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Toll of Zimbabwe's election yet to come

In one of the most brutal political campaigns in recent memory, scores of
people may have been killed.

By Shashank Bengali, McClatchy Newspapers

Last update: July 5, 2008 - 4:50 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Ngoni Bothwell Naite never told his family that he'd
become an activist. During Zimbabwe's bloody election season, when Naite
volunteered to guard the home of an opposition politician who had been
targeted for kidnapping, his mother assumed that he was staying with

She learned the truth one morning in June, when her 27-year-old son's body
was found dumped beside a cluster of shops after a government militia raided
the politician's home. There was a fist-deep gash in his forehead, his front
teeth had been knocked out, a bullet pierced his right armpit and, she
learned later, his genitals had been mutilated, as if smashed repeatedly
with a hammer.

Naite's mother, her head bowed, said she understood why her youngest son had
kept his political life a secret. "In this country, in this election,"
Emilia Dzvairo said, "I would not have let him do it."

Zimbabwe's election may be over -- President Robert Mugabe claimed victory
last Sunday and was immediately sworn in for another five-year term -- but
the human toll of one of the most brutal political campaigns in recent
memory is still being calculated. Opposition leaders and pro-democracy
activists think that government militias killed scores of people and
abducted perhaps hundreds of others as Mugabe decimated a popular opposition
party and extended his 28-year rule over this crumbling southern African

This wasn't an election, Mugabe's critics said; it was a war. And many in
Zimbabwe see it as evidence that hard-liners and military leaders have
reasserted control over the all-powerful ruling party, known as ZANU-PF.

These extremists, analysts and former party officials said, include veterans
of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle and men who led the massacres of tens of
thousands of political opponents in the 1980s. In some of the nastier
pre-election tactics -- beatings, torching of homes, forcing people into
"re-education camps" and demanding oaths of allegiance to ZANU-PF -- many
Zimbabweans saw shades of past campaigns of oppression.

At a summit of African leaders in Egypt on Monday, South Africa, the
regional power, called on Mugabe to start talks with opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai on forming a unity government. But with extremists calling
the shots, experts said, Mugabe is unlikely to negotiate seriously with
Tsvangirai and probably would select a hardliner to succeed himself.

"The hard-liners convinced him to ... win this election by whatever means,"
said Tiseke Kasambala, a senior researcher at the advocacy group Human
Rights Watch. "He let the army and the security forces do what they do best,
which is spread fear and terror throughout the country."

Despite plunging Zimbabwe into economic ruin -- hyperinflation and serious
food shortages have forced a third of the population to flee the country -- 
the 84-year-old president appears emboldened. Zimbabwe's state-owned Herald
newspaper said that Mugabe "was prepared to face any of his [African]
counterparts disparaging Zimbabwe's electoral conduct because some of their
countries had worse" election records.

If extremists remain in control, "repression will continue, restrictions on
freedom of assembly will continue and economically Zimbabwe will get worse,"
Kasambala said.

Experts think that Mugabe briefly considered stepping down after Tsvangirai
won a plurality of votes in a first-round election in March. Several ZANU-PF
moderates -- some of whom had quietly backed the failed candidacy of a third
candidate, former party official Simba Makoni -- reportedly urged Mugabe to
form a transitional government with Tsvangirai.

That was when the party's powerful security chiefs stepped in, a former
Mugabe aide said.

Led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, a government minister who has been implicated in
military abuses of civilians in the Matabeleland Province in the mid-1980s,
these men persuaded Mugabe not to cede power. The security chiefs are known
to detest Tsvangirai -- who didn't participate in the independence
struggle -- and may have feared prosecution on war crimes charges.

"The freedom fighters emerged and decided there's no way we can give up this
country to someone like Tsvangirai," said the former Mugabe aide, who has
split with ZANU-PF and who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of safety
concerns. "So then it became about victory at any cost."

"Robert Mugabe is their passport to immunity," said John Makumbe, a leading
political analyst in Harare. "They need to stay in power."

Mnangagwa took over Mugabe's campaign for the election runoff, which
resembled a military operation more than anything else. The International
Crisis Group, a research center, wrote in a recent report that the military,
youth militia and so-called war veterans -- who claim to be former
liberation fighters but often are simply young government mercenaries -- 
were deployed across the country to "intimidate (opposition supporters) to
vote for ZANU-PF" and dismantle the opposition "by targeting party leaders
and midlevel activists across the country."

The incident that killed Naite, the opposition activist, and three others
was typical.

On June 17 in Chitungwiza, near the capital, Harare, Naite was among a small
group holding a vigil at the home of an opposition official. According to
witnesses, a group of men chanting ZANU-PF slogans tried to storm the house,
but Naite and others fought back, driving the attackers away.

Later, the ZANU-PF supporters returned with more than 100 militiamen. A
newspaper report said they were accompanied by "four unmarked double-cab
trucks, a mini-bus owned by a known soldier and a Mercedes-Benz sedan
belonging to a local policeman."

"Our boys were just overpowered," said Martin Magaya, an opposition official
in Chitungwiza. "This was purely a military operation. You cannot call it
anything else."

Kasambala, the Human Rights Watch researcher, said that military leaders now
might move to consolidate power and sideline the moderates who counseled
Mugabe to step aside. In a sign that ZANU-PF officials were rallying behind
Mugabe, Joyce Mujuru, one of the country's two vice presidents who's widely
thought to have backed Makoni's independent presidential bid, lavished
praise on Mugabe at his inauguration.

"The victory we are celebrating today, your excellency, put to shame our
detractors who do not wish well for our country," Mujuru said, according to
the Washington Post.

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Teenage girls raped at Robert Mugabe's torture camps

The Sunday Times
July 6, 2008

A sharp rise in pregnancies shows Zanu-PF's campaign is reaching new depths
of cruelty

Douglas Marle in Harare
Dozens of teenage girls have been made pregnant after being taken into the
bush and raped in torture camps by President Robert Mugabe's youth militia
operating near Mudzi, a town 100 miles northeast of Harare, human rights
workers allege.

Amid the continuing chaos, there are as yet no clear statistics, but the
sharp rise in teenage pregnancies seems almost certain to have been repeated
elsewhere in rural districts. Some of the victims will have contracted
HIV-Aids, which has ravaged Zimbabwe for years and helped reduce average
life expectancy to 34 for women, the lowest in the world.

The raped girls are the silent victims of Mugabe's stolen election. Their
suffering has been surrounded by silence owing to the stigma and shame of

"It is a particularly brutal and disturbing element of the months of
violence, and its after effects will be felt by these girls and their
families long after the rest of the terror sweeping the country has died
away," said one human rights worker. "Some of the girls will never recover."

