By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 06/13/2008 22:12:40
ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe said Thursday that he would not let the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) take over power, saying that
would be "tantamount to giving back the country to the former colonial
master and insulting the virtues of the liberation struggle".
Mugabe revealed he had to dissuade war veterans from "going back to war"
after the March 29 general elections in which his Zanu PF party lost its
parliamentary majority. He came second to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in
the presidential race, but Tsvangirai could not be declared the outright
winner because he failed to get a clear majority of at least 50+ percent.
As Mugabe spoke to supporters at Murehwa Business Centre, Tsvangirai, his
chief nemesis for the last eight years, was twice detained by police on the
campaign trail in Kwekwe and Gweru.
The MDC's secretary general Tendai Biti was arrested at the Harare
International Airport and charged with treason as he arrived back from South
Africa. In Chegutu, the MDC said its MP Takalani Matibe, who was visited by
Tsvangirai earlier Thursday, had been arrested, and his house looted and
"destroyed" by alleged Zanu PF supporters.
The MDC says at least 65 of its supporters have been killed as Mugabe goes
for broke ahead of a second round of voting in the presidential elections on
Mugabe, dismissing the MDC as a "British party that was created and funded
by the British", said an MDC victory would put the country on a war
footing - echoing similar sentiments expressed by his deputy, Joseph Msika,
Mugabe said: "Vakomana (war veterans) vakanga vatouya apo takabva kunovhota.
Vakauya kuoffice kwangu vakati zvino tobata pfuti here? Vakati nyika ino
takaitora nepfuti saka zvino tosiya ichienda nepenzura? Kuti munhu anongo
nyora ka 'X' nyika yotoenda here?
"Takataura navo tikati hatisi kuda kudzokera kusango. Asi imi mese muripano,
mungasiye nyika ichidzokera makatarisa shuwa?"
At another stop in Chikomba, Mugabe said he would not surrender power - even
if the MDC won the election. He said an MDC victory would be a trigger for
"Izvozvo hazvimbofa zvakaitika, kuti ivhu redu ratakarwira ritorwe neMDC,
iyo yozopa ivhu redu kuvachena vaimbova vakatidzvinyirira. Mungavhotera kuti
tiende zvakare kuhondo kunorwira nyika yatakasunungura," the 84-year-old
Mugabe, in power since 1980, is accused of using violence to hang onto
Thu 12 Jun 2008, 20:19 GMT
ROME, June 12 (Reuters) - The White House called on Thursday for the U.N.
Security Council to take up immediate consideration of the situation in
Zimbabwe after reports of "state-sponsored violence" and political arrests
"We believe the time has come for the United Nations Security Council to
take up immediately the issue to prevent further deterioration of the
region's humanitarian and security situation," White House spokeswoman Dana
Perino said in a statement issued in Rome where President George W. Bush is
A senior U.N. official is scheduled to visit Zimbabwe next week to discuss
the political situation and the presidential election runoff on June 27
between longtime President Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement for
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The opposition party's secretary general, Tendai Biti, was taken into
custody at the airport after he flew to Zimbabwe from South Africa to help
Tsvangirai's election campaign.
Perino said the United States was "deeply troubled" by the arrest.
"The continued use of state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe and the regime's
actions, including unwarranted arrests of opposition figures," were signs
that international calls to end intimidation tactics had been rejected, she
said. (Writing by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Peter Cooney)
Friday, 13 June 2008
The US ambassador to Zimbabwe has attacked President Robert Mugabe's regime,
saying a lorry carrying American aid destined forchildren was ''hijacked''
by the authorities and the food handed out to pro-government supporters.
The ambassador, James McGee made his remarks after the 20-tonne consignment
of wheat, beans and vegetable oil was impounded and redistributed last week.
"This government will stop at nothing, even starving the most defenceless
people in the country - young children - to realise their political
ambitions," he said.
Mr McGee was posted to Harare a year ago and has been one of the regime's
most vociferous critics. He angered the Mugabe camp last month when he took
Western diplomats on a tour of hospitals where victims of political violence
were being treated. He reportedly paid for some of their treatment.
When Mr Mugabe launched his run-off campaign at the end of May, he
threatened to throw out Mr McGee. "Tall as he is, if he continues doing that
[meddling], I will kick him out of the country," he told a rally.
But the threat has done little to silence Mr McGee. After US and British
diplomats were stopped at a checkpoint at gunpoint last week, he was on CNN
within minutes railing against the intimidation campaign coming "directly
from the top". And after the Zimbabwean government banned field operations
by aid groups last Thursday, he warned of the "massive, massive starvation"
that might ensue if food kept being used as a political weapon.
The lorry was already on its rounds in the east of the country when the ban
was announced, US aid workers said. Mr McGee said that, at one of the
schools on the round, the lorry's driver was approached by police officers
and a mob led by an army colonel. The driver was accused of trying to bribe
people and taken to a police station in Mutare, where he was greeted by a
group chanting slogans for the ruling Zanu-PF party, and led by the
Manicaland governor Tinaye Chigudu.
