03:08 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 04:08 UK
As the date for Zimbabwe's presidential run-off approaches, state-sponsored violence has escalated sharply, according to human rights workers and opposition politicians in Zimbabwe who have given first-hand accounts to the BBC.
Andrew Makoni and Harrison Nkomo, both young human rights lawyers, fled to the safety of South Africa last week, fearing for their lives.
Five of Mr Makoni's clients, all activists for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have been murdered over the past few weeks.
He says three of them had their eyes gouged out, and their tongues cut off.
"I had threats last year, and was incarcerated for my work, and I stayed in the country," he said, speaking at a small unfinished hotel in Johannesburg where he is now staying.
"But this time we have to take the threats seriously because there seems to be a systematic campaign to eliminate those with opposing views.
"People are being abducted and their decomposing bodies are being found."
Mr Nkomo said: "I received credible information that I was on a list of lawyers who are being targeted by state security agents for elimination. It seems they want to remove anyone seen to be standing in their way."
Hospitals in Harare have been kept busy dealing with an endless flow of bloodied and bruised patients, who have been subjected to brutal beatings.
"The violence we're seeing is more life-threatening than it was," said one human rights worker, who did not want to be identified.
"There are horrific injuries. Bones are not just fractured, they are shattered. Victims speak of being handcuffed and then beaten."
The violence is worst in rural areas - where the MDC did well in the 29 March election, at the expense of the ruling Zanu-PF.
"There are hit squads operating, and the level of attacks is increasing," Misheck Marava, an MDC senator from south-eastern Zimbabwe, told the BBC by telephone.
Mr Marava represents the town of Zaka where, last week, an MDC office was attacked with gunfire and petrol bombs leaving charred bodies in the wreckage, according to the opposition.
"My homestead has been attacked three times," he said.
"My wife was beaten and the husband of one of our councillor's was shot and had his ribs broken. It's very, very bad."
He also said the government's suspension of the work of aid agencies would have a terrible effect in his district: "We are now at the mercy of God."
Aid groups believe that their field work has been banned in part to prevent them witnessing government abuses.
"We are the eyes and ears of the international community," one foreign aid worker told the BBC.
"And it's clear that the authorities don't want us out in the countryside seeing what they're going to do."
In one of the worst attacks, Human Rights Watch says six men were beaten to death in Chiweshe in Mashonaland Central province on 5 May - at a "re-education" meeting meant to compel MDC supporters to vote for Robert Mugabe in the presidential run-off.
It reports that another 70 men and women were tortured, including a 76-year old woman who was thrashed in front of assembled villagers.
Although the government blames the MDC for the violence, all independent reports suggest that the vast bulk of attacks are being carried out by state security organs, as well as Zanu-PF militia.
But human rights workers in Zimbabwe say it is not wholly one-sided.
"We're starting to hear stories about resistance being organised and retaliatory attacks," one told the BBC.
"A couple of Zanu-PF supporters were hospitalised after the Chiweshe incident."
Human Rights Watch says it has now confirmed at least 2,000 victims of violence - and that may be a conservative figure.
"Fear is being instilled in people to such an extent that they're running away to urban areas," says Blessing Chebundo, MP for KweKwe in the centre of the country.
"Zanu-PF youth militia and army men are forcing people to put on Zanu-PF T-shirts and they're confiscating the ID cards of people they think are MDC supporters so they won't be able to vote."
He described how, after a Zanu-PF rally last Friday, government supporters went on the rampage, killing an MDC supporter.
"No-one in the area had the courage to help him - they were too scared," he said.
A human rights activist inside Zimbabwe said: "Almost everyone you talk to seems to have a story of intimidation. People are being threatened and told they must vote 'correctly.'"
Epworth, a settlement which lacks definition as either rural or urban and is, therefore, rarely focused on in the news, is now a battlefield as suspected ZANU (PF) militias have introduced a fresh attack on the settlement.
On Sunday afternoon, while MDC supporters were out to attend a rally that was later cancelled by police despite a court order to the contrary, hordes of ZANU (PF) supporters pounced on their homes, destroying three. MDC members went to Dombo Police Station to report on the attack, but the police refused to open dockets on the case. They confessed that they were powerless to contain the violence where ZANU (PF) is involved and advised MDC members to defend themselves.
ZANU (PF) militias were unleashed in reinforcement from all over Harare and MDC supporters had to go into hiding. Yesterday, 09 June, at around 4pm, houses were still being destroyed and it seems to be only a matter of time before lives are lost.
Mrs. Mawire, the ZANU (PF) councilor for Ward 7, and one Makangira, a ZANU (PF) activist, are said to be spearheading the violent campaign. Cecilia Sithole, the losing ZANU (PF) candidate for Ward 1 is also threatening the winning MDC councilor, Mr. Fungai Navaia, among others.
The houses of Richard Tawa, the MDC councilor for Ward 6 and of Musa Mabika, his organizing secretary, have been destroyed. The rented house of Mapfumo, Ward 7ʼs MDC shadow councilor is also down, among many others.
Observers are urged to rush to Epworth to monitor the situation on the ground so that the violence may be curbed before lives are lost. It is understood that the police have been told to deliberately stop arresting ZANU (PF) militias who are believed to be provoking the MDC supporters to fight back so that it may appear as though the MDC supporters are perpetrating the violence.
The Epworth situation presents itself as highly urgent and calls for prompt response from the government, civil organizations and the international community.