There are an unprecedented 16 teenage pregnancies registered at one local
hospital alone. Residents report that the local Zanu-PF militia boasts that
it wants to make Mudzi an "MDC-free zone". The torture camps, they claim,
are still manned, with no sign that they are about to be dismantled.

In Harare, the new parliament is expected to be sworn in on Tuesday amid
reports that the Mugabe regime plans to kill or arrest MPs from the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) to overturn the opposition's narrow majority.

Among those risking their lives to attend is a former Zimbabwean headmaster
who has spent the past eight years in exile in Britain, working as a supply
teacher in Essex.

"I am scared," said John Nyamandi, 56, who won the constituency of Makoni
Central in Manicaland. "We know a hit list has been drawn up. But we started
the game and have to finish it."

The March 29 elections gave the MDC 100 seats compared with 99 for Mugabe's
Zanu-PF. It is the first time the ruling party has lost control of
parliament since independence in 1980.

Another 10 seats were won by the breakaway MDC faction of Arthur Mutambara.
This has promised to back the Tsvangirai group, but intense efforts are
underway by the ruling party to try to persuade it to participate in an
administration that could then be portrayed as a government of national

An editorial in the state-run Herald last week stated that 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".

At the same time, a number of MDC MPs have been arrested or are in hiding.
Any parliamentarian who does not attend within 21 days of the swearing-in is
automatically disbarred.

"Their strategy is to vilify the MPs and to reverse our majority in
parliament after convicting them using a subverted judiciary," said Luke
Tamborinyoka, the MDC director of information.

Zimbabwean police confirmed that they have put seven elected opposition MPs
on a wanted list. According to a police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena, they
are wanted in connection with crimes ranging from inciting public violence
to attempted murder.

Nyamandi returned to Essex two weeks after winning the election, after
secret police from the state intelligence service climbed over his garden
wall at 4am and searched his house in Harare. Fortunately he was away in his

He is at particular risk because he defeated Patrick Chinamasa, Mugabe's
justice minister and one of the ruling party's big names. Like most MPs, all
Nyamandi's party workers in his constituency have fled the campaign of

Despite the widespread condemnation of Mugabe's election, African, Chinese
and Indian diplomats, as well as some MPs from the Mutambara faction of the
MDC, attended Mugabe's hastily arranged swearing-in ceremony for a sixth
presidential term last weekend.

Their presence was troubling for the opposition, already reeling from the
destruction of its infrastructure, with thousands of supporters in camps or
in hiding.

Mugabe and his henchmen are facing further isolation as western countries
press the United Nations to impose sanctions, including a travel ban and
asset freeze on Mugabe's top supporters.

The daughter of General Constantine Chiwenga, commander of the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces, was expelled from Germany, where she was studying, last week
and had to return home. Other children of the leadership are likely to

Australia has already expelled the children of Gideon Gono, who were
studying there. As governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Gono bankrolled
Mugabe's re-election campaign, estimated to have cost £30m. He is also on
the European Union's sanctions list.

Behind the walls of a house owned by Gono in Bath Road, Harare, the
secretive Joint Operations Command (JOC) - the group of military and
security brass who have been directing the violent course of events - holds

Having won the election for Mugabe, albeit at great cost in lives and
treasure, the JOC's overriding priority is to consolidate Zanu-PF power and
stamp out any opposition.

Although the MDC has always eschewed violence, there have been cases where
young MDC supporters have felt emboldened to hit back at the Zanu-PF
militia, who are responsible for most of the violence in townships and the
countryside. In one case, in Masvingo province, armed troops had to be
brought in to quell them.

When he came to power in 1980, Mugabe ordered all weapons to be handed over
to the government. Until the past few years, Zimbabwe was so stable it was
almost impossible to buy an AK-47 assault rifle.

However, last week the rifles could be found for £100, a warning that
Zimbabwe could be taking the first steps towards an armed conflict.

Additional reporting: Christina Lamb

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Shell ready to quit Zimbabwe as Mugabe cronies hoard fuel

Mbeki flies into Harare to explore the chances of a deal that could lead to
a 'unity' government

Paul Lewis and David Pallister
The Observer,
Sunday July 6, 2008

Shell was considering pulling out of Zimbabwe last night amid claims that
President Robert Mugabe was reserving the distribution of fuel at petrol
pumps for party supporters.

A source at the oil giant told The Observer it was looking at a plan to halt
activities in the country, which are overseen in a joint deal with BP. One
option being canvassed is for Shell to sell its stake to a third party.
Meanwhile both the UN Security Council and the European Union are drafting
tougher sanctions aimed at members of the regime and their families, but
probably stopping short of wider economic sanctions that some British
politicians and Zimbabweans are calling for.

The moves came as the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, flew to Harare
for talks with Mugabe and, reportedly, members of a dissident opposition
faction which has split from Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
Change. Mbeki has called for the formation of a government of national unity
in Zimbabwe, following the violence that ensured Mugabe's re-election as
president. News agencies reported that Tsvangirai had refused to meet Mbeki
during his visit.

Shell and BP supply 74 independent petrol stations in Zimbabwe. Supplies are
piped from Mozambique and stored at four oil terminals. Both companies have
bitter memories of the hostility they drew during the apartheid era in South
Africa and minority rule in Rhodesia.

The political instability since last month's rigged presidential election
was one factor under consideration by Shell, the source said. 'We have
withdrawn from countries in the past where the situation was delicate,' he
said. 'We are actively looking for a new solution.'

In a statement, Shell said: 'We have a shareholding in a small retail joint
venture which is operated by BP. We are currently reviewing our position.'
BP said it had no plans to withdraw.

Tino Bere, a member of the Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights group, said
that fuel imports - controlled by Mugabe loyalists - should be targeted.
'Access to fuel imported by the state is reserved for members of Zanu-PF,'
he said. 'The majority of people won't suffer. They can get what they need
on the black market.'

A study by London-based Ethical Investment Research Services shows that
Britain is the largest foreign investor, with holdings in more than a
quarter of the 82 companies that have their parents listed on overseas stock

Shell would become the fourth company to pull out of Zimbabwe in the past
fortnight. Tesco announced last week that it would stop sourcing products
from Zimbabwe as long as the political crisis persisted. The London mayor,
Boris Johnson, promised that Oyster card supplier EDS would not renew its
contract with the Munich-based company Giesecke & Devrient, after it emerged
that the company provides banknotes to Zimbabwe's central bank. The
communications company WPP said it would divest its quarter stake in Y&R
advertising agency since it emerged that a senior member of the company's
management was advising Mugabe.

Gordon Brown has asked companies doing business in Zimbabwe to 'reconsider'
their position. The Foreign Office said this meant that they should look at
board members and shareholders of their subsidiaries to see if regime
members were directly benefiting.

