By Donna Bryson
5:04 a.m. July 6, 2008
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Britain called Sunday for tough action as
well as talk in the face of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's defiance
and signs of disunity among his opposition.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband urged South Africa and the
rest of the international community to "unite behind a tough, strong, clear
(U.N.) Security Council resolution" calling for international sanctions
Miliband spoke to reporters after visiting a downtown Johannesburg
church that is a refuge for Zimbabweans fleeing their homeland's political
and economic crises.
South Africa, though, has said the proposed resolution could undermine
President Thabo Mbeki's attempt to mediate between Mugabe and Zimbabwean
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The U.S.-drafted resolution backed by Britain would require nations to
freeze the financial assets of Mugabe and 11 of his officials, and to
restrict their travel to within Zimbabwe.
Miliband said such targeted sanctions would spare the majority of
Zimbabweans, already suffering in a collapsed economy, and could result in
those closest to Mugabe pressuring him to yield at the negotiating table.
Mugabe is accused of holding onto power through violence and fraud.
Miliband also said he supported Tsvangirai's calls for the African
Union to appoint a mediator to work with Mbeki. Tsvangirai accuses the South
African leader of siding with Mugabe, who has extolled Mbeki's role.
"There has got to be a clear mix of diplomacy and sanctions," Miliband
said, adding that the suffering Zimbabweans described to him during his tour
of the Central Methodist Church would spur anyone to try to find a solution.
"I've seen the human toll and the human face of the catastrophe,"
Church officials say thousands of Zimbabweans have found a temporary
haven at the church over the past four years, and the numbers coming have
increased in recent weeks.
Around 2,000 Zimbabweans, double the usual number at any one time,
were sheltering in the church's hallways, stairwells and storerooms Sunday.
The main chapel has been kept clear for services, and some worshippers
wearing their church best paused to greet Miliband.
Church officials said despair over the impasse in Zimbabwe was
resulting in more people crossing the border. They also said Zimbabweans
were heading downtown after fleeing areas elsewhere in South Africa where
immigrants were attacked by poor South Africans who accused them of taking
scarce jobs and housing - an example of the far-reaching impact of
Mbeki made a brief, unannounced visit to Zimbabwe on Saturday. His
spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, said Mbeki met with Mugabe and Arthur
Mutambara, leader of a small faction of Tsvangirai's party, but not with
Mutambara's meeting with Mbeki could signal dissension within the
opposition, complicating already dim prospects for the success of mediation.
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Tsvangirai, said Sunday that Tsvangirai
wants a negotiated settlement but did not meet Mbeki because of questions
over how "the process will proceed." Chamisa accused Mugabe of giving
"conflicting messages" about his readiness to talk.
Zimbabwe's Sunday Mail newspaper, a government mouthpiece, quoted
Mugabe as calling Tsvangirai's failure to meet with Mbeki "a show of utter
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe and two other candidates in a first round of
presidential balloting in March. But he failed to win the 50 percent plus
one vote needed to avoid a runoff against the second-place finisher, Mugabe.
International observers said the runoff, held June 27, was not free or
fair, largely because of violence against opposition supporters. The attacks
were so intense that Tsvangirai pulled out of the race in protest days
before the vote. Mugabe went ahead, keeping Tsvangirai's name on the ballot.
Mugabe was declared the winner June 29 and took the oath of office for
a sixth term within hours of the release of results.
At Johannesburg's Central Methodist Church, Zimbabweans offered a
range of opinions on resolving their country's crisis.
Wellington Sithole, a 20-year-old tiler who has been at the church for
four months, called on South Africa to send in troops to topple Mugabe.
Kudakwashe Mirandu, a 30-year-old electrician, agreed with Sithole
that Mugabe's tenacity was a challenge, but said there must be a peaceful
way out. She called on the U.N. to send a mediator, someone "who could talk
to Robert Mugabe, so that we can have free elections. ... Then, when he
loses, he can give up power."
By Christopher Munnion in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 8:15PM BST 06/07/2008
The crisis in Zimbabwe was "infecting the whole of southern Africa" and it
was now "imperative" that there was a legitimate government in that country,
David Miliband said.
In his first visit to the region , the Foreign Secretary was speaking after
visiting refugees from Zimbabwe in central Johannesburg.
He said he had seen the "human face" of the catastrophe in Zimbabwe during
his tour of the Central Methodist Church, having met many orphans among
those fleeing the country.
Around 2,000 Zimbabweans, double the usual number at any one time, were
sheltering in the church's hallways, stairwells and storerooms during the
tour. Many had fled beatings and pre-election violence that has seen more
than 100 opponents of the Mugabe regime killed.
"No one who meets the people here could do anything other than redouble
their efforts to secure international consensus that the Mugabe regime is
not a legitimate representation of the will of the people of Zimbabwe," he
"At the heart of President Mugabe's rhetoric is the idea that this is a
fight between Zimbabwe and Britain. It is not.
"It is a fight between two different visions for the future of Zimbabwe, one
of which has the support of the Zimbabwean people and the other which is
held together by a small clique that holds power on the basis of violence
and intimidation today."
Mr Miliband will meet his South African counterpart, Nkosazan Dlamini Zuma,
tomorrow (TUES) to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe.
The Foreign Minister said the international community, including South
Africa, had to rally behind touch new UN Security Council resolutions in New
York next week to target individuals within the Mugabe regime.
President Thabo Mbeki, supposedly the mediator on behalf of the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) in Zimbabwe, has come under increasingly
harsh criticism in recent week for his seeming support of the Mugabe regime.
Mr Mbeki flew to Harare on Saturday in an attempt to persuade Mr Mugabe to
form a government of national unity. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), refused to meet the South
Mr Tsvangirai said that if he met Mr Mbeki it would imply his party's
recognition of Mr Mugabe as president following his controversial and
Zimbabwe's Sunday Mail newspaper, a government mouthpiece, quoted Mr Mugabe
as calling Mr Tsvangirai's refusal to meet "a show of utter disrespect."
Leaders of the G8 group of nations, meanwhile, were expected to "strongly
condemn" Mr Mugabe in their final statement of a three day summit in Japan,
the White House said.
Sun 6 Jul 2008, 14:40 GMT
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission is ready to provide up to 250
million euros (199 million pounds) in development aid for Zimbabwe's
worst-hit sectors if the country gets a legitimate, credible government, the
EU's aid chief said.
The European Union's executive arm would then also call for an international
lifting of debt owed by the country, EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said.
"I would encourage the rest of the international donor community to make it
clear today that it is ready to provide substantial and immediate assistance
to Zimbabwe in the wake of a transition towards democracy," Michel said.
The EU aid would go towards supporting hospitals, schools or the farming
sector, he said in an opinion piece distributed to media.
The 27-country European Union called on Friday for a new election as soon as
possible in Zimbabwe after a short transition from the rule of President
Mugabe was declared re-elected after a June 27 runoff in which he was the
only candidate once the opposition withdrew in protest at violence and
intimidation by the security forces and government-backed militia.
The European Commission is the most important aid donor to Zimbabwe and last
year provided 91 million euros in humanitarian aid and other assistance.
July 06, 2008, 19:00
By Thulasizwe Simelane
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF has accused opposition Movement of Democratic
Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai of disrespecting the Southern African
Development Community, (SADC) appointed mediator, President Thabo Mbeki.
Tsvangirai yesterday failed to attend a meeting scheduled by Mbeki between
his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders. Mbeki says
Tsvangirai pulled out of the meeting at the last minute saying he had been
advised by African Union (AU) leaders to hold off until Mbeki's mediation
effort is reinforced.
Meanwhile, a milestone moment occurred in Zimbabwean politics when Mugabe
was seen shaking hands with MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara. However,
the picture would resonate even more, if the hand Mugabe shook was that of
his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai. The leader of the bigger MDC faction
apparently withdrew at the last minute from a meeting facilitated by Mbeki
with Mugabe yesterday.
The ruling party wasted no time in attacking Tsvangirai over his snub of the
While some analysts say Tsvangirai let a golden opportunity slip to give the
dialogue the momentum it needs, others believe his snub of Mbeki makes a
powerful statement to the international community.
The Associated Press , Rusutsu, Japan | Sun, 07/06/2008 4:34 PM |
Climate change, soaring oil prices and possible steps against Zimbabwe were
high on the agenda as leaders from the Group of Eight economic powers
gathered in Japan for their annual summit.
With fewer than 200 days left in his term, U.S. President George W. Bush was
to meet Sunday with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who is hosting the
three-day meeting at the picturesque lakeside resort of Toyako on the
northern island of Hokkaido.
Security kicked into high gear on the weekend, with riot police in body
armor monitoring checkpoints along roads leading to he summit site through
the rolling farmland.
Japan has mobilized roughly 20,000 police officers in Hokkaido, many of them
brought in from other parts of the country, to avert any terrorist attacks.
The Yomiuri newspaper reported that F-15 fighter jets will patrol during the
Protesters gathered Sunday for a second day of demonstrations against the
G-8 in Sapporo, about 100 kilometers northeast of Toyako. On Saturday,
thousands of demonstrators representing a range of causes, from fighting
poverty to stopping global warming, marched through the city. Police briefly
clashed with marchers, detaining four people.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the G-8 leaders will discuss how they
can toughen sanctions on Zimbabwe in the wake of President Robert Mugabe's
widely denounced presidential election runoff victory.
"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," Merkel said
in her weekly video message.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, whom Zimbabwe's opposition has accused
of bias toward Mugabe, and Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua have been
invited to meet with the Group of Eight leaders on Monday.
The EU already has travel bans and an asset freeze in place on Mugabe and
other senior Zimbabwean officials. The U.S. also is seeking international
sanctions against Mugabe and his top aides.
Climate change is a key topic at the meeting, and many hope the G-8 will
give some indication of its commitment to cutting greenhouse gases to move
forward the U.N.-led talks aimed at
replacing the Kyoto protocol on climate change, which expires 2012.