Mr McGee said: "The governor instructed the war veterans to distribute the
food to Zanu-PF supporters at the rally. Some police officers tried to
intervene to stop the looting. The governor told them, 'Stand down'." Mr
McGee said that he hadlodged a complaint to the Zimbabwean foreign ministry.
12 June 2008
Statement issued by Movement for Democratic Change June 12 2008
Tendai Biti Charged With Treason
The Movement for Democratic Change dismisses as ludicrous the charges of
treason levelled against its Secretary General, Tendai Biti.
Speaking from Harare, MDC Spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, said, "Tendai Biti
is a proud Zimbabwean who has been at the forefront of the struggle for a
more democratic and prosperous country. He has at heart only the best intent
for the country, its sovereignty and its people".
"Indeed, if any person's commitment to Zimbabwe should be questioned, it is
those individuals in Mugabe's regime who have orchestrated the country's
slide into dictatorship, economic ruin and impoverishment," Mr Chamisa
Mr Chamisa also said that, "Tendai is a man of moral courage and vision who
knew what the regime had in store for him and decided to risk his own
freedom to show to the world its illegitimacy and disregard for the rule of
The MDC believes that these charges represent yet another facet in Mugabe's
campaign to subvert the will of the people ahead of the Presidential runoff
through illegal detentions and a massive campaign of state-sponsored
violence against the MDC and its supporters.
Now that the Mugabe regime has declared the charges against Mr Biti, the MDC
demands that his lawyers be allowed access to him and that an independent
judicial process take its course.
Statement issued by the Movement for Democratic Change June 12 2008
28 minutes ago
ROME (AFP) - The White House said Thursday it was "deeply troubled" by
reports that a Zimbabwe opposition figure had been arrested and said the UN
Security Council must act now to end pre-election violence.
"We believe the time has come for the United Nations Security Council to
take up immediately the issue to prevent further deterioration of the
region's humanitarian and security situation," said spokeswoman Dana Perino.
Her comments, in a written statement, came as the Zimbabwean opposition's
number two was arrested upon his return to his troubled homeland and now
faces a possible treason charge.
"The United States is deeply troubled by reports that the Secretary General
of the Movement for Democratic Change Tendai Biti has been arrested upon his
return to Zimbabwe," Perino said in a statement.
The charge against Biti, a key aide to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
centred on claims he plotted to rig his party's victory in the first round
of the poll in March.
Tsvangirai is trying to topple veteran President Robert Mugabe at a second
round election on June 27, after officially falling just short of an overall
majority in the first round of voting on March 29.
"The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), African Union, and the
United Nations have all called for an end to intimidation and violence so as
to allow for a free and fair democratic process," said Perino.
"The continued use of state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe and the regime's
actions, including unwarranted arrests of opposition figures, are clear
signs that the regime has rejected these calls by the region and the
international community, and is in clear violation of SADC's election
principles," she said.
The WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) 14 arrested on May 28th are now entering
their third week in custody. They were arrested while participating in a
demonstration calling on the government of Zimbabwe to stop the orchestrated
violence in the run-up to the presidential run-off election. The activists
are being charged with conducting activities likely to cause public
disorder. Williams is facing the extra charges of causing disaffection among
the police and of distributing false information. The charges are based on
legislation clearly in breach of the Zimbabwean constitution, which
guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. If they are
brought to trial, the constitutionality of these sections of the law will be
On Tuesday 10th June the court granted bail to 12 of the 14 but Jenni
Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu remain remanded in custody until June 20th.
At midnight on Thursday none of those granted bail had been released. WOZA
report ‘numerous bureaucratic hurdles that lawyers never heard of’ causing
WOZA is a scrupulously non-violent group pressing for social justice in
Zimbabwe. They first took to the streets on Valentines Day 2003 giving out
roses and valentines cards and proclaiming ‘The Power of Love Can Conquer
the Love of Power’. In spite of thousands and arrests and hundreds of
beatings they have maintained a relentless programme of street actions in an
effort to hold the country’s leaders accountable.
WOZA statement 8th June:-
‘WOZA believes that in the current conditions no election can fairly reflect
the will of the Zimbabwean people. ZANU PF was the clear loser in the March
29th elections but they continue to hold the people hostage. WOZA calls on
the international community to recognize the need to find ways to stop the
violence, and introduce a healing period under the auspices of an
internationally authorised transitional government. Only then will it be
possible to return to a viable electoral process to determine the genuine
wishes of the Zimbabwean people.
We also call on the international community to lend support to those WOZA
and MOZA members brave enough to stand up publicly in their own terrorized
nation to protest the violent actions of a ZANU PF government which has lost
the mandate to rule.’
By Peta Thorncroft & James Charamba | Correspondents | Wednesday, June
11, 2008 19:17
Zimbabwe, Harare --President Robert Mugabe was accused of bringing
"war" to Harare after his militias attacked the poorest townships of
The new onslaught marked a major escalation of his campaign to
guarantee victory in the presidential election's final round on June 27.
Remote rural areas had borne the brunt of the violence and suffered
most of the 53 murders confirmed so far. Harare, a stronghold for Morgan
Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, had
been relatively quiet.
On Sunday, hundreds of men from the ruling Zanu-PF party raided
Harare's township of Epworth
The bustling suburb is located about twelve kilometers out of the
Harare City Centre. It is a high density suburb populated by mainly poor
residents of Harare.
