directly and not through foreign interests."
Tsvangirai, meanwhile, is stepping up his bid to sideline Mbeki, calling for
"another AU partner to come here and solve this crisis".
At the Sharm-El-Sheikh meeting Ethiopia called for Mbeki to "reach out for
help" and ask another mediator to join him.
But officials revealed that, in a closed session at the AU summit, Mugabe
praised Mbeki's efforts in mediating talks resulting in constitutional
reforms. He rejected pressure for a wider African role.
Mugabe is desperate to please his African peers, but is prepared to latch
onto any sign of "Western interference" to drop the process, one official
admitted. "The EU statement (backing Tsvangirai) would have been a godsend,"
the official said.
The walking wounded
They keep pouring in at the Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre, a government therapy
centre east of Harare, which has become a sanctuary for hundreds of victims
of political violence.
In the aftermath of despot Robert Mugabe's controversial "re-election"
rights groups have reported a slight ebbing in attacks by his loyalists. But
people are still arriving at the centre, a doctor told the Mail & Guardian.
Most of the victims are from the northern Mashonaland provinces and tell a
similar tale. They campaigned for the opposition MDC and are now under
attack by militia members.
The MDC says nine of its supporters have died since the run-off "election".
At the African Union Summit in Egypt Mugabe denied Zanu-PF was responsible
for the violence gripping the country.
"He blamed it on the MDC, saying they started it," an East African official
who attended the summit told the M&G. Mugabe also insisted the violence had
subsided.Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights, a group of independent doctors,
say its members treated about 2 000 people for injuries sustained in
political violence in June alone, and more than 5 000 since February.
The doctors said: "Many victims of violence are failing to access treatment
because of several restricting factors, including limited freedom of
movement, no access to transport and poorly equipped institutions."
Post-election attacks on farmers in the central Chegutu district have been
Ben Freeth and Michael Campbell, two farmers who head a farmers' union and
who are challenging land seizures in a regional court, were brutally
attacked in their homes earlier this week.
They were forced to sign documents declaring they were dropping the court
case, the Justice for Agriculture group reported. Police spokesperson Wayne
Bvudzijena said on Thursday that 16 people had been arrested for the
attacks, which he called "plainly criminal acts".
Mugabe unlikely to be tried for war crimes
Dictator Robert Mugabe is unlikely to face prosecution at the International
Criminal Court (ICC), despite a report in The Times of London that Western
powers are considering hauling him before the court for atrocities inflicted
on his opponents.
"He needs to know he is moments away from an indictment," a diplomat
reportedly told the newspaper.
Fears of ICC prosecutions are said to have fuelled the reluctance of Mugabe
and his security chiefs to cede power. In 2006 he was said to be close to
signing an agreement with the Movement for Democratic Change, but pulled out
when former Liberian president Charles Taylor was charged with war crimes at
However, international law experts point out that Zimbabwe is not a
signatory to the court's founding document, making it difficult for any
successor to Mugabe to take a case to The Hague.
ICC public information coordinator Florence Olara confirmed that Zimbabwe
has not signed the statute.
This also means that the ICC could not on its own initiative decide to
investigate alleged crimes against humanity by its leaders.
The DA wrote to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon last week to
establish a commission of inquiry to investigate human rights abuses
perpetrated by Mugabe and the Zanu-PF leadership.
The DA has asked Ban to refer the matter to the chief prosecutor of the ICC
so that a criminal investigation can be initiated.
Mugabe can only be referred to the ICC only by the UN Security Council. But
such a move would almost certainly be opposed by Security Council members
Russia, China and Zimbabwe's ally, South Africa. The most recent case
referred by the Security Council to the ICC was that of Darfur.
Published: July 5 2008 03:00 | Last updated: July 5 2008 03:00
From Mr W.J.C. Rhys-Burgess.
Sir, Zimbabwe's constitutional independence from the UK derives from the
Southern Rhodesia Act 1979, which by virtue of section 1 (2) of that
enactment could legally be revoked by Order in Council at any time.
Section 3 (1) (b) of the 1979 act also empowers the Queen in parliament by
Order in Council to make provision for or in connection with the government
of Zimbabwe "as appears to Her to be necessary or expedient", especially in
consequence of any unconstitutional action taken. President Robert Mugabe's
conduct is surely in the nature of "unconstitutional action", which would
therefore legally justify invoking such powers.
Section 3 (3) (a) of the 1979 act also includes the "power to make laws for
the peace, order and good government of (Zimbabwe), including laws having
extra-territorial operation", while section 3 (3) (c) permits the suspension
or modification of "the operation of any enactment or instrument in relation
to (Zimbabwe) or persons or things in any way belonging to or connected with
Clearly, therefore, the UK government would be able to promulgate
legislation in exercise of its powers under the 1979 legislation, which
would have the effect (at least under English law) of restoring Zimbabwe to
the status of a British colony with its subjects entitled to the protection
of the crown and thereby legally permitting UK military intervention for the
purposes of restoring democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
The irony of such a proposition is of course that the UK government would be
highly unlikely to do any such thing given the appalling outcome of its
interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the UK's obligations to the
people of Zimbabwe have much greater legitimacy and, if the legal argument I
have advanced is for any reason flawed, it is surely at least a lot stronger
than was the case of the wholly unlawful invasion of Iraq.
Schuman Cassin LLP,
Nottingham NG1 1JU, UK
Friday July 04 2008
With the recent displays of violent authoritarian rule in Zimbabwe and much
talk of international sanctions, I wish to make a number of points.
Firstly, it is clear that regime change in Zimbabwe will not come from
Peaceful electoral reform will not take place as was demonstrated by the
shameful tactics recently employed by Robert Mugabe's government.
Neither will armed rebellion or popular revolution from within overthrow the
ZANU-PF party as was demonstrated by the ability of the minority white
government of Rhodesia to retain power despite having the support of only
5pc of the nation's population.
Mugabe enjoys a greater level of support (though still a minority) and has
total control of all security forces which would allow to crush any such
Also the white minority government remained in power for 15 years despite
lack of official recognition and strict trade embargoes, showing that any
notions of economic or political pressure on Mugabe are idle talk.
Firstly, he has the support of many other corrupt African states and,
secondly, such sanctions would not influence regime change but merely
increase poverty in the state.
The only method which would be certain to remove ZANU-PF from power is an
invasion by foreign states.
Ciaran O Dubhthaigh