By Peter Clottey
10 June 2008
The Zimbabwe government has described as nonsensical accusations by Human
Rights Watch that ongoing violence would prevent free and fair election in
this month's presidential run-off. This comes after the US-based rights
organization reportedly said President Robert Mugabe's government is
systematically using violence to intimidate partisans of the opposition and
thwart any possibility of free and fair vote in the run-off.
The group said it has documented at least 36 politically motivated murders
and over 2,000 victims among others. But the ruling ZANU-PF party says the
accusations are yet another attempt by agents of foreign governments to
interfere in Zimbabwe's internal affairs and force a regime change. Sydney
Masamvu is a Zimbabwean with the International Crisis Group in South Africa.
He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Pretoria that the Mugabe
government is to blame for the violence and insecurity in the rural areas.
"I think this is typical of a government, which has become paranoid, which
has become immune to any external criticism, be it internal or external. So,
in a sense one is not surprised that the Zimbabwe government can come out
with a dismissive report for the simple reason that the Zimbabwe government
led by Robert Mugabe has gone beyond a point where it can do anything good,"
Masamvu pointed out.
He said although the presence of a UN envoy to help with the election
run-off is welcomed, it will do very little to change the escalating
violence in the rural areas.
"While the gesture is welcomed, you have to look at the point that, at what
point is that envoy allowed given the damage, which has taken place? You
know for the past three months or four months the Zimbabwe government has
been engaged in a systematic military-led campaign, which has unleashed so
much damage in terms of death countrywide. And right now the reference that
observers are going including the U.N observer, as much as it is a welcome
move, it is a symbolic gesture, which does not change any material issue on
the ground in terms of making the conditions of the election free and fair.
That doesn't change anything at this late juncture," he said.
Masamvu urged the UN envoy to engage both the government and the opposition
in peace talks ahead of the run-off.
"The U.N envoy should be seized with the mediation efforts to try to
capacitate the mediation, which President Mbeki (South Africa's President)
is currently involved in. I think that should be the key factor, which the
U.N envoy should grapple with, not the electoral process, which I believe
his presence is too late to make any material difference on the ground in
terms of facilitating a free and fair election," Masamvu noted.
He said it is possible for a negotiated settlement between the government
and the opposition for a unity government to help address the suffering of
the masses and end the political and economic crisis.
"We have to look at a situation where Mugabe talked to Ian Smith, the South
Africans talked to the apartheid regime here in South Africa. So, there is
nothing between Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, which can make them talk. When
you look at the polarizing environment and the outcome of the 29 March
election, the country is crying out for a negotiated settlement, which
should actually yield a transitional government, which should be mandated
with negotiating terms for a free and fair election after maybe two or five
years at a time when I think would have healed, the nation would have come
down. And maybe be able to make an informed choice to choose democratic
government of their choice, and at the same time that deal would be used to
get President Mugabe out of the political radar, " he said.
June 10, 2008
By Our Correspondent
MUREHWA - Mashonaland East provincial governor Ray Kaukonde has ordered
civil servants in Murehwa district to vote for the Zanu-PF candidate Robert
Mugabe in the forthcoming presidential run-off poll or risk being fired.
Sources say Kaukonde told a meeting of government workers held at Murewa
Training Center that Zanu-PF was giving civil servants in the district the
last chance to prove their loyalty to the Zanu-PF government led by Mugabe.
Kaukonde said: "You must be warned that the Zanu-PF government, which is
your employer is giving you the final chance to prove that you are not an
enemy but a loyal employee of the state.
"There is a lot of talk in the party that you are abusing your influence as
civil servants by campaigning and voting against the ruling party. We have
decided as a party to forgive you and give you the chance to redeem yourself
by voting for our President".
At the extra-ordinary congress of Zanu-PF held at Goromonzi in December
Kaukonde, who has been aligned to a Solomon Mujuru-led faction of Zanu-PF,
was reported to be one of the few delegates courageous enough to campaign
openly against Mugabe's presidential candidacy. That faction led by the
former defence forces commander has effectively been neutralized after that
Sources who attended the Friday meeting say a tough-talking Kaukonde warned
that those who will campaign or vote for the MDC will be fired and evicted
from the rural district.
Kaukonde said: "This time we will not hesitate to fire civil servants who
refuse to cooperate with us. And as soon as you are dismissed from
government work you must pack and go. We will not keep enemies working for
our government. We will not!"
The resident governor, who is also the Zanu-PF chairman for the province,
was addressing a meeting of teachers, police officers, soldiers, nurses,
extension workers and DDF employees in Murewa ahead of the second round of
the presidential poll due in three weeks.
The meeting was also attended by the top Zanu-PF leadership and MPs in the
violence-torn Mashonaland province.
Sources said the governor advised all civil servants to attend all Zanu-PF
rallies to be held in the district before the elections as a way of
demonstrating their loyalty to Mugabe and buying their security.
Civil servants were also ordered to report all strangers and visitors to the
Zanu-PF leadership in their wards.
"When we receive visitors we are supposed to alert the ward chairman," said
one source. "We are expected to explain who they are, where they are coming
from, what they do for a living and why they are visiting. The situation is
terrible and most of us are now very afraid.
"We now pray that we don't receive visitors at all, especially people from
Harare. Otherwise we will be finished if we are discovered to be hosting
people from the urban areas".
Sources said Kaukonde had advised civil servants to learn from what was
happening to "those who think they can compete with the Zanu-PF government".
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says opposition activists from
Murehwa have been abducted and killed by militants loyal to President
Two weeks ago the MDC buried a prominent opposition activist and senatorial
election candidate Shepard Jani, who was killed by Zanu-PF militias in the
The MDC candidate lost the Murehwa seat to war veteran Tendayi Makunde, who
stood on the Zanu-PF ticket.