It is neither serviced with running water nor electricity. The
majority of the people get by as street vendors and cobblers. There are no
street names. That means most of the houses have no addresses. Instead, the
residents come from Domboramwarwi, KwaSolani, KuOverspill, KuStopover. It is
one of the most impoverished townships in Harare
Lidia Mulenga, 26, fled after her house was burned down. "They were
shouting about Zanu-PF and wearing Zanu-PF T-shirts. I think they were youth
militia," she said.
"They used petrol on the house and then set it alight. I ran with the
kids. Other houses were attacked. I don't know how many as I was running
Mrs Mulenga, a single mother whose husband died in 2003, lives in a
derelict part of Epworth, bordering an old farming district that has been
devastated by Mr Mugabe's seizure of white-owned land.
The treeless area, where nothing grows, has been taken over by
Zanu-PF's militias, who claim to be veterans of the war against white rule.
Mrs Mulenga and her children, Kisha, seven, and Tariro, five, are now
sheltering along with hundreds of others in the Harare headquarters of the
MDC. Willias Madzimure, an opposition MP, was trying to help another influx
of displaced people.
"There are so many houses burned or destroyed. They come and loot
first, then they burn or destroy the property they don't want. These people
are very, very poor. The war is now in Harare," he said.
The MDC put the number of murders at 66, with another 200 people
missing and 3,000 seriously injured. A Western diplomat in Harare estimated
that 50,000 had been forced to flee their homes.
As well as targeting Harare, Zanu-PF has tried to break the MDC's
organisation by assassinating key activists. Five have been murdered so far.
Another tactic is to create vast "no-go" areas, where the party exerts
total control and can murder and intimidate at will. This may explain why Mr
Mugabe has stopped foreign aid agencies from operating inside Zimbabwe.
His behaviour has stirred concern among his neighbours. President
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa said the "incidents of violence and reported
disruption of electoral activities" were a "cause for serious concern and
should be addressed with all urgency".
But he studiously refrained from apportioning any blame.--Harare
By Blessing Zulu
12 June 2008
The Southern African Development Community started deploying its main body
of election observers in Zimbabwe on Thursday but the political opposition
complained that the SADC mission has not focused enough on widespread
Zimbabweans are to return to the polls on June 27 for a presidential run-off
election pitting opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai against President
Robert Mugabe. The country has been rocked by violence since the March 29
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change expressed irritation at
statements from the SADC observer mission saying it had not received
information on the political violence which the opposition says has claimed
the lives of 67 of its members.
President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party says three of its members
have died in politically inspired violence, which it has blamed on the
opposition. Most observers say ZANU-PF has organized the violence with
significant help from the military.
MDC officials said they have provided documentation on the violence to the
observers and to SADC Chairman Levy Mwanawasa, who is the president of
Human rights groups and doctors say more than 2,000 people have been
seriously injured in the violence which has mainly targeted rural areas but
has lately increased in urban areas with the abduction and murder of
SADC mission chief Tanki Mothae, director of SADC's secretariat on politics,
defense and security, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that more than 120 observers have been deployed in Zimbabwe so far.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa expressed shock at the statement by SADC that
it had not received information concerning incidents of political violence.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
12 June 2008
Supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition in Bindura, Mashonaland Central province
have suffered heavy property losses as hundreds of ruling party youth
militia have attacked their homes and property, sources in the
violence-stricken area said Thursday.
They said a woman was severely burned after she was pushed into the fire on
which she was preparing her supper at the time of the attack late Wednesday.
A local magistrate was said to have gone into hiding after being threatened
by the ruling party militia for dismissing charges against opposition
Political violence has raged in Zimbabwe's rural provinces since the country
went to the polls on March 29 and handed the opposition a majority in
parliament, sparking a campaign of revenge and intimidation by the ruling
ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, human rights organizations and
other observers say.
In eastern Manicaland province, police set up a roadblock in Nyazura, Makoni
South constituency at which they were said to have arrested 20 opposition
activists by noon Thursday, according to MDC provincial spokesman Pishai
Police in Rusape, Manicaland, continued to hold Buhera West member of
parliament-elect Eric Matinenga after magistrates refused Wednesday to hear
his case, arguing that they could not overrule a superior court decision
instructing police to release him. Matinenga was arrested two weeks ago on
charges of inciting violence, released after that high court decision, and
then quickly re-arrested by the police.
MDC activist Tawanda Magaya of Bindura told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri
that the situation in Bindura was tense as more ZANU-PF militia had entered
By: Oscar Nkala
Published on 13th June 2008
The Zimbabwe government says is considering seizing unexploited mining
claims so that they may be parceled out to locals in line with its
The last police crackdown on mining, which was focused on small-scale gold
mines, took place between November 2006 and February 2007 and forced over 3
000 indigenous operators out of business.
Mines and Mining Development minister Amos Midzi says the government has
realised that many companies are holding on to unexploited claims for
speculative purposes when the country has many potential indigenous
entrepreneurs who can make good use of the claims.