Negotiators face a deadline of December 2009, when some 190 nations will
meet in Denmark.
Host Fukuda would like to emerge from the summit with an agreement on 50
percent overall reductions in greenhouse gases by 2050. Some European
countries and developing nations favor establishing targets for cutting
emissions by 2020. Scientists say those targets are needed to avoid the
worst effects of global warming.
But few expect major headway or concessions from Bush. He insists on holding
China and India, fast-growing economies and among the world's biggest
polluters, to emission-reduction standards as well.
Bush himself says a priority of this year's summit is not advancing new
initiatives but making good on ones from previous summits, especially
promises for health aid for countries in Africa and other underdeveloped
"We need to show the world that the G-8 can be accountable for its promises
and deliver results," Bush said ahead of the summit. "America is on track
to meet our commitments. And in Japan, I'll urge other leaders to fulfill
their commitments, as well."
With global oil prices surging, the G-8 leaders are expected to urge major
oil producers to increase supplies while also calling for steps to improve
energy efficiency and develop
alternative sources of energy within their own economies. Oil spiked to a
record US$145.85 a barrel on Thursday.
However, observers have questioned the effectiveness of any calls by the G-8
to boost oil production when the group does not include Saudi Arabia, the
world's largest exporter of crude, or any OPEC members.
Likewise, there is growing criticism that the G-8 excludes other major
economies such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. Leaders of
those nations are due to meet with the G-8 leaders on Wednesday.(**)
Monsters and Critics
Jul 6, 2008, 12:53 GMT
Johannesburg - Following his meeting Sunday with Zimbabwean refugees in
South Africa, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said it was
'imperative' to find a solution to the worsening crisis in Zimbabwe.
After meeting with around 2,000 refugees at a centre in Johannesburg,
Miliband said Britain would redouble its efforts to ensure that Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe's regime was not seen as 'a legitimate
representation of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.'
Miliband also called for the international community to support US-proposed
sanctions on Zimbabwe to be tabled in the coming days at the United Nations
Security Council in New York.
Miliband arrived in South Africa earlier Sunday for talks with Foreign
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma under the auspices of the South Africa-UK
His visit follows South African President Thabo Mbeki's attempt Saturday to
kickstart talks between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on a
proposed government of national unity.
Mbeki held talks in Harare with Mugabe and members of a smaller faction of
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change led by Arthur Mutambara.
Tsvangirai boycotted the talks. An MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said the
conditions Tsvangirai had set out for talks, including the presence of an
African Union (AU) envoy, had not been met.
African Union heads of state meeting in Egypt during the week called on
Mugabe and Tsvangirai to share power after Mugabe claimed victory in a
controversial presidential run-off election he alone contested.
Tsvangirai, who won the first round of voting for president in March,
withdrew from the run-off over a spate of attacks on his supporters by
Mugabe supporters in the wake of the March election.
The MDC, the West and a handful of African countries are refusing to
recognize Mugabe's victory.
The impasse in Zimbabwe is expected to feature prominently in talks between
leaders of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations in Tokyo this
Jan Raath, Bulawayo | July 07, 2008
ZIMBABWE is on the brink of an unprecedented famine after its worst harvest
since independence in 1980. The plight of Zimbabweans is compounded by the
deliberate starvation of most of the population because of their support for
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
A crop assessment by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation
says the country that once fed scores of famine-stricken African nations
will harvest only 575,000 tonnes of maize, the national staple, from last
summer's crop - only 28 per cent of the grain needed to feed the country's
11.8 million people.
Already 29 per cent of the population are "chronically malnourished,"
according to the Health Ministry and the UN. A similar percentage of
children suffer stunting.
In Bulawayo, cases of malnutrition in hospitals have increased 110 per cent
in two months.
Rural stocks of food will start running out next month, according to the
FAO, when more than two million will have to be fed or face starvation.
By January, the number will have risen to 5.1 million.
The Government gives assurances that it has imported 500,000 tonnes of
maize, but there is no evidence of it. The FAO has forecast a shortfall of
one million tonnes of grain.
In spite of the dire situation, President Robert Mugabe's regime is
maintaining a total ban on famine relief by local and international aid
agencies. What little food the Government has for distribution is handed to
supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party.
"It's a catastrophe," said an aid worker who asked not to be named. "It is
much worse than the drought of 1991-92 (when thousands of head of cattle and
wildlife died of starvation but people were fed from ample food reserves).
Now there is no preparedness."
After being subjected to three months of savage political violence before
the universally condemned presidential run-off elections last week, and
trapped by an economy in collapse, Zimbabweans are about to be afflicted by
chronic hunger. "There is no village (in the low-rainfall western provinces
of Matabeleland and Midlands) that is not touched by hunger and
malnutrition," said Effie Ncube, the director of a small local aid agency.
"We go out on a weekly basis to see what they cook and eat. Many are eating
wild fruits, nothing you could call a decent meal.
"Only ZANU-PF people have a better life, because the government gives them
food. The majority support the opposition and the majority are being starved
by the government."
In a small office in central Bulawayo, the capital of western Zimbabwe, Mr
Ncube sits at a desk, filling in "history of violence" reports as he
interviews a constant stream of rural people needing medical attention after
being assaulted by militias of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
In the week after the elections on June 27, most of the violence in rural
Matabeleland had subsided, although it continued in several pockets, he
Most of the rural youths dragooned into youth and "war veteran" militias to
carry out the violence to force people to vote had drifted away.
The illegal roadblocks to stop people - especially the injured - from
fleeing their homes after attack have been taken down, Mr Ncube said. This
had released a surge of people with broken limbs and lacerated and bruised
backs, buttocks and legs to seek help for the first time, more than a week
after they were assaulted.
Gogo (grandmother) Christina Thabani, 68, was dragged out of her hut at
midnight in Umzinghwane district about 80km south of Bulawayo last week, and
thrashed until they broke her right arm.
Then she was forced to dance and sing songs idolising Mugabe for several
hours. Her broken arm led to a cruel irony. When she got to the polling
station she was unable to use her hand to write, and officials insisted that
she was assisted to vote.
"Someone followed me into the polling booth. He put his X on Mugabe for me.
I don't want Mugabe," she said.
She also told how, earlier this year, she and everyone in the village went
to their head man to register for famine relief. "They took our names, but
then the head man and the war veterans in the area vetted the list. Everyone
who they thought was MDC had their names crossed off."
A truck from the Grain Marketing Board, the state monopoly maize dealer,
comes perhaps once a month and hands out 50kg bags of maize - but only to
"You see them eating and you get angry, but there is nothing you can do,"
she said. "Sometimes they sell it to you, for a very high price, but only at
night, because they will get into trouble for feeding MDC people."
One after another, the victims in Mr Ncube's office told the same story, and
also how there was "absolutely no food" after the disastrous harvest.
"I have eight grandchildren and two children," Mrs Thabani said. "They are
On June 5, the government shut down all aid agencies and charities. Mugabe
claimed they were using their food distribution to bribe people to vote for
the MDC - exactly the tactic that ZANU-PF is using.
Mail and Guardian
JASON MOYO - Jul 06 2008 06:00
Robert Mugabe's widely condemned "re-election" last weekend appears to have
broken the resolve of many Zimbabweans.
Two weeks ago there was steely determination among many voters to reject
him, despite mounting violence and the economic crisis.
But after a week which began with Morgan Tsvangirai's last-minute withdrawal
from the poll and ended with Mugabe's whirlwind "inauguration", resignation
is taking over.
A day after the elections, as state radio reported Mugabe was heading for a
"landslide", Dadirai, a clerk with a phone company, was waiting in line to
play last Saturday's Z$100-trillion lotto, hoping, she joked, for better
luck than Tsvangirai.
"Whatever happens now has to be about solving the economic crisis. That's
the biggest concern for most of us," she said.
Few had any hope that the proposed dialogue between Mugabe and Tsvangirai
would make much difference -- or happen at all.
"What will they talk about? Just sharing power or solving our problems?"
asked Charity Njanji, a high school English teacher. Like most people, she
feels she is on her own. "I don't trust any politician any longer. They say
one thing and do the other. I have to concentrate on my family."
Njanji was hired as an election official in March but declined the job in
the run-off, saying "the job is not worth the money or the stress".
Some Zimbabweans still see a ray of light. The head of a listed company
declined to be named but said he is encouraged by what he sees as a
hardening anti-Mugabe sentiment in the region.
"Mugabe can't continue with things as they are. Even he must realise the
economy will get him in the end," the businessman said.
Official vote tallies indicate a sudden doubling in support for Mugabe since
the first-round election and has become the subject of many jokes on
In Harare central, the postal ballot tally was 14 for Mugabe and none for
But according to Clifton, a young middle-rank officer in the army who rents
out an apartment in the constituency, Mugabe still has support in army
"But many are a bit impatient, especially about the economy," he said. "I
don't like Tsvangirai, but I hope the chiefs [top politicians] will now
really look at how they are running things."
Three observer groups said the poll was not credible and the Pan-African
Parliament went further, calling for fresh elections.
But Zimbabweans have very little appetite for another round of voting.
"New elections mean more fighting and more bad news for the economy. Who
wants that?" asked newspaper vendor Nancy, cynically adding: "Let them
Weeks ago, the buoyancy of MDC supporters was such that anybody suggesting
dialogue with Mugabe risked a public flogging. But even the most radical
anti-government activists now grudgingly concede that Mugabe will be around
for a while longer.
"If talking brings peace, why not?" said Makusha Chivara, an MDC activist in
Ruwa, a farming area east of Harare.
Mail and Guardian
PERCY ZVOMUYA | JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Jul 06 2008 06:00
The demand for full-blown sanctions against Zimbabwe grew louder this week
with the announcement by a Munich-based company, Giesecke & Devrient, that
it would stop supplying blank paper to make the country's bank notes after
coming under pressure from the German government.
The decision followed hard on the heels of the decision by British
supermarket group Tesco to stop buying produce from Zimbabwe "while the
political crisis exists".