Jani, the former MDC provincial treasurer for Mashonaland East, was seized
from his offices at Murehwa Business Centre by a group of armed men in broad
daylight on May 22. His body was later found by a farmer in the Goromonzi
area two days later.
A second MDC activist, Langton Mafuse, who stood for the MDC in council
elections in Murehwa, is still missing.
Slain MDC activists Better Chokururama, Cain Nyevhe and Godfrey Kauzani were
also killed while in Murehwa district in May.
The MDC says at least 60 of its supporters have been killed in politically
motivated violence while thousands have been displaced from rural districts
since the March 29 elections.
Zimbabweans vote in a second presidential election between MDC's Morgan
Tsvangirai and Zanu-PF's Mugabe on June 27 after the first round failed to
produce an outright winner.
The MDC gained control of the House of Assembly and narrowly missed out on
ending Mugabe's 28-year rule in the presidential poll in March. The result
of the presidential election was announced after an inordinately long five
The opposition says Zanu-PF is using a violent election campaign spearheaded
by armed soldiers and secret hit squads to terrorize MDC supporters in order
to cow them into voting for Mugabe in the make-or-break election.
June 10, 2008
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - Zimbabwe's former freedom fighters have vowed to go back to the
bush to wage another war if Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai wins the presidential election run-off scheduled for June 27.
At a meeting held in Masvingo yesterday the former freedom fighters who
support President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party said they will
not allow Tsvangirai to get into power even if he wins the election.
"We will not allow anyone except President Mugabe to rule this country", War
veterans Masvingo provincial chairman Isaiah Muzenda told the delegates.
"We will go back into the bush to wage another war if Tsvangirai wins the
forthcoming presidential run-off election".
"As war veterans we sacrificed our lives to liberate this country and
therefore we should be allowed to choose who should rule this country".
All the delegates at the meeting unanimously agreed that they will not allow
Tsvangirai to form the next government even if he wins the polls.
The meeting was organised by the war veterans and the Zimbabwe Federation of
Trade Unions ZFTU, which is led by controversial Harare municipal policeman,
Joseph Chinotimba. Despite his elevated status in the war veteran community,
Chinotimba himself does not have liberation war credentials. For many of the
youthful so-called war veterans in attendance "going to the bush" will be a
first time experience.
The meeting was convened to discuss, among other issues, strategies to
ensure that incumbent President Robert Mugabe wins the forthcoming
The meeting set up a committee which will ensure that business in all major
towns or rural service centres are closed whenever there is a Zanu-PF rally.
War veterans together with the ruling Zanu-PF party militia have unleashed a
reign of terror in rural areas where they have harassed, tortured and even
killed MDC supporters.
To date over 50 opposition MDC supporters have been killed since the March
29 harmonised elections.
Mugabe faces his stiffest challenge to date when he locks horns with
opposition leader Tsvangirai again in the second presidential election
within three months.
Although Tsvangirai won the March 29 presidential election poll he did not
win the 50 percent required to form the next government.
June 10, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - A group comprising of Military Intelligence, Support Unit and CID
Officers raided the offices of Zimbabwe Human Rights Advocacy in Harare on
When they departed from the premises in central Harare they led away 10
member of staff. Among them were veteran journalist Pius Wakatama and
Prosper Munatsi, general secretary of the Student Christian Movement of
Zimbabwe. Also arrested were four women, one of them carrying a six-month
Marlon Zakeyo, a Zimbabwean lawyer working at the newly established Zimbabwe
Human Rights Advocacy office in Geneva, said that he had received a text
message around 3.00 pm from staff members in Harare who witnessed the
"The lawyer attending to this case, Jeremiah Bhamu of Muchadehama, Makoni
and Partners was himself followed by unmarked vehicles on his way back to
his office," Zakeyo said. "For almost two hours Bhamu, Alec Muchadehama and
two other lawyers were trapped by four unmarked vehicles and blocked from
exiting and leaving for home.
"Our office with the help of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the
Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists then mobilised support that
eventually secured the safe release of the lawyers. They are now in hiding."
In August 2006 the police arrested Wakatama, Bishop Levee Kadenge, Reverend
Ancelimo Magaya, and Reverend Brian Mungwindi, four leaders of the Christian
Alliance, after a meeting of the Christian Alliance leadership. The group
was released without charge after questioning about the activities of their
organization and alleged plans to form a political party.
A hard-hitting political commentator, Wakatama was a regular columnist on
The Daily News before its ban by government in 2003 and has written for
other publications since then.
As of Monday night Wakatama and the rest were still detained in the Law and
Order Section of Harare Central Police Station.
June 10, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - A leading constitutional lawyer and pro-democracy activist has said
President Robert Mugabe is likely to retain power after the forthcoming
presidential election because of violence and a defective electoral system.
National Constitution Assembly (NCA) chairman Dr Lovemore Madhuku said
Mugabe was overturning his March 29 defeat through a mix of vicious
post-election violence and a flawed electoral system.
The NCA is an umbrella group of non-governmental organisations, opposition
political parties, including the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
churches and student organisations, which is campaigning for a new
Madhuku said the MDC should not expect civil society to join in mass
protests in solidarity with them in the event of electoral fraud.
The highly controversial political analyst said the MDC was partly to blame
for the current dilemma because they had abandoned the basic principles of
democracy. He said the labour-backed party had forsaken constitutionalism by
agreeing to write the country's Constitution with Zanu-PF in inter-party
talks held under the facilitation of President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa,
without consultation with the people.