"These people, whether individuals or companies, must develop their claims
or lose them. Many foreign-owned companies are sitting on vast claims which
they are using for speculative purposes. The prices of most base
metals, as well as precisous metals such as gold and platinum, which are
abundant in this country, are going up on the international market and that
creates a rich ground for speculation. Our resources must be put to good
He said any claims seized by government will be given to deserving locals.
However, he also hints that they may be given to foreign investors,
including Russians and Chinese.
"We have been engaging investors from these countries who are keen to invest
in the mining sector. We are still considering their offers and proposals,
but we are really keen to do business with them," Midzi says.
He says the crackdown will come when Parliament, which has officially been
nonexistent since the March 29 elections, reconvenes to debate the draft
Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill.
The Bill, which was presented in Parliament in December 2007, deals with
amendments to the general provisions of the acquisition and maintaining of
exploration and mining titles.
It also provides for the granting of mining leases based on the life-of-mine
principle and provides for different ways of acquiring mining titles for
large and small-scale operations with a special provision for changing
between the two, depending on the size of operations. The Bill also seeks to
retain special mining leases but says special grants will apply only to coal
The second component deals with indigenisation and economic empowerment.
President Robert Mugabe's government wants locals to hold a 51% stake in all
current and future foreign-owned mining companies.
The indigenisation clause has caused concern across the world, with
commentators suggesting that its
implementation may ring the death knell for an industry already facing
severe difficulties as Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis worsens.
By Patience Rusere and Carole Gombakomba
12 June 2008
The government of Zimbabwe stepped up a crackdown on civic groups,
pressuring a number of non-governmental organizations in Harare this week.
Police showed up Wednesday at the Harare offices of the National
Constitutional Assembly and demanded to see the group's registration papers.
They also visited the headquarters of the National Association of
Sources told VOA that the police shut down the offices of Transparency
International, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association or ZimRights, and
Conflict Management Transformation, but these reports could not immediately
In the Mashonaland West province town of Chinhoyi, plainclothes police were
said to be in circulation forcing NGOs there to close their doors..
Police this week closed NGOs in Gweru and Gwanda. NCA offices in Masvingo
and Gwanda were also closed following threats by ruling party youth militia.
National Constitutional Assembly Director Ernest Mudzengi told reporter
Patience Rusere that the NCA will continue its work despite official
Meanwhile, ZANU-PF youth militia and former war veterans in eastern
Manicaland province were reported to have seized 20 metric tonnes of food
intended for students at 26 primary schools. The New York Times quoted U.S.
Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee as describing the incident and commenting
that the government "will stop at nothing, even starving the most
defenseless people in the country".
The Times account said truck was while making the rounds of the schools. It
quoted U.S. officials as saying Manicaland Provincial Governor Tinaye
Chigudu instructed police and war veterans to take charge of the truck,
which was then sent to a police station in a place called Bambazonke, where
its contents were distributed to supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party at a
hastily organized rally.
National Director Rev. Forbes Matonga of Christian Aid, a distributor of
food aid, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that it is inadvisable for agencies distributing food aid to continue field
operations during the campaign for the country's June 27 presidential
run-off election as food politics is in full swing.
SW Radio Africa (London)
12 June 2008
Posted to the web 12 June 2008
A week after ordering non-governmental organizations to cease operations in
the country, state agents have been descending on the offices of many NGOs
to make sure they are complying.
Hearing about this some organisations decided to close early on Thursday.
Eileen Sawyer, director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, said they
had closed the office in Harare early and sent staff home, unsure of the
nature of the operation. Earlier this week police and intelligence agents
raided the Ecumenical Centre which houses many faith based groups. Several
officials were arrested and equipment was confiscated.
Sawyer said the word was put out to ZANU-PF's rural structures to close down
NGOs, and this is being acted on. She says the harassment of civil groups is
having a very negative effect on their employees. "The staff are
apprehensive and productivity is at its lowest. This madness probably won't
end before the elections. Insanity is prevailing at every turn. Humanitarian
groups are the last bastion of democracy in this country. In advance of this
runoff election they are trying to close down democratic space as much as
possible" said Sawyer.
State agents descended on the offices of the umbrella National Association
of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) and their chairperson, Cephas
Zinhumwe, confirmed that his group had suspended field operations until
further notice. He said they were not going to close their offices because
the order was specifically to suspend field operations. He added that he
understood several other organisations had been visited on Thursday.
There are unconfirmed reports that the offices of Bulawayo Agenda, Gweru
Agenda and Nango Midlands were also raided by police on Thursday. We were
unable to reach them for comment.
The Jewish Chronicle
Exclusive by Shelly Paz
An emergency mission to airlift the few remaining Zimbabwean Jews to
Israel has been launched by the Jewish Agency.
Staff have spoken individually to every member of the 350-strong
community and are believed to be making arrangements for their removal at
Details are a closely guarded secret. There is no Israeli embassy in
Harare and there are no direct flights to Tel Aviv, but the countries do
have diplomatic ties.
This weekend a rabbi will fly to Britain from South-Africa to raise
funds to support the operation, the cost of which could run into hundreds of
thousands of dollars.
Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, the spiritual leader of African communities
outside South Africa, said some of the older members of the Zimbabwe
community were reluctant to leave, even though conditions continue to
"It is important to understand that this is the remnant of a once very
strong community that numbered 7,500 people in its prime. Those who chose to
stay feel loyal to their staff who depend on them, afraid of the struggle to
adjust in a new place and really don't want to leave."
Claire Schultz, the director of communications for the American Jewish
Joint Distribution Committee, said the JDC was "watching the situation
closely", adding: "We are providing welfare to the community as needed in
partnership with the African Jewish Congress. The welfare assistance we are
providing is in the form of cash for emergency needs via the African Jewish
Zimbabweans have been facing an ongoing campaign of violence by the
governing party, ZANU-PF, led by President Robert Mugabe, who has been in
power since the country was given independence 28 years ago.
Mr Mugabe is to face a second round of elections on June 27 after he
failed conclusively to win power at the end of March. Reports suggest that
he is running a powerful and violent intimidation campaign against the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change in order to ensure the continued
rule of ZANU-PF.
The country's spiralling economic problems have forced many young Jews
to flee over the past eight years. So far, only six of the older ones have
begun making plans to leave.
Between 1949 and 1950, an estimated 49,000 Yemeni Jews were brought to
Israel in the so-called Operation Magic Carpet. Two later missions in 1984
and 1991, Operations Moses and Solomon, brought thousands of Ethiopian Jews
to Israel in covert military operations.
Ofer Dahan, the Jewish Agency's senior envoy to southern Africa, said
they were scheduled to "leave Zimbabwe soon" but he refused to elaborate.
Arnold Kransdorff, a former Zimbabwean who lives in the UK, visited
the country regularly until his mother died two years ago in Bulawayo.
"My mother, just like the majority of the population there, was afraid
of not being able to adjust somewhere else. She was very patriotic and she
was happy till the end, regardless of the political reality", he said.
"Today, the main problem is that people don't want to leave, but nor
can they stay unless they have relatives outside the country who can support
them, because all their resources are eaten up by inflation."
One prominent member of the community there, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, said that despite the food shortage, people "feel safe".
"People become accustomed to eating very little, so they get used to
hunger. In terms of personal security, they feel protected. So I can
understand why they are not in a rush to leave."
But he noted that the economy "had not been at such a low point
An organised Jewish community began in the then Rhodesia in 1894,
growing to a peak of 7,500 in the 60s.
Jews such as Sir Roy Welensky, Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963, have
played their part. Sir Anthony Gubbay was Chief Justice until he was forced
out of office by Robert Mugabe in 2001.
The country has three synagogues:two in Harare and one in Bulawayo.
Harare also has one remaining Jewish school. Of its 200 pupils, just five
are Jewish - the children of Israeli emissaries working in the country.
June 13, 2008
Jan Raath in Harare
The crackdown on the Opposition in Zimbabwe intensified yesterday with the
arrest of its deputy leader on the charge of treason, as he arrived back in
the country from a week-long trip to South Africa.
Tendai Biti, the secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), was met at Harare airport by five plainclothes officers who
handcuffed him and led him to an unknown police station.
The police said that Mr Biti was to be charged with publishing a "treasonous
document" outlining MDC plans to return all land seized from white farmers
and to dismiss all members of the military and police service if it won the
presidential election at the end of this month. If found guilty, he could be
sentenced to death.
The MDC dismissed the letter as a fake manufactured by the Zimbabwe
intelligence services, recalling the purported letter between the MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and Gordon Brown that the British Embassy denounced as a
"crude hoax" last month.
Mr Biti is also charged with "communicating statements prejudicial to the
State" for announcing Mr Tsvangirai's win in the March 29 election with 50.3
per cent of the vote. The vote, reduced to 48 per cent in the official
results, would have given him an outright victory in the presidential
contest against Robert Mugabe.
Independent election observers said that the final results were not
credible, but African observers signed off on the vote. At the time the
Government said Mr Biti had illegally announced the results.
Mr Biti's arrest came hours before Mr Tsvangirai was detained for a third
time in a week as he attempted to campaign for the presidential election
run-off against Mr Mugabe, due two weeks from today. Police in Kwekwe
stopped Mr Tsvangirai's American-style campaign bus at a roadblock and took
his entourage to a local police station. His team presented the bus,
emblazoned with the slogan "Morgan is the one", only a day earlier as a new
tactic in the fight to remain visible on the campaign trail.
He was released a few hours later without charge, only to be arrested again
by another group of policemen. "Our vehicles were searched. It's just
harassment, but we will be continuing with our campaign tomorrow," George
Sibotshiwe, an MDC spokesman, said after Mr Tsvangirai was released last
night for the second time.
Mr Tsvangirai has been prevented from holding a single rally since returning
to Harare from self-imposed exile nearly three weeks ago, despite a court
order affirming his right to do so. He has drawn ecstatic crowds at
impromptu meetings at village shops, bus stops, wells and roadsides.
His detentions came amid a wave of new arrests and raids and yet another
killing of an opposition supporter, bringing the MDC death toll to 67. "It's
incomprehensible," said a Western diplomat. "They are going all out to
destroy the MDC and anyone else around them so they can't fight the
election. Why do they bother to hold an election at all?"