To date, "smart" sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the European Union and the
United States have taken the form of travel bans and of freezing the foreign
bank accounts of about 130 members of the ruling elite.
Moves to isolate the country may now be extended to sport. The International
Cricket Council is set to discuss whether to exclude Zimbabwe from
This week the United States was preparing to propose the imposition of
international sanctions at the UN, including an arms embargo. A draft
resolution, formulated by the American authorities, says the financial
assets held abroad by Mugabe and 11 other Zimbabwean officials should be
If the resolution is adopted by the UN Security Council Mugabe and his
associates will also be banned from travelling anywhere in the world.
Late last month British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged British companies
to stop investing in Zimbabwe and said his government was preparing
"intensified sanctions" against individual members of Mugabe's government.
This statement followed news that Anglo American would invest $400-million
in a platinum mine in Zimbabwe. The investment is equivalent to the total
foreign direct investment Zimbabwe received in 1998, during relatively more
"Businesses and individuals who have any dealing with Zimbabwe must examine
their own responsibilities and must not make investments that prop up the
regime," Brown toldthe House of Commons, where some Tory MPs are known to
have shares in Zimbabwe-based companies.
Brown's Minister for Africa, Lord Malloch Brown, warned companies active in
Zimbabwe to "look very carefully at their investment portfolio".
Despite Mugabe's ranting about British imperialist designs on Zimbabwe,
British companies still control vast swathes of the country's economy, with
interests ranging from petroleum to banking.
Standard Chartered and Barclays Bank are among the biggest British-owned
banks. British American Tobacco has cornered what remains of the tobacco
crop, while BP has a large slice of the fuel retail sector and Rio Tinto and
Falgold are involved in gold mining.
US companies Chevron and Coca Cola also have a presence, as does the
Canadian-owned Bata shoe company.
South African capital is another big player in Zimbabwe, with many
continuing to do business there while no longer reflecting the performances
of their Zimbabwean operations on their books.
These include AngloAmerican Corporation, which has interests in
agro-industry and mining; Standard Bank, whose Zimbabwean subsidiary is
Stanbic; Old Mutual, which is involved in real estate and insurance; PPC
Cement; Murray and Roberts; Truworths; Edcon, which owns the Edgars clothes
Hulett-Tongaat, which has a stake in Hippo Valley Sugar Estates; grocery
chain Spar; and SAB Miller, which has a stake in Zimbabwe's Delta Beverages.
The country's mining sector is dominated by foreign companies that include
South Africa's Impala Platinum and Mzi Khumalo's Metallon Gold.
Mugabe has in the past threatened to nationalise British-owned companies. He
has also passed a law compelling foreign-owned companies to cede 51% of
their shares to Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwe's total export revenue last year was $1,7-billion, to which mining
contributed $850-million and agriculture $500-million, tobacco exports
accounting for half of this.
Metallon Gold, which owns five gold mines in the country, produced more than
50% of the country's revenue from gold production.
In the last six months of last year, Zimplats, the Zimbabwean arm of South
Africa's Impala Platinum, recorded revenues of $99-million (about
On July 6: Reminders that not every country is blessed with a political
system like that of the United States
By PAUL COLLIER
Special to The Washington Post
OXFORD, England - The government of Zimbabwe recently ordered foreign aid
groups to halt their operations within its borders, thereby blocking the
food aid that the United Nations funnels through such organizations from
getting to the country's starving people.
Earlier, the government of Myanmar issued a similar ban. Of course, when we
say "the government of Zimbabwe," what we really mean is President Robert
Mugabe, just as "the government of Myanmar" these days means Senior Gen.
Than Shwe, the leader of the ruling junta. In justifying the bans, each
ruler harrumphed that outsiders should not be allowed to tell his nation
what to do.
But the real obstacle blocking international food aid is not the principle
of national sovereignty; it is the insistence of dictators on being left to
call their own shots. Mugabe decided that his citizens were better dead than
fed; his nation had no part in the decision.
This murderous outrage reminds us of a central problem in trying to help
ease the misery of the developing world, especially the "bottom billion"
inhabitants of countries being left behind by global prosperity: Leaders in
such sad little states as Zimbabwe and Myanmar are quite ridiculously
powerful. They have turned parliament, the news media and the judiciary into
mere implementers of their strangling systems of control. But the
extraordinary lack of external restraints on these dictators is poorly
Many people are still trapped in a politically correct mindset that sees a
strong rich world bullying a weak poor world. The disastrous 2003 U.S.
invasion of Iraq played straight into this mentality of seeing wealthy
countries as bullies.
Yet the planet's key power imbalance is not between rich and poor; it is
between confident, open governments willing to pool sovereignty to help
their publics and crabbed, defensive governments determined not to give up a
scrap of sovereignty. The former produce prosperity; the latter manufacture
Compare the powers of Germany's government to those of Zimbabwe's.
The German economy is around 400 times larger than the Zimbabwean. But it is
the Zimbabwean government, not the German, that has independent monetary,
fiscal, trade and migration policies, an independent currency and courts
from which one cannot file international appeals. Like virtually all rich
countries, Germany has learned that there are real advantages to limiting
its own sovereignty and pooling it with neighbors and allies.
But the governments of failing states such as Zimbabwe and Myanmar have
refused to share any sovereignty with anyone. And remember, in these
countries, "government" means the president or other head of state: Mugabe
and Shwe have powers that eclipse those of President Bush, let alone those
of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
So how can the grossly excessive powers of the Mugabes and Shwes of the
world be curtailed? After Iraq, there is no international appetite for using
the threat of military force to pressure thugs. But only military pressure
is likely to be effective; tyrants can almost always shield themselves from
economic sanctions. So there is only one credible counter to dictatorial
power: the country's own army.
Realistically, Mugabe and Shwe can be toppled only by a military coup.
Of course, they are fully aware of this danger, and thus have appointed
their cronies as generals and kept a watchful eye on any potentially
restless junior officers. Such tactics reduce the risk of a coup, but they
cannot eliminate it: On average, there have been two successful coups per
year in the developing world in recent decades.
A truly bad government in a developing country is more likely to be replaced
by a coup than by an election.
I find it a little awkward to be writing in praise, however faint, of coups.
They are unguided missiles, as likely to topple a democracy as a
dictatorship. But there is still something to be said for them.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the international community has taken
the rather simplistic position that armies should stay out of politics. That
view is understandable but premature. Rather than trying to freeze coups out
of the international system, we should try to provide them with a guidance
In contexts such as Zimbabwe and Myanmar, coups should be encouraged because
they are likely to lead to improved governance. (It's hard to imagine things
getting much worse.) The question then becomes how to provide encouragement
for some potentially helpful coups while staying within the bounds of proper
In fact, some basic principles are not that hard to draw. For starters,
governments that have crossed the red line of banning U.N. food aid - a
ghastly breach of any basic contract between the governors and the
governed - should temporarily lose international recognition of their
legitimacy. Ideally, such moves should come from the United Nations itself;
surely banning U.N. help constitutes a breach of rudimentary global
obligations. But realistically, other dictators, worried that they might
wind up in the same boat, would rally to block action at the United Nations,
so we must look elsewhere.
Which brings us to the obvious locus of international action: Europe.
The European Union has a long tradition of setting minimum standards of
political decency for its members, who must protect their minorities and
defend basic rights. A collective E.U. withdrawal of recognition from the
Mugabe or Shwe regimes would be an obvious and modest extension of the
values that underpin the European project.
Making any such suspension of recognition temporary - say, for three
months - would present potential coup plotters within an army with a brief
window of legitimacy. They would know that it was now or never, which could
spur them to act. And even if the loss of recognition did not induce a quick
coup, E.U. recognition would be restored after the three months were up.
This would spare the world the gradual accumulation of a club of
unrecognized regimes, something both problematic and unrealistic.
The scope of the torment in Myanmar and Zimbabwe should be more than enough
of a goad to action. We need to move away from impotent political protest,
but we must also face the severe limitations on our own power. The real
might lies with a dictator's own forces of repression. Our best hope - and
the best hope of suffering citizens - is to turn those very forces against
the men they now protect.
Paul Collier, an economics professor at Oxford University, is the author of
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be
Done About It .
A big crowd attended the Vigil to launch our new petition calling on FIFA to
move the World Cup from South Africa in 2010. It reads: "A Petition to the
International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA). With the
deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe and the likelihood of unrest spreading
to South Africa we call upon FIFA to move the 2010 World Cup from South
Africa to a safer venue. By the time the World Cup takes place President
Mbeki's support of the Mugabe regime will have made the whole region unsafe
because millions more refugees will flee Zimbabwe prompting further
xenophobic violence in neighbouring countries. FIFA must ensure that World
Cup teams and their supporters are not endangered."
People queued up to sign the petition, showing the same support as they have
for our other petition, which calls for aid to SADC governments to be
suspended because of their failure to hold Mugabe to account. For example we
do not see why British taxpayers should give the Malawi government more than
sixty million pounds a year when it supports Mugabe. We suggest that Malawi
asks him for the money. We want the aid that the UK and other countries are
giving to SADC to be used instead to pay for refugee camps in the countries
bordering Zimbabwe so that those forced to flee the country can find food
and medical attention in safety.
We were joined by the Reverend Canon Nicholas Sagovsky of Westminster Abbey
who invited us to a service 'Restore Zimbabwe' led by the Archbishop of
York, John Sentamu, on Friday 11th July at 12 noon at St Margaret's Church,
Parliament Square, Westminster. It will be followed by a rally 'Free UK
Zimbabweans from Limbo!' at 1.30 and a walk to the nearby Home Office
(Ministry of Internal Affairs). The event is being organised by the group
'Strangers into Citizens' who are calling on the Home Office to allow
Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK to be able to work and have access to
People might have the impression that the British are united in their
attitude to Zimbabwe but we must draw attention to the latest edition (30th
June) of the best-selling black newspaper in the UK, 'New Nation'. The front
page lead was "Second War of Liberation. Black Brits ready to fight for
Mugabe against Western Military". Website: www.newnation.co.uk. The Mugabe
people are out in force in the UK and their propaganda is quite effective,
particularly among the Afro-Caribbean community. However we are pleased to
note that a pan-African campaign has been launched calling for vigils
outside Zimbabwean Embassies continent-wide next Saturday.