Madhuku, who is also a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said the
ideal situation prior to the March 29 elections would have been to call an
all stakeholders drafting committee.
Such a committee would comprise ruling party, opposition members as well
civic groups to consider all the constitutional drafts available, the Mbeki
and Chidyausiku drafts and then take them to the public for discussion for
at least six months.
After that, said Madhuku, the draft that emerged from the process would then
be taken to an all stakeholders' constitutional conference that should
comprise at least 600 or more people. Madhuku said only then could there be
a new people-driven constitution that could be used to lay the basis for the
country's democratic elections.
"President Mugabe will remain President after June 27," Madhuku said. "The
election is going to be stolen. Zanu-PF is going to rig. The ZEC (Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission) is not an independent entity. Right now this violence
has displaced many people.
"Thousands will not vote because they are terrified. After the March 29
defeat, Zanu-PF has regrouped and re-strategised and they know what is at
Madhuku said Zanu-PF had targeted six provinces where it must win at all
costs, and these were the areas that had witnessed the worst violence.
Citing the failed mission by Mbeki in which Mugabe rejected opposition calls
for a new Constitution before the polls, Madhuku said chances that the MDC
candidate could win under a flawed dispensation and after Zanu-PF had been
given time to regroup and re-strategise were slim. He said Mugabe's defeat
had seriously shocked Zanu-PF, which went into the first election
ill-prepared and complacent.
He said the MDC appeared to harbour a desire to assume power under the
potentially repressive legal status quo.
He suggested that the MDC should have insisted on a transitional authority
that would have overseen the constitutional writing process and
international supervision of the poll by the United Nations.
Madhuku said there would have been no need to address the issue of draconian
laws such as POSA and AIPPA if all efforts were invested in the creation of
a new, democratic constitution.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said it was incorrect to suggest that the MDC
was not concerned about the issue.
"Our position is that constitutional reform will be a top priority as soon
as we assume power," Chamisa said.
The MDC has insisted in talks with Zanu-PF that it needs a transitional
constitution before the polls, and also insisted that certain laws it
perceived as giving undue advantage to the ruling party be amended in order
to even out the playing field.
Zanu-PF has rejected this outright and only made token amendments to
security and media laws.
Tsvangirai is on record as saying the MDC wanted the Lancaster House
Some Zimbabweans have expressed unease at the prospect of a new government
taking over power under the current constitution, which they regard as
But analysts have warned that, assuming the MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai
assumes power, the prospect that he would retain such laws as POSA to
curtail the activities of a highly militant opposition in Zanu-PF was high.
Madhuku said given a remote chance that Tsvangirai won, he would in the
early days of his incumbency obviously be seized with considerations of
self-preservation and therefore maintain the current security laws.
Fearing destabilisation by security elements of the ousted Rhodesian Front
regime, Mugabe retained the Ian Smith-era state of emergency, 10 years into
the country's independence.
Madhuku has often been criticised for seeking to undermine the MDC in
pursuance of presidential ambitions of his own.
June 10, 2008
By Munyaradzi Mutizwa
JOHANNESBURG - International humanitarian organisation, Save the Children,
on Monday said thousands of children will be forced to drop out of school
following government's suspension of distribution of relief food supplies by
donors in Zimbabwe.
Save the Children Chief Executive Officer Jasmine Whitbread said Zimbabwe
was facing a major humanitarian crisis and the suspension of aid would have
atrocious consequences for the country's poorest and most vulnerable
Millions of people in Zimbabwe currently rely on the assistance of aid
organisations for their survival.
"Without this lifeline, levels of malnutrition and disease will increase,
and children could die as a result. More children will also be forced to
drop out of school. We must be allowed to get back to deliver aid as soon as
possible." Whitbread said
"We estimate that in the areas in which we are working, many families' food
supplies will start to run out next month. To help protect thousands of
Zimbabwe's poorest children from rising rates of malnutrition, the next
delivery of food aid, such as maize, grain and cooking oil, should take
place in August. However because of the political impasse, the necessary
preparation for this delivery has not been made."
Aid agencies have been unable to gather essential information about the
numbers and location of people requiring food aid for this coming year. This
means thousands of families, who will need food aid to survive until the
next March harvest, could be excluded. If they do not receive food aid, some
of Zimbabwe's poorest children could starve.
"Due to restrictions over the last two months, Save the Children alone has
been unable to support 16 000 families in planting winter vegetables over
the last two months - vegetables that are essential for food and income.
Last year four million people in Zimbabwe were in need of food aid to
survive, but because the recent harvest was so poor, this year the number is
likely to be much higher. Some children we are working with are already
surviving on one small meal a day."
According to Save the Children the aid suspension will also have
catastrophic implications for the health of Zimbabwe's poorer communities.
With agencies like Save the Children unable to deliver health care, clean
water and basic sanitation supplies, such as soap, children are at increased
risk of dying from diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea and cholera.
Whitbread said,"Zimbabwe already has the lowest life expectancy in the
world, with women only living on average to the age of 34 and one in ten
children dying before their fifth birthday. This suspension means that HIV
sufferers, both adults and children, will not receive anti-retroviral
treatment. Save the Children has had to stop distributing kits to children
caring for relatives with AIDS, which help prevents them from contracting
the disease themselves."
Tens of thousands of children in Zimbabwe have been forced to drop out of
school, because they have no clothes, uniforms or school books, or are
trying to find work to get food and money for their families. In addition,
many children are now being separated from their families as they flee
violence in rural areas, making them vulnerable to abuse.