The MDC said that on Tuesday unknown men shot dead the brother of one of its
councillors in the Musana district, about 60km (35 miles) east of Harare,
apparently confusing him with the councillor. In Karoi, 200km north of
Harare, the home of Blessing Chebundo, the MDC MP and national executive
member, was burnt down on Wednesday morning. "Several of my relatives were
injured," he said. "My eight-year-old son is missing. I reported him to the
police, but I don't expect they will do anything."
In the past few days, police have raided the offices of civil society and
pro-democracy groups, many of which receive funding from the United States
and Britain. One was a voluntary medical organisation cataloguing and
treating the flood of injuries inflicted by ruling party militias since the
March election. It has since been forced to turn victims away.
The US Embassy confirmed yesterday that a convoy carrying American food aid
for school children had been hijacked by state security forces and "war
veterans" and distributed to supporters of the ruling Zanu (PF) Party at an
Paul Engelstad, an embassy spokesman, said that the load of grain, beans and
cooking oil was being carried by a lorry belonging to Catholic Relief
Services when it was stopped in the eastern province of Manicaland by an
army colonel who ordered the driver to take it to a nearby police station.
"The governor instructed the war veterans to distribute the food to Zanu
PF," Mr Engelstad said. "We are very concerned about the lawlessness."
By David Gollust
12 June 2008
The United States Thursday condemned as unconscionable behavior the
hijacking by Zimbabwe security forces last week of a truckload of food aid
intended for hungry school children. U.S. officials say the stolen food was
handed out to political supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
U.S. officials are furious about the food hijacking and Zimbabwe's broader
curbs on international aid, and say the actions make the Mugabe government
complicit in the suffering and deaths of its own citizens.
The hijack incident occurred last week, but details of the episode became
clear to U.S. officials only in the past few days.
According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a truck
carrying 20 metric tons of U.S.-provided food was about to be unloaded at a
school in Zimbabwe's eastern Mutare district when a group of police,
military officers and war veterans threatened the driver, and forced him to
take the vehicle to a local police station.
There, according to the USAID account, the local governor had the war
veterans distribute the food, including sacks of grain, beans, and cooking
oil, to participants in a rally of supporters of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
Veterans of Zimbabwe's 1980's independence struggle, Mugabe loyalists, have
frequently been involved in violent acts against the political opposition.
In a written statement, USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore called for an end
to what she termed unconscionable behavior by the Mugabe supporters, who she
said engaged in an orchestrated theft of U.S. government property and should
be brought to justice.
State Department Acting Spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos told reporters the
incident is another example of the Harare government's use of food aid as a
political weapon, in advance of the June 27 run-off election pitting Mr.
Mugabe against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai:
"We believe that this must end," he said. "We call on the government, the
Zimbabwean authorities, to immediately reinstate permission for all aid
agencies to resume their life-saving assistance. Failure to do so
constitutes government of Zimbabwe complicity in the assault, suffering and
deaths of innocent citizens."
U.S. food aid to Zimbabwe, amounting to more than $170 million last year,
has been distributed by three non-governmental charitable groups.
The State Department said last week's government order barring international
aid groups from doing field operations was aimed at making the government
the sole distributor of food aid in the election run-up.
U.S. diplomats have accused the government of confiscating national identity
cards from opposition supporters seeking food aid, making it impossible for
them to cast votes in the election.
In another development, the State Department condemned the arrest and
pending treason charge against the second-ranking official of Zimbabwe's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Spokesman Gallegos said the action against MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti
was a provocation and another example of a concerted effort by the Mugabe
government to ensure that the opposition cannot campaign effectively.
Following the lead of the MDC, the United States has not called for the
run-off to be scrapped. But Gallegos said the world is taking note and if
the Mugabe government does not allow a free and fair election it will be
13 June 2008
It is quite interesting that the only people who are adding their voice to
the clamour for a cancellation of the June 27 presidential poll are people
with a lot to lose if Mugabe is defeated.
If Zanu PF and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission gloated that there was no
real winner in the first round of March 29 then why is it, that same state
machinery is trying to engineer a backdoor cancellation.
Morgan Tsvangirai should be warned against betraying the people's wishes by
agreeing to any deals with the regime he defeated thoroughly on March 29.
Over 66 of our gallant activists can not die for nothing only to have Mugabe
as President of a unity government.
To websites like New Zimbabwe.com campaigning shamelessly for a cancellation
of the poll and the backdoor revival of your defeated MAK well the people
say NO, Go to HELL.
Samson Waramba, Harare.
by Ed Beavan
THE Bishop of Massachusetts, in the United States, the Rt Revd Thomas
Shaw SSJE, has seen at first hand the increasingly desperate situation in
Zimbabwe during a week-long visit to the African country.
Bishop Shaw was asked by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
in the United States, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, to go to Zimbabwe as an
act showing solidarity with the people there.
He met the Bishop of Harare, Dr Sebastian Bakare, interviewed 49 of
the clergy, and met about 50 lay people, including lawyers defending
Zimbabweans detained by President Robert Mugabe's regime.