Labour's Hugh Bayley, who chairs the Africa All Party Parliamentary Group,
said: 'The UK smart sanctions have not been smart enough. It is time for
Europe to look seriously at wider economic sanctions.'

Kate Hoey, who chairs the parliamentary group on Zimbabwe, suggested the
country should be compared with South Africa in the 1980s, and that the full
weight of economic sanctions should be considered, including disinvestment.

Several companies were standing by their investments in Zimbabwe yesterday.
Barclays said it would continue its operations there after it was accused of
providing loans to five of Mugabe's ministers via a subsidiary. Unilever,
Standard Chartered Bank, British American Tobacco, and the mining
corporations Anglo American and Rio Tinto, all pledged to stay.

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From Mugabe's thugs to a life of poverty in Britain

Indpendent, UK

Ministers are urged to allow refugees to support themselves through work.
Emily Dugan reports

Sunday, 6 July 2008

The Government faces growing pressure to allow Zimbabweans living in exile
in the UK the right to work, as those with failed asylum cases are forced to
live in a poverty-stricken state of limbo.

All deportations to Zimbabwe have been on hold while the violence continues
there, leaving thousands whose claims have been rejected choosing to stay in
the UK in destitution rather than return.

Unable to work or claim benefits, they have escaped Robert Mugabe's clutches
only to find themselves living a life of poverty in Britain. Now the
Independent Asylum Commission - the impartial body analysing the UK asylum
system - has demanded that the Government show compassion.

Senior politicians and public figures have lent their weight to the cause,
calling on the Home Office to re-examine its policy. On Friday, the
Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, will lead a rally in London to demand that
Zimbabweans be allowed to seek employment in the UK until it is safe for
them to return.

There are thousands of Zimbabweans living in the UK, with as many as 11,000
believed to be blocked from employment because their asylum claims are
undecided or have been turned down. Without jobs or benefits, they are
living on handouts and forced into a life of penury.

Sir John Waite, chair of the Independent Asylum Commission, said the
Government needs to look to itself before criticising Mr Mugabe for the
treatment of his people. "There has been much justified criticism in the UK
of Mugabe's use of employment as a tool to encourage supporters and
discourage opponents," he said. "Before we are too critical of that, we need
to look at home and examine the fate of the thousands of Zimbabweans who are
in the UK and are unable to return to Zimbabwe but are nevertheless denied
employment in this country.

"If they were allowed to work, they could learn new skills which would be of
value to them and enormously to their country when they return. The same
skills, in the meantime, could help the British economy. What a shame it is
that this golden opportunity should be denied by a policy which compels them
to accept bare sustenance and very basic accommodation."

Baroness Williams described the policy of leaving asylum-seekers without
work as "crazy and terribly short-sighted".

"I've always thought a situation in which refugees are not able to receive
benefits or work was ridiculous," she said. "In the particular case of
Zimbabweans, where it must be patently obvious that they cannot be returned
and where there would be international uproar if they did, they must be
allowed at least to receive benefit or, better, to work."

"A lot of the asylum-seekers and refugees that I've spoken to are people who
intend to go back to Zimbabwe and are highly qualified. If they were allowed
to work and pick up the best and latest practice from the UK, they would go
back as much more constructive citizens than if they spent time behind bars.
Shouldn't we start building up men and women to be the basis of a new
democratic society in Zimbabwe, which they'll have to build from the ground

Kate Hoey MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, said
that Britain was "squandering the skills and expertise of people who can't
possibly be returned to Zimbabwe". "The Government say they're not enforcing
returns, so why do we deny them the ability to support themselves? We can't
invest development aid in Zimbabwe while Mugabe is in power but we can and
should develop the human resources of Zimbabweans in this country ready for
when they return home. They are Zimbabwe's greatest resource," she said.

By law asylum-seekers whose claims have been rejected are denied the right
to work or receive benefits, but there are signs that the Government might
be persuaded to make an exception for Zimbabweans. Last month, Lord
Malloch-Brown said that the Government was "looking at the support we may
need to give Zimbabweans, particularly at the ban on refugees taking up

But many are sceptical at the likelihood of the Government making a U-turn
on asylum policy. "We need more than words; we need a genuine commitment,"
said Lady Williams.

'I hoped I'd feel safe here, but it's been the opposite'

Chipo was working as an accountant in Mutare for three years before her
support for the opposition party, the MDC, made it too dangerous for her to
remain in Zimbabwe. The 32-year-old, who was beaten and subjected to death
threats by Zanu-PF thugs, sought sanctuary in the UK in 2002.

In Zimbabwe she earned enough money to support herself and many of her
extended family, but her life in Britain has been one of abject poverty. Her
asylum claim was rejected, meaning she was barred from work and not entitled
to benefits. Too afraid to return to Zimbabwe, she now relies on handouts
from her sister, who is also supporting the two children that Chipo had to
leave behind.

"In Zimbabwe I had a beautiful, very comfortable home and financially I
could do anything I wanted; I never felt I didn't have enough money. I can't
go back there because I'm scared I would be killed, but I had expected more
from Britain. I hoped that when I came here I'd feel safe and protected, but
it's been the opposite. Here you're denied every basic need that you

"I can't provide for myself and that's really damaging psychologically. I do
voluntary work, but it's very dehumanising not being able to work properly.
I want to contribute, to work and pay taxes but I can't. The Government
could at least let us start our lives again until Zimbabwe is safe to go
back to.

"I live with friends, family and well-wishers, but it's very difficult to
rely on other people as an adult. It's humiliating to have to ask for a
pound to buy sanitary towels or food to eat. We talk about poverty in
Africa, but there's poverty here in Britain, too. People think
asylum-seekers are sponging off government money, but we're not doing that;
we're constantly struggling."

'I don't want benefits - I just want to work'

Mercy, 24, fled Zimbabwe in 2002 after she was beaten and tortured for
supporting the MDC. Since then her father has been killed and her house
burnt down. Her asylum claim was turned down.

"I only have £10 to spend on food. I was expecting that I would get help if
I came to the UK, but I haven't been able to study or work at all. I do
nothing all day. I just wish I could do something. I don't want benefits. I
just want to work."

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UK is sending 11,000 Mugabe refugees back

Zimbabweans who fled regime are being sent Home Office letters telling them
to return

Jamie Doward, home affairs editor
The Observer,
Sunday July 6, 2008

Attempts by Gordon Brown to use a meeting of G8 leaders this week to
campaign for tougher action against Zimbabwe are in danger of being
undermined by claims that Britain is forcing as many as 11,000 Zimbabweans
seeking refuge here to make a stark choice between destitution or returning
home to possible torture or death. Letters obtained by The Observer show
that the Home Office continues to order failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers to
return home in the face of mounting violence.