Save the Children has been working in Zimbabwe for nearly 25 years. Its
programme includes providing food aid, livelihood assistance and supporting
children in schools.
10 June 2008
PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki has been more voluble on Zimbabwe of late, releasing a
statement last week to deny getting a letter from the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) demanding that he step down as mediator.
The Presidency also let it be known that Mbeki intervened to secure the
release of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai - among several opposition leaders
detained on trumped-up charges.
This newfound willingness to communicate with the South African people on
the Zimbabwe issue is certainly welcome, but it would be naive to assume it
means a decisive change to the government's approach. Mbeki has a
notoriously thick skin, but increasingly strident criticism of his role as
mediator in the Zimbabwe conflict has finally started to sting.
So we are getting an audible defence of quiet diplomacy, but still no
unequivocal statements condemning the Zimbabwean regime's suppression of the
opposition during the buildup to the presidential runoff election.
There has been no expression of concern that the political climate in
Zimbabwe has been deteriorating by the day since the ruling Zanu (PF) lost
control of parliament for the first time and President Robert Mugabe was
rejected by the majority of voters.
Nor, despite the xenophobic attacks on foreign migrants in SA, has the
government acknowledged publicly that Zimbabweans continue to be driven from
their homes and across the border into SA in large numbers as a result of
the collapse of the economy and Mugabe's determination to cling to power at
Inflation there has reached such a ridiculous level that economic activity
has been reduced to barter. Large parts of Zimbabwe have been taken over by
militias controlled by Zanu (PF), and MDC activists in these areas have come
under sustained attack that several have not survived.
The most recent reports from the few independent agency workers and
journalists still in Zimbabwe indicate that, since Mugabe stopped foreign
aid organisations from supplying food to destitute families, state control
of food supplies has been used as a means of preventing opposition
supporters from voting in the runoff election.
Those who want to eat must give up their identity documents, and without
these papers they cannot vote on June 27.
Such tactics have been used by Mugabe to steal elections before, but never
as blatantly or on so large a scale. MDC leaders have always been harassed
by police but now prominent individuals are being abducted and killed. Even
foreign diplomats are unable to move around the country without being
harried and intimidated by Mugabe's thugs.
As stated in the most recent Human Rights Watch report on Zimbabwe, a free
and fair presidential runoff election is not possible in such conditions. If
Mbeki and other African leaders had the Zimbabwean people's interests at
heart they would acknowledge this now and make it clear a Mugabe victory won't
The African Union has taken a strong line against governments on the
continent being overthrown by means of coup d'état, and rightly so. All the
more reason why African leaders should send Mugabe a clear message that his
violent attempt to seize power from the legitimately elected MDC will not be
Mail and Guardian
10 June 2008 06:00
On hearing that Kenneth Kaunda had lost to Frederick Chiluba in
Zambia's 1991 presidential election, Zaire's strongman, Mobutu Sese Seko, is
reported to have remarked: "Lose an election? How? . That's stupid!"
But Kaunda demonstrated that it is possible for the founding
father of a nation to concede defeat in an electoral process, even after 27
years in office. Today he remains an elder statesman in Africa. By contrast,
Mobutu had to flee the country he abused for almost four decades.
Is it too late for Robert Mugabe to follow Kaunda's example?
This is the main question if the proposed run-off in Zimbabwe does not help
effect a peaceful transition .
Writing on the ANC's website, Cabinet minister Pallo Jordan
laments the problem of transition in Zimbabwe, calling on Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party to "surrender power" to Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). "The questions we should be asking are: What has
gone so radically wrong that the movement and the leaders who brought
democracy to Zimbabwe today appear to be its ferocious violators? What has
gone so wrong that they appear to be most fearful of it?"
The answers are to be found largely in the failure of bourgeois
democracy to take hold in post-independence Africa. The reasons for this
failure are, in the main, twofold.
First, the absence of a national bourgeoisie that would act as a
socio-economic and political anchor, and around which the complex
institutional framework (Parliament, the judiciary, the media, and so on)
that defines democratic discourse can develop an existence autonomous of the
ruling party or the leader in power. Without such institutions, democracy is
reduced to the right to participate in elections every few years.
Second, the absence of the anchor class also means that state
actors are totally dependent on the state for their very livelihood and for
the primitive accumulation associated with patronage. Few of these could
survive after Mugabe. It is more (class) self-interest than commitment to an
ideology (now vacuous anyway) that drives the party zealots.
It is understandable that Zanu-PF is shaken by its defeat at the
polls. No political party in post-independence Africa has survived the loss
of state power. This shock, and fear of the future, explains the current
wave of violence across the country since the election. Many of us have seen
evidence of all this -- relatives or friends killed; others with frightening
The calculation by the ruling cabal in Zanu-PF is that such
violence would punish those who had voted against their party and warn the
rest of the rural population against voting for the opposition, come the
run-off. It would appear that a decision was made, in the days following the
election, to deploy a military-style operation across parts of the country,
in a manner designed to re-enact that of the war of liberation, including
the deployment of some former commanders of the 1970s. It is not far-fetched
to call this a civil war in the making.
This is a terrible indictment of our nation. Zimbabwe must
exorcise the legacy of violence that has long underpinned the quest for
power and its retention. This has to start now, in the identification of
those directing this kind of violence, and in the establishment of national
institutions that will make it unnecessary for anyone to believe that
violence can be a viable tool.