The trip culminated in Bishop Shaw's preaching and concelebrating at a
eucharist in the garden of a private house, attended by about 400 Anglicans
who have been ousted from their church buildings. He said that the people's
resilience in the face of such opposition reminded him of the Christians in
the Acts of the Apostles.
"To see these Christian men and women in the face of such persecution
was a very powerful experience," Bishop Shaw said. "These people have gone
through real persecution, but the spirit of the people is amazing. One of
the priests said to me: 'You can take away our jobs; you can physically
threaten us; but you can't take away our faith.'
"Inflation is now at one million per cent. I went into as many shops
as I could, and there's nothing on the shelves. Unemployment is huge, and
there is no electricity for up to 17 or 18 hours a day. There's a lot of
tension and deprivation. I spoke to some priests who had been jailed
overnight and had their vehicles confiscated, and had witnessed the
brutality of the riot police."
Bishop Shaw said that there was still uncertainty over the future, as
the run-off on 27 June for the presidential elections approached. "Some
people felt that change was definitely in the offing. Others felt the
repression would continue; while others thought a government of national
unity could come about. Others felt nothing would change, as the government
has too much invested in the status quo, while some cling to the hope Morgan
Tsvangirai will win power.
"Some people I spoke to in the US Embassy felt violence would lessen
in the run-up to the election, but in fact it has increased."
Bishop Shaw said that Zimbabweans were deeply touched by the prayer
and solidarity across the Anglican Communion, and called for the
international media to keep the country in the spotlight.
Evidence of the increasing brutality in the country came to light this
week in reports of a crackdown on Christian groups in Harare.
On Monday, riot police raided the Ecumenical Centre in Harare which
houses the Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ) and the Zimbabwe
Christian Alliance (ZCA). Both have been vocal campaigners for democracy.
The general secretary of the SCMZ, Prosper Munatsi, was arrested, with
four other staff members. Five members of the ZCA, a partner of Tearfund,
were also detained.
Those arrested were taken to Harare Central Police Station for
questioning. It is reported that one staff member was assaulted during the
raid. It is understood that riot police seized copies of the ZCA's March
Useni Sibanda, national co-ordinator for the ZCA, said that the raid
and detention of staff was an example of the harassment that church
organisations now routinely faced in Zimbabwe. "We are just doing our usual
work, and we don't understand why we should be attacked by riot police like
Karyn Beattie, Tearfund's Zimbabwe Disaster Management Adviser, said
that church leaders in Zimbabwe would continue to try to help the poorest in
society. "We have been seeing more and more intimidation, much of it
aggressive, against our church partner organisations."
By Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan
Posted 26 minutes ago
The campaign for the presidential run-off in Zimbabwe has reached farcical
proportions, with Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai again detained
repeatedly by police and one of his party bosses charged with treason and
facing the death penalty.
Any possibility that the election will be free and fair seems to have gone
out the window, although President Robert Mugabe maintains that it is the
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party that is responsible
for violence and plots against the ruling powers.
The presidential vote is supposed to be held in two weeks, but is looking
like a foregone conclusion, with the army stepping in behind the incumbent
Amid the escalating violence and chaos, one MDC candidate has called on his
party to review whether it remains viable to participate in the poll.
Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan has returned to Johannesburg after
visiting Zimbabwe last week.
He says Opposition candidates and supporters are being driven out of their
constituencies to prevent their participation in the looming poll.
"Its very tense and I'm not exaggerating when I say that Opposition figures
that I met feared for their lives," he told ABC radio's AM program.
"They say they are being targeted by Mugabe's regime, the henchmen that he
has out and about.
"They believe that at least 60 of their supporters have been murdered and
many many more tortured."
He says MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti remains under arrest, facing
treason charges which could attract a death sentence or life in prison.
Speaking to ABC NewsRadio, Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Information Bright
Matonga outlined the regime's case against Mr Biti.
"He was the author of a document that really was talking about violence, how
they were going to recruit youth to overthrow the Government to cause
violence if the MDC was not elected to power," he said.
"What we have been seeing, this spate of violence that has been seen in
Zimbabwe, was as a result of that document.
"The Government, we do not condone any form of violence. We are fighting
those that support the violence."
Mr Matonga accused Britain and the United States of conspiring against Mr
Mugabe and he dismissed questions about Zimbabwe's astronomical inflation
rate as unfair when the country was under economic sanctions.
As the latest political ructions became public, more details also emerged
about the power structure running Zimbabwe.
"Certainly Robert Mugabe is still the figurehead," correspondent Andrew
"But there's more evidence emerging that a joint operational command has
been set up now, that's made up of top military and security staff who've
essentially assumed control of running the country.
"They're also running the election campaign for Mugabe's ruling ZPF Party
[ZANU-PF]. So there's a fear that with these military personnel in charge
that come the election it could turn nasty and it could mean blood will be
Speaking to NewsRadio from Harare, MDC candidate Eliphas Mukonoweshuro
"For a long time, we ceased to have a civilian government in this country,"
"What we have is this civil military junta, a combination of a few
politicians and the army. We do not believe that Mugabe himself has lost
"He has not lost control, but he has ignored all civilian trappings of
government and is ruling with the army."