We welcomed the Zimbabwean actress Ulla Mahaka and her partner Mike Auret
(son of Mike Auret, the former MDC MP). They live in the UK but say their
votes were hijacked in the election. Ulla's uncle Gideon Mahaka was a
well-known fighter in the liberation war and her father, Solomon, was an
ambassador. Ulla was one of the stars of the film "Flame" about two young
female liberation fighters. Many at the Vigil recognised her.
We were sorry to hear from supporter Pauline Mushangwe that her uncle has
died after being severely beaten by Zanu-PF thugs in Masvingo. He had head
wounds which were not treated. We were impressed that Irene Muswaka, a
faithful supporter, came to the Vigil fresh from hospital after an
We have been asked by another supporter to join in collective thought and
prayer at 12 noon UK time on Monday 7th July (the anniversary of the London
bombings) for a minute to focus on the eradication of terror in Zimbabwe and
the restoration of peace.
MPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT. We have a new page on the website for reports from
our partner organisation, Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR).
They speak from the ground in Zimbabwe. We will post any reports they send
us on this page.
For latest Vigil pictures check:
FOR THE RECORD: 161 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· 'Restore Zimbabwe' Service and 'Free UK Zimbabweans from Limbo!'
Rally and Walk. Friday 11th July from 11.30 am - 2.30 pm. 12 noon: service
at St Margaret's Church, Parliament Square, Westminster led by the
Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. 1.30 pm: rally 'Free UK Zimbabweans from
Limbo!' at 1.30 and a walk to the Home Office. The event is being organised
by the group 'Strangers into Citizens' who are calling on the Home Office to
allow Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK to be able to work and have access
to training. www.londoncitizens.org.
· Shona / Ndebele Mass in Southwark. Sunday 13th July at 6.30 pm,
Southwark Cathedral will be holding a special Eucharist for the Zimbabwean
community in the Shona and Ndebele languages with a Zimbabwean choir.
· Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday 19th July, 2 - 6 pm Venue: Argyle
Street Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba, 07770 291
150, Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137 or Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471.
· Zimbabwe Association's Women's Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays
10.30 am - 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton
Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury
Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355
(open Tuesdays and Thursdays).
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.
By Akwei Thompson
06 July 2008
South African President Thabo Mbeki has held talks in Harare with Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway
opposition faction. Mr Mbeki, the chief regional negotiator on the Zimbabwe
crisis, has been trying to persuade Mr Mugabe to form a government of
national unity. However, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition
party, declined to meet Mr Mbeki. Before Saturday's meeting VOA's Akwei
Thompson spoke with John Makumbe, senior lecturer of political science at
the University of Zimbabwe the country's political future.
Makumbe said that, technically, President Mugabe will rule Zimbabwe for the
next five years, however, "it will be interesting to see how he rules this
country with an illegitimate presidency that he has acquired " he added.
On the issue of negotiations for a possible unity government in Zimbabwe
Makumbe said that would be possible only if the conditions laid down by the
Movement for Democratic change are met.
"Their members who are in prison should be released. The violence should
stop and the military bases that have been set up throughout the country
should be dismantled and the charges that are being faced by all MDC
supporters and members should be dropped. Then I think the MDC will be
willing to talk to Robert Mugabe as President of ZANU-PF, but not as
President of Zimbabwe." Makumbe said.
He went on to say that if the AU and SADC want a government of national
unity they would have to mediate between the MDC and ZANU_PF. He said while
sanctions against Mugabe's government may be effective, a military option is
Monday, 7 July 2008, 7:28 am
Press Release: US State Department
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
July 1, 2008
QUESTION: Well, we know the Chinese continue to supply arms, among others,
to the repressive Zimbabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe. If the Chinese are not
going to change their policies on an issue as clear cut as that one, do you
think they can be expected to cooperate on these other issues?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I wouldn't say that the Chinese are not changing some
of their policies. They've been somewhat more helpful on Darfur, pressuring
the regime there. Not as much as we would like, but they've been better than
they had been. We talked about Zimbabwe and we talked about the fact that an
arms shipment that was to go to the Zimbabwean Government was turned around
because people refused to offload it. I think that was actually something of
an embarrassment for the Chinese, and I found them on Zimbabwe recognizing
that the international community, even many African states, are condemning
what Mugabe is doing.
By Godwin Murunga | Harare Tribune Contibutor
July 6, 2008 12:38
The red flag one is most likely to be confronted with for criticising
the thoroughly illegitimate leader of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, is
imperialism and racism.
If you are an African criticising Mugabe, you are likely to be accused
of being guilty of working in cahoots with racist-imperialists.
The names of George Bush, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are consequently
spoken of in the same breath with those of proven and uncompromising critics
of imperialism like Horace Campbell (author of Reclaiming Zimbabwe: The
Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation, 2003) run the risk of
being lumped together with pro-imperialism because they dared criticise
Mugabe. In other words, one is guilty of racist imperialism by the simple
fact of voicing a demand for democracy in Zimbabwe, which Mugabe has avidly
Unfortunately, the people who tend to raise the race/imperialism flag,
especially on the list-serves, tend not to be Zimbabweans. Like me, most do
not have a serious radical and revolutionary record and connection to the
country. They are actually late entrants into the anti-racism and
anti-imperialism hall of fame.
Since they hardly have any serious connection to Zimbabwe, they may
not understand the plight of the average Zimbabwean who has to deal with the
daily consequences of a ravaged economy and a dictatorial regime.
The tragedy is that they have transformed the debate on Zimbabwe to a
shouting match between pro-imperialism and anti-imperialism with little
regard to what is the more crucial thing; the reality of dreams deferred for
average people in Zimbabwe due largely to autocracy and mismanagement.
THIS CLAIM OF DEFERRED DRE-ams for average Zimbabweans is countered by
the exaggerated and misleading assumption that the West is responsible for
the collapsing economy in Zimbabwe.
Others, like the editors at New Africa, used to rely on the excuse of
the drought that ravaged the region. They argued that all would be well once
the drought is over.
The first argument regarding the culpability of the West is partially
true and many have expended enough energy dissecting it. But the argument is
only partially valid! The argument about the drought was shortsighted
because it was temporary. The time for a reality check has come and gone and
Mugabe has failed to acquit himself.
Let me start with a brief anecdote that recently brought home the
tragedy of Zimbabwe under Mugabe. I was asked to speak at the Africa
Liberation Day celebrations last month at the same venue where our Samuel
Kivuitu and his Electoral Commission of Kenya commissioners bungled the
Kenyan election. I spoke generally about getting the basics right in
developing an African Union government.
I emphasised the need for Africans to be able to freely move across
the continent. Somewhere in my argument, I mentioned the then ongoing
xenophobic attacks in South Africa. I also noted how Mugabe learned from and
benefited from the pan-African vision.
I was not forceful enough in taking a critical stand on xenophobia and
dictatorship. In the audience were two keen observers who pointed out my
rather lukewarm interest in these two issues.
One of them, a Zimbabwean, was very eloquent about the atrocious
Mugabe ways. He claimed to have resisted British colonialism and was met
with violent reprisals. He also claimed to have opposed Ian Smith's white
minority rule and was met with violent reprisals.
HE NOW CLAIMS TO BE OPPOSED to Mugabe's dictatorship and has been met
by violent retaliation. In both instances, he observed, the reactions to his
resistance have been similar and they have included brutal police responses
leading to torture, maiming and political murders. He concluded by arguing
that all he would have expected was that Mugabe's response should have been
I use this anecdote to re-centre the plight of Zimbabweans in the
discussion on Mugabe. To my mind, a different and better way of framing the
Zimbabwean problem is to ask whether anti-racism and anti-imperialism are
incompatible with pro-democracy and pro-development.
In other words, is it possible to be against the machinations of
George Bush, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and still expect and demand that
African leaders remain democratic, ensure development and social
My answer to this question is affirmative. It is also my reason why
Mugabe deserves to be chastised and dismissed as a first step to
constructing a different future for Zimbabwe.
As of last year, I was willing to cut Mugabe some slack on the issue
of anti-imperialism. As of this year, and especially following the
just-ended electoral fraud of which (I think) Tsvangirai is partly
responsible, I will have none of his manipulation of anti-imperialism to
drive Zimbabwe down.
First, Mugabe's big failure has been his inability to effectively use
the severing of relations with the West to institute some forms of
autonomous development for Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe, indeed Africa, deserves
autonomy from the West.
Those who shout anti-imperialism hardly remember that sanctions
constituted a golden opportunity for Mugabe to show the dreaded West that
without foreign aid, Zimbabwe could still remain a shinning example in the
middle of Africa of how to prosper without dependency on the West.
Instead, what we have is hyper-inflation and dictatorship of the
highest order. Rather than protect citizens, Mugabe's regime has become the
chief perpetrator of human-rights abuses against citizens, in some instances
hiring thugs to abuse basic citizen rights.
MANY OF THOSE WHO SHOUT IMP-erialism to critics of Mugabe will also
write paying glowingly tribute to Fidel Castro. It is lost to most of them
that Castro faced similar sanctions like Mugabe from the West but has
acquitted himself with credit in Cuba.
He took advantage of the US-led sanctions to install a form of
leadership that may not be democratic in the manner in which imperialists
expect but in which all social indicators suggest that Cubans enjoy better
education and medical services than many so-called developed Western
Land reform was crucial for Cuba and Castro did not carry out land
reform in the inequitable manner in which Mugabe has. These indicators and
the social inclusivity involved have vindicated Castro and endeared him to
all of us.
What does Mugabe have to show?
All he has misleadingly managed to illustrate is that dependency on
the West is critical to survival of the Zimbabwean economy. This is what
makes Gordon Brown feel vindicated to arrogantly lecture us on democracy.