A removal letter, sent at the end of May to an exiled London-based member of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, states: 'The support that you
have been provided with is to be discontinued ... You should note that there
is no right to appeal against this decision ... You must now leave the
United Kingdom.'

The letter, which refugee groups say has been sent to hundreds of
Zimbabweans in the past few months, continues: 'As a failed asylum seeker
you are expected to make arrangements to leave the United Kingdom without

The letter's recipient, a man who asked not to be named for fear it would
jeopardise his safety if he is forced to return to Zimbabwe, said that he
had been tortured by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. 'I have to
report to the Home Office every two weeks but I haven't got any money to pay
the travel costs,' he said.

The majority of Zimbabweans in the UK are too scared to return. As a result,
refugee groups and charities say many Zimbabwean asylum seekers are now
destitute and relying on friends and charity.

'These letters are shameful,' said Donna Covey, chief executive of the
Refugee Council. 'It is appalling that the government is continuing to order
Zimbabweans to go back to Zimbabwe, especially under the current
circumstances, and basically leaving them to starve if they don't.'

She said: 'It is scarcely believable that even now, when there can be no
questioning of the atrocities being committed by Mugabe's regime, people
asking for safety here are being turned away.'

Sir John Waite, co-chairman of the Independent Asylum Commission, which has
just published a report on the asylum system in the UK, described the
situation as a source of shame.

He said: 'We heard testimony from many Zimbabwean asylum seekers and we were
shocked by what we found - Zimbabweans sleeping on sofas, in parks and
launderettes, reliant on charity and prevented from working.'

He added: 'Our nation's leaders have loudly condemned the Mugabe regime, but
perhaps we should also look a little closer to home, to the thousands of
Zimbabwean asylum seekers who have been left in a harsh legal limbo - unable
to work, deprived of welfare and unable to return home. If the British
people had heard what we have heard from destitute Zimbabweans, they would
be troubled and perhaps even ashamed.'

The Home Office won a legal ruling earlier in the year giving it the power
to send Zimbabweans home. But the ruling, the result of a three-year legal
battle, was disputed by refugee groups.

Last week the Court of Appeal adjourned the case, a move that has meant
thousands of Zimbabweans continue to be left without benefits. 'The hidden
consequence of this decision is that up to 11,000 refused Zimbabwean asylum
seekers will be left destitute, not given any support or accommodation and
at risk of prosecution if they work to support themselves, so that some are
forced to beg and sleep rough,' said Caroline Slocock, chief executive of
the Refugee Legal Centre.

Nick Scott-Flynn, head of refugee services at the Red Cross, estimates a
tenth of the 10,000 refugees his organisation helps in the UK each year are

'Many are petrified about going back,' he said. 'They are in limbo - not
allowed to work and not allowed to receive benefits. The consequences of
this policy is causing a lot of needless suffering, and there is no evidence
it is encouraging people to return home.'

Marilyn Bonzo, who is seeking asylum in the UK after being accused of
supporting the MDC, is one Zimbabwean living in destitution. 'I now live on
the charity of my British friends and food that the Red Cross give me,' she

This week Britain is to lead calls urging G8 countries not to recognise the
re-election of Mugabe and to consider tighter sanctions against his regime.
In April, Brown said: 'I am appalled by the signs that the regime is once
again resorting to intimidation and violence.'

But Covey said the government's policy on Zimbabwe was contradictory. 'What
people find bewildering is the disconnect between what the government says
in regards to its foreign policy and its immigration policy,' she said. 'The
Home Office has got very expensive lawyers trying to deport opposition
activists, and the message going back to Zimbabwe is that the UK is not a
safe haven.'

Refugee support groups are now calling on the government urgently to relax
the rules barring Zimbabwean asylum seekers from working. The Foreign Office
minister, Lord Malloch Brown, recently hinted this was a proposal being
considered by the government.

A UK Border Agency spokeswoman said that, although the agency was sending
out letters ordering failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers to return home, it had
no plans to start forced removals. 'We always seek to assist anyone who
wishes to return,' she said.

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G8 to 'strongly condemn' Mugabe


05/07/2008 22:14  - (SA)

Washington - The White House said on Saturday that G8 leaders are likely to
"strongly condemn" Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and "strongly question" his
government's legitimacy, at their Japan summit beginning Monday.

Dennis Wilder, the National Security Council's senior director for Asia
affairs, said he believed that Zimbabwe would be condemned as part of the G8
leaders' official statement.

"I think the G8 will strongly condemn what Mugabe has done. It will strongly
question the legitimacy of his government," Wilder said aboard Air Force One
on the way to Japan.

Mugabe was inaugurated for a sixth term last Sunday, two days on from a
run-off election in which he was the only candidate after main opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the contest.

The Movement for Democratic Change leader had won the first round of the
election in March but boycotted the run-off after nearly 90 of his
supporters were killed in attacks he blamed on pro-Mugabe thugs.

Leaders of the eight major industrial powers - Britain, Canada, France,
Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States - meet starting on
Monday at the Hokkaido resort of Toyako.

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Germany wants G8 to press African leaders on Zimbabwe

Globe and Mail, Canada


Associated Press

July 5, 2008 at 7:09 PM EDT

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday that she hopes
African leaders will support tougher sanctions against Zimbabwe when they
participate at the upcoming Group of Eight summit.

Leaders including South African President Thabo Mbeki, whom Zimbabwe's
opposition has accused of bias toward President Robert Mugabe, and Nigerian
President Umaru Yar'Adua have been invited to a meeting as part of the
summit in Japan, starting Monday.

Ms. Merkel told The Associated Press this week that the European Union would
seek "all possible sanctions" against Zimbabwe's government and leader in
the wake of its widely denounced presidential election runoff.

She underlined that stance in her weekly video message, in which she looked
ahead to the G8 summit.

"We will confer on how we can toughen sanctions against Zimbabwe, and I hope
that we will also get support from our African colleagues here," Ms. Merkel

A U.S. official also predicted the Group of Eight industrialized nations
will take a stand regarding Zimbabwe and its leader.

"I believe it will be part of the G8 statement," Dennis Wilder, the U.S.
National Security Council's senior director for Asian Affairs, told
reporters while travelling on Air Force One with U.S. President George W.
Bush to Japan on Saturday.

"I think the G8 will strongly condemn what Mugage has done. It will strongly
question the legitimacy of his government and his governing Zimbabwe," Mr.
Wilder said.

Mr. Mbeki made a brief, unannounced visit to Zimbabwe on Saturday before
heading to the G8 meeting later in the day, his spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga

During a visit of a few hours in his role as mediator, he met with Mr.
Mugabe and some members of the opposition, Mr. Ratshitanga said. Former
opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai was not one of the
people Mr. Mbeki met.