Surely, it is an ambitious venture, by any stretch of the
imagination, to expect that the population, the majority of whom (55% at
least, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's own figures)
declared their opposition to Mugabe on March 29, to suddenly be swayed to
vote for him on June 27. More than 50% of the rural population voted against
Mugabe. Assuming the urban voter turnout alone increases from 35% in March
to 60% in June, Tsvangirai will romp to victory.
But that is not the point. Even with a comfortable win
Tsvangirai and the MDC might find themselves saddled with the same problem:
a delay in the announcement of the result, possibly a rigged election in
which Mugabe claims victory or, more likely, Mugabe's refusal to concede
defeat. The violent and indefinite stand-off that faces us now will persist.
It would be naive to expect the kind of transition usual in a
bourgeois democracy. If it is true that the MDC has been cheated for the
fourth time in as many elections since 2000, the opposition should realise
that ending Mugabe's 28-year rule might need more than just electoral
There is a way forward, provided Tsvangirai can take the
initiative leading to a negotiated settlement of the current crisis. He will
find many who could assist in that journey, in Zimbabwe itself, in the
sub-region, in Africa as a whole, and in the international community. This
is being discussed within and between various regional and global
organisations now seized with the Zimbabwe crisis. The hope is that the
proposed round-table conference can be held soon, involving all the
political parties, and that a solution can be achieved.
Dr Ibbo Mandaza is executive director of SAPES Trust
INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION
the global voice of the legal profession
[For Immediate Release: Monday, 09 June 2008]
The International Bar Association’s
Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), is alarmed by the mounting number of murders
and escalating levels of violence preceding
The heightened threat of
assassination of prominent human rights lawyers in
Justice Richard Goldstone, Co-Chair
of the IBAHRI and former Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa,
says, ‘Especially having regard to the need
for a free and fair run-off election, it is quite unacceptable that human rights
As a member state of the United
Further: Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.
It is a matter of record that, in recent weeks, four of Mr Makoni’s clients have been brutally murdered without anyone being held accountable.
Emilio Cárdenas, Co-Chair of the
IBAHRI says, ‘The first obligation of a
government is to provide security for its people. Clearly this is not the case
For further information please contact:
International Bar Association
Direct Line: +44 (0)20 7691 6837
Main Office: +44 (0)20 7691 6868
Fax:+44 (0)20 7691 6544
About the International Bar Association
the global voice of the legal profession
The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. The IBA influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world. It has a membership of over 30,000 individual lawyers and more than 195 bar associations and law societies spanning all continents.
The IBA’s main
administrative office is in
Grouped into two divisions – the Legal Practice Division and the Public and Professional Interest Division – the IBA covers all practice areas and professional interests, providing members with access to leading experts and up-to-date information. Through the various committees of the divisions, the IBA enables an interchange of information and views as to laws, practices and professional responsibilities relating to the practice of law around the globe. Additionally, the IBA’s high-quality publications and world-class conferences provide unrivalled professional development and network-building opportunities for international legal practitioners and professional associates.
The IBA’s Bar Issues Commission provides an invaluable forum for the IBA’s member bar associations and law societies to discuss all matters relating to law at an international level.
The IBA’s Human Rights Institute promotes, protects and enforces human rights under a just Rule of Law, and works to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
In partnership with the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, the IBA created the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, which promotes human rights and the Rule of Law and operates in the following Southern African countries: Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.;
The International Legal Assistance
Consortium, based in
International Bar Association
Tel: +44 (0)20 7691 6868
Fax: +44 (0)20 7691 6544
Business Day (Johannesburg)
10 June 2008
Posted to the web 10 June 2008
ZIMBABWE's ruling Zanu (PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) are engaged in 11th-hour talks - mediated by President Thabo
Mbeki - to salvage a solution to the political stalemate, which may include
cancelling a proposed presidential run-off election due later this month.
Sources said Mbeki was continuing to play a central role in trying to
reconcile the sides despite MDC criticism of the way he has handled the
Negotiators from both parties have told Business Day they fear the planned
June 27 run-off may prove too "dicey" for them.
One option being discussed is a "Kenya-style" government of national unity,
with President Robert Mugabe remaining head of state and opposition MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai becoming prime minister.
Mugabe fears if he loses, even after using the military and violence, he
would then be at the mercy of Tsvangirai and his group. Mugabe and his
military advisers in the Joint Operations Command, which brings together the
army, police and intelligence chiefs fear being prosecuted, and want to put
up a fight before the runoff.
But, they are also aware that if they lose they would be in serious trouble
over human rights abuses and other excesses.
For his part, Tsvangirai fears that he could lose the election, despite
already having "one foot in". He did not win a sufficient majority in the
March 29 presidential elections and also fears that this might be his last
chance to become president.
Continued repression by the Mugabe government, escalating violence, as well
as bureaucratic and administrative methods being used to block his election
bid are frustrating Tsvangirai. It is understood he is amenable to talks and
wants to meet Mugabe to discuss this.
While he initially wanted a winner-takes-all approach, Tsvangirai's tone has
changed and he is becoming increasingly conciliatory, indicating a new
desire for a negotiated settlement rather than the run-off.
Sources say representatives of the two parties met in Pretoria on May 30 and
31 and will do so again this week.
Zanu (PF) was represented by Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche at the
talks chaired by Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi, while
Tsvangirai's MDC faction sent Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma. The MDC faction
led by Arthur Mutambara was represented by Welshman Ncube and Priscillah
Sources said Mufamadi, assisted by director-general in the Presidency Rev
Frank Chikane and Mbeki's legal adviser Mojanku Gumbi, met the three parties
separately to discuss the run-off and political violence.