The US and others cannot evince a similar sense of vindication towards Cuba
because Castro's success has been a good lesson.
Secondly, and here I am using discussions I recently had with my
colleague Jimi Adesina of Rhodes University, Zimbabwe had capacity for
independent economic development in the mineral commodity boom which
counter-balanced the decline of white commercial farming.
If Zimbabwe lost its foreign exchange earnings from commercial
farming, it gained in mining. Less than a week ago, Anglo-American was
defending investing $400 million in platinum mining in Zimbabwe.
WHAT CAN MUGABE SHOW FOR the mineral wealth? Consistency is part of
the deal and Mugabe should not just be anti-imperialist when talking about
Blair and Brown and not when dealing with a London-based miner like Anglo
Other than counter-balancing foreign exchange loss from commercial
farming, shouldn't earnings from the mining boom have been used to
significantly improve food security in Zimbabwe? After all, commercial
farming has never sufficiently supplied Zimbabwe with subsistence needs.
The country has historically depended on small-scale African
cultivators for food. As Adesina notes, "while agricultural tradables
depended on the white commercial farmers, food production in Zimbabwe had
always depended on small-scale African cultivators or agriculturalists.
The claim of drought does not explain why Malawi, in the same
geographical zone, is fully back with food surplus and Zimbabwe is not. The
claim of sanction also does not help, since these are small-scale
cultivators rather than combine harvester cultivators.
And the re-appropriation of land is from white settlers cannot explain
the crisis of food production." It is about mismanagement and the excessive
avarice of the elite around Mugabe.
Adesina's argument is by far more solid than a thousand red flags by
newfound anti-imperialists who do not seem to appreciate how demeaning and
dehumanizing life has become for Zimbabweans forced to cross borders into
neighbouring countries that are unwilling to host them.
In such places, they are derogatorily referred to as "the Zimbabweans"
and, in other instances, have become targets of xenophobia in many Southern
African states. When the name of your country is reduced to a derogatory
reference and your self-confidence demeaned, that is obviously very
THE SAME PEOPLE WHO WAX lyrical about racist imperialism come from
countries where foreigner from Somalia, Uganda, Sudan and DRC have
historically been haunted and repatriated into refugee camps and where few
of us are willing to stand up and be counted for this basic denials of human
The late Archie Mafeje reminded all who cared to listen that it was
never the intention of African nationalism to replace imperialism with
dictatorships and mediocrity. African nationalism aspired for higher goals.
Pan-Africanism was never about defending mediocre leaders just because
they were black. Nationalist African leaders needed to be better, not the
same or worse, than the imperialist. They needed to guarantee freedom based
on democracy, economic growth and social inclusivity. Robert Mugabe has
failed on all these tests.
How new film backs up our claims of organised Zanu-PF corruption
Video evidence currently being broadcast on western media, shows members of
the Zimbabwe prison service being officially supervised as they vote for
Robert Mugabe well in advance of the recent presidential run-off poll. The
film serves to verify our reports of the practice published here a month
On June 11 this blog, under the headline "It hasn't begun - but Mugabe is
winning!" reported that "thousands of police and associated uniformed thugs"
had been lined up by their officers, presented with postal voting slips, and
ordered to put their mark against Mugabe's name.
We quoted a source within the police as saying that Senior Assistant
Commissioner Lee Muchemwa "told us we would vote for Mugabe whether we liked
it or not. We voted in front of the Police Internal Security Intelligence
(PISI), who checked our ballot papers."
The process was carried out at that early date to avoid any scrutiny by
outside observers, who had yet to arrive in the country. It was also
conducted without the presence of any officials from the Zimbabwe Electoral
The new video, taken with a hidden camera by a member of the prison service,
confirms that the practice was widespread amongst all sections of the
military, the militia, and the security services, and undoubtedly helped to
give Mugabe his huge majority in the sham election.
In my report at the time I quoted Assistant Police Commissioner Nyakutsika,
who made this striking forecast in front of his men: "Even if you tell the
foreign press, even if you tell the western governments, we do not care.
They will do nothing."
As I said then, and as I say again now, he's got that right.
Posted on Sunday, 06 July 2008 at 07:30
By Louis Michel, European Commissioner
for Development and Humanitarian Aid
This week, Mugabe fired a shot at the international community saying
its members « could shout as loud as they like » but that it wouldn't make a
blind bit of differen-ce to election plans in the country since it was for
the people to decide.
It is very unnerving to find myself agreeing, even if it is just in
part, with Robert Mugabe.
Democracy is indeed the voice of the people being heard and respected.
It's just that Mugabe has chosen to muffle that democratic voice.
Let's not forget that Opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the
first round of elections back in late March. Mugabe and his cronies may like
to think that such a resounding call for change can just be forgotten amid
the chaos and bloody terror of present day Zimbabwe - but it cannot. The
people of Zimbabwe will not forget. We will not forget. Saturday March 29th
marked the first day of the end of this regime. Mugabe's posturing as a hero
of anti-colonialism which once earned him some popularity in Zimbabwe and
throughout Africa is fooling no-one anymore. The African voices of democracy
and justice are being heard.
And let me also calmly point out to Mr Mugabe that the international
community has no need to shout because the truth can be heard even when it's
The truth is that the international community will continue to stand
united with the people of Zimbabwe with actions and not just words. The
ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe want and need the international community to
maintain the pressure on Mugabe and his cronies.
One of the clearest signals of our intentions to do so would be to
publicly commit to a post-Mugabe assistance plan in union with our African
Of course, there are several scenarios that could play out including
that of so-me form of transitional government. When that time for change
comes, which I hope is sooner rather than later, the only guarantee is that
any future legitimate government will face an incredibly daunting task of
rebuilding a state that has been brought to its knees following years of
neglect. Mil-lions of people are on the brink of starvation - a situation
made worse by Mugabe's recent decision to prevent European Commission
life-saving humanitarian aid from being distributed. The economy is gasping
for its last breath. The inflation rate is out of control, unemployment is
the norm rather than the exception. And despite all this, I sincerely
believe Zim-babwe has the potential to recover from this crisis as long as
Africa, Euro-pe and the rest of the international community stand at the
The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, is the most important
donor towards the people of Zimbabwe providing more than 90 million euros in
aid last year that targeted areas from emergency food aid to basic needs in
the health and education sectors.
Let me, here and now, assure the citizens of Zimbabwe that we are
ready to help when change comes - no matter what it takes.
Within the framework of the European Development Fund, the European
Com-mission stands ready with at least 250 million euros available to assist
in the stabilization of the country. This funding could focus on supporting
hospitals, schools or on the farming sector that was once the pride of the
nation. Of course, we would work with our partners within SADC and the
African Union to identify other key areas of the economy needing our
financial, structural and programmed support. One key area will be ensuring
significant debt-relief to free any incoming and legitimate government of
the massive debts accumulated by the Mugabe regime. These are just some of
the practical reasons why I would encourage the rest of the international
donor community to make it clear today that it is ready to provide
substantial and immediate assistance to Zimbabwe in the wake of a transition
But there is a much more fundamental and politically rooted reason
that the international community must continue to signal its solidarity
towards the citizens of Zimbabwe. Right now, the people on the streets of
Harare or in the countryside need to know that there is a vision for their
future and that any transitional government will get the support that it
would so inevitably need. These ordinary people need to know that their
lives can get better once again. These people need hope.
Such open declarations may also just help to rekindle a spirit of
belief among Mugabe supporters that there is an alternative to the brutal
violence being inflicted on their fellow men and women. In short, even they
may once again be able to believe that they can be part of building a
brighter future for their country.
As Zimbabwe lies battered and bruised from the fist of Mugabe, the
country must know that it is surrounded by friends ready to come to its aid
: whether from the region of SADC, across the African Union or, of course,
here in Europe.
It is essential that we keep repeating our message of reassurance and
support during this and democratic and economic coma for Zimbabwe.
And I'd remind Mr Mugabe, that we've no need to shout because even
with the country in such a desperate state, the truth reaches the people.
The truth is that the international community is ready for action with any
future legitimate government.
And it's exactly this kind of positive message - one of hope for
change, hope for a better life - that Mugabe fears the most.
Published on Sunday, July 06, 2008
By NAT HENTOFF
Voting early on the morning of Election Day in Zimbabwe, the only candidate,
Robert Mugabe, smiling broadly, said he was "happy and hungry for victory."
In his wake are the corpses of at least 80 members of the Movement for
Democratic Change and thousands of tortured and beaten opposition
Zimbabweans. Among them - seen on the front page of the June 26 New York
Times - is an 11-month-old boy whose legs were shattered by the "Green
Bombers," Mugabe's youth militia.
Following Mugabe's Stalinesque triumph, the U.N. Security Council expressed
"deep regrets" that the election was conducted "in these circumstances."
That language would have been a tad more critical, but South Africa, not
wanting to hurt Mugabe's feelings, objected to describing the elections as
On the very day before, hospitals in Harare, the capital, were overflowing,
as there weren't enough doctors. Some hospitals, responding to threats by
the military, refused to take any more victims of torture.
Not at all surprisingly, the U.N. Human Rights Council has yet to even put
on its agenda Mugabe's extended version of the Nazis' Kristillnacht that
presaged the Holocaust, when the world also declined to intervene.
As the June 25 Times of London reported, Mugabe the Liberator of his country
crowed: "Other people can say what they want, but the elections are ours. We
are a sovereign state, and that is it."
The United Nations insists that the sovereignty of its members - even those
who terrorize their own people - is inviolable. Savoring that guarantee,
Mugabe declared during his solo "campaign": "We will not accept any meddling
in Zimbabwe's internal affairs, even from fellow Africans."
Among the millions of Zimbabweans abandoned by the world are the survivors -
in Chitungwiza, 18 miles south of Harare - of an attack on a home that was a
refuge for Movement for Democratic Change members. Said one of them,
57-year-old Georgina Nyamutsamba, in a June 27 Washington Post report:
"There are so many boys buried in (nearby) Warren Hills Cemetery, killed by
Mugabe. Please help us suffering in Zimbabwe. What can we do?"