Mr. Ratshitanga refused to say what was discussed, but said it was not
related to the G8.

The EU already has travel bans and an asset freeze in place on Mr. Mugabe
and other senior Zimbabwean officials. However, African Union leaders have
failed to deliver a strong unified message over voting widely dismissed as a
farce after Mr. Tsvangirai pulled out, citing violence and intimidation.

Beyond Zimbabwe, Ms. Merkel said that the G8 and African leaders would
discuss "how the industrial countries can help African countries strengthen
their own farming sector" in the face of soaring food prices.

She added that they would consider what standards should be applied to
growing crops for biofuels "so that no competition with food production
worldwide can arise."

Ms. Merkel said it was "particularly important" for the world's leading
industrial nations to confer with top emerging economies - China, India,
Mexico, Brazil and South Africa - in discussing how to tackle high energy

"We will consider to what extent it is possible to stem speculation and
bring output into line with demand," she said.

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Refugees defy crocodiles to cross border

Refugees from Zimbabwe

Refugees from Zimbabwe wade across the crocodile-infested Limpopo river in search of safety on the South African side. Photograph: John Moore/Getty

Ten days after President Robert Mugabe re-elected himself, there has been a huge surge in the number of impoverished Zimbabweans fleeing their country. Farmers and human traffickers have confirmed that hundreds are braving the crocodile-infested Limpopo river daily and cutting through three razor-wire fences that spanning 200km on the South African side.

'For the Beit Bridge area alone we're now talking of 400 people every 24 hours,' said Ronnie, a former border fence repairer who turned to human trafficking last year. 'For myself, I barely have time to bring one group over and another 30 people are waiting for me on the Zimbabwean side.' The standard charge for each 'jumper' is 40 rands (£2.50).

Among Ronnie's latest crop, Mkhumbuleni Sibanda, 30, emerged bruised and scruffy from a tunnel under the South African fence with a huge smile on his face. 'I'm so relieved to be out of there,' he said. 'Until last week I was one of the people saying, "We have to stay, never mind if we eat roots. The first round of the election went all right, it will soon be over." But now there is no reason to remain in Zimbabwe.'

After bribing Zimbabwean officials and braving the river, the 'jumpers' know they face the worst of what South Africa can offer. The 'guma-guma' - criminals who prey on the newly arrived - scour the length of the border fence to rob them of their meagre belongings and rape the women.

'We have heard all the stories. But if I have to die, I might as well die in South Africa,' said Sipho Mujuru, 40, who had come through unscathed, except for losing a shoe.

The xenophobic attacks that claimed 62 lives in South Africa in May had not deterred the group. 'More people died in the Zimbabwean elections - at the hands of their own people,' said Mujuru who was crossing for the second time after being deported four days ago.

In the first five months of this year, South Africa officially deported 20,397 Zimbabweans. But the International Organisation for Migration says the real figure is closer to 17,000 every month.

Médecins Sans Frontières is critical of South Africa for continuing to treat the Zimbabweans as illegal immigrants, rather than as refugees. Spokeswoman Suné Kitshoff said: 'Last week we visited the warehouse in the army barracks where people are taken before being deported. We found 465 men, women and children there, in deplorable conditions. When we returned with our mobile clinic the next day, they had all been deported.'

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Northern Rock accused of seeking funds in Harare

Independent, UK

By Brian Brady, Whitehall Editor
Sunday, 6 July 2008

The Government has been forced to scour Northern Rock's records for details
of its dealings with Zimbabwe after it emerged that the newly nationalised
bank had been touting for business in Robert Mugabe's pariah state.

Civil servants demanded answers from the bank's management last Thursday
after the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, was confronted with details of
Northern Rock's efforts to attract funds from investors in Zimbabwe, where
violence has continued after the run-off presidential election 10 days ago
which has been internationally denounced as a sham.

Northern Rock (Guern-sey), a wholly owned offshore investment arm of the UK
bank, had been advertising new accounts available to a select group of
nations, including "Egypt, South Africa and Zimbabwe", until the end of last
week. The bank's website replaced Mr Mugabe's state with Kenya on Thursday
evening, shortly after Mr Miliband was challenged over the arrangement in
the House of Commons.

A Northern Rock spokes-man later claimed the bank had not solicited new
business from Zimbabwe for some time, although it still maintained existing
accounts from Zimbabwean citizens. But the shadow Foreign Secretary, William
Hague, has now written to Mr Miliband to demand full details of the bank's
current business with Zimbabwe and investments dating back several years.

The Conservatives want to know whether the Rock has accepted money from
President Mugabe and 131 members of his Zanu-PF ruling elite placed on a
banned list under the "smart sanctions" regime agreed by the European Union.

The revelation that a bank nationalised after being rescued from crisis in
February has been touting for business in Zimbabwe is an embarrassment for
the Government as it attempts to encourage British companies to invest
ethically in the country - or reconsider doing business there at all.

The IoS revealed last week that six Tory MPs and one Liberal Democrat had
invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in companies with significant
business in Zimbabwe. The Lib Dems last night confirmed that their MP Sir
Robert Smith had agreed to keep his Zimbabwe-linked investments "under
active review" after he was summoned to explain himself to his leader, Nick

The Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown responded to the revelations
by warning that the "game is changing" and firms would find it harder as
sanctions tighten.

Mr Mugabe told a rally on Friday: "The British are threatening to withdraw
their companies. We say: the sooner you do it the better. Please, Mr Brown,
withdraw all your companies from Zimbabwe."

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa arrived in Harare yesterday to meet Mr
Mugabe and a breakaway faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Its support could give Mr Mugabe a parliamentary majority over the main MDC,
whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, refuses to accept Mr Mbeki as mediator.

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Independent Group reviews its Zimbabwe operations

06 July 2008  By Samantha McCaughren, Business Correspondent

Media group Independent News & Media (INM) is reviewing its business in
Zimbabwe after recently taking full control of an advertising company with
operations there.

A number of high-profile companies, including Tesco, have cut business ties
with Zimbabwe due to international concerns over the political crisis in the
country which led to the re-election of Robert Mugabe as president.

A subsidiary of INM, Clear Channel Independent (CCI), lists Zimbabwe among
the countries in which it operates. INM bought out the remaining 50 per cent
stake in CCI last March. A spokeswoman for INM said that the media company
was reviewing CCI Zimbabwe as it had just recently bought out the outdoor
advertising group.

The review does not appear to relate to the political issues in the country.
She said CCI had a very small operation there.

She said the company had not run ads related to the controversial election.
''There were no government posters run for the election. It is all
multi-national companies that advertise," she said.

Last weekend, INM's International Advisory Board (IAB) issued a statement
condemning ''the sham election, the political turmoil and extreme human
rights violations unleashed in Zimbabwe''.