Addressing his party MPs on the day Zanu (PF) and MDC representatives were
in talks, Tsvangirai said: "Instead of focusing on what divides us, we must
now try to heal our nation. This means that we can even talk about restoring
"In the spirit of moving the country forward, let us seek out those peaceful
members of Zanu (PF) whose eyes are open to the disastrous state of our
nation. Let us listen to their views. Let us invite them where we have
policy agreements," the MDC leader said.
Mugabe's election agent Emmerson Mnangagwa recently said that working
together with the MDC was "unavoidable". This is partly because Zanu (PF)
has lost control of parliament and also because Mugabe is open to the idea
of aborting the run-off and taking part in talks as long as he is not left
out of any new arrangement.
Tsvangirai said he is not opposed to a government of national unity as long
as Mugabe is not involved. This presents a challenge for Mbeki and anyone
else trying to broker a deal. Sources said that Tsvangirai had also
instructed his negotiating team not to start dialogue unless Mbeki could
first guarantee his impartiality and promise to convince Mugabe to have
face-to-face talks with him (Tsvangirai) - a demand which has compounded the
already complex negotiations.
Mnangagwa has said that there are plans to create the position of prime
minister, which is said to be earmarked for Tsvangirai if a negotiated
settlement is found. It is similar to the Kenyan model brokered by former
United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan earlier this year after a
June 10, 2008
By Business Correspondent
HARARE - With revelations that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is sitting on
more than $900 quadrillion in its vaults and in the banks the hike in daily
withdrawal limits from $5 billion to $10 billion last week came as no
While this increase by the central bank is consistent with Zimbabwe's
galloping inflation, keeping the benchmark interest rates unchanged is an
entirely different matter.
The secured and unsecured accommodation rates, which were last reviewed in
April, remain fixed at 5 000 percent and 4 000 percent, respectively.
However, the limit adjustment represents a hawkish statement about the
direction of interest rates over the near term.
With even higher inflation rate expected, the monetary authorities would
have to adjust the interest rates upwards as soon as possible to restore
positive real interest rates.
In an interview on the sidelines of a Zimbabwe Chiefs Council meeting in
Bulawayo on Friday, Reserve bank governor Gideon Gono said the central bank
was satisfied with the amount of money in circulation. He urged banks to
"play their own part in ensuring that depositors get their money timely.
"If there is any bank that is facing cash shortages, then that is primarily
because of its inefficiency. As the central bank, we have enough money.
Although I cannot give an exact figure, we have more than $900 quadrillion
in our vaults," he said.
Gono said it was up to the banks to collect their allocation from the
central bank in good time.
"Those banks which are having problems with money must approach us to get
Each time Gono has announced an adjustment in daily withdrawal limits, some
banks have failed to cope with demand resulting in large queues as clients
make larger withdrawals.
Rising oil prices, soaring global food prices and persistent foreign
currency shortages continue to pose challenges to the central bank's
objective of maintaining tight monetary controls in the financial markets.
But this places the RBZ in a dilemma. Raising interest rates will make
borrowing expensive particularly for the government which faces a higher
budget deficit. Keeping them constant, on the other hand, will reduce yield
rates on money and bond market investments, which are already
On the issue of non-publication of inflation figures that has seen a number
of companies releasing historical cost results, Gono said it was not the
prerogative of the central bank to release inflation figures.
The Central Statistical Office last released inflation figures for February.
Gono said the release of inflation figures was "a child" of the Ministry of
"Yes it is a problem for those companies that want to calculate their
financial results but the issue of inflation figures falls directly under
the Ministry of Finance," he said.
Due to the lack of inflation data, most companies have failed to calculate
their financial results.
Monday 9th June, 2008
Zimbabwe's opposition is in fear of a new crackdown prior to the
presidential run-off election later this month.
Zimbabwe authorities have been saying they will be tough on perpetrators of
political violence up to and during the election.
Zimbabwe police have said they will deny bail to anyone suspected of
committing or inciting unrest.
The opposition MDC Party says it has fears the new directive will only apply
to the MDC as it is highly unlikely anyone form Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF will
be locked up.
A leading human rights group has warned mounting violence had extinguished
chances of a free and fair ballot and the new measure could target key MDC
members and activists to keep them behind bars during the election campaign.
While President Robert Mugabe blames the opposition for an increase in
political violence, the UN's chief representative in Zimbabwe has said the
president's supporters are to blame for the bulk of it.
Mail and Guardian
Charles Rukuni | Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
10 June 2008 06:00
For more than a decade Grace Mugabe has taken a back seat,
seemingly content with just being Zimbabwe's first lady -- though she has
become famous for her shopping sprees. Trips to Paris and London have
stopped since the European Union imposed a travel ban on her husband and his
top lieutenants, but the Far East has proved an alternative destination.
Perhaps Grace Mugabe's willingness to stay out of politics was
an acknowledgement that she was a but a pale shadow of Mugabe's first wife,
Sally, who died in 1992, four years before Grace moved into State House.
Sally Mugabe was a vibrant speaker and politician who led the Zanu-PF
women's league and was in the party's politburo.
Breaking her usual silence on political matters last week, Grace
made headlines when she told ZanuPF supporters in Shamva, Mashonaland
Central, that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai would never set foot in
Speaking in Shona, her mother tongue, Grace told the audience:
"Tsvangirai will never set foot in State House. Dad [Mugabe] will only step
down to give way to someone from ZanuPF who knows how to preserve our
Grace Mugabe's remarks have sparked debate about how her husband
would handle a loss in the upcoming run-off election. Comments such as these
have increased fears that he will not step down even if he loses the
"That was a foolish remark," commented John Makumbe, a political
science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. "But she was only spilling
the beans. She was betraying the internal politics within ZanuPF that Mugabe
will not leave office even if he loses to Tsvangirai."