One of the owners of that refuge, Annastasia Chipiyo, has given up any hope
of deliverance from Zimbabwe's Liberator. She says: "I have nothing to fear.
I've just lost my son" - one of the four murdered in the June 17 attack on
her home. She has nothing left to lose. Untold numbers of Zimbabweans are
also frozen in hopelessness.
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, withdrew
from the runoff election because he did not want to add to the broken bodies
of his supporters, saying in the June 25 The Guardian newspaper in London:
"Zimbabwe will break if the world does not come to our aid."
Tsvangirai has called on the United Nations to send peacekeepers to
Mugabeland to clear the way for the new elections so that he could campaign
as a "legitimate candidate," for whom Zimbabweans can vote without putting
their very lives in danger.
But if the United Nations were to do more than express "deep regrets" and
only impose more economic sanctions on Mugabe and his primary accomplices,
that would hardly cause fear in the Hitler of Africa. Though well-intended,
Queen Elizabeth's ruling on June 25 to strip Mugabe of his 1994 knighthood -
Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Bath - must have been derisively received
by the cashiered knight. You think he cares?
Sarah Childress of the Wall Street Journal has been covering this satanic
"election" - one that has shamed Africa and the world - with consistent
accuracy. "Mr. Mugabe," she wrote on June 26, "has long disregarded what the
world thinks of him. Unless Mr. Mugabe is pressured by his African
counterparts, there is apparently little diplomats can do to sway him."
An African response?
Will the African Union expel Zimbabwe, as Mugabe is strangling that nation?
What actions will now be taken by the Southern African Development
Community, which Childress describes as "the most powerful international
(economic) actor in Zimbabwe's drama"?
How about military intervention, if all else fails, by Zimbabwe's African
leaders, an increasing number of whom are dismayed and repelled by Mugabe's
literally getting away with murder? Even the revered Nelson Mandela had, at
long last, conquered his acute desire not to criticize another former
freedom-fighter against European colonizers. (The white rulers of Rhodesia
kept Mugabe in prison for 10 years before he was out, and Rhodesia became
Celebrating his 90th birthday at a dinner in London, Mandela faced the
naked, barbaric truth, and said there is "a tragic failure of leadership" in
Zimbabwe. He didn't speak the dreaded name, but the message was clear. Maybe
Mugabe, on hearing Mandela's irreverence, shrugged.
To be continued: Are there specific, realizable answers to Zimbabwean
Georgina Nyamutsamba, mourning "so many boys buried ... killed by Mugabe"?
"What can we do?" she asks. Will there be no reply except more deep
regrets - and the impossibility of first having to get permission from U.N.
Security Council members China and Russia to actually intervene with armed
Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and
the Bill of Rights and author of many books, including "The War on the Bill
of Rights and the Gathering Resistance" (Seven Stories Press, 2004).
Sunday, July 6th 2008
Brother Valentino, the Mighty Duke, Bob Marley (if he were alive), and others who sang their hearts out in support of Zimbabwe and the anti-colonial struggle in Southern Africa, must be wondering what ever happened to their dream. Why has the fulfillment of their dream been deferred? Is it merely that we are dealing with a mad or a power crazed man? Many African leaders have betrayed the African people on the continent and in the diaspora. There was much posturing and shouting about African unity and African socialism, but behind the rhetoric, there was a great deal of political fakery and fraud. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who Amnesty International listed among the 10 most unsavoury political characters of our time, is the most recent of them.
How did Mugabe happen? How do well meaning leaders become evil? The Zimbabwean problem has a sordid history and a demographic reality which one needs to know a little about in order to make balanced judgements about what is happening today. Zimbabwe is sharply divided between two tribes, the Shonas, the numerically dominant group which occupied Mashonal and the Ndebeles who occupied Matabeleland The groups, which were historic rivals, were fused into a unitary state by the colonial settlers who were playing one group off against the other in the old game of divide and rule.
Rivalries between the Zimbabwe African Peoples Party (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) was destabilising the new state of Zimbabwe which became independent in April 1980. It was in this context that Mugabe, a Shona, forged coalitional links with the Ndebeles led by Joshua Nkomo, his rival for the leadership. Mugabe, a prison and a university graduate who projected himself as a militant radical Marxist, also sought to appease the settler community by adopting a gradualist approach to the economy, much of which was left virtually intact. The critical land issue was also put on ice.
These policies did not, however, defuse the demographic and political crises that continued to simmer. Mugabe saw seditious ghosts on every shamba. He accused the settlers of conspiring to engineer his overthrow by encouraging elements in the army, which was still led by a white officer, to assassinate him. He also accused ZAPU of instigating guerrilla activity, and of waging a clandestine low intensity civil war in the countryside.
The post independence entente collapsed dramatically in 1983 and thousands fled their homes. Many also died and were secretly buried in mass graves. Fearing for his own life, Nkomo fled to the United Kingdom from where he accused Mugabe of ethnic cleansing and generally of seeking to create a Shona-based ethnic state. Zimbabwe, the Ndebeles noted, was a Shona word which had no historical significance for the Shona people.
The rivalry between Mugabe and Nkomo was at bottom a struggle between two ethnic groups struggling for political dominance and cultural hegemony and the struggle continues. The current opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, is a successor to ZAPU. Its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is a Ndebele. Thus, when Mugabe and his supporters in the ruling party and the army stubbornly refuse to give up power, they do so because that would involve handing over power to a traditional rival.
Western analysts judge political systems as being democratic or not in terms of whether elections are free and fair and whether there is turnover when the results are declared. Turnover is the litmus test of Western liberal democracy. In Africa and in other ethnically-based states such as Guyana, one cheats openly in order to stay in power. Turnover involves not merely changing a leader, a government or a political party. One is also changing a tribally-based regime that is rooted in the misty part.
The land issue is also critical to an understanding of the dynamics of political succession in Zimbabwe. Prior to Mugabe,s land grab, one per cent of the population controlled 70 per cent of the arable land. Understandably, Mugabe believes that it was his historic responsibility to right that wrong, both symbolically and economically. What is in question is the method used to effect that correction. According to one narrative, Mugabe provoked the current economic crisis when he openly supported the seizure of lands without the payment of compensation.
This served to precipitate a major food and currency crisis in Zimbabwe since it led to an accelerated exodus of white farmers from a country that was once known as the bread basket of southern Africa.
The seizure of land also served to internationalise the issue in that it brought the IMF, the World Bank, the European Union, and the American and British governments on to the negotiating table. Britain refused to accept liability for compensating the settlers. The claim was that no one was occupying the land when the settlers came, and that they made no promise of compensation at the Lancaster House independence conference. Economic collapse was the by-product of Mugabe's economic adventurism, but so were the harsh fiscal measures that were taken by the American and British governments and the international agencies which they controlled.
Mugabe destroyed his own credibility by presiding over a Shona land grab, notwithstanding much talk about "one man, one farm" and the land being the "birthright of the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe, regardless of race or class," There was no transparency and most of the land ended up in the hands of so called "war veterans", most of whom never saw any "battle."
Zimbabwe is now at an impasse and the victims are Zimbabweans of all ethnicities. One is very concerned about collateral damage that the Western Alliance would inflict if it tightens the rope around Mugabe's neck. Africa is also at an impasse.
Like Mbeki, many African leaders are embarrassed by Mugabe's unacceptable political behaviour, but they know that they too have cheated electorally and done much more to stay in power. They also know that many dispossessed and landless blacks are still chanting "Stay up Zimbabwe," even if to another tune.
It is with sincerest sympathy that I extend my deepest condolences to the people of Zimbabwe on the unfortunate loss of their most precious inheritance. Democracy was won after a hard and bitter fight against colonialism and white supremacy that included a frightening confrontation with an Apartheid style government of the kith and kin of Ian Smith.
It must have been with a sense of euphoria that the black Shona and Ndebele peoples – 98% of the population – awaited the dawn of freedom as independence came in 1980. It must have been with a sense of tremendous pride that they coronated their leader who had stood with them through the darkest night of struggle and named Robert Mugabe as president. I can hardly imagine the tears of jubilation that were shed as Zimbabwe itself emerged from the ashes of Rhodesia and the work of the ancient African people who built the fabulous ruins found at Great Zimbabwe received the recognition that was cruelly lavished on the vicious colonialist Cecil Rhodes. After all, scientists actually insisted in the early years of the 20th century that aliens had to be responsible for the Great Zimbabwe monuments because Africans simply were not capable of building a great civilization!
It truly breaks my heart to even try to imagine the depths of despair into which the people of Zimbabwe have been plunged as they tried desperately to put their democracy on life support earlier this year only to be forced to watch helplessly as it was stolen away by the brutal dictator that their once beloved leader had become.
However, despite my grief I am strengthened by a hope that resurrection is possible for our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe and that they will once again feel the comforting embrace of a truly representative democracy. That hope will come as they learn of their brothers and sisters in the wider world in places like St. Kitts and Nevis protecting with our vote our own democracies. They will be encouraged as they learn that everywhere in the world people are struggling to keep democracy alive and well. So, we all must do our part to send this beacon of hope.
We cannot afford to be complacent about registering or confirming and voting. We cannot allow our own would be rulers here to make us apathetic and resigned to losing our lives and land. We must register or confirm and vote despite the evident and deliberate flaws in the system because voting is our only defense against the seduction of violence. We must vote to send a message at home and abroad that yes we can bring change. We cannot afford another funeral.
New Zealand Herald
5:00AM Saturday July 05, 2008
By Paul Thomas
These days, obscene is an overused word. Once It was a stuffy legal term
meaning dirty in the sexual sense, as in the Obscene Publications Act. What
we now refer to as "Having a Jimmy" - acting like a complete pork chop at
four in the morning - would land you in court charged with using obscene
As much of what we used to find dirty in the sexual sense became acceptable,
if not enviable, the word fell into disuse. Then came the Age of Money - the
stock market boom, hedge funds, greed is good. The combination of overnight
wealth, celebrity culture and conspicuous consumption created a new
dimension of offensiveness.