''The IAB now looks to the South African Development Community (SADC) and
the African Union (AU) to urgently develop a strategy for the restoration of
civil authority and a free and fair election process in Zimbabwe," said the
board after a meeting in Dublin.

While a number of companies have decided to withdraw from Zimbabwe, other
businesses have said that ceasing trading there would only increase the
suffering of the ordinary people living in the country.

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Doubts raised over haunting image from Zimbabwe

The Sunday Times
July 6, 2008

Last week's Sunday Times carried a prominent report about an 11-month-old
baby whose mother said his legs had been broken when he was dashed to the
ground by Zanu-PF thugs.

The story, supplied by two freelance journalists, prompted readers to offer
money for medical treatment and the newspaper decided to help.

However, doubts about the mother's account arose when our reporter tried to
arrange an operation. An orthopaedic surgeon said an x-ray of the child's
legs showed no sign of fractures. Doctors in Harare and London said he had
club feet.

The mother, whose husband is an opposition councillor, repeatedly insisted
that the child had been maimed when he was picked up from a bed and hurled
to the floor. Her story, which was first reported in The New York Times, was
reiterated last week by Newsweek, the US magazine.

While there is no suggestion that the mother's account of an attack is
false, doctors have yet to find any evidence to support her claims that her
son was injured. Further x-rays are due tomorrow.
President Robert Mugabe's government has virtually banned foreign
journalists from Zimbabwe. As a result, most have had to report
clandestinely on last month's violent elections. The price of being caught
is prison.

The clampdown can lead to problems with checking information. In this
instance, a photographer took a poignant picture of the baby with his legs
in plaster, sticking out at odd angles, as he sheltered in a church hall
with others displaced by the violence.

Aware that other children have been hurt in attacks on the opposition, a
freelance reporter who provided the story took the mother at her word. Part
of this reporter's article was then inserted into a front-page story by
Christina Lamb without her knowledge.

Our inquiries in the past few days suggest we were wrong to report that the
baby's legs had been broken in an assault. For that, we unreservedly

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Mugabe should appal Africa

The Times, SA

Sunday Times Editorial Published:Jul 06, 2008
When Africa's heads of state descended on Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt on
Tuesday, their agenda should have been to discuss issues bedevilling the
continent such as water, sanitation and rising food prices.

They could have hoped also to discuss the oil price that is making some of
their countries rich and how to use that windfall to strengthen the physical
and economic health of the continent.

Instead, they were confronted with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and
his bloodied hands.

It was inevitable that the most troublesome leader on the continent would
become the focus of their talks. What surprised many who had believed in the
African Union's commitment to "non-indifference" instead of the old OAU's
policy of "non-interference" was the unwillingness of the leaders gathered
there to defend the flickering flame of African democracy and send Mugabe

In the face of the brutality that has become the hallmark of his regime,
Mugabe's peers were unable to agree on a common hard line, leaving him to
exploit their confusion to his own advantage yet again and to undermine the
international impact of the very hard-earned gains of improving governance
elsewhere in Africa.

Mugabe arrived at the Red Sea resort fresh from his absurd victory in a
one-man election that had been unanimously repudiated by observers from
neighbouring countries including Botswana, the Southern African Development
Community, the Pan African Parliament and the African Union itself.

Despite the momentum provided by these unprecedented judgments, the leaders
still could not muster a consensus to reject Mugabe's victory and his claim
to be president again of the country he has ruined.

It was left to a reporter in the corridors to challenge Mugabe's claim to
victory and, of course, he was quickly dragged off by Zimbabwean security
with Mugabe spitting venom at his back.

While South Africa has continued to argue for time to convince Mugabe to
consider leaving office, Western countries have been more vocal in their
condemnation of his election and his inauguration.

Critics of the West might argue that its leaders have their own vested
imperialist interests in Zimbabwe, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion
that the West cares more about African lives and rights than Africa does.
Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of Africa, not the world, until Mugabe
destroyed its economy. The country has nothing the West cannot get

It is a shame that Africa, with its own recent history of defeated
dictatorships, is unable to agree to topple one of the last of its tyrants
and to put the interests of a nation ahead of those of their tormentor.

Mugabe appals the West - and should appal Africa - because he has wrecked a
beautiful, functional country.

African leaders must take the side of the Zimbabwean people - the side of
democracy- by not recognising Mugabe's blood-stained electoral "victory".

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Animals pay the price of life in Zim

The Times, SA

Simpiwe Piliso Published:Jul 06, 2008

Top wildlife rehabilitation park faces closure
Zimbabwe's largest wildlife rehabilitation park is under threat of closure
as management struggles to find funding and food for its 220 animals.

Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage, which is home to injured and orphaned
animals, this week barely had enough meat for its 32 lions, seven leopards,
a pack of wild dogs and hyaenas.

The grain, fruit and other feed for the centre's two black rhinos, duikers,
baboons, vervet monkeys, kudus and steenbok have also been depleted.

"Every day is a struggle to keep this place going. And it's not only food
that's in short supply," said Chipangali director Kevin Wilson.

Apart from fuel that now costs US2 per litre in Zimbabwe, vehicle parts are
also exorbitant. Wilson, who relies on his Toyota Hilux bakkie to fetch
animal feed donations from farms, recently replaced four wheel bearings at a
cost of R1570 each. The same parts cost about R250 each in South Africa.

"The list of expenses just goes on and on and on. A lot of Zimbabwean
farmers who used to assist Chipangali with food and donations are now living
in Zambia and South Africa. .. and have moved on with their lives," said

There are only about 600 white farmers left in Zimbabwe, down from 4500
eight years ago when President Robert Mugabe mounted a brutal campaign to
seize white-owned farms.

Last Sunday, shortly after Mugabe was sworn in for a sixth term after an
election boycotted by the opposition, several white-owned farms were
ransacked and families assaulted.

John and Judy Travers, the owners of Imire Safari Ranch, were accosted by
suspected war veterans who demanded they shoot three impala for them to eat.

Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said
when the couple refused, the war veterans threatened to torch the ranch.

"They were extremely aggressive and John eventually had no option but to
shoot the impala. The invaders left with the impala, saying that Imire was
at the top of their list and they were going to take it," said Rodrigues.

On Wednesday, some of the men returned and told the Traverses to leave.

"It is a foregone conclusion that, if the invaders succeed in evicting the
Traverses, all the animals will be slaughtered within a very short space of
time," said Rodrigues.

Economists this week said a loaf of bread costs 150 times more now than it
did during the first round of the elections on March 29. Four out of every
five Zimbabweans are unemployed and many battle to stave off malnutrition
amid chronic shortages of meat, bread and other foodstuffs.

Last week, hotel operators told the Sunday Times that tourism figures in
Bulawayo had plummeted. Chipangali workers said there had been no "paying
visitors" in almost a month.