He also said he was not surprised at the latest arrests of MDC leaders.
"The strategy of Mr Mugabe and his Zanu-PF Party is to ensure there is no
re-run. At the present moment it is very very difficult to campaign," Mr
"I am coming out of my own constituency where I have been chased by a car of
hit men. It is a combination of Zanu-PF hoodlums and army officers who are
campaigning for Zanu-PF.
"They call that campaigning but they use guns, machetes and spears to ensure
that they brutalise everybody into submission.
"Either you vote for Zanu-PF or you don't vote at all. I've got information
that I must not go back into the constituency until after the 27th of June
because I'll be killed."
But Mr Mukonoweshuro says he will go back despite the threat.
"My supporters are in there, members of the MDC are in there and I cannot
leave them in the lurch," he said.
"I will put everything else into the hands of the Almighty," he said.
He also said the party would have to review whether its worth taking part in
a poll for which there is effectively, he says, no opposition allowed.
- Adapted from a story first aired on ABC's AM program, June 13.
UNITED NATIONS, June 12 (AFP)
The situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating, UN humanitarian chief John
Holmes said Thursday, warning that the upcoming harvest would likely feed
only a quarter of the country's people.
"I was briefing the council on what is a very worrying, very serious and
deteriorating humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe," Holmes told reporters
after a closed-door session of the UN Security Council.
Holmes, who heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA), described the food security situation in Zimbabwe as "deteriorating
very seriously, with probably only a quarter of the needs of the country
likely to be met by the forthcoming harvest."
People in Zimbabwe are increasingly in need of help due to their difficult
economic straits and the collapse of social services there, he said.
"Against that background ... the decision by the government to suspend field
operations by international NGOs and private volunteer organizations working
in Zimbabwe was particularly regrettable," Holmes said.
"I deplore that decision and I hope very much they'll rescind it in the very
Zimbabwe's government has provoked international outrage by suspending all
aid work after accusing NGOs of siding with the opposition.
US officials charged Thursday that Zimbabwean authorities last week
"hijacked" a truck of US food aid for hungry school children and handed it
to government party members.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government said aid groups would only
be allowed to resume operations if they pledged not to interfere in
politics, accusing them of openly siding with the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change party (MDC) in the build-up to the June 27 voting.
Relations between Western aid groups and the Mugabe regime have long been
strained, with the Harare government previously forcing aid groups to
channel their efforts through local officials.
Mugabe lost the first round presidential vote on March 29 to opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The pair are to contest a run-off on June 27.
Tsvangirai's election campaign has faced serious disruption from Zimbabwean
authorities and he has been repeatedly detained by police.
Last Updated: June 12. 2008 10:05PM UAE / June 12. 2008 6:05PM GMT
How bad must Zimbabwe get before the world does something? Stories of
atrocities multiply by the day, as President Robert Mugabe's thugs roam the
countryside to "re-educate" those who voted "incorrectly" in the first round
of balloting on March 29. As the June 27 runoff nears, reports speak of
opposition supporters whose eyes have been gouged out, tongues severed and
If that were not enough to intimidate supporters of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr Mugabe is trying
to starve Zimbabweans into submission, too. The 84-year-old strongman has
ordered international aid agencies to stop distributing food to thousands of
The premise of these tactics is simple: given a choice between feral
violence and a modicum of stability, opponents will either not vote or opt
for Mr Mugabe. These methods are as cynical as they are brutal. Mr Mugabe is
gambling on the world's apathy and so far, his wager is paying off.
Unfortunately, until the idea of "humanitarian intervention" is salvaged
from the trash heap of disrepute where America's foray into Iraq has left
it, the onus for action must fall on African leaders.
When Mr Mugabe took power in 1980, the Tanzanian president, Julius Nyerere,
advised him: "You have inherited a jewel. Keep it that way." Instead, he has
destroyed Zimbabwe's economy and pushed inflation to more than 165,000 per
cent. The land that was once the breadbasket of southern Africa can now only
feed a quarter of its population. To mask his dereliction, he has proven
masterful at manipulating racial resentments and exploiting the West's
colonial role on the continent.
African leaders should not fall for it but should be persuaded to take
action. The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, has already failed
miserably to stop this looming tragedy and for this he must be held
complicit in the crimes of his neighbour. Mr Mugabe may be poised to steal
this election, but for the sake of the continent's future, it is time for
other African leaders to step up and tell him to go.
By Brian Latham
June 12 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai,
was released after being arrested for a second time today in the southern
The Movement for Democratic Change leader, along with his entourage, had
this time been arrested while driving in Gweru, the capital of Zimbabwe's
Midlands Province. ``I can confirm that we've just been released by the
police in Gweru after being detained and questioned for a couple of hours
for the second time today,'' Tsvangirai's spokesman George Sibotshiwe said
in a phone interview this evening.
``This is obviously just pure harassment, with the police trying to impede
Mr. Tsvangirai's presidential campaign,'' Sibotshiwe said. Tsvangirai has
now been detained four times in eight days.
Tsvangirai was arrested for the first time today while traveling in a
motorcade to the town of Kwekwe, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of
the capital, Harare, Sibotshiwe had earlier said.