Without a touch of class and a sense of what's seemly, vast wealth and
extravagant lifestyles can be perceived as obscene. This is obviously a
subjective area: you need more than a calculator to work out how much is too
much and, judging by the fanfare that accompanies the publication of the
Rich List, New Zealand's most loaded haven't crossed that threshold. Perhaps
obscene wealth, like terrorism and high concept blockbuster movies, really
requires critical mass.
Because of this imprecision I normally avoid using obscene in the sense of a
brazen affront to the mythical right-thinking person but if the reception
granted Robert Mugabe at this week's meeting of the African Union wasn't
obscene, then we might as well retire the word.
There wasn't a hint of censure for the old fraud who stole an election from
under the world's nose, the thug dispatching goons to whip voters into line,
the lunatic ideologue who turned the breadbasket of Africa into a barren
land, the psychopath who preens and struts in tailor-made suits while the
currency collapses and his people starve.
Instead there was the silence of collusion and hugs all round. Instead
President Omar Bongo of Gabon called Mugabe a "hero".
To understand where Bongo's coming from, it's necessary to grasp that for
many African leaders the object of the exercise is to cling to power by
whatever means for as long as possible, in the process making yourself
obscenely rich at the expense of your compatriots.
Bongo is being uncharacteristically modest, for if anyone is a role model
for the restless colonels and apparatchiks who comprise Africa's political
class, it's him. Now that Fidel Castro has shuffled off the stage, Bongo is
the world's longest-serving leader and one of the richest - his family owns
33 properties in France alone. Apart from the routine scam of diverting
international aid money into his Swiss bank account, Bongo supposedly
pockets more than $100 million a year for allowing French company Elf
Aquitaine access to Gabon's oil reserves.
Contemplating these ghastly old kleptocrats brings to mind Rob Muldoon's
counter-punch to black African leaders' attacks on this country over
sporting contacts with South Africa during the apartheid era, which was that
they were in no position to lecture anyone about morality and human rights.
Muldoon had a point but it was a diversionary one. Being stubborn to the
point of bloody-mindedness didn't make his cause right any more than some
African leaders' hypocrisy made the sporting boycott campaign wrong.
Besides, it's arguable that the stance which cost New Zealand dear was
shaped at least as much by domestic political considerations, ego and a
virtual addiction to confrontation as a commitment to the rights of the
Over the succeeding three decades there's been little discernible
improvement in the quality of African leaders, with the luminous exception
of Nelson Mandela. Africa often seems trapped in a post-colonial mindset in
which self-determination is seen as its own reward, even when it delivers
misery. Black pride has eclipsed good government, tribalism has eclipsed
democracy, power has eclipsed legitimacy and greed has eclipsed public
There's an understandable desire for the international community to 'do
something' in Zimbabwe, even intervene to terminate Mugabe's misrule and put
the country back on its feet. Don't hold your breath.
Zimbabwe's neighbours aren't likely to intervene because that would create a
precedent which would cause sleepless nights in many a presidential palace.
Nor could they accept intervention by a Western-backed UN force because that
would smack of re-colonisation.
The leaders who hugged Mugabe at Sharm el-Sheikh would give up their pads on
the Cote D'Azur and their hidden millions and tear down every statue of
themselves they've ever erected rather than say or do anything which could
be interpreted as a tacit admission that their people were better off under
Rudyard Kipling famously portrayed imperialism as "the white man's burden".
All the miseries of Africa are now largely the black man's burden. It's
their land, their people, their problems, their opportunities, their
Friday, 04 July 2008
Zimbabweans and indeed Africans have just witnessed one of the most bizarre
electoral processes in their beloved country.
This sham of an election did not come as a surprise, not when you have a
mediator who fails to call a spade a spade and takes sides like Thabo Mbeki.
Mbeki's parliamentarians in Cape Town can take hours debating the
Israeli/Palestinian crisis, but the same amount of time is rarely spent
debating problems facing their neighbour Zimbabwe. It is in that parliament
where I first heard him coin the term quiet diplomacy in relation to
Zimbabwe. It dawned on me then that the mediation process, assigned to him
by SADC, would never see the light of day, not with him at the helm. We
cannot be fooled by the lull in the March elections. The mere fact that
results were withheld for over one month and the command center moved and
ballot boxes kept in a secret location clearly demonstrates that if ever
there was a solution prior to the elections it was half baked not
Thabo Mbeki, the SADC "chief mediator" has always chosen to look the other
way. It was and still is clear to him that the joint operations command
(army, police etc) is holding that country at ransom. Their tendency to make
political statements, without being reprimanded by their political heads, is
worrisome. These are the issues you would expect a credible mediator to
address thoroughly. Soldiers belong to the barracks and should remain a non
political because in a democracy they are subordinate to civilian rule, they
do not choose who to salute.
President Cde Thabo says the solution lies solely with the Zimbabweans. Such
statements hold true in a normal situation where citizens are allowed to
express their views and wishes freely, not when they are suppressed in the
clutches of army commanders.
When the boers had declared him a "terrorist" and he was criss-crossing the
world, he used to plead with the world to take action against Pretoria
including calling for sanctions because the solution did not lie with the
South Africans alone. Whenever sanctions are mentioned, he is quick to
dismiss them saying the would hurt ordinary people, why then was he calling
for them in those protest marches in London.
He is busy beating the drum for a unity government, now what is this? You
see the problem with Mbeki is to think that what worked in his country will
work elsewhere. The government of national unity in SA came to being because
there were willing partners.
FW de Klerk risked everything and went to the extent of calling for that all
white referendum. We did not see commissioner Fivaz (SAPS) or general
meiring (SADF) calling a press conference and saying "over our dead bodies,
an X mark on a paper cannot elevate a black man to occupy union buildings".
A unity government on the basis of what? The March or June election? The MDC
if it is to tread the path of negotiations must put forward serious demands.
They should not listen to Mbeki or anybody else, but do what is best for
their country. They should demand a transitional administration, which will
be tasked with drawing up a new constitution and preparing for new
elections. This administration should be in office for 18 months before
elections are held. A UN peacekeeping force should be on the ground six
months before the elections and such an election should be supervised by the
UN. The peacekeeping force should remain in the country 12 months after such
an election and should be tasked with re-organising the army to flush out
all political remark.
If SADC still wants to retain Mbeki then the MDC should insist on having two
more people alongside him to dispel any notion of favouritism.
My own personal opinion is that SADC has failed dismally, people like Thabo
have held it back, disunity is evident among SADC members on the way forward
for Zimbabwe. I have no illusions about the AU, of being passive on lookers
or at worst collaborators in these situations.
If Cde Mbeki denies the existence of a crisis in Zimbabwe, can he explain to
the world why people choose to swim across the crocodile infested waters of
the Limpopo where most have been devoured by these reptiles. Mbeki must
desire for Zimbabwe what he desires for SA.
There is no such thing as Zimbabweans coming up with solutions on their own
under the current circumstances, neither is there such a thing as quiet
diplomacy because that amounts to nothing else but silent approval.
History will judge you harshly Cde T.M. Mbeki because you are equally
Friday, 04 July 2008
In what could be a true show of character, the Botswana government has taken
a strong stand against Zimbabwe, based on a report of the findings of the
Pan African Parliament and the SADC Election Observers.
The two reports say the presidential run-off did not meet the minimum
standards of a fair election. The observers said the elections did not meet
the unfettered will of the people of Zimbabwe.
Botswana concluded that the current representatives of the Zimbabwe
government be excluded from attending both SADC and AU meetings. Though
laudable, Botswana's support will not carry much weight if it is not
supported by a reasonable number of both SADC and the AU members. It will
perhaps serve the purpose of disassociating the country from the Mugabe
regime. And more importantly, it will be more felt at the level of state to
state, particularly if Botswana recalls its envoy from Zimbabwe. The other
step would be for Botswana to close its border with Zimbabwe. But would
Botswana do this?
To some extent, the problem is that the AU has not adequately pronounced its
position regarding the Zimbabwe situation along the lines that Botswana has.
However, the AU has a clear set up outlining measures that can be taken
against wayward members.
Looking at Article 29 of the Constitutive Act of the AU, it is clear what
fate would befall a wayward member of the continental body. A member can be
suspended or stopped if its government comes to power through
unconstitutional means. Such member shall not be allowed to participate in
the activities of the union. Secondly if a state decides to renounce its
membership, it shall inform the chairman of the commission in writing of its
intention to do so.
For example, Mauritania was suspended from the AU after a coup in 2005,
while Madagascar was slapped with a suspension during the dissolution of the
OAU immediately after the formation of the AU. For purposes of clarity, the
AU or SADC has not pronounced that Zimbabwe should stop participating in it
their activities though President Robert Mugabe has retained power through
means that raise questions. It also not clear as to whether Mugabe's recent
win in the presidential run-off falls within the category of
unconstitutional means of taking state power. Even if there were common
understandings of the issues, it does not seem to be clear whether both SADC
and AU are in agreement on the form of punishment to be meted out to Mugabe.
This raises questions about the extent and ramifications of Botswana's
position to the AU and to some extent SADC. On the local scene, it has
served to unite the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the
opposition parties that have so far spoken with a united voice against
That should be celebrated largely because Batswana are really showing that
to them democracy is not something imaginary, an integral party of their
society to the extent that they would not hesitate if it is being trampled
upon, including by some countries that happen to be neighbours. Clearly,
Botswana's position will go a long way in the annals of history in
demonstrating to the world and the internal community that the country is
fully committed to democracy and the rule of law.
But at the regional and continental level, the country might have to do a
lot to ensure that it lobbies for support on its position. The country needs
to get some allies in its stand against Zimbabwe so that it does not appear
to be just on the side of those who do not agree with the Mugabe regime. It
is clear there are divisions at both SADC and AU on Zimbabwe. And it would
be critical for Botswana to court those that matter in the region and the
continent for its position to have meaningful implications.