"One of our biggest expenses is feeding the carnivores," said Wilson. Each
lion is fed 10kg of meat every two days.

Wilson said they often receive calls from farmers wanting to donate a dead
cow. "But it's not really free," he said, because it costs them dearly to
fetch the carcass with their bakkie, which has more than 650000km on the

Last Thursday, some of the park's enclosures appeared neglected, with weeds
and overgrown shrubs and grass abounding. The electric fence around the lion
enclosure did not function.

The 35-year-old park gained international recognition for its wildlife
studies and captive-breeding programmes. Princess Diana was a patron of the
Chipangali Wildlife Trust from 1983 until her death in 1997. The Diana,
Princess of Wales Memorial Fund donated money to Chipangali to erect a
children's centre that is used to teach youngsters about nature conservation
and the very wildlife that is now being wiped out by poachers.

Last November, National Geographic reported that some of Zimbabwe's private
game ranches were stripped of game. Using extracts from a report released by
the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the magazine reported that 90% of
animals had been lost since 2000, while the country has seen an estimated
60% of its total wildlife population killed by either poachers or farmers to
help ease economic woes.

For its study, the task force gathered information from 62 game ranches, 59
of which reported losses, including 75 rare black rhinos and 39 leopards.
Other losses included 9500 impalas, about 5000 kudus and 2000 wildebeest.

Alongside plummeting wildlife numbers, Zimbabwe has seen massive
deforestation and the neglect of national parks. The task force also
revealed that the country had 620 private game farms before the land
seizures began, but only 14 remain.

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AU must force Mugabe out of power

Sunday Nation, Kenya


Publication Date: 7/6/2008 This week in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh,
Egypt, the African Union once again vividly demonstrated why it is not
worthy of the respect of Africans.

Instead of locking Mr Robert Mugabe, the illegally self-declared
president of Zimbabwe, out of its summit, the AU inexplicably embraced him.

This disgraceful act, together with the AU's call for Mr Mugabe to
share power with Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, gives a measure of legitimacy to a sadistic despot who
should be sitting in prison.

Significantly, the AU's weak-kneed response tells the world that Mr
Mugabe is not the only sick man of Africa.

Visceral distaste

I have now developed a visceral distaste for all things Mugabe.  Take
his valiant struggle against barbaric British colonialism, for instance.

What good is that history if all he has done with it is to destroy the
country he so heroically fought for? The other totem that he pulls out of
his bag of tricks is sovereignty.

While no African can gainsay the importance of this universal
principle, what good is it if all Mr Mugabe does is use it as a shield to
oppress his people?

Take the hypocrisy of the West over the Zimbabwe crisis, for example.
What good is recognising that hypocrisy when all Mr Mugabe does with it is
insist that former colonial and racist powers have no right to oppose his

Mr Mugabe is adept at using all kinds of canards to escape
responsibility for the ruin of Zimbabwe.  Even if I agreed with him on his
critiques of the West - and I do - I could never in a million years condone
his despotic rule.

The West can go hang

It seems that the only thing that matters to Mr Mugabe is Mr Mugabe
himself. As far as he is concerned, the West can go to hell, or "hang" as
his lackey angrily told reporters at Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday.

But the truth of the matter is that Mr Mugabe actually means to tell
Zimbabweans to go "hang."

After all, he has no power over the West.  His power - the crude
instrument against an impoverished population - can only be wielded against
his own people, not the West.

I am deeply saddened that Mr Mugabe's stellar history has turned into
such a racist caricature of the stereotypical African tin despot.

Ruins of Zimbabwe

I remember that day in 1980 when he led Zimbabwe to freedom.  For
those who do not remember, Bob Marley, the iconic reggae star, performed at
the independence celebrations to signify the renaissance of a country and
continent from the chains of bondage.

All that hope is now gone, replaced by - ironically - the ruins of
Zimbabwe. What is in Mr Mugabe that makes him so sick?  Is there something
in his history or childhood that can explain his deep psychosis?

I am not a psychologist, but I will advance a hypothesis. In his
person, Mr Mugabe embodies two of the three most damaging traumas that
Africans have been put through in the modern era.

The first is slavery which, to my knowledge, did not directly affect
Mr Mugabe. The second is colonialism, which defined the man and shaped his
political identity and understanding of power.

The third, and final, one is Cold War post-colonialism which stunted
Africa's political growth.

 Of the latter two, I believe that it is colonialism that was most
responsible for Mr Mugabe's psychological damage. His dialectical
relationship with whites has forged his identity.

White domination

Mr Mugabe's life - like that of many Africans his age - was marked by
white domination from his childhood through adulthood.

It was after all only a mere 28 years ago that he seemingly wrested
Zimbabwe from whites. But, in fact, white domination of Zimbabwe continued
in agriculture and other sectors of the economy until he ran everything into
the ground.

Even today, when many white Zimbabweans have fled the country, Mr
Mugabe still sees himself as fighting against white oppressors.

To him, white oppressors are everywhere - if not in Zimbabwe, then in
the West. He is obsessed with them.  Is he merely hallucinating?  Or is
there some truth in his phobia?

Global power

Only a fool would not admit that the West or the global North - which
is dominated by whites - controls global power and wealth.  In that sense,
Mr Mugabe is right to be resentful that the West exercises control over

But that fact should be the reason why he must free and empower
Zimbabweans, not oppress, kill, and pillage them.

 How else would Africa free itself politically and economically from
the West if Mr Mugabe and his ilk continue to destroy their countries?

Historical traumas

The only fruitful answer to the historical traumas that Mr Mugabe and
other Africans have suffered is to create open and free societies where the
vast potential of Africa can be realised.

Killing Africans to protest at Western domination makes no sense.

As I wrote last week, Africa must choke off the Mugabe regime -
through diplomatic isolation and cutting off all economic, political, and
military links.

 Starve the regime to death. I do not believe that a military
intervention disguised as peacekeepers - as Prime Minister Raila Odinga has
suggested - is the answer.

Military action is a last resort against a sovereign state in
exceptional circumstances like genocide or a horrible civil war.

This is not the case in Zimbabwe. I am also not too crazy about a
so-called Kenya-style solution. Instead, what is needed is a transitional
government to organise free and fair elections in a year.

I am confident that Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC would sweep the polls in
a free vote.

Out of power

Mr Mugabe must be sent into retirement, and it is the AU that must do
it, not the European Union or the United States. The latter can support
African initiatives to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis, but they must not lead
Africa in this effort.

That is why Africans and the AU must step up and squeeze the sick man
of Africa out of power. Otherwise, Mr Mugabe's continuation in power makes
the entire continent sick.