Makumbe, a strong critic of Robert Mugabe, said Grace's remarks
nullified the whole purpose of having an election.
"She should steer clear of politics for her own sake," he said,
"because she is not the president and she is not a party to the elections."
A veteran journalist who preferred to remain anonymous did not
agree that Grace was misbehaving. "It was only a natural reaction," the
journalist said. "She had to stand by her man because this was not just a
national crisis but a family crisis as well. Even I would be extremely angry
if my wife did not back me up when I was facing a crisis.
"Besides, why are people making a big issue out of her remarks?
It happens everywhere. It is as if everyone else is entitled to an opinion
but not the first lady."
Some have wondered whether Grace is planning to enter politics
or even eyeing the top job: after all, now in her early forties, she has
youth on her side.
So far, no one knows the answer. Previous reports have said that
Grace was responsible for pressing Mugabe to stay in power because she
wanted to enjoy the good life at State House and her international shopping
But last month a South African newspaper said Grace had
unsuccessfully tried to stop her husband from running for a sixth term. The
paper claimed he was pressured to stand by his army generals and party
If these reports are true, they raise the question of what has
made her change her mind. The vigour of the campaign she has been running
for her husband's run-off has led some to say that if she had done the same
in the first round, Robert Mugabe might have won.
Mail and Guardian
10 June 2008 06:00
Her Grace has spoken. Mai Mugabe has declared with all the
authority of a First Lady: "Morgan Tsvangirai will never step into the White
House." She reportedly even put it rather graphically: "Morgan can only
dream and see the White House from the outside, but even if Baba loses,
Morgan will never see the inside."
Vintage Grace. The presumption. The arrogance. Why no biography
has been written about this person is a mystery. We all know she holds huge
power and has a strong hold over the supposed leader of Zimbabwe.
But who the hell is Grace Marufu-Mugabe? G, Gigi, or Gire (we
call her so many names) remains a figure of ridicule among Zimbabweans. She
came into power literally via the office carpet. She was Mugabe's secretary
and one can only imagine what words and actions were communicated between
the geriatric and the young, beautiful and rather vacuous woman.
But there was a catch that needed to be resolved by the two love
birds -- both were married. The dear leader had a dying wife and the
secretary had an airman for a husband. Easy -- send the airman to China for
permanent training. Then G steps into the groove and waits for the
inevitable -- the death of the first Lady. But all is hush-hush. Two kids
later a wedding is arranged, but not before two journalists have been
charged with criminal defamation for having prematurely given us some
details about a civil marriage of the Dear Leader and the Secretary. Their
crime was to put in black and white what we all knew.
Months later G's is a wedding to end all weddings, with every
SADC leader present to wish the young-old couple well. But for the ordinary
Zimbo, we know we are in for it. Marie Antoinette and Imelda Marcos breathe
their spirits into the former secretary. She shops by the truckload --
Gucci, Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, you name it. But because she is actually a
village-girl-made-good, the crudeness doesn't disappear. Looks like you can
loot the coffers of the state as much as you want but you can't buy style.
And of course she is not the most discreet of people -- of her several
lovers one is reportedly six feet under (victim of a suspicious car
accident) and the other is on the run in London.
Not a particularly intelligent person, she has not given us much
in the way of quotable quotes. Once she referred to us as "my people". We
could only shudder at that. Her husband had claimed the country as his
personal property ("Tony Blair keep your England, and I will keep my
Zimbabwe") and now she was even claiming to own us. Visions of slave
plantations. Visions of King Leopold III in the Congo.
Then she raided the funds civil servants had been contributing
towards securing government-built housing. With that loot she constructed
some hideous Neverland dubbed "Gracelands". She never stayed in that
mansion. When asked how she had come about her wealth, she answered quite
sincerely (red flaming lipstick and twisted mouth): "Ndinongosona zvinhu
ndichitengesa [I just do my dressmaking and sell what I make]." My aunt of
70 nearly fell off her chair. Grace can do that to you.
But she can be creative at times. Like when she suggested that
the African First Ladies should network while the big men were doing the big
business. At one meeting she was accompanied by Hajia Mariam Abacha, wife of
that hateful dictator. Mariam was to be caught at the airport in Abuja
fleeing to Saudi Arabia with suitcases filled with millions of US dollars.
Her husband had died suddenly (reportedly in bed with some sex workers), but
not before salting away about $5-million. Does Gigi remember all this and
see the parallels? I doubt it.
But G is also a disappointment in one area Zimbos hold dear. She
is not the most literate of people. She failed her A-level examinations when
she was already in the big white house with the Bwana. In a country where
education is prized, having a semi-literate person at the side of someone
boasting seven academic degrees (on top of the "degrees in violence") was a
But now we are even more worried. Bob's sight is failing. Who is
going to read the Mail & Guardian to him? G would stumble over a sentence
like "Zimbabwe is an unmitigated disaster". Cartoonist Tony Namate has
suggested bigger spectacles, like the Karoo telescope, might work better.
Bob himself, probably at the suggestion of Gire, has demanded of
The Herald editor: "Please increase the size of the font so I can read."
So, you publishers in Cape Town and Johannesburg, pondering what
next bestseller you can bring out after Mark Gevisser's book, you have a tip
here: Gigi: Memoirs of A First Lady.