A nation does not really have friends but interests. Hence it would only be
wise for Botswana to look around for allies which it shares the same
interests with on Zimbabwe.
Already Zimbabwe has been suspended from the Commonwealth and the country
complicated matters by withdrawing from the organisation.
The East African
July 7, 2008
By TERENCE RANGER
The state-controlled press in Zimbabwe is hailing the June 27 election
"result" with jubilant relief. Now normal revolutionary service can be
In March, it says, the Zimbabwean people forgot themselves, laid aside their
revolutionary commitment, voted a majority of opposition MDC candidates into
the Assembly, and gave the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai considerably more
votes in the presidential election than Robert Mugabe.
The "revolution" was saved by one technicality - the requirement for a
run-off if no one candidate for the presidency got more than 50 per cent of
the votes cast. During the weeks before the run-off, the state press
severely warned the people to take advantage of their "second chance." The
voter's cross, they warned, could not be allowed to overrule the gun - "We
may have to shoot the ballot box."
PRESIDENT MUGABE HIMself threatened to return to the bush to lead a war if
he were to lose the re-run. And so now, after quite a lot of guns and other
weapons have been used to kill and wound and cow the electorate, the ballot
box has behaved itself, even miraculously allowing the vote to be counted in
two days rather than the three-week delay of the June election.
Mugabe is back, sworn in, and defying grim-faced the disapproval of the
Botswana government at the AU meeting.
But can normal service be resumed? It is hard to comprehend how abnormal the
situation in Zimbabwe has been between the March and June elections.
Zimbabwe has had no parliament although all the MPs have been elected.
The new parliamentarians have not met to elect a Speaker. Several MDC MPs
have been arrested on charges ranging from child abduction to organising
violence; many others are in hiding.
There have been no functioning city councils or mayors even though a full
slate of councillors was elected in March. The elected councillors in Harare
met on private premises and chose themselves a mayor, but the only - and
terrible - result of that was that his wife was abducted and brutally
killed. Not surprisingly, no mayors have been elected elsewhere. Zimbabwe's
cities have been "in commission."
Zimbabwe has hardly had a functioning civil society. Its human rights bodies
have been raided and all non-governmental organisations have been prevented
from operating in rural areas. Journalists have been beaten, arrested and
Churches have been under pressure, as Mugabe has declared his desire to see
every church answerable only to Zimbabwean leaders and committed to the
The single thread of legal authority has been the presidency, even though
since March everyone knew that Mugabe had won only a minority of votes for
the office. Between March and June people hauled before the courts for
insulting the president could reasonably argue that they did not know who
the president was and even some magistrates tended to take the same line.
Despite this, the doubtful and fragile presidency was invoked more than ever
before; more people were arrested for insulting it; it became treasonable to
assert that Tsvangirai won more than 50 per cent of the March vote.
ALL THIS, TOGETHER WITH the obscenity of violence that has shocked even
South African generals, has made Zimbabwe's neighbours uneasy to an
unprecedented extent. Can Zimbabwe's relations with Botswana, which has
called for its suspension from SADC, or with Zambia - or with Kenya - be
Gradually, no doubt, normal institutions will re-emerge. Parliament will be
summoned and if enough MDC MPs are still in detention or hiding, then
Zanu-PF may achieve a majority and elect a Speaker.
The Senate, equally balanced between the parties after the March vote, will
become dominated by Zanu-PF once the newly legitimated president has
exercised his right to nominate extra members. He may even be able to
nominate men defeated in the elections who have been acting as ministers
There will be a cabinet. The military and police joint command which has
openly dominated in the inter-regnum will be able to move into the
background. City councils will meet. Now that votes are no longer at stake,
NGOs may be allowed to resume food aid in rural areas.
Pressure on the churches may be relaxed. Zimbabwe will begin to look like a
functioning polity again. Some of Zimbabwe's neighbours will no doubt come
to an uneasy co-existence with it.
BUT THERE ARE SEVERAL reasons why even such provisional normality will be
hard to achieve or to maintain. One is that it is supposed to be a
revolutionary normality. Mugabe has said he will remain as President until
every scrap of land in Zimbabwe is owned by Zimbabweans, and a fourth
chimurenga - to take over control of business and industry - is in the
Violence, which is revolutionary normality, will increase. And that is the
second reason. Violent revenge against those who supported the MDC has been
enormously costly in lives and it has continued right through Mugabe's
inauguration as President.
Mugabe's spokesman may charge that Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga's
hands are stained with African blood, but this is at best mere name-calling
tit for tat. Zanu PF is often called by its adherents, and by Mugabe, a
party of blood. It becomes ever more so and in Zimbabwe the violated dead
will have their revenge.
However hard they try, Zimbabwe's neighbours will find it impossible to
recognise the façade of institutions in Zimbabwe as a legitimate state.
There is nothing to be gained by calling for a government of national unity
in Zimbabwe when Mugabe makes it clear that it can only come into existence
on his terms. The Zimbabwean crisis, which Mbeki has denied exists, will
resume and become in itself the only form of normality.
July 6, 2008
By Andy Grimm Post-Tribune staff writer
As jobs with the State Department go, working as Ambassador to Zimbabwe
these past six months is not exactly the way to ease into retirement.
Since taking up residence in the the U.S. Embassy in the capital city,
Harare, in November, Gary native James McGee has been struck -- but was not
injured -- by a Zimbabwean police officer's car, his staff have been
repeatedly threatened by thuggish militiamen and authorities working for
strongman President Robert Mugabe in power, and has been threatened with
expulsion by Mugabe himself.
Zimbabweans have fared far worse: To cling to power, Mugabe has resorted to
a coordinated campaign of vote-rigging and intimidation to keep his rivals
from the polls in the June elections. Mugabe won a run-off election after
his chief rival dropped out of the race, and since has begun violent
reprisals against opposition supporters. McGee last week gave several
hundred Zimbabweans safe haven on the Embassy grounds.
"I did not think any government could be quite as brutal against its people
as what I have seen from this government," said McGee, whose 28-year career
in the diplomatic corps included a stint in the African nation of Cote
d'Ivoire during a bloody coup d'etat.
"This government wants to operate in darkness, and we're trying to show the
world what is happening."
It isn't diplomacy as the trade is typically practiced, even for the
59-year-old McGee, who will retire later this year.
When McGee left his post as Ambassador to Madagascar in 2004, the parting
was so amicable the government awarded him their highest civilian honor.
In Zimbabwe, Mugabe and his ministers have threatened to throw McGee out,
and have tried to bar him and his staff from leaving a tiny area surrounding
the Embassy. McGee and his staff have ignored those edicts, touring the
southern African nation with cameras and video recorders to document scenes
the pre-electoral violence. Their work provides a vivid counter point to
Mugabe's insistent denials of a coordinated campaign of violence by his
ZANU-PF party and "war veterans" who have formed violent, pro-regime squads.
The work is not without risk. Journalists have been jailed by Mugabe for
"committing journalism" that doesn't flatter the regime, and McGee and his
staff have been threatened with more than expulsion.
Beside the incident with the police officer who threatened one of McGee's
aides, then bumped the Ambassador's shins with his car as he drove off,
diplomatic staff have been detained for hours by police and militia men.
"I do not fear for my own physical safety, really," McGee said, who says
such courage is common to all his staff.
In one tense standoff, a paramilitary commander threatened to set fire to an
Embassy vehicle with a half dozen of McGee's aides inside.
"(The Embassy workers) said 'then set it on fire and deal with the
consequences,'" said McGee, who served in the Air Force in Vietnam and was
three times awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
"As bad as this government is, the last thing they want is the confrontation
with the United States that (harming a diplomat) would bring."
It is hardly the picture of life in the diplomatic corps McGee envisioned.
"Back then, I had no idea," he chuckled. "I was a young guy, and I saw an
Ambassador as making a lot of money living in an exotic place, and that was
what turned me on.
"Really, today I see it as one of the premier service organizations in the
McGee sees slim hopes for a peaceful changeover of power in Zimbabwe, nor of
significant intervention from the U.S. or other outside help. Mugabe has
blocked international relief agencies from giving out supplies in the run-up
to the election, essentially cutting off food and medicine to a quarter to
half Zimbabwe's population.
When Mugabe first was elected 28 years earlier, the nation was one of
Africa's most prosperous, known as the Bread Basket of Southern Africa for
its thriving agricultural sector. Now, food is scarce, and the rate of
inflation could reach a staggering 1 million percent by year's end, thanks
in large part to disastrous economic "reforms" undertaken by Mugabe over the
last eight years.
"Now, I call it the 'Basket Case,' " McGee said.
Though he has little hope neighboring nations, or the U.S. or United Nations
will intervene to help, McGee said he considers his efforts at diplomacy,
however undiplomatic they might seem, to have been a success.
"We've been able to keep the international light on Zimbabwe, we've been
successful in that," he said. "We're not going to let the world forget."
Written by The Associated Press
Sunday, 06 July 2008
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and
Dagens Nyheter, on Zimbabwe:
The tone against (Zimbabwe's President Robert) Mugabe has hardened and
the criticism is coming from an increasing number of directions. But that
doesn't appear to be enough. Enough African leaders still support Zimbabwe's
dictator to keep him from falling.
One of them is Omar Bongo, president in Gabon. He tells British
newspaper The Telegraph that Robert Mugabe is a hero and that the West has
The tone from Zimbabwe is - as usual - even more shrill. The West can
go hang a thousand times, Robert Mugabe's spokesman said...
But who should help a tortured people if not the A.U.?
The U.N.? I don't think so. China on Tuesday said the country might
reject a U.S. proposal for a resolution...
What about an E.U. that can "go hang a thousand times?" Not them
either. In practice, the EU has neither the mandate nor many troops to send.
What the west can do is to stop camouflaging the shortcomings. Stop
the aid. Starve the regime, the police and the military. Give the
Zimbabweans the opportunity to force their tyrant off his throne, when
nobody else will.