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Black Caps will tour Zimbabwe unless told not to - NZC

Radio New Zealand

Published at 10:17am on 6 July 2008

New Zealand Cricket says the Black Caps will tour Zimbabwe next year unless
they are expressly instructed not to do so by the New Zealand Government.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says Zimbabwe is not a fit country to
play cricket against and her Government does not think New Zealand Cricket
should send a team there.

All teams are bound by the International Cricket Council's future tours
programme, which has the power to fine a cricketing body a minimum of $US2
million if they do not fulfil their touring obligations.

Only Government intervention, concerns for security and safety or an ICC
directive can excuse a team's obligations.

NZC chief executive Justin Vaughan told the Sunday Star Times newspaper that
"no ICC team has unilaterally pulled out because they haven't agreed with
the politics of the host nation".

Vaughan is reported to have said: "That's always been a decision for the
Government of the day. It's a political question and requires a political
solution; it's not a decision NZC should have to make.

"We are a group of cricket administrators," he said. "We might have strong
feelings about the situation in Zimbabwe but judging international politics
is not what we're about."

The British government has led calls for Zimbabwe to be suspended from
international cricket following the re-election of President Robert Mugabe
in a one-man election on 27 June.

Britain accused Mr Mugabe of using violence and intimidation to silence his
political opponents.

On instruction from the British government in June, the England & Wales
Cricket Board cancelled a tour of England by Zimbabwe in 2009 and severed
all cricketing ties with Zimbabwe.

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Cricket bosses fiddle while Mugabe terrorises a nation

Kevin Mitchell
The Observer,
Sunday July 6, 2008

If we lived in a world of violins and perfect sunsets, Robert Mugabe would
be removed from the office he holds with all the legitimacy of a nine-bob
note, Zimbabweans would be allowed to rebuild their devastated country as
they see fit and their cricket team would be welcomed in England next summer
with enthusiasm and relief.

Instead, we have reality.

Zimbabwe have withdrawn from the tour - which is just as well, as the
British Government were not going to issue the players visas - and Mugabe
will watch the Twenty20 World Championship on a big screen in his
presidential palace as his country descends further into chaos and despair.

While cricket was never going to solve the political problems of Zimbabwe,
nor were the International Cricket Council going to have the courage to take
a wider moral stance, even in the face of atrocities, starvation and the
daily spectacle of a nation cowed by a dictator. As an ICC spokesman said:
'We are not mandated to talk about politics.' Or death, it seems.

What matters to the ICC is they have been saved from making a judgment call
(which they would have fudged by suspending Zimbabwe temporarily because
'they are not good enough'), and England don't lose their big-money gig.
While England and South Africa suspended cricket relations with Zimbabwe
last week, the ICC, their strings pulled by the Asian bloc, are adamant
Zimbabwe will keep full membership and funding. All that has been saved is a
tournament. Nothing else changes.

To understand how we got here, we need to go back 25 years...

In Harare in the summer of 1983, a Young Australia team that included a few
future Test players and could be expected to roll most decent opposition
endured a rare defeat in a three-day game against Zimbabwe. A fine
all-rounder called Duncan Fletcher scored 44 and 56 for the home team.
Graeme Hick, an exceptionally talented 16-year-old batsman with a growing
reputation, looked on.

It was a decidedly white occasion, that sunny day at the Harare Sports Club,
as members fiddled with their gins in the clubhouse and perused copies of
the previous day's Daily Telegraph, flown in as ever from London. Some of
them might have had reservations about Mugabe, who had come to power three
years earlier, but they looked comfortable enough in their skin and had
reason to believe their new Prime Minister, a keen cricket fan, would leave
their pleasant existence largely undisturbed. On the face of it, there was
little evidence to the contrary.

Mugabe had assured Zimbabweans, black and white, that: 'Cricket civilises
people. I want everyone in Zimbabwe to play cricket. I want ours to be a
nation of gentlemen.'

As I left the ground, I bumped into a couple of young black kids, who asked
what was going on. They had never played cricket, never seen it. It had
always been the white game.

But didn't they know Mr Mugabe was a cricket fan? Yes, they said, but he
lived in the big house next door, the one with the walls and the guards
outside, and anyway, they couldn't afford bats or pads or balls and had
nowhere to play, nobody to teach them. They didn't think the Prime Minister
knew much about them.

At the World Cup that year, inspired by their captain, Fletcher, Zimbabwe
beat Australia again, this time the full-strength side. There was hope for
them now, something to build on.

Four years later, Mugabe abolished the post of Prime Minister and became
President. In his view, it was a lifetime job. After a purge of dissidents,
the consensus between the new regime and the old gin-drinkers was dead,
seven years after independence.

In the tough years since, circumstances in Zimbabwe have changed
dramatically, for everybody.

Hick, who didn't get a game at the World Cup, left Zimbabwe and went on to
play 65 Tests and 120 one-day internationals for England; he is still
scoring runs for Worcestershire at 42, but has not been back to Zimbabwe in
many years. Fletcher left, too, and would prove to be something of a
magician in his seven years as England's coach; he is 59 and lives in Cape
Town, from where he shares his thoughts on the game through a column in the
Guardian, although in eight offerings so far he has yet to mention the awful
situation in the country of his birth. Mugabe is 82 and seemingly immovable.

The members of the Harare Sports Club drink on under the jacaranda trees,
but the mood is one of suspicion and regret, tinged with fear. Their
beautiful country is falling to pieces around them. I have no idea if those
two kids ever picked up a cricket bat. Or even if they are alive.

In London last month, the India team who won that 1983 World Cup were feted
at great expense at Lord's. On 23 July, the tournament's sponsors then,
Prudential, will have a private screening of 1983: India's World Cup. The
cricket world moves on.

In Egypt last week, the African Union struggled to find suitably inoffensive
words with which to chastise Mugabe. More compromise. More humbug. Whatever
hopes Zimbabweans ever had of their lives ever being normal, let alone of
the country's cricket team improving, have withered like untended roses as
their demented, cricket-loving leader refuses to leave the stage, his
enemies paralysed by indecision.

In Dubai last week, the moral weaklings of the ICC sweated on someone else
making the tough call. Behind the scenes, it was the unhealthily rich Indian
Premier League who were emboldened now as the game's big powerbrokers. If
this was democracy, it was the sort Robert Mugabe would recognise.

Peter Chingoka, on behalf of Zimbabwe Cricket, said they had pulled out 'in
the larger interests of the game'. They did not, he said, 'want to be
gatecrashers'. The gates against which they should be crashing are on the
ugly citadel of corruption near the Harare Sports Club.

In 1983, Mugabe, perhaps with good intentions, wanted Zimbabwe to become 'a
nation of gentlemen'. He chose cricket as the inspiration for what seemed to
be a noble objective. Maybe he chose the wrong sport.

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